Keep Fido sharp with walks, toys. / David Atkinson/Getty Images
I liked your column on doggy Alzheimer’s (canine cognitive dysfunction) and the importance of walking dogs. On your advice, I take my dog for a mile walk every day. At 77, I feel better and so does Lady (a black Labrador retriever), 10.
Now that you’re walking, you might try another powerful way to delay or prevent cognitive decline in dogs: Change the environment, perhaps by rotating toys. I love Nina Ottosson dog toys. And I’m a fan of food-dispensing toys: Hide them (reasonably) so a dog searches for meals.
If you spot signs of confusion or changes in sleep cycles, see your vet. Early diagnosis increases the odds of dealing with a cognitive issue if, in fact, that is the problem (pacing may not indicate confusion but a dog’s hesitation to lie down because it hurts). For cognitive difficulties, your vet might suggest a prescription diet, or one of several drugs and supplements.
Pet questions? Visit Petphoria, our pet blog at pets.usaweekend.com for more from contributing editor Steve Dale.