Could dementia be putting my dog off her food?
(Q) My elderly Greyhound has dementia. She is on medication and doing really well. However, she has started leaving most of her breakfast but eating all of her tea. I have tried changing the food and adding things to it but she still only eats a small amount in the morning. Is this part of her dementia or just down to age?
(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: It's very important for dogs to eat well in old age, particularly if they are on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, as otherwise the mucosal barrier in the intestines is more susceptible to damage. Medicines that work to protect the gut mucosa can be given prior to food and anti-inflammatory medicines to try to protect it. This may be worth discussing with your vet, as they may result in an improvement in appetite. Lack of appetite can result from brain ageing, in which case medicines and supplements such as Aktivait might help as they may improve brain function. A poor appetite can result from other age-related conditions such as liver or kidney disease, or a number of hormonal conditions.
I suggest that you discuss this further with your vet. He may be able to suggest a suitable palatable food, and also set your dog up with mucosal protectants to try. However, should your dog not improve rapidly, consider blood tests, as these might allow a more precise diagnosis.
(A) Vet Holly Mash says: Dementia is an age-related condition. Some dogs suffer from quite severe signs of dementia/senility, while others have very mild signs. Changes in habit and eating routine may well be part of her ageing process and the dementia. However, it can equally be associated with any number of medical complaints related to old age. You need to see your vet for a full check-up in order to find out the underlying reason; this would be recommended for any elderly dog with changes to their appetite or eating habits.