Burns Well said many physical health issues can also cause CCD-like signs. Pain caused by conditions such as arthritis is one of the main causes.
“If you think your dog has signs of cognitive impairment, take him to the vet and rule out physical causes,” said Burns Will, who was not involved in the study.
Although CCDs have been on the radar for years, previous studies of it were small, according to researchers in the new work, led by Sarah Yarborough of the University of Washington.
In their study, the researchers used data on more than 15,000 dogs nationwide who were enrolled in an ongoing research program called the Canine Aging Project. During the first year, owners completed two questionnaires: one about their dogs’ health and activity habits, and the other with questions that revealed CCD.
The group was generally small, and just over 1% of dogs were considered to have CCD. Among animals older than 10 years, each additional year of life was linked to an increased odds of developing coronary artery disease, according to findings published in the journal. Scientific reports.
After age, dogs’ activity levels showed a strong association with CCD: sedentary dogs were six times more likely to be affected than dogs of the same age and breed that were active.
Peters and Burns Weil said this does not prove that exercise thwarts speech dementia, as CCD itself may alter activity levels.
“A dog with cognitive dysfunction may not want to go out for walks anymore because they are confused,” Borns-Weil explained.
However, Peters notes that research in humans has linked physical activity to improved brain function later in life. So the idea that exercise can benefit dogs’ brains isn’t too far fetched, she said.
Additionally, Borns-Weil noted that going out to explore or play is a big part of dogs’ mental stimulation. Again, in humans, remaining mentally active with age has been linked to lower odds of cognitive decline – however, again, the question of cause and effect remains.
Despite the unknown, there is no downside to dogs having a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and mental stimulation, both experts said.