Symptoms

 

Cricket dementia in corner 1These are some of the commonly agreed upon symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction. Many of them can be singly attributed to other conditions, but if your dog has a multitude of these, it’s probably time to go to the vet.

  • Pacing back and forth or in circles (often turning consistently in one direction
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Staring into space or walls
  • Walking into corners or other tight spaces and staying there
  • Appearing lost or confused
  • Waiting at the “hinge” side of the door to go out
  • Failing to get out of the way when someone opens a door
  • Failing to remember routines, or starting them and gets only partway through
  • Barking for no apparent reason and/or for long periods
  • Ceasing to bark when she used to be very noisy
  • Forgetting cues and trained behaviors she once knew
  • Exhibiting motor difficulties like difficulty backing up (aside from physical problems)
  • Startling easily
  • Getting less enthusiastic about toys or stopping playing altogether
  • Performing repetitive behaviors
  • Having trouble with eating or drinking (finding the bowls, aiming the mouth, keeping food in mouth)
  • Losing appetite
  • Failing to respond to her name
  • Having difficulty getting all the way into bed
  • Trembling for seemingly no reason
  • Falling off things
  • Getting trapped under or behind furniture
  • Sleeping more during the day and less at night
  • Forgetting house training
  • Having difficulty learning anything new
  • Seeking attention less; getting withdrawn
  • Acting frightened of people she once knew
  • Having trouble with stairs
  • Getting generally more fearful and anxious

Click for a printable checklist of the above symptoms to fill out and take to your vet.

CCD checklist thumb

Proceed to Treatment

 

42 thoughts on “Symptoms

  1. Hello
    Thank you so much for your posting on CCD. My Tessie, a corgi mix, is 14 yrs. old. I work out of town, was gone for 3 days, came back home, and had a whole different dog. My husband has been ill himself, is retired, and really is kind of in denial about how our pets are aging.
    We got Tessie when she was less than a year old from a high kill pound, and honestly, I have never loved a dog like I do this one. In a few days time, suddenly, she has every symptom on your list except not eating and drinking, and she still loves to go outside and feel the sun on her face. But she stares at nothing, gets caught in corners, and doesn’t seem to know who I am. Her face is blank, she barks all the time, trembles and shakes. I took her to our vet the same day, whom I love and trust, and the dr. told me about dog dementia, and gave me a med, which seems to agitate her more. Yesterday, she had a seizure, so we are going to try Phenobarb.
    Tessie is a “down” dog, she has been paralyzed in her back legs with IVDD for 6 years, and my husband and I have expressed her bladder 3-4 times/day every day since. Our vet said she never believed Tessie would live so long as a down dog, and I never could get her to be in a cart, but she is healthy and has always been happy till now. She just isn’t there, and I have cried buckets this week, because I didn’t know what to do.
    My husband says as long as she eats and drinks and enjoys the outside, we can deal, but she seems so confused and blank to me.
    Your website has given me hope that maybe it isn’t as bad as I thought, and thank you for sharing pictures of your sweet dog. I would send a pic of Tessie, but I am not that computer literate.
    My email is tessiesmiles, because Tessie was a champ at the “submissive grin.” She learned early on that people went nuts when she grinned at them (with her teeth), so she did it whenever she approached ANYONE. Her smile is gone now.
    Thank you again. I needed a “fur mom” who would at least understand how I felt. I really didn’t know what the right thing was.
    Best wishes,

    Penelope Johnson

    • Hi Penelope,

      My heart goes out to you. That is tremendously tough. Have you asked your vet whether there is an acclimation period for the original med? I’m hoping Tessie can get used to it.

      You love her so much! I know the blankness is disturbing. Cricket didn’t have it badly, but I know some dogs who have. I hope you can figure out how things are from her point of view. I think the blankness bothers us more than them, but if she really completely doesn’t know you, that’s more difficult to handle.

      If it helps to know, Cricket went through a transition period where more things scared her and I think she was more agitated in general, but she got through that. For about the last year she has been much more calm.

      I would love to see dear Tessie. All you have to do is email it to eileen@dogdementia.com. Tell me whether it’s just for me or whether I can put it in our “old dogs” gallery.

      I hope Tessie can keep surprising the doctor and stay with you longer. I think I do understand how you feel. Not only watching so much of your dog disappear before your dogs, but to suddenly be faced with these tough decisions. Hang in there.

      Hugs.

      Eileen

  2. My precious dog pippin is 16 and a wonderful companion to me.During the last 6 months she has been diagnosed with dementia.She has always been well behaved and a joy but now she barks all night and seems disorientated and bumps into everything. She is still eating but shows no interest in her toys.At what point do Isay enough is enough? She seems depressed and sleeps all day.She also has mammary camcer but the vet assures me she is not in pain.I dont know what to do for the best I love her but apart grom eating she has little quality og life how will I know when the time is right I dont know what to do

    • Kim, that is so hard. I don’t know. Here is a checklist, but I don’t know if it will help. You laid it out pretty well already.

      http://www.allpetsmacomb.com/qualityoflife.html

      Have you asked your vet about medication? It can help a bit sometimes. It might widen her enjoyment of life a little bit.

      I’m sorry I can’t be more help. My heart is with you, though. Pippin is lucky to have you, and your great love and consideration for her really show.

  3. My Herbie is a 16.5 yr old dachshund. He spends most of time lost in the house. When I take him outside he just stands in the yard and stares. He still tries to follow my foot steps through out the house. I carry him to puppy pads when ever he will let me because he really does not being held to much anymore. However every night when we go to bed he lays his head on me and falls asleep. When we wake up he likes to be rubbed and massaged. Once we are up he once begins seem lost. Today he did not notice when I put his food dish down. He still has a hearty appetite, drinks water. Last year I adopted 2 female dachshunds that he pretty much ignores and rarely inter-acts with but has never been aggressive with. I give him his own personal space from them as well as supervised time with them. He is on Sentile and Neutrics that I got from the vet. At first these seemed to help but this week has been bad. He is also on holistic formula calming trmt and aggression trmt. He scored 48 on the quality of life scale. I can not imagine life without him but also want him to have some quality of life. Right now that is minimal.

    • Dear Audrey,

      It sounds like he still knows you, which I think is one of the most important things. You’ve described some good pleasures in his life. Even at his age, he can have a bad week, then things may pick up. Best wishes to you and Herbie.

  4. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Your website has been the most helpful that I have come across. It is so helpful being able to communicate with someone who understands

    • And thank you for your kind words about the site. I do have some experience with how tough it can be.

  5. I found your website while researching dementia in dogs. I have an almost 15 years old toy rat terrier, his name is Jimmy. He always had little quirks that came with spending his early years in an abusive situation. I noticed some changes in him over the past months but kept putting it off, thinking “he is an old dog. He is just getting old.”
    He is waiting for me at the vet right now. I can only imagine my fears are going to be confirmed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t imagine life without him.

    • Imelda, you didn’t say how bad his symptoms are, but his life may not be over, not for a long shot. Cricket stayed with me and had a good life for almost two years after I realized what was happening.

      Fingers crossed for you and Jimmy.

      • Jimmy was pad trained – he forgot to use his pads. He will wake up howling every morning. I carried him to his pad and he will get so confused that he ran away and made his way back to his bed, where he will then use the bathroom. He couldn’t find his way to his bowl – I had to carry him to his bowl and then he would eat. He was very disoriented and withdrawn. He would run away from me and get very scared of familiar situations. It was very heartbreaking.
        His vet put him on Anypril 2 mg and he has improved big time. He is more social, he runs to me to be pet and seeks attention all the time. He has his moments of confusion, but overall he seems a little more stable.
        Thank you for your kind words!

        • I’m delighted to hear an Anipryl success story, and even more happy for you and Jimmy. I hope you have some more good time together!

  6. My Mae, a nineteen year old Jack Russell Terrier, has nearly all of the dementia symptoms that are listed in the article. Because she has lost bladder and bowel movement control, she wears diapers that are regularly changed. She has a huge appetite – low salt chicken stock with her dry and wet food, chicken breasts with her medications, and diced apples for her treat.
    Sometimes, I have to travel, and I found a wonderful kennel, Anderson Acres whose staff does an excellent job providing the loving care for my precious girl, Mae.
    My Junior, who was a Jack Russell Terrier and Mae’s companion, died four years ago. Junior was seventeen when he died with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Mae experienced severe separation anxiety with the loss of Junior. Junior and Mae were with me since they were six weeks old; I miss Junior.
    Caring for dogs with dementia requires compassion, patience and understanding dementia. As Junior and Mae’s caregiver, I provide them with a clean, loving, healthy environment so they live their final days with dignity and grace.

    • Thank you so much for sharing about both your dogs with dementia. It sounds like you have done and are doing a wonderful job caring for them. How lucky that there is a kennel that can care for her well. I didn’t travel for Cricket’s last 18 months because it just would have been too hard for her. She had always stayed at my home with in-home care, but she lost her ability to feel safe with anybody but me. Thanks again for your comment, which may give some others hope.

  7. I had my dog at a Vet. more than six months, I suspected my dog had dementia but all she said was maybe he has it. I had blood work done(383 dollars) and had a hard time even getting the results. Every time I called the Dr. was busy. I even e-mailed her and never got an answer.
    After one month I went into that office and another Dr. showed me the results. I was very dissatisfied with that. They wanted me to have exrays but I told them I was going to take care of my dog the best I could since it took me so long to get the results, I n the past few weeks my dog is really showing signs of dementia, he’s walking all night,doesn’t want to walk anymore, and after reading about Cricket, I got to thinking he’s afraid at night when it’s dark. Right now it is 9 AM and he’s sound asleep by me and real still, I think walking all night he’s so tired.

    • That sounds hard, Dorothy. To my knowledge they don’t diagnoses dementia with bloodwork (or X-rays) but those tests can rule other things out I guess. Maybe another vet could help? The medication they have for dementia can be helpful for some dogs. Best of luck, and sorry you are having a hard time.

  8. My dog Taylor has been with me for three years. I adopted him as an older dog who had been removed from his previous home by animal control. He came to me deaf and blind in one eye, but quickly adapted to his new home of five cats. In retrospect, many of the signs of dementia were there but I didn’t recognize them not knowing his history . I also thought some of his behaviors were due to his deafness or lack of sight.
    Within the. Past two weeks he started exhibiting almost all the signs of CDS. My vet put him on anipryl and Valium but I haven’t seen much improvement. Finding your site is giving me hope that I will still have more time with this beautiful little guy. He has brought such joy to my life in such a short period of time . Thank you.

    • Joanmarie, bless you for adopting an older dog. Aren’t they wonderful? I understand about attributing things to his sensory problems. I sure did that with Cricket for a while. I just had no idea about dementia in dogs. I really hope you can have some more good time with him. Feel free to send in a picture of him if you like for the gallery. Best wishes.

  9. Thank you to all who have left your story to encourage those of us caring for our beloved dogs. Our doggie is a male Maltese Todd who just turned 17 in November 2014. He started bumping into walls in November and we thought it was bad eyesight. When he started turning circles until he just was exhausted we took him to our vet. Our vet described everything he was doing… Whining , crying, barking, talking constantly and we couldn’t figure out what he wanted. Appetite was very decreased.. Had lost weight. Our vet explained that the medicine might have dramatic positive effect, no effect or a little effect. He is on anipryl . During the first week we noticed dramatic change. Appetite increased, he didn’t walk in circles, didn’t bump into things as much, he could walk to the door to go outside to go potty some of the time. We don’t have our baby back completely but we do see glimpses of our precious doggie. He still gets up to greet us when we come home and tries to wag his tail:) he doesn’t cry and whine constantly. We are learning when he whines he needs water, to go potty or just picked up and held… Just like a baby.
    Dr has put him on a sedative at night so I can get a little sleep.. We are looking in to herbal forms to help calm him at night. To all of you reading this, treatment is worth it .
    We love our babies… They are part of our family . It is difficult to be a caregiver.. This website has helped me so much. I have been so drained and exhausted because the nights are so bad. But it does help to know others are going through the same thing. As I write this our doggie has been talking to my mom who lives with us. He has been her constant companion since she came to live with us. She is 85.. She has dementia too. My dad had Parkinson’s dementia. I am thankful for the medicine the vet has prescribed and thankful for the extra time we have with our little Toddy.

    • Debbie, thank you SO much for sharing your story about Todd. What a gift that he has more quality time to spend with you. When Cricket started Anipryl the changes were not dramatic, but the fact that she lived for almost two more years after that may well attest to the helpfulness of the medicine in her case as well.

      My mother had dementia too. You get quite a perspective when you have both human and doggie family members with these conditions.

      Thanks again for posting.

  10. Hello fellow dog lovers. Our 13 year old dog started showing signs about 5 months ago, maybe even prior. He has severe foot allergies and we are not able to give him any medications that would alleviate symptoms due to complications. We did try Valerian root extract in very small doses, and vit E – both of which had severe consequences. His incontinence just exacerbates any attempts made in this area.

    He has many of the symptoms listed, and we are wondering like many owners at what point it’s time to let him go. This site is very helpful, especially the checklist. I know nobody can tell us when he should go, but we’re navigating as best we can and would love additional perspective. We don’t think he’s ready yet, but believe it will be soon. Whatever that means.

    The toughest part is that physically he seems very fit, he is still quite enthusiastic about mealtimes, and at least once a day he likes a walk (we used to take him on 2 which he loved but he no longer has the stamina).

    Any ideas about progression? He paces frequently, eats snow outside for 30 min at a time, is up multiple times at night, is disoriented, has trouble walking, licks his pee or eats poop if he’s gone in the house.

    -Katherine

    • Hi Katherine,

      It’s so hard when they are physically fit. I used the quality of life assessment lists, checking with them often. But with my little Cricket, it was the event of her having a seizure that I took as the “landmark.” I just wasn’t going to let that happen again, combined wit her other frailties. It was still so hard.

      Hope some others can chime in here. I think it helps to hear how others decide, even if the circumstances are different.

      Take care.

  11. Hi…it’s all so difficult. I finally had to make the decision to allow my little Taylor to pass over the rainbow bridge. The Vet decreased his prednisone, which I agreed with, but increased his Valium dosage. It didn’t help. After two sleepless nights, and a month of circling, which became more intense, I knew it wasn’t fair to him to have him live that way. It wasn’t a life, he wasn’t happy. You will know, your instinct will tell you.

  12. Hi all,

    When our dementia pup passes how long would you recommend keeping his body around for our other dog, and cat who both adore him? My husband and daughter are a little worried about this idea, because they are afraid of how they’ll feel having him in the house – but we also believe our cat and dog need some time with him to understand he’s gone. And we’ll watch them both to see how they’re doing with it – so maybe that’s the biggest clue. If you have any thoughts or experience here, I’d appreciate it.

    -Katherine

  13. Thank you so much for your very informative forum! I never knew of CDS in dogs prior to reading your posts just today. I have a 16 year old rescue Chihuahua mix named Otis. Otis is truly the love of my life. I attributed his odd behavioral issues to old age, but it seems as if in the last week, Otis has turned a very bad corner with the disease. He has yet to be evaluated by his vet because I thought that this was perhaps “the natural end of life” for him and wanted him to be at peace at home, seeing that he does not seem to be in any sort of pain. Ive anguished over the possibility of having to perhaps put him to sleep, until a friend mentioned to me, just tonight about CDS. Your website has given me renewed hope that perhaps with a little medical intervention and plenty of love, caring, and patience, we can ride this thing out with grace and dignity.

    • Hello Michele, I’m sorry in the delay in responding. I hope little Otis is still with you, or that he has gone in peace if that was what was to be. Thank you for writing. I can tell how much you love him.

  14. Alright folks, here’s some interesting news. Our 13 year old dog has almost completely recovered. After 4+ mos of diarrhea we put him on an all rice diet. Turns out there is a correlation between diarrhea and dementia due to vitamin B1 being leached. Rice is fortified with B1, and after roughly 3-4 weeks he’s back to his old self – we’re not sure he has ANY residual affects of dementia.

    Please post info about the connection of B1 to diarrhea and dementia (I wish I had known). Btw, we were at our wits end since his extreme food sensitivities prevented any other sort of food tolerance, including his hypo-allergenic food he’s been on for 12 years – hence the rice.

  15. Why are you assuming that the dog is a female (“…her”/”…she”)? I have a Puerto Rican street dog (a mutt). I got him when I was 9 so, about 13 years ago. We don’t know how old he is, because the shelter/kennel didn’t know when he was born. For about half a year or so, he has been aimlessly walking outside his territory, not noticing that he’s walking out side the yard. He also sometimes barks without any reason, too.

    • Sometimes I assume he, sometimes she. On this website I use she. It seems only fair to mix it up a little, since English doesn’t have a gender-neutral pronoun. Good luck with your street dog.

  16. I rescued an older Jack Russell girl of about 10 years of age, over 3 years ago, history unknown, called Gypsy. I had a boy Jack Russell, 12, Jack & they were good pals. She soon showed signs of deafness & also signs I didn’t recognize that are dementia.They included waiting at the hinge side of doors, not wanting too much petting from strangers, vague stare occasionally & stiff gait. My vet advised Vivitinon, half tab twice daily which had an immediate effect on her energy levels! My boy Jack had congestive heart failure & we had the tough decision about 2 years ago. She missed him & against my friends advice as I’m a stroke survivor & disabled myself, I took on another older Jack Russell called Nugett, 12yrs! He’s a great dog & they’ve developed a strong friendship! Gypsy is worse but still likes walking but shorter, eats like a horse (or would, if let her), knows her mum & others, hates her new harness being put on but she can back out of old one (not so demented? ) & tires me out chasing her like a game to get it on! She might also have Cushings Disease but not confirmed & I don’t want to put her through the stress of a full day at the vets & more meds to find out? She seems happy in herself but does bark for no reason that I can see? Sleeps a lot through day & wakes up early evening, asking for food. I’ve developed a strategy & give her less at main meals then the remainder in eve! She’s a labour of love & I wouldn’t be without her until she’s not having a good life anymore, a day I’m dreading! Thank you, Julie.

    • Oh Julie, thanks for writing about your lovely Jack Russells. Also, kudos for adopting a senior dog! How lucky you, Gypsy, and Nugett both are. I don’t think Vivitonin is available in the U.S. yet, but it has been clinically studied in Europe and is prescribed in several countries, so I’m glad you mentioned it. (The active ingredient is Propentofylline.) You are doing such a good job figuring out ways to keep Gypsy health and happy. Thanks again for writing!

  17. Hello, I am very new. Our 11year old mini dapple doxie Blitz was just diagnosed blind and with dementia, double whammy. Any information or experiences sure could help. Thank you Nancy

    • Hi Nancy!

      I’m so sorry your doxie got the double whammy. I don’t know of any resources specifically for a dog who is both blind and has dementia, but there is a great site for blind dogs, and the owner has a blind dachshund! Here is a link to her blog, with some specific posts linked on how to help a blind dog. I hope some others will chime in here with their experiences.

      http://blinddogtraining.com/category/howtohelp

  18. Thank you for this site. Our Austrailian Shepard Cody is almost 15. He has most of the symptoms on the list, aside from eating & drinking. This started all of a sudden about 10 – 12 months ago. First we thought he was going blind because he was bumping into everything in the house. Then, very quickly he lost about 15 pounds. We had to change from hard food to canned dog food and he is eating well now. This is a difficult time for our family because we know his life on earth is coming to an end. Until that time, we continue to provide love and support and hope that his remaining time is peaceful and without pain.

    • Thanks for writing, Glen. I can tell your dog is being lovingly cared for. I hope that he still has many days with his loving family.

  19. Thank you for this site. The love and compassion in the posts is very comforting. I adopted a 10 year old “special needs” dog 3 years ago. Gigi is the first dog I have ever owned that has a sense of humor. We bonded immediately and I love her so much! She came to me with severe cataracts, deafness, horrible teeth, heart worms, and mammary cysts that needed to be removed. She needed to be neutered and had had too many litters. (BTW, she was chipped and when the pound called the owners to let them know she had been found, they didn’t want her.!) Two heart worm treatments, dental work, and a couple of surgeries later, she was good to go. Six months ago, her back right leg gave out and she started acting very strange and disoriented. She was diagnosed as having had a stroke, and within a few weeks she was almost 100 percent — even resuming using her back leg. A few months later she had another episode, and again recovered within a few weeks. About a month ago, she started going downhill fast. She is now blind, still can’t hear, she collapses on her rear right leg although she sometimes walks on it, she cannot aim her mouth for eating and drinking, she dumps her food and water dishes constantly and she pees in my bed almost every night. She can’t find her way around the house, she gets herself stuck in every nook and cranny…need I go on? I have restricted her to a 10 x 5 room because she is at risk of getting hurt and I watch her on a camera when I am not home so I can rescue her if she gets in trouble. All that being said, when I hold her she loves me, nudges for pets, wags her tail, eats and drinks like a big dog (she is a 10 lb mixed breed mutt). She has started falling asleep with her head on my shoulder even though she never liked to be touched at night before, so that’s a plus. I have been able to handle everything so far but one thing: since her back right leg doesn’t work, she paces all day but basically sits on her bottom and turns in a circle. She is wearing sores into her leg, butt, and tail. Sometimes she pees and then turns in that all day so her skin is very irritated. Any ideas on how to stop the circling? We tried meclazine ( no change) and started the alzheimers meds a week ago. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Julie, how wonderful that you are still able to care for Gigi and she has such a good quality of life. Your story is so touching. What a lucky dog she is that you found her?

      I’m sorry that I do not have any ideas about the circling. I so hope the dementia meds help. Perhaps another reader has a bright idea for you. I, too, confined little Cricket to a smaller space for the last few months of her life and used a webcam to check on her. (She would poop and walk around in it.)

      Take care and let me know how things go.

  20. My daughter is a registered nurse and she has a 12 year old Boston terrier which we all love so much . She has been a big part of our family since I bought her from a Boston terrier rescue group for my daughters nursing school graduation
    She is showing signs of dementia , for several months now but lately she has started being aggressive toward her other dog , barking at night , starring into space at nothing and at times acts like she does not know my daughter , she also roams the house at night and that is so unlike her ,
    Is there any kind of medication she can take for this ?
    Thanks

    • Hi Tina, thanks for writing about your dog. Check out the treatment page. The drug that I believe has the most positive research behind it is selegiline (Anipryl is the brand name in the U.S.). Good luck.

  21. I believe our 14 year old corgi is in the early stages of dementia. In the early stages do some of these symptoms come and go? The reason I ask is because sometimes I see him exhibit symptoms and other times I don’t. Some of the things I’ve seen over the past 6 months are waiting at the hinge side of the door, refusing to bark, staring at walls, pacing, and no interest in any of his favorite toys. I haven’t had him evaluated by our vet but will be taking him in soon to rule out any other medical conditions.

    • Yes Theresea, they can come and go. There are good and bad days, and even good and bad times of days. Some people even notice the “sundowning” effect, as it is been named for human patients with Alzheimers. Things can just tend to fall apart at the end of the day. Those sound like typical symptoms. I’m glad you are going to see your vet.

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