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Behavior Challenges in Senior Dogs and Cats

03 Nov 2022
Downtown Clinical Theater

It has been said that getting old is not for wimps. Normal aging changes, though not pathological, may significantly alter a dog or cat’s behavior and relationship with family members and other pets. Aging dogs and cats generally experience some loss of spatial orientation, flexibility in learning and attention, which may result in behavioral changes. Medical issues should be high on the differential list for old animals that experience new behavioral issues or relapses in previous problem behaviors. Some diseases, such as feline hyperthyroidism can cause marked changes in behavior. But any medical conditions that cause pain or discomfort may affect behavior indirectly by increasing anxiety, depression and irritability. A common and important medical cause of behavioral change is cognitive dysfunction. Canine and Feline Cognitive Dysfunction, which shares some notable characteristics with Alzheimer Disease in humans, is an important and often overlooked cause of behavior changes in older pets.

Stephanie Borns-Weil, Clinical Assistant Professor - Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at the Grafton Campus

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