- brain tumors;
- brain trauma or other acute injury;
- encephalitis from various causes;
- tick-borne diseases; and
- liver abnormalities.
You can consult the Merck Manual online for more information on these, but please also take your dog to the vet. Many causes of cognitive dysfunction call for immediate intervention.
Conditions that Resemble Dementia
There are also conditions with similar symptoms to dementia. They include hepatic encephalopathy, with its signature symptom of head pressing, and vestibular disorder, a condition of the inner ear and brain.
Head pressing is most often associated with a liver condition called hepatic encephalopathy, but can be a symptom of other conditions, all of them serious.
In head pressing, the dog presses her head against a wall. This can resemble the behavior of standing in corners or next to walls that dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction perform, but is different in one important way: the dog visibly presses her head against a surface.
I don’t have the rights to a photo of head pressing, but this article has several photos and good information:
Geriatric Vestibular Disorder
Geriatric vestibular disorder is an abnormality of the parts of the brain and inner ear that control balance. The behaviors that dogs suffering from it exhibit can resemble those of a dog with dementia, but there is generally no cognitive decline involved.
Vestibular disorder often has an unknown cause, but can sometimes result from an ear infection, so a vet visit is in order.
The reason I have written this post is so that people don’t assume from a couple of symptoms that their dog has cognitive dysfunction. It could be that, or could be other things as well. Please get a definitive diagnosis from your vet so you will know how best to help your dog.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons