New study reveals dogs with dementia experience sleep issues

Scientists have found that elderly dogs with dementia tend to sleep less than healthy dogs of the same age, indicating similarities to humans with dementia. Despite dogs being known for sleeping a lot, dementia can affect their sleeping patterns.

Studies have shown that individuals with dementia often suffer from sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep. Researchers have also observed changes in brain activity during sleep in individuals with dementia, including a decrease in slow brain waves that play a role in memory consolidation and are associated with the brain’s waste-clearing system. This is similar to what has been observed in dogs with dementia, who also tend to spend less time sleeping compared to dogs without the condition.

Dogs that suffer from a dementia-like condition may experience sleep problems, similar to those observed in humans with dementia.

According to a study conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University, changes in sleep patterns in older dogs could indicate a decline in their cognitive abilities. Professor Natasha Olby, who is the senior author of the study, stated that these changes are expected in elderly dogs and could be an early sign of cognitive impairment.

In a study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Prof Natasha Olby and her colleagues at North Carolina State University examined 28 dogs aged between 10 and 16 years old. The researchers used electroencephalogram (EEG) to record the dogs’ brainwaves while they took a two-hour nap in the afternoon.

In addition to monitoring the dogs’ brainwaves, the researchers evaluated their cognitive function and collected information about their sleep habits and cognitive status from their owners through a questionnaire. Based on these evaluations, 20 out of the 28 dogs were diagnosed with cognitive impairment, with eight of them having a severe form of the condition.

The research team found that dogs that scored higher on the dementia assessment questionnaire took more time to fall asleep and had less time spent sleeping.

The researchers also found that dogs with lower scores on a memory test had less deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Nick Sutton, who is an expert in dog health and science at the Kennel Club, and not part of the study, praised the research.

Nick expressed his approval of the study, which found that elderly dogs with cognitive impairment spent less time in certain important sleep stages. He noted that people with dementia often experience disrupted sleep, and the findings suggest that dogs with dementia experience similar issues. Sutton emphasized the importance of consulting with a veterinarian if pet owners notice any concerning changes in their dogs, including unusual sleeping behaviors.

Although there is no cure for dementia in humans or dogs yet, the researchers aim to monitor dogs for the development and progression of the condition to identify early changes that could serve as predictors of future problems.

According to Olby, understanding the condition would allow them to explore ways to treat the underlying disease. She added that successful treatments in dogs could pave the way for treatments in humans, making it a win-win situation for both dogs and their owners.


Read More: the Guardian

Get Dogs Find Love in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.


Scroll to Top