Purple February and prevention against neurodegenerative diseases

Welfare

Care for elderly pets gains prominence with “Purple February”, a month dedicated to the debate and prevention against neurodegenerative diseases in elderly dogs and cats.

Progressive and with a high lethal potential, neurodegenerative diseases affect the pet's entire central nervous system, the region responsible for cognition, causing loss of balance, memory and appetite and leading to a multitude of chronic diseases.

Read the post to understand better about Purple February. 💜

Purple February and the care of elderly pets

Puppies that are over 7 years old and kittens over 11 years old can already be considered elderly.

During this period, changes in metabolism and a reduction in hormonal levels are common, in addition to the natural wear and tear of organs and muscles. Neurodegenerative diseases, therefore, arise exactly at this stage of physical and mental vulnerability of animals.

Purple February first emerged as a way to prevent Alzheimer's, Leukemia and Lupus in humansbut has gained focus in recent years also with diseases in pets.

The month is focused on prevention, treatment campaigns and, mainly, early diagnosisso important to minimize physical and mental damage to pets.

Photo of a sad beagle dog lying on the floor
Older dogs and cats can present serious health problems.

Most common neurodegenerative diseases

By knowing the most common neurodegenerative diseases in pets, it is possible to take a closer look at the first signs of these illnesses.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Compared to Alzheimer's in humans, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome affects important areas of the brain in animals.

As it is a neurodegenerative disease, it causes several metabolic changes capable of compromising the pet's memory, hearing, vocalization and, mainly, the memory.

The aging of neurons, poor diet and lack of environmental enrichment over the years are the most common factors in triggering the disease.

The tendency is for the animal to gradually lose its identity and become more neutral to the situations around it.

Symptoms

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Physiological needs made in different locations
  • Failure to recognize people close to you
  • Excessive fear
  • Vocalization and nocturnal agitation
  • compulsive walking

Seizures

There are several reasons for seizures in pets, but the more time passes, the more likely they are to happen.

It can all start with light contractions in the body, such as tremors in the head, extremities and neck. Involuntary jaw opening and more reactive behavior may indicate the onset of more severe seizures.

If you notice any signs of this behavior, the ideal is to take the animal to a veterinarian. The situation becomes even more necessary when the seizure is generalized and lasts more than 2 minutes, and can be lethal.

Symptoms

  • Excessive salivation
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Involuntary opening of the jaw
  • Small tremors in areas of the body
  • Changes in taste
  • Loss of consciousness

Paralysis

The wear and tear on the muscles and, especially, on the joints can cause numerous mobility problems in pets.

Paralysis, also known as weakness of the extremities, compromises the motor part and can occur in older dogs and cats in a milder or more aggressive form, depending on the age and health status of the animal.

The problem is that the disease is progressive, that is, if it is not treated at the first symptoms, it tends to get worse over time.

Symptoms

  • Mobility difficulty
  • Excessive idle time
  • Loss of appetite
  • Back paws being dragged
  • Body pain

Change in senses

The senses are essential for the daily lives of felines and canines. When they reach old age, an illness can compromise these animals' perception of the world.

Alteration in the senses is a neurodegenerative disease which mainly affects hearing, vision and smell of dogs and cats. Caused by nerve damage and wear and tear on vital organs, it can make pets more insecure and neutral in their relationships with household members.

It's common to call the animal and it doesn't listen. Likewise, it is noticed that he begins to move around with more insecurity, as if he does not know the space he has always inhabited.

Symptoms

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Loss of sensitivity
  • Sudden inactivity
  • Excessive injuries

Neurodegenerative diseases: how to prevent them?

It is essential to pay attention to the signs that pets give, especially when they are old.

Apathy, difficulty eating and moving, sudden changes in behavior, confusion, tremors, feeling unwell and excessive salivation These are possible signs of neurodegenerative diseases in pets.

Photo of a sick kitten on its owner's lap
Identifying the first signs of neurodegenerative diseases can give your pet a better quality of life.

But, in addition to early diagnosis, how can we prevent these diseases from affecting animals in the future?

Invest in environmental enrichment

Put your puppy or kitten's mind to work creating an environment that can stimulate and challenge you. Toys are a great tool for the cognitive development of pets, especially interactive models.

In addition, be careful about offering a rich and clean space for the pet's well-being, with a house or walk in good condition and clean and functional feeders and drinkers.

Focus on healthy eating

Avoid transgenic foods, with artificial colors and aromas, as well as highly industrialized foods and snacks with a low fiber, vitamins and minerals content.

Your pet's diet throughout its life will influence its health in old age. Therefore, it is worth spending a little extra to avoid numerous illnesses in the future.

Make regular visits to your veterinarian

Pet visits to the veterinarian must be regular, especially when these animals are of advanced age. Set aside at least 3 times a year for consultationsas some diseases are silent and can only be identified through laboratory tests.

Take the opportunity to clarify all your doubts and also to reset your pet’s diet, if necessary.

Take regular walks and exercise

Don't give up that late afternoon outing with your furry friend. The benefits of regular walks and exercise are countless, as well as being decisive for a healthier life in the future.

Set aside at least 30 minutes a day for this task. If you can't go outside, invest that time in playing with your pet. This contact, in addition to energy expenditure, increases the pet's happiness levels, which is great for their mental health.

Participate in Purple February and seek to raise awareness among other pet owners about the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases in animals. Remember that a careful look can save lives!