At a veterinary lab in North Carolina, Wufus, a 15-year-old basset hound mix, allows researchers to attach electroencephalogram, or EEG, electrodes to his head before going out into a dark, cozy room for an afternoon nap.

While he snoozes, the research team examines the Woofus’ brain waves to assess sleep quality. Woofus has canine cognitive disorder syndrome, or CCDS, a similar canine disorder. Alzheimer’s disease in humans. They say the elderly dog ​​is struggling to get enough rest at night.

“Like people with Alzheimer’s disease, dogs with CCDS experience sleep disturbances such as insomnia and sleep disruption,” says veterinarian Dr. Natasha Olby, professor of neurology, neurology and gerontology at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh.

Woofus isn’t the only sleepy dog ​​in this study. On other days at the clinic, Jake and Coco, a 13-year-old pointer, 12-year-old dachshund, and other researchers might be taking a nap while they look inside their brains.

“Owners of dogs with CCDS report that their dogs have difficulty falling asleep at night, difficulty sleeping during the day or both, as well as pacing and vocalization at night,” Olby said. “This can be very difficult for dog owners – not only is it stressful for their pets, but their sleep is also very disrupted.”

John Joyner / NC State Veterinary Medicine

Coco, a 12-year-old dachshund, has no problem snoozing when fitted with EEG electrodes.

Olby and her team enrolled a large group of dogs to determine whether sleep disorders in dogs could signal early signs of dementia, as they do in humans. Continuous research Try anti-aging supplements. The dogs visit twice a year “and do all kinds of really interesting cognitive tests,” she said. “They have a lot of fun and they like the supervisors they work with.”

To be considered for the anti-aging study, the dog must have lived more than 75% of the expected lifespan for their breed or breed. A dog cannot suffer from arthritis or blindness as the pet needs to perform activities designed to test their cognitive abilities.

For example, a dog may be asked to find a snack under a cup or in a cylinder with one end closed by a researcher. By repeating the tasks in the clinic every six months, a decline in the dog’s mental efficiency or performance can be monitored.

John Joyner / NC State Veterinary Medicine

Woofus, a 15-year-old basset hound mix, plays “find the treat” games with researchers.

To measure a dog’s brain waves during sleep, researchers used electroencephalograms, a type of polysomnography used in sleep clinics to diagnose sleep disorders in humans, for the new study.

“It’s the gold standard method for looking at what the brain is doing during sleep,” says Olby, adding that this is the first dog study to apply the same technology to humans.

“We attach these electrodes to a very fine adhesive that dissolves in water. After that, we just wash,” she said. “We don’t use anywhere near as many electrodes as you would see in humans in a sleep lab because dogs have much less cortex and surface area to cover.”

Already at ease with the staff, training 28 elderly dogs to wear electrodes and walk uncomplainingly on dangling wires wasn’t too difficult, she said.

John Joyner / NC State Veterinary Medicine

Jake, a 13-year-old pointer, was one of 28 dogs trained to sleep with EEG electrodes.

To make the dogs more comfortable during their siesta time, the owners bring their dog beds from home, which are placed in a secluded room with white noise.

“The staff sits with them when they’re asleep to make sure they don’t try to take the electrodes out or eat them or do anything that could harm them,” Olby said.

When sleeping brain waves were compared to canine cognitive testing, researchers found that dogs with severe dementia spent less time in deep, REM sleep than humans do. It was the study. Recently published In the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

“Dogs that are more severely impaired in our memory tests have a level of REM sleep that is not as deep as it should be,” Olby said. “We found the same thing when it comes to deep sleep.”

Although no one knows the exact mechanism at work – in humans or in dogs – research like this It could help scientists better understand the process and find the treatment, Olby said.

There’s a chance we’ll be able to detect a signature change on the EEG that says, “Hey, things are starting to slip.” Because with a chronic neurodegenerative process, we really want to be able to intervene sooner.

In the meantime, there are melatonin medications for anxiety and sleep that veterinarians can prescribe depending on the dog’s age, Olby said. And like people, diet and exercise seem to be the reason.

“There’s some really good research showing that foods rich in flavonoids and antioxidants and medium-chain fatty acids can slow down the development of dementia in dogs,” she says. “It’s like people — if you can eat a Mediterranean diet and exercise, you’ll do better.”

Doggie dementia is a worrying reality for many senior dogs. Research At the age of 11 and 12 years, 28% of dogs have mild and 10% have severe cognitive impairment. By the time the dogs were 15 years old, the risk had increased to 68% for mild and 35% for severe cognitive impairment. A 2022 study According to Olby, dogs’ risk of developing cognitive impairment increases by 52 percent each year.

Pet owners can look for signs that their dog’s cognitive function is declining. According to Olby, veterinarians use the acronym DISHA-AL, which stands for disorientation, altered interaction, altered sleep/sleep cycle, house infestation; Changes in activity (increased or decreased); And Anxiety and learning and memory.

“One of the first signs is that you start to see a little confusion like you do with people, suddenly they start making some mistakes and things you don’t expect them to do. It’s very similar to us,” Olby said.

Courtesy Browner Raymond

“In general, it’s a good thing for animals to sleep with their people,” said Dr. Dana Varble, chief veterinary officer of the North American Veterinary Medical Association.

“Do you really think there is enough room for you?” — Delilah, a 10-year-old Siberian husky.

Stephanie Moody/Rue’s Rescue & Sanctuary

“Who says everyone can’t fit in a bed? As long as I’ve got a room big enough to spread out, I’m cool.” — Beast (bottom right), a 106-pound European Doberman, (bottom left clockwise) his sisters Buttercup and Bear; Brother Joy pressed on their bodies; and a sister, Bailey.

David Allen

“Hi, I’m Tessie, a 4-year-old Australian Cattle Dog. I love sleeping with my kids so when they go to the store, I keep a toy in their bed until they come back.”

Sandy Lamotte/CNN

“Animals that mate in the animal kingdom sleep together,” Varble said.

Lynx (above) and Luna (below) are 2-year-old Siberian forest cats.

Courtesy Trent Lloyd

“Come on dad, that’s enough sports for tonight, it’s time to go to bed.” — Ellie, a 6-year-old German shorthair pointer, likes to sleep under the covers next to her people.

Courtesy of Stephanie Moody/Rue’s Rescue & Sanctuary

Dogs and cats who share their human bed “have a high level of trust and a strong bond with the people in their lives. It’s a big trust on their part,” Varble said.

Banshee, a 6-year-old husky mix, is a heartworm survivor.

Courtesy Trent Lloyd

“When a dog turns its back, it’s an incredible sign of confidence because it’s a very vulnerable place for them — they can’t wait for danger,” Varble said.

Mason, a 3-year-old lab mix, loves to sleep next to his dad every night, but he hates blankets.

Sandy Lamotte/CNN

“Dogs and cats get additional health benefits from bonding closely with people,” Varble says, including increases in feel-good hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine.

“What? I don’t snore!” — Luna, a 2-year-old Siberian forest cat.

Courtesy of Ryan Paulea

“Make sure all pets in your home are up-to-date on flea, tick and internal parasite prevention,” advises Varble.

Molly (left), a 15-year-old cockapoo mix, likes to sleep in people’s arms, while Evie (right) prefers the end of the bed and hates waking up early.

Courtesy of Ryan Pollyea

“Animals have different personalities like us,” Varble said. “Some people sleep with the lights on and some people like to sleep in complete darkness. One pet may have a more protective personality, another a more assertive personality.

Evie, a 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, knows to visit her human if she needs more affection.

Courtesy of Stephanie Moody/Rue’s Rescue & Sanctuary

A dog that sleeps at the end of the bed with their face toward the door may have a more protective personality, Varble said.

“Thank goodness the bed hog beast is gone so I can catch my zizz.” — Buttercup, a 4-year-old beagle-bulldog mix.

Sandy Lamotte/CNN

“I may look like an angel, but I’ve been known to walk or sit on my humans at night to try to smell their breath. At 3 a.m. I enjoy wrapping my 2-foot-long body around their necks.” — Lynx, 2-year-old Siberian Forest Cat.

Dogs can also lose learned behaviors or forget their house training and have unexpected accidents in the house, she said.

“A common problem is walking around and getting lost under a table or something – you can’t process the information and know where you are. Changes in sleep cycles, increased anxiety, all of these things are common symptoms of dementia,” she said.

But don’t assume that’s what’s wrong with your dog. Just as in humans, other health problems, such as metabolic disease, urinary tract infections, or brain tumors, can mimic the symptoms of chronic dementia.

“High blood pressure can make dogs anxious, for example,” says Olby, “so a vet should examine the dog thoroughly to rule out disease.

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