Identification and management of cognitive decline in companion animals and the comparisons with Alzheimer disease: A review

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Abstract

There are a number of correlations between the pathophysiology and behavioral expression of early Alzheimer disease in humans and age-related cognitive dysfunction in dogs and cats. Changes in social interaction and the reduced ability to cope with everyday situations are difficulties experienced in human, canine, and feline age-related cognitive decline. Anxiety, distress, and confusion commonly precede diagnosis. Information obtained from family members, carers, or owners may be key to identifying early behavioral markers and allowing early management or treatment.

Environment may predispose to or protect from cognitive decline over time. Neuroinflammation associated with air pollution or excessive noise can lead to oxidative damage within the cerebrum and development of β-amyloid plaques. Targeted programs promoting mental exercise may be used to delay progression once clinical signs have been presented.

Pharmacological interventions in humans have focused mainly on augmenting neuronal efficacy by using agents to increase the chemical communication, whereas in veterinary medicine cerebral vasodilators are commonly used. Preclinical and mildly impaired patients have limited options in human medicine, whereas there is a trend in veterinary medicine to offer targeted nutritional supplements that include antioxidants, L-carnitine, or omega-3 fatty acids.

Comparing treatment options in species provides opportunities to identify new methods of controlling age-related cognitive decline.

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