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Novel Diagnostic Tools for Identifying Cognitive Impairment in Dogs: Behavior, Biomarkers, and Pathology

By Zuzana Vikartovska, Jana Farbakova, Tomas Smolek, Jozef Hanes, Norbert Zilka, Lubica Hornakova, Filip Humenik, Marcela Maloveska, Nikola Hudakova, Dasa Cizkova

Category Journal Articles

Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder in senior dogs that is mainly associated with decreased ability to learn and respond to stimuli. It is commonly under-diagnosed because behavioral changes are often attributed to the natural process of aging. In the present study, we used for the first time a comprehensive approach enabling early diagnosis of canine patients with mild cognitive disorders (MiCI). We included CAnine DEmentia Scale (CADES) questionnaires, biochemical parameters, and biomarkers in blood serum, and correlated them with post-mortem histopathological changes. The CADES questionnaires enabled us to identify MiCI dogs developing changes mainly in domains corresponding to social interaction and spatial orientation, which seems to be crucial for delineating early cognitive disorders. Biochemical analyses in these dogs showed slightly elevated liver enzyme parameters (AST and ALT) and significantly decreased sodium and chloride levels in blood serum. Furthermore, we describe for the first time a significant increase of neurofilament light chain (NFL) in blood serum of MiCI dogs, compared to normal aging seniors and young controls, but no changes in TAU protein and amyloid-b (Ab42) peptide levels. In canine brains with cognitive impairment, amyloid plaques of mainly diffuse and dense types were detected. Furthermore, activated microglia with amoeboid body and dystrophic processes occurred, in some cases with spheroidal and bulbous swellings. On the other hand, no TAU pathology or neurofibrillary tangles were detected. These results suggest that a combination of CADES questionnaire mainly with CNS injury biomarker (NFL) and with biochemical parameters (ALT, AST, Na, and Cl) in blood serum may predict CCDS in senior dogs.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2021
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 7
Pages 13
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2020.551895
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal cognition
  2. Animal roles
  3. Cognition
  4. Dogs
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access