As our pets age, behaviour changes may be the first sign of declining health. Common problems associated with ageing, for eg pain, organ failure and cognitive dysfunction can be effectively managed if identified early.

Cognitive dysfunction in dogs and cats is very similar to Alzheimer disease in people.  Classic signs of CDS are disorientation, changes in interactions with owners or environment, disturbed sleep patterns, house soiling and changes in activity and anxiety.

You can download the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale from the following link and assess your dog every 6 months. If you noted a high score or progressive deterioration, veterinary attention is recommended.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale:

When is “the best time” to euthanize a pet? We obviously want them to live a full and complete life but we also do not want them to endure prolonged unnecessary suffering.  The decision can sometimes be clear cut with no reasonable alternative but, is very often extremely complex with lots of factors needing to be considered. There are certain parameters that can be assessed and these include; is your pet in pain and/or discomfort which cannot be relieved? Can he/she walk and balance? Are they able to eat and drink? Are they able to go to the toilet normally? Do they behave in a normal way? And are you as the owner able to cope with the demands of caring for them effectively?