SEPTEMBER marks World Alzheimer’s Month and vet charity PDSA wants to raise awareness of dementia, memory loss and the impact it can have on pets as well as people.

Globally it’s estimated that nearly 50 million people live with dementia and pets can also suffer from a very similar condition as they age. During Alzheimer’s Month, and World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September), PDSA is aiming to educate pet owners about the signs and symptoms to look out for.

While our pets don’t suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia in exactly the same way as people, they can develop a similar condition called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) caused by age related changes in the brain and a gradual loss of brain function. Symptoms are varied but can include memory loss, anxiety, confusion and poor attention. CDS generally occurs in old age.

Spotting this disease in pets can be difficult, as many of the signs are subtle and may be considered a normal part of aging. PDSA’s vets have put together a list of signs to look out for that could indicate your pet is affected.

Signs can include: Confusion or disorientation – getting lost in familiar places or getting ‘trapped’ in a corner and not being able to find their way out.

Anxiety – some pets may develop separation anxiety

Loss of toilet training – soiling indoors or forgetting where the litter tray is.

Change of sleeping patterns – sleeping more during the day or less at night. Change in social interaction and relationships – becoming withdrawn, seeming depressed or forgetting family members or other pets.

Loss of memory – not responding to familiar commands, forgetting previously learnt behaviours and difficulty in learning new tasks.

Changes in activity – reduced levels of activity or aimless pacing and staring into space.

Changes in vocalisation – howling or crying more, often at night