top of page

5 Signs of Dog Dementia

5 Signs of Dog Dementia

Introduction to Canine Dementia

Canine dementia is a progressive neurological disorder that affects a dog's brain, leading to a decline in cognitive function. This decline can manifest as changes in memory, learning, and behaviour. It is estimated that around 14% of dogs over the age of 8 display symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction, with the prevalence increasing as dogs age.

While the exact cause of canine dementia is not yet fully understood, it is believed to be related to a number of factors, including oxidative stress, inflammation, and reduced cerebral glucose metabolism. Additionally, dogs with CCD often exhibit a build-up of beta-amyloid plaques in their brains, similar to those found in human Alzheimer's patients.

An old dog sitting in a window
Dog Dementia

5 Common Signs of Canine Dementia

While the symptoms of canine dementia can vary from dog to dog, there are five common signs that are often observed in dogs with this condition:

  1. 1Disorientation: Dogs with canine dementia may appear lost or confused, even in familiar environments. They may wander aimlessly, get stuck in corners or behind furniture, or have difficulty finding their food and water dishes.

  2. Changes in social interactions: Affected dogs may become less interested in interacting with their owners or other pets in the household. They may also display increased irritability or aggression or become overly clingy and dependent on their owners.

  3. Sleep disturbances: Canine dementia can result in changes to a dog's sleep-wake cycle. Dogs may sleep more during the day and be restless or awake during the night, pacing or vocalizing.

  4. House soiling: Dogs with CCD may forget their previous house training and begin to have accidents indoors. This may be due to disorientation or an inability to remember the appropriate place to eliminate.

  5. Changes in activity level: Dogs with canine dementia may exhibit a decline in their activity level, appearing lethargic or less interested in play and exercise. In some cases, they may also develop repetitive behaviours or become overly fixated on certain objects or activities.

Dietary supplements for cognitive dysfunction

Octanoic acid, also known as caprylic acid, is a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) found in various natural sources such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and milk. This eight-carbon saturated fatty acid has been gaining attention for its potential benefits in neurological disorders. In this comprehensive article, we discuss the metabolism of octanoic acid, its impact on brain function, and its potential therapeutic applications.

Let's focus on Octanoic Acid

Metabolism of Octanoic Acid

The metabolism of octanoic acid is distinct from that of long-chain fatty acids. Due to its shorter chain length, octanoic acid is more easily absorbed and transported directly to the liver via the portal vein. Once in the liver, it undergoes rapid β-oxidation, a process that breaks down fatty acids into acetyl-CoA units. These acetyl-CoA units can then enter the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, also known as the Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle, to produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

In contrast to long-chain fatty acids, the metabolism of octanoic acid does not require the carnitine palmitoyltransferase I (CPT-1) enzyme, which is involved in the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria for oxidation. This unique metabolic characteristic enables octanoic acid to serve as an alternative energy source, especially in conditions where glucose metabolism is impaired.

Octanoic Acid and Its Effects on Brain Function

Octanoic Acid as an Energy Source for the Brain

The brain primarily relies on glucose as its primary fuel source. However, under certain circumstances, such as during fasting or carbohydrate restriction, alternative energy sources become necessary for proper brain function. Octanoic acid, being a medium-chain fatty acid, can provide an alternative energy source for the brain, as it can cross the blood-brain barrier and be metabolized by brain cells.

Furthermore, octanoic acid metabolism in the liver leads to the production of ketone bodies, which can also be utilized as an energy source by the brain. This is especially important in conditions where glucose metabolism is compromised, such as Alzheimer's disease, where octanoic acid supplementation has been shown to improve cognition and brain energy metabolism.

Astrocyte Metabolism of Octanoic Acid

Astrocytes are specialized cells within the brain that play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of neurotransmitters, such as glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are essential for proper neuronal communication. Research has shown that octanoic acid is primarily metabolized in astrocytes, promoting the synthesis of glutamine, an essential precursor for the production of glutamate and GABA neurotransmitters in neurons.

This enhanced astrocyte metabolism of octanoic acid can help maintain the inhibitory tone of the brain and support the overall balance of neurotransmitters, which is especially important in neurological disorders characterized by neurotransmitter imbalances, such as epilepsy.

Mitochondrial Effects of Octanoic Acid in Astrocytes

In addition to serving as an energy source, octanoic acid has also been found to have beneficial effects on mitochondrial function in astrocytes. Studies have shown that octanoic acid can stimulate mitochondrial respiration, increasing the production of ATP, the primary energy molecule in cells. This is particularly relevant in neurological disorders where mitochondrial dysfunction and energy deficits are implicated, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Octanoic acid is also known to exert antioxidant effects, which may contribute to its neuroprotective properties. For example, octanoic acid has been shown to increase the mitochondrial proton leak in astrocytes, which can help protect against the generation of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can damage cellular structures, including mitochondria.

Therapeutic Applications of Octanoic Acid in Neurological Disorders

Alzheimer's Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, leading to cognitive decline and memory loss. Impaired glucose metabolism and mitochondrial dysfunction have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.

Studies have shown that supplementation with octanoic acid can improve cognition and brain energy metabolism in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. This suggests that octanoic acid may provide a therapeutic benefit in these conditions by enhancing astrocyte metabolism and supporting neuronal function.


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, which are the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The use of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which contain octanoic acid, has been shown to be effective in managing drug-resistant epilepsy. The exact mechanism by which octanoic acid exerts its anti-epileptic effects is not fully understood; however, it is believed to involve the enhancement of astrocyte metabolism and the support of inhibitory neurotransmission through increased GABA synthesis.

Additionally, the production of ketone bodies from octanoic acid metabolism may contribute to the anti-epileptic effects of MCT supplementation, as elevated ketone body levels have been associated with improved seizure control.

Potential Applications in Other Neurological Disorders

The beneficial effects of octanoic acid on brain metabolism and mitochondrial function suggest that it may have potential therapeutic applications in other neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), where mitochondrial dysfunction and energy deficits have been implicated. Further research is needed to explore the potential benefits of octanoic acid supplementation in these and other neurological disorders.


Octanoic acid is a medium-chain fatty acid with a unique metabolism that allows it to serve as an alternative energy source for the brain and support the function of astrocytes, which play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of neurotransmitters. Moreover, octanoic acid has been shown to exert antioxidant effects and improve mitochondrial function in astrocytes. These properties make octanoic acid a promising therapeutic agent for various neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and potentially other neurodegenerative conditions.


bottom of page