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Hammy and his Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome CDS

March 13, 1987-September 18, 2003

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is not a normal aging process. In my vet's large practice, he said ten to 20 percent of his clients had Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. Well, Hammy was just diagnosed, shortly before he died.

I thought Hammy had canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome CDS once the weather got colder. At first I blamed some symptoms on the summer heat. He really slowed down. He appeared at time disorientated. He would stand in the same spot for more than a few minutes..so unlike Hammy. He would urinate on the rug and did not appear ashamed. Before he would either use the bathroom or the terrace if there were an emergency. He would refuse treats and became fussier about what he ate. Gradually he suffered weight loss and people on the street would comment.


. Hammy, a mini schnauzer was born on March 13 1987 and as this page is being written, he is almost 15 1/2. Up until a few months ago he didn't behave like a senior or geriatric dog. He didn't show signs of "senility". He had a great appetite although never overweight, was feisty, very alert, and was not docile.He would allow me to hug and kiss him but would quickly break away. He would be very attentive when food was around.

He has had few health problems. He was neutered at about three years old. He had minimal shots.He did have bladder stones and two operations. One to have them removed and the second time, he had a rerouting after he had an obstruction. The new opening would prevent small stones from a future blockage.

Almost two years ago he had a serious trauma of losing his littermate Morgy to bone cancer. Morgy fought off the cancer but after two and half years died. For two and half years, they couldn't play fight and behave as the team they had done since birth. Hammy suffered severe separation anxiety from me and would howl non stop when I left him alone. That could go on for hours. I hardly left him. He was given elavil which didn't work, and xanax. Now I am not certain if the excessive howling was also part of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome since one of the symptoms is excessive barking and whining when left alone.
Hammy has stopped that now. I wonder if he is aware that I have left him which I do not do frequently or if he is too tired.
Another striking change is the interaction between Hammy and our kitty cat Snowball who has the deepest soul. For the past two months Snowy who has always appeared to want to be close to Hammy is now close to Hammy. Hammy allows Snowy to rub against him. They rub heads. Hammy rubs his head against Snow's body. Snowy rubs his body against Snow's body. It is so beautiful. They sometimes sleep touching. Now even Yuki, our other kitty cat rubs against Hammy.

I now appear to have a 15 1/2 year old somewhat timid puppy. Hammy was never timid. He was an extremely dominant dog. When I tried to train him I did not raise to the occasion. He would show me the whites of his eyes, rather than maintain eye contact. His littermate Morgy was house trained within two weeks. It took Hammy over three months to decide it was time. Morgy was the gregarious dog at first and would greet everybody. Again it took Hammy about two months to decide that was the way to go...and then Morgy became more of a momma's dog. Hammy would block Morgy and greet the people and get the pets. I later learned that if I wanted Hammy to listen to me, the only thing I could do was to praise him to the heavens, regardless of what he did. He appeared to appreciate that I realized "his position" in life..To tell you how proud Hammy was I couldn't even mention the word "bad". In front of people I had to spell it out. When I mentioned B A D,. Hammy would howl. I was wounding his feelings. How could I ever mention that word or imply that he was B A D. Even now he has me so well trained I tend to spell the word and people think I am a bit "touched" lol.

.Morgy being very bright himself learned also not to listen to me. It took Morgy about five years to give me his paw. He knew how to do it but he refused. One day after two years of NOT trying I said to Morgy, if you don't give me your paw I won't give you this treat. I didn't even you a hand signal. He understand, and begrudgingly gave me his paw. With Hammy, there was no power struggle at that point. Hammy knew that I knew he was number one and that he could do no wrong so he always would give his paw, almost like noblesse-noblige..he was honoring me..
The signs of canine cognitive dysfunction for Hammy in some cases are almost opposite of other dogs. Instead of showing signs of aggression, he shows more signs of passivity...docility...he was never docile. I wonder if Snowy recognizes this or thinks that perserverence has won and Hammy is finally smitten by him. I think it is more than Snowball recognizes that something is wrong with Hammy and Ham needs a lot more love in his life.

Hammy and Morgy were always vocal when I left them alone which wasn't that often. CDS dogs tend to be more vocal and now except in dreams sometimes, Hammy is quiet. He is sleeping a lot more during the daytime whereas before he was unusually alert. He is mostly deaf but he never paid attention to commands anyways..even when he was mostly deaf, he pretended he was..Now he wakes up in the middle of the night which is common for a CDS dog whereas before he slept through the night.

By the way, I was always told what well trained dogs my schnauzers were and I always laughed and said no I was very well trained. They were so secure with each other and had so much fun for over eleven years until Morgy started limping(bone cancer) and could no longer rough house. Then Hammy left Morgy alone. After a year Morgy was back to grooming Hammy.

What do I do now? I bought SELEGILINE HYDROCHLORIDE, a generic of Anipryl and am giving Hammy a pill a day. In a month, if he doesn't respond I will up it to two pills a day. I am also giving Hammy alpha lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant.

I made a website canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome which has more technical information and research.

I also plan to use this website as a journal to describe Hammy's progress. I can't laugh at the dilemnas he has gotten himself into and don't know when to intervene. He put his foot into the water dish. It took him almost a minute before he took it out. He went out on the terrace I think to eliminate. I think he got disorientated and couldn't find his way back so he just lay down. I let him stay for a half an hour and then carried him in. When he gets trapped under the desk, I quickly take him out from under it. If I see him headed for a corner, I usually pick him up and have him change directions. I don't want to solve all his problems incase that might speed up the process. I also think Snowy steers him with his body. Hammy is down from 24 pounds to 19 pounds. Snowy weighs close to seven pounds but Snowy is very determined. Right now as I type, Snowy and Hammy are sleeping together. I am praying that this is bringing comfort to Hammy and I am praying that his littermate Morgy is his guardian angel.

Another insignificant problem is dealing with people on the street. It is very difficult having insinuations that you are abusing your dog. I am thinking of buying Hammy a bright red ribbon...with a heart...and encourage people to pet him and give him stimulation....I have been feeding him hamburg and chicken and turkey. He has been turning down everything else. I also try to throw in some oatmeal. He won't eat his favorite salmon treats, dog biscuits or sea jerkeys..or baked treats. or soft dog biscuits. He still seems to like pizza and baloney..At this point, I will give him what he will eat as long as it doesn't upset his tummy.

Innova Healthbars are great treats if your doggy likes them. They can also be substituted for meals. Hammy loved them until recently. They are a little pricey but well worth it with all the nutrients in them..The only discount place I found them were on Ebay but I don't know if they are always there.

Right now I am giving Hammy straight steak, hamburg, and chicken and turkey. At first I tried mixing the protein with oatmeal but he quickly developed a dislike a oatmeal. I am afraid he will develop a dislike of the meats. I have read that in canine cognitive dysfunction they may have less of an appetite. I have already seen this is the past month. Also the SELEGILINE HYDROCHLORIDE/Anipryl can cause diahrrea, nausea or vomitting. I see him growing weaker and his bones being more prominent.

I also see him getting less sleep as he stands a lot more and just stays in one place. Early in the morning, I woke up and found him just standing. I immediately started petting him and got him to lie down and he fell asleep after my petting him. It was so nice to hear him breathing deeply as if he were so tired and into a deep sleep finally. Soon after, he started dreaming and barking in his sleep. At least the CDS hasn't robbed him of his dreams, yet at least.

Hammy's last day on earth

Hammy is also drinking a lot more water which is another symptom of CDS. At least this is good for his kidneys and good since right now he is on a heavy protein diet since I can't get him to eat anything else. It is also good for the carpet since his urine is more diluted and his house breaking skills are breaking down but not as rapidly as disorientation yet.

The good news is that Hammy started responding to the SELEGILINE HYDROCHLORIDE on the fifth day. When I tried to make eye contact with Hammy he showed me some whites of his eye. That is my Hammy boy..We have always had a dominance contest. When he was a puppy, he managed to show me all white! He was such a master! On the six day, he was biting me when I was pushing the SELEGILINE HYDROCHLORIDE down his mouth. I was so happy. Who cared about the pain. Hammy was never docile except recently. This latest resistence meant to me that the canine cognitive dysfunction was ebbing and what was reappearing was Hammy the way I had always knew him.

The terrible news was that Hammy had basically stopped eating and he still had his diahrrea and nausea. I tried cream cheese, baloney, eggs, and thin sliced ham and roll since he couldn't be tempted by turkey, chicken, steak or hamburg. He did have two thin slices of ham. I only allowed him two thin slices of ham since he hadn't eaten the day before. When I later offered more to him, he refused. Then he drank water and vomited quickly there after. I had made an appointment with the vets to have a complete blood test. I hadn't known about the vomiting of water. The appointment was two days away. I prayed and prayed to God, and to his littermate Morgy in heaven and then tried to tell myself that maybe his vet could work a miracle. I couldn't sleep knowing that Hammy was slipping away from me the way he going.

The tests came back and showed that his kidneys were shot. The discussion with the vet was brief. Since Hammy was already at the vet for fluids, we decided to have Hammy join his littermate Morgy as soon as possible.

I went to the vets and was able to pet and hold Hammy for twenty minutes. It was as if he knew his time was coming to an end. He was alert and managed to get comfortable on my lap. Then we were called. The catheter from the fluids he was given was already in his neck. I sang to him I love you a bushel and a peck and you are my sunshine as I held his head in one hand and petted him with the other. My vet said this will be very quick and asked if I were ready. I was busy exchanging stares with Hammy feeling very peaceful..it was so beautiful..he passed and I couldn't even tell. Hammy was such a noble dog and he died in such dignity. He was alert at the end thanks to the pills. I had a vision of him as I walked home. He was all smiles and beaming. He is probably now celebrating with his brother Morgy whom he had been separated from for over a year and a half. I feel slightly lost without him but am comforted to know they must be having one grand time and I now have two guardian schnauzer angels taking care of me.



OBJECTIVE: To determine whether gonadectomy predisposes dogs to development of age-related behavioral changes linked to cognitive impairment. DESIGN: Cohort study. ANIMALS: 29 sexually intact male dogs, 63 spayed female dogs, and 47 castrated male dogs 11 to 14 years old. PROCEDURE: Information on possible impairments in 4 behavioral categories linked to cognitive impairment (orientation in the home and yard, social interactions, house training, and sleep-wake cycle) was obtained from owners of the dogs by use of a structured telephone interview format. A second interview was performed 12 to 18 months after the initial interview, and differences in responses were evaluated. RESULTS: Sexually intact male dogs were significantly less likely than neutered dogs to progress from mild impairment (i.e., impairment in 1 category) to severe impairment (i.e., impairment in > or = 2 categories) during the time between the first and second interviews. This difference was not attributable to differences in ages of the dogs, duration of follow-up, or the owners' perceptions of the dogs' overall health. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Results suggest that the presence of circulating testosterone in aging sexually intact male dogs may slow the progression of cognitive impairment, at least among dogs that already have signs of mild impairment. Estrogens would be expected to have a similar protective role in sexually intact female dogs; unfortunately, too few sexually intact female dogs were available for inclusion in the study to test this hypothesis. There may be a need to evaluate possible methods for counteracting the effects of loss of sex hormones in gonadectomized dogs.