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Gonzalez-Martinez A.,University of Santiago de Compostela | Rosado B.,University of Zaragoza | Pesini P.,Araclon Biotech Ltd. Zaragoza | Garcia-Belenguer S.,University of Zaragoza | And 5 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2013

Dogs exhibit age-dependent losses in learning and memory as well as a progressive accumulation of neuropathology that parallels that observed in normal human aging and early Alzheimer's disease. These deficits have been extensively studied using a number of standard cognitive tasks in the laboratory; however, appropriate tools for their assessment in veterinary clinics are still lacking. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of age and the severity of cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) on two simple tests conducted in a clinical setting. A food searching (FS) task and a problem-solving (PS) task were administered to young (1-4. years, n= 9), middle-aged (5-8. years, n= 10), cognitively unimpaired aged (≥9. years, n= 31), and cognitively impaired aged (≥9. years, n= 37) dogs. Cognitive status was classified using an owner-based questionnaire, and in the impaired group, dogs were categorized as having either mild or severe CDS. During the FS task, younger dogs (<9. years) were able to locate the food more quickly and with more success than the aged groups (≥9. years). Dogs with severe CDS exhibited poorer performance than those with mild CDS or their healthy counterparts. In the PS task, younger dogs performed better than the aged dogs in obtaining food, but there were no differences related to CDS severity. The FS task might help to better characterize cognitively affected dogs in the clinical setting than the PS task. These and similar tasks require further investigations in the field. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Rosado B.,University of Zaragoza | Gonzalez-Martinez T.,University of Santiago de Compostela | Pesini P.,Araclon Biotech Ltd. Zaragoza | Garcia-Belenguer S.,University of Zaragoza | And 5 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2012

Changes in social interactions with owners and other dogs are frequently observed in dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). The aim of this work was to assess the effect of age and severity of CDS on social responsiveness. This is the second part of a 2-part report on spontaneous activity in pet dogs. A human interaction test and a mirror test were administered at baseline and 6. months later to assess social responses to humans and conspecifics, respectively, to four groups of privately-owned dogs: young (n= 9), middle-aged (n= 9), cognitively unimpaired aged (n= 31), and cognitively impaired aged (n= 36). The severity of cognitive impairment was considered in the last group and dogs were categorised as having either mild or severe CDS. The influence of the person and the mirror on locomotion and exploratory behaviour was also studied. Dogs were recorded in a testing room and the video recordings were subsequently analysed.Young dogs displayed more interactions involving physical contact with a person. Young and middle-aged dogs showed more vocalisations in response to social isolation. In contrast, aged animals spent more time in front of the mirror. Changes in social responsiveness associated with severe CDS included decreased response to social isolation and human interaction and increased time in front of the mirror, suggesting a deficit in habituation. Testing of spontaneous activity might help to characterise CDS in aged dogs, a condition increasingly diagnosed in veterinary clinics and a potentially useful natural model of Alzheimer's disease in humans. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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