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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 3009
Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science (University of Melbourne, Australia)
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My older clumber/cocker spaniel constantly is whining ,crying

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My older clumber/cocker spaniel constantly is whining ,crying and barking at me for food, sometimes he'll start around 6:00 am when I'm still sleeping. This is a fairly new issue. I tell him NO but he still continues. What can I do to change this behaviour?
This is a common sign of senility in older dogs. Sometimes called canine Cognitive Dysfunction. 10 years is probably earlier than we might normally expect it, but it is not unusual. Senility causes a dog to start acting like a young puppy. So they crave attention, become obsessed with food and don't likelto be left alone. Just like some elderly people can get grumpy as senility sets in, so can older dogs.
It is ok to discipline him and certainly you should not give in to his demands. But be careful not to create any anxiety because this plays a big role in the signs of senility and we don't want to worsen it. So no serious punishment.
There are a range of drugs available for reducing the signs of senility. These range from sedatives (like acetyl promazine) that can be used to help the patient sleep at night to drugs like Anipryl which increases the dopamine availability in the brain. I have used this drug with good success.
Anti-oxidants in the diet are well recognised as valuable in treating this condition. Omega-3 supplements (available from pet supplies and your vet) are the most commonly used supplements.
Environmental enrichment is important. In other words more activity and play sessions during the day
I hope I have been of assistance. Please contact me back if I can help further.
Regards, Peter
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