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Nutrition’s Role in Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Free on-demand webinar brought to you by Hill's Pet Nutrition, USA - Clinical

Dr Carrie Santare

DVM, DACVIM- Neurology


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The brains of dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) have many similarities to human brains affected by Alzheimer’s disease. These findings include; neuronal loss, cortical atrophy, and plaques consisting of beta-amyloid proteins. Also noted is an increase in Monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) activity which leads to decreased dopamine function. As a result, there is an increased production of free radicals and neurotoxic by-products of dopamine metabolism. The net result of these processes leads to the development and progression of CDS. Clinical signs in dogs with CDS include disorientation, altered interactions with their owners or environment, sleep-wake cycle disturbances, house soiling, and changes in activity. Diagnosis is based on exclusion of other disorders causing behavior changes like brain tumors, inflammatory brain disease, or systemic diseases like liver failure, renal failure, etc. Typical MRI findings can be identified but definitive diagnosis is based on histopathology. There is no cure. Treatment with supplements Vitamins B, C and E, Omega-3 fatty acids, etc. can be beneficial as these have been shown to decrease progression of disease. Other food additives including medium chain triglycerides (MCT) can be used by the brain as an energy source which can improve cognition. There are commercial diets available such as Hills B/D ® that have many of these nutrients and additives which will help in slowing the progression of the disease and possibly aid in reversing some of the clinical signs of CDS.


Dr Carrie Santare

DVM, DACVIM- Neurology

Carrie was born and raised in Queens, NY and moved to Westchester County during her High School years. She received a BS with honors from Rochester Institute of Technology and a BS with high honors from Mercy College. She is a graduate of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her rotating internship was completed in small animal medicine and surgery at VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Norwalk and Shelton, CT. She then pursued a specialty internship in Neurology/Neurosurgery at the Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston, TX. Her residency was completed at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital and has a special interest in surgery, specifically atlantoaxial subluxation stabilization, intervertebral disc disease and seizure management. Carrie is a board-certified specialist in Neurology through the American College of Veterinary Internal medicine and completed the specialized training to be granted the Neurosurgery Certificate by the ACVIM. Presently, she is the Neurologist/Neurosurgeon at VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center of Westbury.

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