Dog Dementia: Circling Behavior

Dog with canine cognitive dysfunction circling

Here is a short video of what my dog Cricket’s circling behavior looked like.

Circling can be very obvious once the dog has an advanced case of dementia, but it doesn’t necessarily start out that way. Cricket was doing it for several months before I noticed. At the beginning she didn’t stand in one place and do it; her circling was integrated into how she walked around. When I would see it I attributed it to other things.

Circling can also be a symptom of several other diseases and conditions, so if your dog has started to circle or shows other oddities in her gait, please take her to see your veterinarian.

 

  1. Thank you so much for your article… In December my dog started to show signs of this disorder but by mid January when he experience two major seizures back to back it was clear he also had a brain tumor .
    We invested in our body and even tried and Anapril for a month but it had no positive effects.
    We miss our guys so much but were grateful for blog such of yours when we were looking for information .
    The key is to be aware of slight changes and consult your veterinarian without delay…

    • Thank you for sharing about your guy. So sorry for your loss. And yes, the most important thing is to get to the vet. Thank you again for the comment.

  2. We have our dear Duchess, almost 18. She is a dachshund and has had dementia for a little over a year. Like many in her breed, her teeth are in poor shape. She also has reduced eyesight and is deaf. Our vet has wanted to do a dental for a couple of years but we were reluctant. One of his nurses recently told us to not consider a dental because of her age and condition, as she possibly would not survive the anesthesia. Our vet did agree with that statement. We have loved her so and yet have had to change some of her routines, such as keeping her away from carpeted surfaces in the house, carrying her down steps, etc. We have don what we can to make her life more comfortable. We really appreciated your video, as we have noticed that, like humans, she still has her good days where she remembers things, potties outside, and expresses happiness being around us. We thank God for her long and wonderful life and will keep a close eye on her to make sure her end days are not painful. What a blessing she has been…

    • How wonderful to hear about Duchess and the wonderful care you are taking of her, John. Thank you so much for writing about her. I hope she still has many more good days with you. Take care.

  3. Our dog, Penny, is a 16 year old beagle/basset mix. She has had circling behavior for at least a year and also walks to the left on her walks. She can circle so much that she falls to a sitting position. The dementia is hard to live with because we have to lift her (19 lbs) to take her to the water bowl, lift her to take her to food or anywhere else. She cannot find her way. Hearing is diminished. She has been such a wonderful dog. We want to give her good quality of life and so far she seems fairly happy. Our vet has not encouraged us to use a medication, but I wonder if it might help, or have we waited too long? She is prone to have diarrhea when introducing anything new, so I hesitated to start medication. We walk her twice a day to keep her arthritic legs mobile. I appreciate your website and have found it to be very helpful.

    • Hi Frances,
      It sounds like you are doing a great job with Penny. It wouldn’t hurt to ask your vet about medication; I hear you about starting something with an older dog, especially with a tippy tummy. But your vet will know about that. I’m glad you like the website. I really want to spread the word about this condition. It helps us so much when we can understand what’s going on.

    • hi frances hows Penny doing so far ? are you giving her any medicaation that could help improve her condition. My 16 year old female japanese spitz is also in the same condition as penny , i can really relate to your story.

      • Thank you, Jerome, for your interest and, I’m sorry, for your personal understanding of this illness. Penny is about the same, some days are better than others. We are not giving her any medication for concern of side effects – namely diarrhea. We are more focused on keeping her weight at a “normal” level. Over the last 2 years she has lost about 1/3 of her body weight and now has stabilized at 19 lbs. Sometimes I wonder how much joy she has, yet we hold her and provide good, comfy places to sleep. As she ages, her sleep is longer and deeper. Also, I think that part of the dementia is a restlessness at night. Some nights she gets very “antsy” and won’t settle down. Finally, we turn off all the lights and get everything quiet and she gets better. Every day is a little different. We are thankful for every one. I hope your dog will do well. Thank you for your comment.