Dog senility / Canine Cognitive Dysfunction & Anipryl

Info on the disease and Anipryl, and the official website.

Does anyone have experience with this diagnosis and treatment? I was skeptical initially just because an alzheimer’s-like situation seems like it’s awfully difficult to treat in humans, and without thinking about it too deeply it seems like it should be difficult as well with other kinds of brains. So without further ado:

My dog: 13 year old inherited Boston terrier, in extremely good health and likely to have a surprising number of years in her (not so much as a gray hair). While I haven’t lived with her until the last few years, she has always been intrusively social in a very polite way, meaning she likes to be around people and really seems to enjoy a bit of attention. Lately, she’s exhibiting a lot of strange behaviors: sudden burst of mild aggression toward people who have already been around her for a while, gets up in the middle of the night and heads for other parts of the house, stares blankly into space for extended periods, and seems to forget what she’s in the middle of from time to time etc.

This is a marked change from before. While it’s not really a problem for me if it’s just her getting on in years, if there’s a means of improving her quality of life I’d be all for it. Cost is not a concern, within reason, and the monthly cost of Anipryl at this dosage (50-75$ or so) is well within our absurdly high pet care budget.

Any experience with this? Opinions?

(Disclaimer: Obligatory ‘What does your vet think?’ statement)

No experience with this, but it looks like it may be worth a shot, the side effects don’t look to be too bad (though 5 percent incidence rate seems high to me?) , and if it doesn’t work, then just take her off of it. Though as a cautionary tale, we had a dog with arthritis as a kid, and gave her some new fangled pain medication. She did great for a bit. Then she didn’t do well, and was in worse pain than i’d ever seen her. I tear up just thinking about it-- it was bad. It turns out the pain med blew out her liver, and later they ended up recalling the stuff.

I’d be interested in this. We have a 15-year-old mutt who has forgotten she’s housebroken, and we (in consultation with the vet) have pretty much ruled out all the physical causes for it. I’m pretty sure she’s getting dotty in her old age. It breaks my heart, because she’s otherwise in really good health for a dog her age. I’ve had her since she was a puppy.

Obligatory pic:

Yeah, I’m in a similar situation with my 12 year old Weimareiner. He just sometimes forgots where he is, doesn’t respond to his name. Sometimes he is his same puppy self, other times he’s the ‘old man’ who creaks when he gets up. Otherwise he’s in good health.

I’m attributing his ‘senility’ to age and just going to play out the hand nature gives us for now.

Selegiline, which is generic Anipryl, is significantly cheaper. If I end up going this route, I’m going to ask my vet for a prescription and try to obtain it online.

cl!ck for c|-|3ap 4n|pry/

Edit: Huh. Apparently blank links (http://) direct to the qt3 main page. Either that or Tom just makes sure he gets a cut of any online drug-buying done around here.

LK, I think we need some pictures to make a full diagnosis.

No experience, no opinions, but many good wishes. My nine-year old golden retriever has increasing amounts of grey hair and moderate arthritis (though he’s still got lots of playful puppiness to him as well). Dogs age so quickly. It’s really heartbreaking.

Josh, that’s one of the things that concerned me. The last thing I want is for my dog to be part of the trial run for a new drug. I trust my vet to do no harm, but I don’t know to what extent any vet can function independently given the huge pressures and incentives they are hit by between drug and dog food companies, and just how difficult their job is already in terms of getting an accurate diagnosis.

Jerri, I’ll have to ask the vet about the generics, although the price ranges I’m seeing online seem to indicate that her quoted rate (75$ iirc) is pretty reasonable and I’m willing to pay a slight premium to have all of the prescription and ordering details handled by her. Jag, I know the feeling, and I try to make sure my view on this is always tempered by trying to make sure I’m focused on her welfare vs what I want. This is, after all, her golden years retirement after a lifetime of loyal service to my grandmother, so the dog’s made it very clear she has high expectations for quality of life. Dave, I appreciate the kind words, it’s my first real owned dog and it’s definitely surprised me how quickly I’ve become attached to her.

Good point. Here, and here. That’s all I have on hand, thanks to the 2010 computer apocalypse of the moment.

Was this Rimadyl? My dog was on it last week to reduce inflammation from an injury, and I looked up some similar side effect horror stories about it after she started having stomach problems and loss of appetite (only time she’s ever not eaten wet food). We decided to take her off it, and that an inflamed knee was better than not eating and possible liver problems. I guess its possible that all anti-inflammatories have similar potential side effects though.

Rainy’s been on Rimadyl for a few years with no ill effects, but we do keep a close eye on her liver function. She gets blood work done a couple of times a year.

It has not been recalled.

My golden takes rimadyl as needed, and has done well with it. It’s basically an NSAID for dogs, and can have similar side effects as human NSAIDs. If you compare the warning labels for ibuprofen and rimadyl, they’re very similar.

In case everyone missed it, there was a very good (and sobering) interview with a pet aging specialist on Fresh Air, and one of the topics he addresses is CCG and a common sense way to diagnose it (doing the questionnaire at the pfizer site every couple of months and seeing if the symptoms are increasing in number or you just have a goofy dog).

Meanwhile the CCG treatment has been put on the back burner as the pet dermatologist finally delivered a seemingly correct (and alarming) diagnosis on what had previously been regarded as a hemerrhoid, which apparently don’t really happen on dogs as often (or at all) as tumors. So ass tumor laser surgery is on the schedule for January, and before you ask, yes, you can have that as a rock band group name.

Sorry to hear about that diagnosis, I hope all goes well with the surgery and that she’s back to normal after recovering! Our dog is only 3 years old now but I’d like to think we’d also do what we can to keep his quality of life high in his later years.

Thanks for the link, LK. My wife and I are listening to it now. We both hope your dog’s surgery goes well, but are a bit concerned that it’s so far off. Any chance of finding another surgeon who could do it sooner?

It’s not the surgery that’s the problem, but rather the need for quiet recovery time of at least two weeks of close monitoring, which neither of us will be able to provide for work/family reasons until after the holidays. The lump has been there for at least the year or so we’ve had her, at a more or less consistent size, it was just misdiagnosed as something inconsequential and assessed only with standard veterinary surgery (ie cutting which destroys continence, full anesthesia as opposed to relatively safe sedation, laser surgery) in mind so dealing with it was not really on the table unless it became an emergency, which as a “hemorrhoid” it was unlikely to be without a lot of visible signs. It can’t be biopsied without a lot of damage, so it and a few large fatty lumps will all go together and be analyzed subsequently in the hopes of it being an expensive false alarm (on the plus side, the fatty lump in her armpit was unlikely to be very comfortable).

Obviously I’m not pleased about the delay, but even with the relatively posh, isolated living area boarding place we will have to use I can’t dump the responsibility of caring for her convalescence on strangers.

You’ve clearly analyzed every variable contributing to this and made the best choice for all involved. Keep us posted!

More like agonized about it, but with a bunch of unpleasant possibilities I have to take the least terrible. Thanks for your supportive posts, as all my prior experience in pet ownership is limited to fish and, um, favorite plants. It’s really hard to deal with the medical profession as it is now in terms of my own health, let alone through the layer of veterinary guesswork and marketing. It’s one step of many on the way to becoming a dog hypochondriac, I guess.

So it’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks with dog, as her recovery from the dermatological surgery took an ugly turn. Her motor functions began to degrade (sharply and noticeably, especially after the surgery collar was removed for good). She had lost sight in her left eye, but was struggling bravely along with an increasing number of symptoms like an apparent inability to keep her feet from curling up at awkward moments. At this point, there were two main possibilities which were a stroke (much less likely, good prognosis for recovery) and a tumor in her brain or spine (very likely due to breed, preexisting symptoms, and age probably means she’s fucked).

Her dermatologist recommended an MRI and consult at Auburn U, which is a 3 hour drive plus the process of scanning itself, but I saw no point to it given that there is no likely scenario where I will consider more surgery and chemotherapy on a dog going on her 14th year, especially having gone through that a number of time with humans. After concluding a week of steroids that seemed to help with some symptoms, she had a seizure grand mal for what were probably the longest 10 minutes of our time together. At the ER afterwards, she was sedated and put under observation, and then delivered a repeat performance the following afternoon (I think the vet thought I was exaggerating about the extent of the earlier seizure). It was noted that she was apparently now blind in both eyes.

At that point, she was placed on phenobarbital, and seems to have the seizures under control although she oscillates rapidly between the lethargy and hyperactivity. Since she’s blind and her motor control is now worse than ever before, that means a lot of circles. The field across the street proved a safer environment than our house since the concrete is slippery, so we’ve been getting a lot of laps out in the grass. She still eats voraciously and drinks, although she requires a hand to avoid faceplanting in her dish. Going to the bathroom is a crapshoot (LOL) as I have to be pretty quick to provide support when she decides it’s time. Nobody wants to see a repeat of last week’s poop backstroke.

And sleep, well, sleep is interesting. This period is a strong argument for crate-training preemptively, since now we have no way to comfortably confine her without inducing panic (and it’s hard to get a dog to enter a cage through the traditional means when the only way she’s known of them is as prisons at the vet). So she sleeps in between us, and stirs every 2-3 hours with a violent explosion of movement, often including most of her legs working together. There was a four hour block (I could see the clock from my position) where she snored happily while passed out on my chest, which I believe is sound support for her continuing to be an epic troll even in her declining health.

At this point, we’re allowing for the phenobarbital adaptation to take place to see what the situation is then (1-2 weeks). Obviously, euthanasia is the elephant in the room at every turn, since when combined with the earlier symptoms that spurred this thread it’s entirely possible that she’s simply coping with a great deal of discomfort that is not going to get better as she becomes steadily less independent. It’s tough to find a balance between what likely constitutes our selfish desires and her quality of life.

Anyway, we have the number of the home euthanasia vet, and it’s one day at a time. Yesterday she maxed out at 89 paces before busting her ass, today was already 127. One day at a time.

Obviously, hindsight is always 20/20, but if I had to do it again I would probably skip the dermatological surgery. When an older dog is in great health it’s easy to take their hardy constitution for granted, when it really can go from week to week. There’s no way to know if the surgery and accompanying processes had any effect or it’s merely coincidental. What I do know is that the dog I had before and after surgery was completely different (in terms of being a dog who could handily jump as high as my shoulder in pursuit of BALL, as opposed to a dog that has difficulty navigating across a room). I would rather have had those 3 weeks of surgery time with dog A as opposed to having her laid up in preparation for becoming dog B.

All of the external tumors, of course, were benign. So I guess that’s good.