Staring at walls and toileting in the middle of the night could all be signs your dog has dementia, a celebrity vet has warned.
ITV This Morning’s in-house vet Dr Scott Miller joined Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary on Friday's show to reveal what symptoms to look out for in elderly pets.
Alison told viewers the devastating disease affects thousands of pets, with Dermot adding that half of all older dogs and cats are likely to develop some signs of dementia.
According to the host, 85% of cases are left undiagnosed, but Dr Scott delved into the symptoms that could help pet owners catch it early – and how to prevent early onset.
The TV vet has had personal experience of pets with dementia, after his 14-year-old dog Betty passed away last year having some "fairly significant signs of dementia".
His cat, 15-year-old Rickets, is also displaying symptoms.
Scott said: “It’s a huge thing and I can really talk about it from a personal perspective. At 4.30am this morning my very elderly cat Rickets woke me up because he decided that he needed to go to the loo.”
And changes in toileting routines can be a key indicator that your pet’s brain isn’t as sharp as it once was.
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He added: "Changes in toileting behaviour, waking up at different times and toileting a little bit differently are all signs.
“Rickets had just shown some change in behaviour and also gone quite vocal. He’s much more noisy and much more aware of himself so shouts at us whereas before he didn’t.
“It’s almost as if, like in older people when hearing is going their voice just goes up a little bit because they're trying to get their point across and I think cats and dogs do exactly the same.”
Other signs to look out for are disorientation or being unable to get comfortable, the vet revealed.
Dr Scott suggested you might see pets staring blankly at a wall, or unfamiliar with places that they’re usually familiar with. They may also repeatedly ask to go out or walk into things.
Scott added: “Betty showed all of those symptoms, but she also did have cataracts.”
The Aussie-born vet also revealed altered interaction may be a sign of doggy dementia, adding: “They may not be as comfortable meeting other people or meeting other animals, they get a bit needy, irritable, a bit aggressive as well – all those changes can happen.”
House soiling, changes in activity levels and increased anxiety can all be signs of dementia in dogs, but the vet said that stimulating pets with training and treats can "actually stave off dementia".
He urged owners who think their pet may be suffering with the condition to take their cat or dog to their vet, where physical conditions could be ruled out, and treatments offered.
“If you are concerned, do go and see your vet,” he said. “There are things that you can do but just give them lots of love and attention because old animals are literally the greatest.”
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