Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: The Regenerative Neuroscience Group

This is the second installment in my series on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Today’s post focuses on the work of the Regenerative Neuroscience Group in Sydney, Australia.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is very distressing to the dog’s owner and family. Their well-loved pet will begin to wander and pace, appear lost, get stuck behind furniture, stare aimlessly at the walls, and lose continence. Perhaps most sadly, dogs with CCD seem to forget their connection with the people they have lived with for many years. About 12% of dogs older than 8 years of age are estimated to have CCD, and the likelihood of developing CCD rises dramatically with age.

Know the signs of dementia in your dog? – What can be done about it?

Listen to this podcast by Dr. Sarah Toole from the Regenerative Neuroscience Group talking about Canine Cognitive Dysfunction on VETtalkTV


Note: Click the following link to download a PDF version of the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale (CCDR)


Behavioral changes in dogs with CCD 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 behaviors 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


Canine Sand Maze

The Regenerative Neuroscience Group developed and validated the Canine Sand Maze as a practical and accurate method of assessing canine spatial learning, working memory and delayed recall in pet dogs.

This video shows a young dog that successfully completes the Canine Sand Maze probe trial (and then tries to escape!), and an old dog that has no delayed memory of the learnt food location. It’s easy to work out which one is which.


Timmy, a 13-year old Cocker Spaniel

The Regenerative Neuroscience Group worked with Timmy, a 13-year old spaniel, and the unlikely symbol of hope for Dementia sufferers around the world… after receiving a unique form of stem cell therapy which appears to have restored his memory…and in so doing…saved his life!

A video on Timmy’s story was featured in the first installment of this series on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Timmy is a cocker spaniel living with a form of dementia. Timmy became part of a University of Sydney research project focused on rebooting the brain with stem cells harvested from the subject’s own skin, and in doing so became the first dog worldwide to survive such a transplant. Now Timmy faces a series of ongoing tests designed to measure improvements in his canine condition, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of human senility.

A feature story was published on Timmy in “The Saturday Paper” which is published in Carlton, Victoria, Australia.

Timmy & His Owners

Timmy & his owners


The Regenerative Neuroscience Group conducted a worldwide survey of owners of older dogs (8+ years). They collected over 1000 responses from 11-countries on a 100 different dog breeds and a multitude of cross breeds. From this data we identified the behaviors performed by older dogs that are most indicative of CCD with an accuracy of approximately 80%. These 13-behaviors make up the canine cognitive dysfunction rating (CCDR) scale. Based on this scale, we identified that overall, 12% of the older dogs surveyed had behavioral symptoms consistent with CCD. The risk of having CCD also increased with age with 31% of dogs over the age of 14-years estimated to be affected.

Cell Therapy – Replacing Lost Cells and Connections
Replacing Lost Cells and Connections

Replacing Lost Cells and Connections


To read more about this exciting development, see Cell Therapy for the Reversal of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction


Links to resources on this page


Acknowledgment & Disclosure

I want to express my gratitude to the Regenerative Neuroscience Group for the lion’s share of the information reposted here. This post was written in the desire to help owners of dogs who are suffering from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. It was heartbreaking to watch Divinity pacing non-stop throughout much of the night. Hopefully, a cure for this disease will be discovered through the research from the Regenerative Neuroscience Group, and other institutions.


One response

  1. Pingback: Hospice Care: An alternative for pets suffering from Doggy Dementia « Divinity

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