May 312012

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a disease which affects older dogs and has many similarities to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Several of the key pathological changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease are also seen in dogs as well as there being many similarities between the behavioural changes seen in both diseases. Some of the behavioural changes seen in dogs include:

  • Changes in activity levels
  • Changes in eating or drinking habits
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (awake and often vocal at night whilst sleeping during the day)
  • Aggression and anxiety problems
  • Loss of learned behaviours such as house training (often resulting in housesoiling)
  • Inability to navigate familiar surroundings (e.g. getting stuck in corners or going to the hinge side of the door to be let out)
  • Failing to recognize owners or familiar people and other pets

Further confusing the already difficult diagnosis of this disease is that older dogs without CCD also show some behavioural changes. However, research conducted by the Regenerative Neuroscience group shows that the frequency of problem or unwanted behaviours commonly seen with CCD are generally low with minimal impact on learning and memory. Our research also showed, surprisingly, that there was very little difference in rates of CCD between different breeds of dog despite large differences in life expectancy.

Find out more about the Dogs and Cells trial at the RNG.


Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale (CCDR)

What’s it for?
RNG has developed the CCDR as a validated method for screening for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in older pet dogs 1,2

Who should complete it?
It is to be completed by the dog’s primary carer/owner and applies to animals aged 8 years and older. It will take about 5 minutes to complete.

What do the results mean?
A positive screening result means that your dog may have CCD and so should go to your local veterinarian for a thorough assessment and discussion of possible management options. A definitive diagnosis of CCD relies on a positive screening result plus a veterinary examination to rule out other possible causes of your dog’s abnormal behaviour.

An intermediate result means that your dog is at-risk for CCD and we recommend retaking this survey in 6 months to check if your dog has declined any further.

A negative screening result means that your dog’s current behaviour lies within the normal range.


Click here to download a paper-copy of the CCDR for your information

1.Salvin H, McGreevy P, Sachdev P, Valenzuela M. The Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating scale (CCDR): A data-driven and ecologically relevant diagnostic and assessment tool. The Veterinary Journal (Jun 2011); 188(3):331-6

2. Salvin H, McGreevy P, Sachdev P, Valenzuela M. Under diagnosis of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in Older Companion Dogs. The Veterinary Journal (Jun 2010); 184(3):277-81