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Do Medications Treat Dementia in Pets?

The following was originally published on the Petfinder Blog.

By Jane Harrell, associate producer

There are not yet many medications to treat cognitive dysfunction syndrome in pets. Anipryl, the brand name for a drug also known as selegiline hydrochloride or L-deprenyl, is currently the only FDA-approved treatment for CDS in dogs.

(There is no drug approved for treatment of CDS in cats, although some veterinarians report promising results using L-deprenyl in cats.)

Do Medications Treat Dementia in Pets?


Anipryl increases the dopamine levels in dogs’ brains to improve memory and help dogs think more clearly, but it has a varying success rate.

In one study by manufacturer Pfizer Animal Health, 69% of pet parents who treated their dogs with Anipryl for one month reported improvement in at least one symptom of CDS, compared to 52% of those who gave their dogs a placebo.

Like all drugs, Anipryl comes with a risk of side effects, including — but not limited to — diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness or hyperactivity, loss of appetite, seizures, staggering and lethargy.

If your dog has CDS, ask your vet about prescription medications in addition to dietary and lifestyle changes — and be sure to mention any other medications or supplements your pet is taking, including flea and tick products, which may cause negative interactions.

Though CDS has no cure, using a mix of cognitive enrichment, routine, diet and medication can slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for your whole family.

Tell us: Does your dog or cat show signs of CDS? What did your vet recommend?

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