Dogs are also affected by dementia. It's hard to see. The research published this week shows how common it is.

There are some changes to look out for in your senior dog.

What is doggy dementia?

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disease that comes with behavioral, cognitive, and other changes in dogs.

It can happen in dogs as young as six years of age.

Many behavior changes are dismissed by pet owners as normal aging. There are more dogs with it than we think.

It's hard for veterinarians to diagnose it. There is no reliable test for it. Senior dogs have a number of other health issues that can make it difficult to diagnose.

Does my dog have dementia?

A dog with dementia can get lost. They can get stuck behind furniture or in the corners of the room because they don't know how to use their reverse gear. They walk towards the side of the door that is open.

Dogs can interact with people and other pets in different ways. They may start to get upset with the other dog in the home where they used to be happy and seek less or more affection from their owners. They might forget faces they have known.

During the day, they tend to sleep more than at night. They can pace, whine, or bark. Even if the behavior is interrupted, it doesn't usually take long for it to resume.

When caring for a senior dog with dementia, they can start to toilet inside even though they are house-trained.

It's difficult for them to remember some of the basic behaviors they've known their entire lives, and it's even harder to learn new ones.

Their activity levels can vary from pacing all day to barely getting out of bed.

There may be an increase in anxiety. If you leave your dog alone, follow you from room to room, or get frightened by things that have never bothered them before, they may not be able to cope.

I think my dog has dementia, now what?

Some medications can help reduce signs of doggy dementia and make it easier to care for them. If you think your dog is affected, get in touch with your vet.

Some non-drug treatments are going to be studied. Exercise and training may be able to help these dogs. It's still early.

There is no solution. Reducing the risk of getting the disease is our best chance of success. Exercise may be key according to the latest study.

What did the latest study find?

More than 15,000 dogs were part of the dog aging project.

Pet dog owners were asked to fill out surveys. The person asked about the health of the dogs. The dogs were evaluated for their cognitive function.

A small number of dogs were thought to have cognitive problems.

Every extra year of life increases the risk of dementia for dogs over 10 years old. Dogs that were less active were more likely to have dementia.

We don't know from this type of study if regular exercise protects dogs against dementia. It's possible that dogs with early signs of dementia are less likely to exercise.

Exercise can help reduce the risk of dementia. The risk of dementia may be reduced if we walk our dogs.

'I love my girl so much'

It can be difficult to care for a dog with dementia. Our group is looking at the impact on the people who care for them.

When people care for someone with Alzheimer's, we think the burden and stress can be similar.

People love their pets. One researcher told us.

I love my girl so much that I am willing to do anything for her. Nothing is too much trouble.

Susan Hazel is a senior lecturer in the school of animal and veterinary science at the university.

Under a Creative Commons license, this article is re-posted. The original article is worth a read.