Dog with dementia with head under chairThese are some of the commonly agreed upon behavioral symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction (dog dementia). Most of the individual symptoms can also be attributed to other conditions, so it’s imperative to see the vet to find out what is going on with your dog.

For the sources of the items on this list, see “References for Symptoms.”

For photos and videos of many of the following behaviors, see “What Does it Look Like?”

  • 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 appetiteCricket collage
  • 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  • Seeking attention less; getting withdrawn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

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

CCD checklist thumb

Copyright Eileen Anderson 2015

This symptom list was carefully researched and professionally edited. It is under copyright, both on this page and on the printable PDF. Please don’t copy and paste the list or parts of it into blog posts, articles, or other documents. That’s a violation of copyright. Instead, please link to one of the versions at this website.  

Sources of the items on the list can be found here.

Proceed to Treatment


160 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 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.



  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.

      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.

    • hi my dog is 15,a month ago I took her to the vets and she also has mammary cancer, I was told she also had dementia,they said she wasen t in pain,last week the cancer spread to her lungs so we had to have the option of putting her to sleep,I miss her so much xx

  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

  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.

      • Our girl Megan is on segiline and the change was amazing at 1st. She had been up all night pacing and moaning. It has been 10 months and she is much better. The main thing is that she has to be walked every day then given her medicine at the same time every day. It was not a miracle drug but she seems more settled.

        • Thanks for commenting, Sue. I’m glad to hear another success story with selegiline. You are right, it’s not a miracle drug. We can hope for a moderate improvement for some dogs and it sounds like that’s what you got. Actually it sounds like more than moderate; I’m sure it was hard on everyone when she was up all night. I’m so glad things are better!

  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.


    • 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.


  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.

  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 ?

    • 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.

  22. Hi there,
    We have had a number of geriatric girls through the years but this is the first time I think we may dealing with doggy dementia. For the past 2 years, our Harley Mae has had some of the symptoms. We moved about a year ago and her symptoms stayed the same but in the past month , they have exponentially increased. She will sit and bark at walls, shakes uncontrollably if someone she loves and has known comes to visits or there is a high tone pitched noise such as on Apple Iphone; She will have a blank stare back at you at times and other times she seems partially engaged. I am not sure what to do with her. She goes to the vet often as of late trying to figure what is going on. All of her monthly labs are normal, her ultrasounds of her abdomen are normal. Wondering if we should do a brain CT?? He thinks it is anxiety. He started her on Prozac and its too early to tell if it is working. She has 4 other canine sisters that she still likes particularly one that can usually comfort her when we humans cannot, It seems odd to me that she has these symptoms so young at 11 human years. I work with humans with dementia and I think I a m seeing it in our Harley Mae. I also read that her breed is more susceptible to neurological disorders as she is an Aussie Shepherd mix. Any thoughts or ideas are welcomed
    Thank you!

    • Hi Kathy, thanks for writing about Harley Mae. So sorry that she is showing these signs so early. Since you work with humans with dementia you probably know that a brain tumor can cause a lot of the same problems; is that why you are considering a brain CT? Has your vet discussed selegiline with you (Anipryl in the US)? It has shown promise in ameliorating dementia and also is prescribed for anxiety (off-label for that in the US). I hope at least you can get a certain diagnosis. Perhaps some others can chime in here with ideas. Take care.

  23. My daughter has a 12 year old Boston terrier showing symptoms of dementia , she did some research and saw something about feeding them raw meat . She found a recipe and ordered raw rabbit , duck and sheep and started making Roxy’s food . Within a couple of weeks she has started acting like herself and has so much enegery and her symptoms has completely stopped . No longer barking at night , wondering the house all night long and just staring into space and getting lost in the house
    So much difference in her , now if it will last I have no clue but she sure has made a drastic change .
    She orders her food from

  24. Thank you for this website. I first noticed it because of a photo of your dog, Cricket. She looked exactly like my dog, Prickette, who now is in her second year with the symptoms of dementia described in your links. It’s comforting and it’s sad knowing that others are going through the same thing as I am. She eats, etc, but she is not really there any longer and I don’t know how long I can go on like this. Everyday, especially after a hard night, I think I should put her down and then I look at her and tears come to my eyes and I continue. And she continues. The sadness for me is ever present. I can only imagine what it is like for her.

    • I’m so sorry, Rick. I understand about that sadness. I do believe that it is usually harder on us than it is on them, unless they are terribly anxious or in pain, and it sounds like your dear dog is not. Take care.

    • Hi Rick,
      I feel your pain. My little 14 year old terrier mix had been showing signs of dementia for a few months. Wandering and whining at night, not eating, and licking his paws excessively. Last week he started to become aggressive towards the family. Yesterday I had to make the decision to put him down. I got him some fries from McDonald’s and a cold beer. (His two favorite things) before we went to the vet. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s been 24 hours and I’m still crying. Just remember that when we take on a furry roommate, it is our duty to do what is best for them. I know that if I where in pain, losing my senses and my mind, I’d want to move on to the next life. You just have to focus on all the love and joy they brought to your life and know you will see them on the other side. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who are dealing with this.

  25. Thank you so much for having a big heart for animals and being so loyal and good to your do in her final days. Thank you even more for sharing what you have learned to give the rest of us some kind of path to navigate.

    I have two Papillons myself the daughter and grand daughter of my parents two dogs. My parents recently passed two weeks apart from each other like a story out of the notebook. I promised to care for their dogs but had no idea of the challenge I would face. I lived just a few doors away and saw my parents every day for at least an hour and took mine as I went so her dogs know me well. Im sure this is harder for them because it has been exacerbated by moving them to my home that they are not familiar with AND the Lucky has lost his eyesight, completely blind, Ricky who has always been very nearsighted (can’t see far) is totally deaf and now beginning to lose her sight as well so the hand signals I taught her are useless. On top of all of that they are grieving. I think I misssed some earlier signs because I was so occupied with caring for my parents and then passed them off as grief. Ricky would stand under my mothers clothes for an hour, that were hanging in the laundry room and I thought it was because she smelled my mother on them.But I now think it was the beginning of the standing behavior. There is a cheap bookshelf in the area where I keep them that used to house homework stuff when my son was little and I still keep paper or pens on it. They will pull anything on that shelf into the floor, tear it up and then crawl on the shelf to sleep in the corner of the book shelf. Obviously I stopped putting anything there. Of course all behaviors get worse at night just when I need to sleep. They bark, cry, stare at the walls or at the ceiling lights, which freaks some people out, you can imagine the theories that come from that since my parents just passed. It is also hard to tell what is fear and insecurity over the lack of vision and what is dementia. One thing for sure, because it has been a little embarrassing, is both dogs who use to like me, now act like they are frightened of me, but they act frightened of everything.
    One thing that also made it hard to think they had dementia is if they managage to get out the door (like when Im carrying in groceries) ; and I swear it seems strategic, they can navigate back to mom’s house! Well, they could until about 3 weeks ago. Now they just navigate to the road. Fortunately for me, I live in the country and about 900 feet off the road and usually have time to put down whatever Im doing and chase after them.

    I do not want to put them down for multiple reasons. I think it would be terrifying for them to go to a vet and smell the smells when they cant see or hear or be comforted. They cant hear my voice, see my face and now they ; especially Ricky seems fearful of my touch though I try to pet her and love her. I also don’t want any doubt (in my own mind) that it was for convenience or that it just got too hard. some days it is so clear like when she walks into the house hard enough to hurt and other days they seem to be playing and trotting like puppies and seem really happy. It also feels like the last thing I can do for my parents. Having said that, it is so tough. They make me late for work almost every morning no matter what routines I try to implement.

    The most time consuming is cleaning up after them. I can take them out and they will come in the house to go to the bathroom. Puppy pads dont work, they wad them up as a blanket. Blankets have to be washed daily because those, they DO go on. ughhhh.

    Has anyone found out of the box tricks to help with these issues. I really am at my wits end between the guilt of even thinking about putting them down and the reality of keeping them safe and living with the the work they create. Thanks for listening. I apologize for the length, I could actually make this a small book but hopefully this paints a picture.

    • Dear Karen,
      First, I’m so sorry about the loss of your parents. I can’t even imagine how hard that was, and then to be followed by becoming the caregiver of their dogs.

      The “coming in to use the bathroom” is one of the classic symptoms of dementia, you probably know that, and a very frustrating one. If they will go on blankets–this is gross but if they are doing it anyway can you arrange some sort of surface like that for them on the floor? Baby blankets? Towels? (My Cricket wadded up pee pads too, just from walking on them.) Also, have you looked into doggie diapers? They come in sizes all the way down to tiny.

      I understand the horror of thinking of the dogs’ last moments being fearful in the vet’s office. Have you discussed the possibility of an oral sedative (something like valium) you can give them beforehand? For when the time does come. (Don’t agree to the drug acepromazine, which some vets still use. Here’s why.) You might want to talk to the vet in general about medications. There is absolutely no shame in that. If they dogs have dementia, it is a disease of the brain. Your vet may be able to suggest a medications to help.

      I hope some others chime in here with suggestions for you. You are being an angel for your parents, and for their dogs.


    • Hi Karen,

      My thoughts are with you.

      As Eileen mentioned, I think it’s definately worth asking your vet if an anti-anxiety is an option.

      As for the vet, I am in Australia but we have vets here that will come to the house. We even have vets that do only at-home ‘farewells’ and nothing else. May be worth ringing around to see if a vet can come to you when it gets to that time. Another alternative if you can’t get a vet to come to you is that they might be happy to prescribe a sedative to give before you take them to the clinic so they will be relaxed for travel and hopefully asleep when they get there.

      Hope this helps somewhat.

  26. I have a 13 yo 65 lb mixed breed dog who is in remission from lymphosarcoma. He’s been pretty busy all his life, so I’ve been using food toys with him since he was 1 yo. He still eats his kibble through them every day. I’ve had a feeling his hearing is going, but I’m not sure. The past month or so, he’ll get spooked (like when he hears thunder or fireworks), but there are no noises (at least that I can hear). He starts to stress pant heavily and wants to be put in the car. I have been taking him for a short drive and coming home where he’s usually ok after that. He even shakes sometimes. It’s so sad as I don’t know what’s wrong or how to help him. I don’t want him to be scared. Could this be part of dementia or something? He’s always been a pretty sharp dog and is also so eager to train (very food motivated!).

    I’m so glad I saw this post on your Facebook page. I follow your regular blog, but will follow this one too! Thanks!

    • Hi Carla, it sounds like you have taken great care of your fellow all his life! Startling for no apparent reason and trembling for no apparent reason are both on the possible symptom list for canine cognitive dysfunction, but may be symptoms of other conditions too. Sounds like a trip to the vet might be in order.

      Thank you for following this blog and I hope you get some useful info here. I hope you have a lot more good time with your dog.

  27. I rarely post on websites. But I have to tell you that I think you have done a tremendous job with this website. I am so moved by these stories and your responses. I am a 26 year old nurse and routinely interact with dementia patients. So in a way, I can relate to the experiences of these owners. My 13 year old Rigatoni has started displaying some of these symptoms, and that is how I happened across this website. She is a happy old mutt that gives our two year old cat a run for his money. Thank you so much for your time and compassion.

    • Thank you so very much, Anthony. My mom had Alzheimer’s, and I’ve noticed commonalities too. I hope Rigatoni (great name!) keeps going strong for a long time to come.

  28. Thank you for a very informative website. Your little Cricket seems a sweetie.

    I’ve had a girl I rescued at 4 months. She’s 10 now; a bit young for CD. We don’t have an official diagnosis of anything other than extreme anxiety, but I wonder if this is where we are heading. She showed some anxiety issues early on and since I knew she had suffered some trauma as a pup in a shelter, I attribute it to that. At 2 YO, she developed EPI, which I manage with enzymes and B12 shots.

    She has been fairly active, playing frisbee and chuck it daily in addition to neighborhood or park walks. She becomes unglued with storms (even just wind) or fireworks. This last month has been unbearable: up all night, moving from room to room, on my bed, off my bed – can’t settle till around dawn. Plus the shaking. Nothing I do calms her except taking her for car rides. Our home (just hubby & I) is quiet and calm – we are not loud people.

    She has had episodes of this behavior over the years and usually snaps out of it. She doesn’t seem to be in pain and all blood work is normal.

    We have tried the following: Rescue Remedy, flower essences, Thundershirt, Composure, melatonin, calming music, more exercise. Nothing has made much of a difference. The vet has now given her prozac as of last weekend. I feel like a total failure. She looks at me so sadly, like “Mom, what have you done to me?” I know there is an adjustment period, but I’m not sure I’LL make it. She’s not eating normally, sleeping more through the day and looking sad and anxious. Also having separation anxiety, which she never had before. She has destroyed three rugs and two blankets in the last six months – never destroyed anything before.

    In a month, we’ve only had 2 nights of uninterrupted sleep. Not functioning well at all. Sorry this is so long – just venting because I’m so upset.

    • Dear Bella,

      What a rough road you have had with your dear dog. I’m saying this as a lay person, but from what I’ve read, anxiety and dementia can go hand in hand, at least in the earlier stages. Good for you for helping your dog try Prozac. And even though you must be tired of “trying” stuff and are worrying about the effects on her, remember that, just as with humans, sometimes it can take a while to get the dosage right.

      You might want to check into the Fearful Dogs Facebook group. It is wonderful and they are very responsible about recommending only things that have been shown to work.

      I really hope you can get your dog–and you and your husband–some relief.

  29. Should have added, too, that her anxiousness seems a bit like “sundowning” since it happens at nightfall. Most of the summer, she would not go out into the yard in the dark, even with porch lights. She would go to the bathroom in the mulch up against the house.

  30. Thank you for your wonderful advice. You are very kind and informative. I have a 13 yr old website named Dino. He is the first dog I ever owned and now his mental state is slowly deteriorating. He pants constantly, walks aimlessly, growls even at me, and generally has a rather unkempt, sad look about him. I am so glad I checked your site because tomorrow he has a vet appt and I will ask about Valium or other calming medicines for him. Bless you for helping us “senior dog owners.”

  31. My Dave is now 9 nearly 10 years old, his a happy dog and very much a mummys boy. I adopted him and his sister (same age), 4 years ago! My husbands ex wife had put his dogs in the rehoming centre and not told him. So they have known my husband since being puppies.
    We use to laugh about how much dave wanted to be near me and I even called him my shadow, I can’t tell you the amount of times I have tripped over him. They have had their own bedroom since they came to live with us, they did have a cage in there but the door was never closed, it was to make them feel secure more than anything because it was what they we’re use to.
    In the past few months dave hasn’t wanted to go in their bedroom on a night time, just stands on his hind legs and shakes in front of us. So we took the cage apart (we thought maybe he didn’t have enough room when sleeping) and put lots more dogs beds down in the room so they had more places to sleep, this didn’t work. So then I put my son’s old night light in their room and it seamed to do the trick, in the past few days however it has started again. He won’t go in there he won’t even come and sit with me just wants to be with my husband all the time. He has even started to fall coming down the stairs (now I carry him on days). He is shaking all the time as well unless his sleeping or on my husbands knee.
    Do you think his could be early dementia?

    • Hi Nicola,
      I’m so glad you found out about the dogs in the rehoming center and got them! Dave does sound very attached to you.

      As you have guessed, when a dog starts behaving differently, being scared of something or avoiding it, that’s something to pay attention to. The things you described could be dementia, or there could be a different physical or mental problem. I hope you can get Dave to the vet to discuss these things. Bless you for taking such good care of both dogs.

  32. Great site. I simply typed in dog dementia and have enjoyed reading all the post. Just loss my husband after ten nightmarish yrs. with LBD, never realizing a dog could come down with dementia as well. We have five dogs and the one who worked with him everyday, I assumed was grieving, well after taking him to the vet, it is confirmed canine dementia. And as some one else mentioned the meds. they gave me, seemed to make him worse. However, knowing he has severe arthritis in his rear right leg I researched mobic, which I take and give him half late in the afternoon…wow, I can now sleep at night with him curled up next to me. After dealing with this with my husband for so many years, I’m sure it is individual signs with animals
    as well as with humans, in other words there is no one size for all. I’m still hoping the grieving process has thrown Buddy into this, and hoping to see good results with the raw food diet, along with more time for him to get over his grieving. I look forward to reading and learning from others experiences on your site, thanks!

    • Hi Val, and thanks for your comment. Lewy Body Dementia is tough; I’m so sorry about the loss of your husband and the difficult time you both must have had. I’m really glad the painkiller is giving your guy some relief at night. And if your dog does turn out to have dementia, remember to get back to your vet about other medication options.

      Thanks for coming here and reading the stories! We all feel better when we can share these things, I think.

  33. My family and I learned about dog dementia too late. Our dog, Daisy, would seemingly find herself out on the front lawn time and time again not truly knowing how she got there. We had just thought it was a phase of hers, until we heard about dog dementia after she was caught in the middle of the street. Life sucks, we lost a friend yesterday afternoon.

  34. Hi everyone, I’m so glad I found this site, I have a 12 year old staffy called Buster, he started doing the toilet in the house 3 months ago and started refusing walks, he licks the wall for hours every day, and doesn’t play anymore, he sits in the other side of the house away from everyone, he doesn’t get excited about much, but he does have some good days where he is excited to see me, he still eats, is not in any pain although he has lost the use of his back right leg and the left leg is what holds him up, I have 2 young kids, a 2 years old and a 8 month old who just started crawling this week, he has poo’d on the babies mat, and on top of his toys, and I have had to throw a lot of stuff out, we came to the decision today that it was time to get him put down, we just don’t think he has any quality of life anymore, and I can’t have him pooing 2-3 times a day on the floor the baby crawls on, I just feel so sad and lost, my husband is devasted, its his first pet and his best Friend and our first baby really, I have cried all night, I feel like I am letting him down and that I am murdering him by getting him put down, we tried the tablets for dimentia and it made him worst he started peeing everywhere and pooing more and stopped eating so we stopped after 10 days, he tends to come right in front of me to poo, is this a normal thing for dimentia or could he have something else all together? Sorry for the long rambling post, I just don’t know what is for the best, I miss my old friend and am sad my boys won’t get to grow up with the fun happy dog we all loved

    • I’m so sorry, Gemma. I can tell how much you love your dog. Yes, it is pretty common for dogs with dementia to eliminate right in front of their owners; it’s even in some of the symptom lists. Sometimes they will even come in from outside and do it. I supposed by now you may have made your decision. Please don’t feel badly. Your Buster is so lucky to have someone who loves him so much that they would care for him so well.

      • He was put to sleep on Thurs, he was terrified of fireworks, so guy Fawkes night and weekend after is always very upsetting for him so we decided to do it before all the fireworks started, I feel soo sad, I feel like I killed him and that I have up too soon, I miss him dearly, and would give anything for another cuddle

        • Gemma, Buster was lucky to have you and you clearly gave him a great life. I think it was very thoughtful to save him from the fireworks. I hope you can feel better about your decision in time. Hugs to you.

  35. I fear my 11.5 year old Basset Hound is on the road to dementia. Over the past 2 months, he has been constantly barking. Several months ago my vet found a solid mass on Noah’s chest. I elected not to put him thru the surgery and probably chemo that would have been involved. I don’t know if this is causing the barking, or if he is just getting old. He appears to be slightly deaf but still seems to see well. We have a vet appt tomorrow so hopefully he can give Noah something to calm his nerves a bit. All I know is that I’ve had my best friend since he was 8 weeks old and I can’t stand the thought of losing him.

    • Dear Sallie,

      I hope the vet appointment went well. It sounds like Noah is going through a pretty hard time, and you too. He’s a very lucky guy to have you. Let us know with an update if you’d like. Take care.

  36. Thank you so much for this website! I have a 13 year old wire haired terrier, Buster, who has always been wired wrong; leash aggression, separation anxiety, and sleep aggression. I would chalk it up to the terrier breed, but I had a sweet little JRT who was the complete antithesis of him. He developed arthritis symptoms about two years ago as well, and has a tumor on his liver.

    Lately he has been exhibiting odd behavior, or should I say more odd behavior than he has exhibited his entire life. I thought this was due to the fact that his arthritis causes him pain, or maybe his liver, and that maybe he is losing his eyesight. After reading the symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction, I’m rethinking my thinking.

    * Pacing back and forth — yep. He goes from one part of the house to the other, over and over and over again.
    * Staring into space or walls — does the oven door count?
    * Walking into corners or other tight spaces and staying there — all the time
    Appearing lost or confused
    * Waiting at the “hinge” side of the door to go out — not to go out. To come in! He’s been going out that sliding glass door for 11 years!
    * Failing to get out of the way when someone opens a door — I thought this was due to arthritis
    * Failing to remember routines, or starting them and gets only partway through — we have a doggy door out to our garage where he eats. He goes out, he comes back in, he goes out, he comes back in. Second verse same as the first.
    * Barking for no apparent reason and/or for long periods — all the time!
    * Forgetting cues and trained behaviors she once knew — like um, “Come on Buddy. Let’s go outside.” He turns and goes the other direction. I thought he was being obstinate in his old age.
    * Exhibiting motor difficulties like difficulty backing up (aside from physical problems) — Maybe be the arthritis. I don’t know.
    * Startling easily — Much, much worse than it used to be.
    * Getting less enthusiastic about toys or stopping playing altogether — none what soever.
    * Performing repetitive behaviors — going in and out of the doggy door over and over and over again.
    *Losing appetite — definitely not eating as much
    * Having difficulty getting all the way into bed — I attributed this to the arthritis as well.
    * Getting trapped under or behind furniture — Again I blamed it on his eyesight and arthritis.
    * Sleeping more during the day and less at night — YES
    * Forgetting house training — so far no accidents in the house but now he is tinkling on the patio rather than going out into the grass.
    * Seeking attention less; getting withdrawn — I’m about the only person in the family he’ll come to for petting.
    * Having trouble with stairs — He has one stepped down out the back door to the patio. He is constantly falling flat on his face, or tripping when he comes back in.
    * Getting generally more fearful and anxious — And this is key! He has always been high strung and anxious, but his behavior lately has been off the charts.

    I’m going to make an appointment with my vet. I don’t like to self diagnose my dog, but he has the classic symptoms! I honestly thought he was just being weird because of the arthritis and possibly having dimmer site. What dog gets stuck behind furniture and can’t figure how to get out?

    Here is my problem. From all I’ve read this morning, putting a dog on selegiline when they are at this advanced stage is almost useless. I don’t think he is at the stage where he is ready to be put to sleep. He can still get up and around, he can be frisky at times, he likes to take walks for short periods, he interacts with other dogs in the household. He’s just addle brained. This is so frustrating!

    • Christin, I’m really glad you are going to see your vet. You have certainly checked a lot of boxes that might be dementia, but only a vet can tell you for sure. And like you say, most of them can be something else. It seems awfully unfair that a dog who has had a lot of other problems should get dementia as well. I’m so sorry, whatever it turns out to be. I hope you’ll let me know what happens.

  37. **Update**

    This may help someone else at some time.

    Prozac was a disaster. We tried it for 16 days. She became more anxious, still did not sleep and lost 2.5 lbs. – she’s only a 32 lbs dog. Stopped that. The vet recommended clonicalm, which I have ordered. I am wary because the pharmacist told me that anorexia is a side effect of this med, too.

    So in the meantime, I asked the vet if we could try trazadone and a fast acting benzo. That seems to be helping her without changing her personality. I am very pleased in the change, but it’s only been a few days.

    Since she has quite a few of the classic symptoms of CCD, I asked the vet about it and all she could offer was, “Maybe.” I’m suspecting it may be early signs, but we are working toward easing the anxiety and that’s about all we can do.

    I continue to take her to different parks throughout the week and she seems to enjoy that. She even started walking in our neighborhood again, which really is a big deal.

    She seems calms throughout the day, but at night, she starts getting a little more anxious. Last night around 8 PM, she just stood and stared at me. She had eaten, had a walk, a car ride and play time. I’m suspicious that she wanted me to give her the meds to help her. And then I start worrying, “OMG, what have we created!!” I do feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein.

    • Hi Bella,
      Speak to your vet about Alprazolam. We tried Valium to start with and it worked to settle her anxiety but her ‘Canine Medicine Specialist’ changed her to Alprazolam as it has a longer lasting effect and we were able to get a longer sleep during the night.

      • I think the traz is working. She is not shaking, so playful again and wants two walks per day. This is a remarkable change. Sleep overnight is better, but not uninterrupted. Unfortunately she started having diarrhea a few days ago. I’m hoping it’s not the traz causing it. She has EPI and changes can set it off.

        I had asked about valium at one of her vet visits, but the vet said she doesn’t like to use it. I don’t remember why. Honestly, I don’t think she has a lot of experience with these behaviors. That’s not a criticism, just an observation.

        I emailed a vet behaviorist with my dog’s history and she replied that it sounded like there are brain changes.

        My heart goes out to all on here that are experiencing these issues. It’s heart-breaking (and exhausting) not to be able to fix our companions. This has seriously mucked with my own well-being – I look like I’ve been through the wringer 🙂 Thanks for having a space to vent.

  38. Thank you for this website…it not only put my mind at ease, but also helps me not go into denial that our female 11 year old dachshund chi mix (Phoebe) started with the ODD behaviors 4 days ago…like a faucet was turned on. I called a couple of vets and they wanted me to take her in. I’m an essential oil gal, and use essential oils on my doggies. Tonight is the 2nd evening in a row that I’ve put a drop (of Frankincense) on Phoebe’s head, and she has calmed to the point of resting peacefully. But this morning, I awoke to her ON my chest, fearful and looking around the room. Poor babygirl, it breaks my heart. I know that some of the posts talk about a raw diet, and some folks even talked about getting their dog on a rice diet. I’m concerned, and I will do whatever it takes to make her comfortable and LESS anxiety filled. She only exhibits 6 signs of ‘something is different’. I believe in HOLISTIC treatment for both me and my pets, so I wonder if you have any links to reputable holistic vets in the North Dallas (Texas) area?

    • Hi Eva,

      I wish you best of luck with Phoebe. Sounds like things are a little rough right now. I don’t know a holistic vet in that area; I hope you find someone you can work with for Phoebe. I hear you that you probably would prefer alternatives, but most of the people I know who have tried prescription drugs for their dogs with anxiety wish they had done it a lot sooner. It is worth it to see their dog feeling so much better. Perhaps you can find someone with a complementary approach? Good luck in any case. Keep us posted here if you like.

  39. I just found this site and it looks so helpful and informative. I have three dogs at the moment, one of whom we have had 11 years or so, he is maybe 13 years old, a crossbreed. Over the last 6 months or so I’ve noticed he is going to the toilet in the kitchen, both poo and pee. Sometimes we will take him out to the garden for his toilet, he will come back in and within 5 minutes he’ll have ‘gone’ in the kitchen. I’ve not really taken it seriously other than to be annoyed and think that it’s our fault for forgetting to take him out in time. And another thing, which is very odd, sometimes we will just be chilling at home watching TV or whatever, and he will randomly sit in the middle of the room and start to whine, and hwe will just keep doing it, and we can’t work out why. When he does that, we get him to come over to one of us and we give him a fuss, or I get him to sit up on the sofa with me and pet him till he dozes off. I’ve lost one dog to dementia a few years ago, and tonight it’s just twigged that this may possibly be the start of dementia for him (his name is Tetley by the way). Apart from those two behaviours, I can’t think he has any other new ‘quirks’, but I decided to come online and get some info, hence I ended up on this site. Any comments or thoughts would be very welcome.

    • Well it sounds like it could be dementia, but just about any symptom can also be a symptom of a different medical problem. Can you take him to the vet? I’m glad you can comfort him when he gets upset.

  40. P.S. to my previous post….I just realised something else – sometimes when we are all sitting in the front room relaxing, he will get and and go over to the front door and lie down there and just look at me. I assumed it was cos he was too hot by the fire, but I’m not so sure now. He’s also got quite grumpy and has been known to snap at people who move too quickly round him or go to pet him, and he NEVER used to be like that. He also can get grumpy with us if we go to hug him too much, he sometimes growls and occasionally will have a slight snap. I assumed it was just old age but, again, in the light of the other behaviours, that could also be connected with dementia.

    • Yes, age itself isn’t a disease, but dementia is. Behavior changes can also mean a dog is in pain. I hope you can get Tetley to the vet. Take care.

  41. A wonderful website to read about other ‘real life’ and current dementia stories, it’s both comforting and sad to hear – well done, and thank you, Eileen.

    My best friend is a 15 y.o. Maltese with Grade 4 heart murmur which has been stable for 4 years, recently tested positive to Cushing’s (we have been testing for a couple of years as she has clinically presented for some time) and chronic arthritis. Recent attempts to control Cushing’s with Trilostane have failed (despite doubling the dose) and due to her sudden decreased appetite and associated weight loss, we are not able to increase her Trilostane and thus, cannot commence NSAID’s for her arthritis as her cortisol levels are still too high.

    She has now presented with most symptoms of dementia – panting and trembling for most of her ‘awake’ hours, pacing and wandering aimlessly, sleepless nights (Alprazolam helps tremendously for those who would like to speak to their vet about it – she is rested without any panting or trembling and her respiratory rate returns to normal – under 30 breaths a minute for her), increased thirst, appetite loss (may be due to Cushing’s treatment) and stumbling.

    The other, and main, heartbreaking symptom she has is severe HEAD PRESSING and this is something that nobody has mentioned in this forum. I would be very appreciative to know if anybody has experienced this symptom with dementia or if this can be put down only to her Pituitary dependent Tumor (Cushing’s) that is more than likely increasing in size and pushing on her fore-brain.

    We are in the final days and my world (like many others have unfortunately experienced) is about to collapse and I don’t know just yet how I am going to get through it – she is my complete life. I’m not sure if having a go with Anipryl treatment is worth it as a response (if she has one) may take 3-4 weeks (how long have others experienced?) and if her symptoms are caused by this horrible tumor, I might just be prolonging the inevitable. From the moment she wakes from a very peaceful sleep, she starts head pressing, panting and shaking and alprazolam is the only thing that calms her… but this is because it sedates her back to sleep.

    I would be very appreciative if anyone could comment on experiences with HEAD PRESSING. The one thing I notice in this forum is that nobody tends to reply to one another, except for you Eileen. I think it would be of great benefit to all of us caring for our pooches experiencing this horrid disease if we could also start to make comment on others situations and try and be of help by commenting on what works and what doesn’t for them. I’ll start by commenting on a few others comments and I really hope that others will follow suit.

    • Thanks for encouraging others to reply, Tam. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself, had to reply.) When I first opened this site I had a forum page, but I finally took it down because nobody seemed interested. I might try it again; it’s a better format to actually get people talking.

    • I know this is an old post but down the page Is another dog that sounds almost the same . HERES THE POST Darren on November 25, 2015 at 10:34 am said: I am fee ling confused and guilty and sad about my Belgian Shepherd, Cassie. I got her as a rescue dog when she was five, 7 years ago this approaching February, shortly after my GSD, Jezzi, died in my arms.

      For at least two months now, Cassie has been acting strange. The most noticable and difficult behavior happens at night, when we’re in the full size bed we share.

      It begins with her forcefully putting her head on my chest, much like dominant behavior with another dog. After petting and reassuring only made this worse, I began verbally chastising her and told her to leave the room.

      She would then go to her next favorite sleeping spot, the bath tub. But instead of curling up for sleep, she would restlessly rustle around, scraping her claws and making a ton of noise.

      Once or twice I’ve had to “exile” her to the extra room where her doggie bed is and keep her there at night by putting a chair in the door way.

      I’ve spent many sleepless nights now with this new behavior. Tonight was the worst. At bedtime, she started the head-on-chest routine. I sent her to the bathtub, where she made a racket. She came back and tried pawing me, then tried to crawl into space she couldn’t possibly fit in.

      I took her outside and peed about a half cup, but once inside

  42. We have a 9 year old black lab, Bogey. He has terrible fear of loud noises and thunder storms… We have been giving him prescribed by our Vet Acepromazine over the years.
    Living in Florida in the fall/winter and Wisconsin during the summer we have been in lots of storms, of course hunting noises and fireworks.
    My question is can the Acepromazine cause dementia? He has only a couple of signs that we have picked up on…. Standing and Starring off in to space, walking around at night and sleeping quite a bit during the day.
    Thank you for your help, Sue

  43. Thanks for this Web Site and for Everyone who is Posting. We Feel So Comforted after coming to the point of find the list and realizing our Greyhound/Collie , Hazel, who is 15 is Very Ill With MANY of the Symptoms. we also have Toby who is , now we know, far gone with the Dementia, but he has had so many health issues and is a very frail Skipperkie/Lab. He no longer goes outside, he can’t handle the terrain and we think one of his legs may be broken vs strained. we are planning to take both to the vet this coming week for a Final Visit. It have been a LONG 2 Year Fight and we Know it is Time. We have so Much Love and Compassion for everyone on this path.

      • WE have been unable to take that final trip to the Vet. We are taking best care of Everyone as we can and just hoping that they can die peaceful at home. Will Keep You All Posted. <3 Much Love Hugs and Cheers from ME and My Fur Children to You and All Yours.

  44. I am feeling confused and guilty and sad about my Belgian Shepherd, Cassie. I got her as a rescue dog when she was five, 7 years ago this approaching February, shortly after my GSD, Jezzi, died in my arms.

    For at least two months now, Cassie has been acting strange. The most noticable and difficult behavior happens at night, when we’re in the full size bed we share.

    It begins with her forcefully putting her head on my chest, much like dominant behavior with another dog. After petting and reassuring only made this worse, I began verbally chastising her and told her to leave the room.

    She would then go to her next favorite sleeping spot, the bath tub. But instead of curling up for sleep, she would restlessly rustle around, scraping her claws and making a ton of noise.

    Once or twice I’ve had to “exile” her to the extra room where her doggie bed is and keep her there at night by putting a chair in the door way.

    I’ve spent many sleepless nights now with this new behavior. Tonight was the worst. At bedtime, she started the head-on-chest routine. I sent her to the bathtub, where she made a racket. She came back and tried pawing me, then tried to crawl into space she couldn’t possibly fit in.

    I took her outside and peed about a half cup, but once inside she was still restless and whiny.

    I don’t know how to help my best friend, and I feel guilty and depressed about it. And I work two jobs and this sleep deprivation makes me an impatient Zombie.

    — Darren

    • Darren,

      This was part of our girl’s behavior, also (among other things). She never lays on us, but started laying her head on my husband’s chest while in bed, draping herself over him sometimes. But it didn’t calm her. She just continually moved her position. Then she’d jump off the bed and try to get behind it, dragging herself into this ridiculously small space with her claws. We sometimes put her in the family room so we could get some sleep.

      She has done this before, but maybe only for one night or so. This episode started in September and never let up till we found the right meds.

      In early November the vet gave her trazadone. It has given us back our dog. She is sleeping at night again, playful and willing to do training routines/tricks. All the weird behaviors have stopped.

      Trazadone is an older tricyclic antidepressant that can be useful for anxiety. I’m so glad we tried this and it is working.

      This past weekend we traveled to visit family and stayed in an upscale hotel. She was absolutely perfect, even tolerant around the small children.

      I should say, too, I tried everything natural that I could. Nothing gave her relief. Medication was a last resort, but I wish I would have tried it sooner.

      Maybe this could help Cassie?

      • P.S. The vet said her behavior could be early dementia, but there was no way of knowing. She really doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis, other than nighttime anxiety.

  45. I have a 17 year old Chihuahua that was diagnosed with dementia yesterday. We only found it because we thought some of her behaviours were connected to her allergies. The vet we saw just happened to have a dog of his own with dementia as well. His Jack Russell was at the office so her brought her out to meet us.
    My dog, Tetra, is also almost completely blind and is fully deaf. The vet assured me she’s not in any physical pain and her physical health is great for her age but I feel just terrible that I might be making her live through a personal hell. She is my baby so I feel like if I put her to sleep I’ll basically be murdering her.
    Thank you for this site. The vet explained some of these behaviors but there are so many more behaviours she does that I didn’t know were part of the dementia.

  46. Hello! Thank you for this very comprehensive list of symptoms. I recently (about a month ago) adopted a 12 year old Jack Russell mix from a shelter, so I don’t have a baseline for her behavior and can’t really tell if this is just her, or if this is her brain aging. She was supposedly a stray. She’s incontinent (estrogen pills are helping), hard of hearing, has fatty tumors around her chest, and has an enlarged heart/grade 4 heart murmur (we’re seeing a cardiologist at the end of the month) and a chronically dislocated shoulder (vet says it doesn’t cause her pain), but she gets along pretty well despite all of this. Now that she’s settled in (and boy do I have a completely different dog now from the one I adopted!), I’ve noticed she’s displaying quite a few of these symptoms.

    The first couple of weeks were pretty easy, but she pottied in the house right after a long walk last week, almost as if she just didn’t know any better (she didn’t try to let me know she needed to go, either – just picked a spot and went). The past few days, I’ve noticed her pacing a lot more, especially at night. I started getting her used to a crate shortly after bringing her home because she was pacing around my room at night and keeping me up. Now that she’s confined, she seems more comfortable (she’s even started to like it and now goes in voluntarily for a treat!), but I still hear her throughout the night – she’ll get up, dig around her blankets, lick obsessively, shake and rattle the crate, etc every couple of hours, like she’s just passing the time until we get up and she can sleep through the day. She’ll only eat between 7 and 9 at night and only about half a cup (she’s supposed to be eating a cup a day, but she just won’t). When we’re watching TV and she’s on her slumber ball next to my sofa, she’ll sleep for a few minutes, then sit up straight and look around like she doesn’t know where she is. I have to say “I’m still here” before she’ll settle again and if I don’t she gets up and starts pacing.

    Last night was the worst so far. She spent two hours pacing between the living room and the kitchen, stopping occasionally to stare at me or the TV. She kept trying to get under my sofa for no reason I could discern (there’s nothing under there but some dust bunnies). She does a lot of staring – at me, at the TV, at my parents, at nothing in particular. At first it was a funny quirk, almost like Eddie from Frasier, but now it’s just odd and a little concerning.

    She’s starting to get startled by things we’ve been walking by for weeks, like a flower pot next to our back door. Walks are more like drags – she stops every few steps to stare behind her like something’s there, but there’s nothing there. She doesn’t seem to understand doors and will stand directly behind them when I try to open them. I’ve bonked her by accident (I’ve never had a dog who didn’t know doors, so I just kept assuming she’d move!) and she looks at me like I’ve betrayed her. She’s hesitant to go through doors and needs a gentle nudge. She knows the “Sit” command but doesn’t always respond. Sometimes she’ll do it right away, and other times she’ll look at me like she has no idea what I want from her (and it’s not just stubbornness – I’m familiar with that look! – it’s like she truly doesn’t know). She gets caught up in grooming herself. I know that licking tends to be self-soothing behavior, so I thought all the licking was just her comforting herself while she adjusted. But it’s gotten worse, and she was so intense this morning that I literally had to haul her out from under the table because all of my gentle attempts at getting her attention and luring her out went completely unnoticed.

    It’s just very odd, and it occurred to me last night as I was trying desperately to stay patient and not get irritated with her (I tend to be a very impatient and somewhat short-fused person – Daisy is really forcing me to work on that, which is healthy, but it’s hard!) that it’s entirely possible she has doggy dementia. Your list of symptoms has only confirmed my suspicions!

  47. Hello there,
    I am not sure what to do and could really use some feedback/support. I have a seventeen year old greyhound with bowel cancer. I moved us back to an island he had once loved because I thought he would be more happy to spend his remaining time here. Recently, he has began walking large circles around the property, gazing off into the wind or rain and no longer seems to be cold when outside (or notice that he is). As far as his physical symptoms go, he needs help sometimes rising and getting settled, and he does seem to be up at night quite frequently which has made it difficult to get good sleep. Basically, we are in a hospice like situation. His appetite is great.. he enjoys chewing a bone… going on a short walk, being pet, being cozy under his blanket. I don’t know how to make the call about his quality of life. I don’t know that he is in distress, necessarily, but he will occasionally wake up panting. He has been my constant companion for the last twelve years and saying goodbye will no doubt be painful and hard. Where we are at now, I am not leaving him alone and caring for him 24/7. Does anyone have thoughts? His vets have all just said that he is “exceptional” but haven’t been able to necessarily advise about when I should consider helping him transition. My main concern is that he not suffer and that he go peacefully on.

    Thanks for any thoughts you’d be willing to share!


  48. My heart is breaking….my 16 year old doggie ozzy was diagnosed with dementia a few weeks ago. In those two weeks his walking has changed from slow cautious… to his back legs walking like they are stick legs and slowly… and now his front legs are walking like in double time where he takes little tiny steps but alot of them all while his back legs are slow and stick like. Ozzy does walk circles but not small circles more like back and forth where he stops and seems to forget and then continues on walking aimlessly. Ozzy would give me kisses on command whenever I wanted them but now he doesn’t do it very much if at all. He does have accidents all the time but we have a diaper for him and we just pick up the other…it doesn’t bother me to take care of him at all or pick up after him as he has been the best dog in the world and now that he needs me I will do what I can to make the remainder of his life as comfortable as possible. Ozzy is going blind and his hearing is not good due to his dementia…he still eats with help and at times on his own and he drinks water if you put it in front of him. He shivers and acts scared at times but he will lay on my lap if I gently lift him and pet him. We have a night light set up by his bed and I generally sleep by him every night in case he needs me. I don’t know when his time will come but I will be there for him…ozzy is my best friend, my little furry son and he had my heart from the day we said hello. I have read a lot of the other stories on here and it pains me to see so many with like stories. I don’t have all the answers I want so I just take each day as it comes and give him as much love and help as I can…this disease will get worse, there is no cure and I have to come to grips with that…there is no food or medication on this earth that will change the outcome of this disease at this point. Ozzy is on some meds but so far he has gotten worse…The best thing for dogs with dementia is love and patience.

  49. There’s a Facebook group called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction with over 500 members. Lots iof shared info on treating symptons and coping. My dog is 17 and I’m trying several non-prescription supplements. I started senilife a couple of weeks ago. Seems to have begun helping a bit.

  50. I’m so glad to chance upon this helpful website – thanks so much for having this platform for pet owners with similar experiences to share their stories. I definitely feel less lost and helpless after reading the stories, knowing that I am not alone. It can get really depressing at times and I would ask myself if I am doing the right thing for my dog.

    My darling Twister JRT is turning 16 next Valentine’s Day. We’ve had her since she was two months old. Feisty and energetic, the name Twister is simply a match to her personality! Things started to change when we lost Baby JRT to cancer in 2014. Baby has been her close companion for the last 12 years and Baby is her daughter. They have shared too many moments together and Baby would always play and tease Twister all the time!

    Twister started to get less active since Baby left. Slept a lot more and a year prior, she was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. Thankfully the med works and her condition was under control and the quarterly reviews will help to keep checks on her condition. Because of this, we have changed her diet to homecooked food recommended by the vet – sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflowers, fish and frog meat. Her excess weight also started to shed and she is now at 5.4kg. Pretty average for a JRT. Then she had Cruciate Ligament rupture on both her hind legs – one in 2013 and one in 2014. One leg underwent operation while the other was kinda recovered with bandage support. Now she is walking fine, albeit a bit of stiffness but she still does her brisk pacing everyday! I must say that Twister is really a fighter!

    But it was obvious that something was not right (progressively) – she was not expressive as before. I hardly see her tail wagging anymore even though she would walk up to me when I get home. Since last year, more and more of the dementia symptoms started to show up – waking up at 4 or 5am, pee/poo everywhere and sometimes eating and stepping on them, sleeping a lot more in the day, getting lost or stuck at corners, pacing in circles sometimes for hours and the list goes on. She has been on Selegiline since then and also been wearing diapers. Recently, she has been diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease, a heart condition that causes her to pant more lately. It is not severe so she is taking Med to keep it under control. Other than the number of Med that she has to take everyday, she is actually doing quite well, I hope (at least a check on the quality of life list, she has less than 10 Yeses.) I hope this is a good sign for us to keep her with us.

    To all the pet owners going through this, I know exactly how tiring this is – mentally, physically and also financially. Nevertheless, let us keep the strength and love for our faithful companion to fight this unfortunate and hateful disease. I’m sure that no matter how lost or confused they are, they do know us and is simply unable to express as before. Be there for them through the good times and bad times. After all, this is a geriatric problem which means that our times left with them is limited, so let’s make them count and create more memorable moments to keep. I can’t imagine losing Twister but when the day comes, I will be there for her.

  51. Hello Eileen!

    Thank you for posting all about your experience, and all those great sources of information and advises. My soon-to-be 14-year old dog, Meca (Teddy in Serbian) is experiencing many of aforementioned symptoms. Until couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t even aware of CCD, but he started experiencing anxiety, confusion and odd behavior after the anesthesia. I only now realize that anesthesia could have worsened his state, and I feel so guilty for putting him through it, although he really needed it, in order to have a minor surgery and also some tests done. I’ve had some really hard times in my life, and my dog was my best friend and sometimes only companion through all that, and I want to be all that to him as well. He has heart problems (enlarged heart, if that’s the right expression), and also severe stomach problems, which makes it hard to apply any medications orally. And while he was always completely OK with injections, he became very irritated by them lately, and I just don’t want to put him through that kind of stress, at least not regularly. I’ve also recently moved away from home, to live with my boyfriend, and my dog has stayed with my mom, because she can dedicate fully to him, while I work two jobs, and I visit him daily, yet I feel guilty about that as well. All that said, my dog is also often happy, although arthritis stops him from being as active as he once was. But he loves cuddling, and he gives me a lot of kisses every time he sees me. I really want to be fair to him, and don’t let him suffer, but I don’t think he is in too much pain, and he still enjoys food and all the love he gets.

    Thanks again for your stories, and to all other who posted their stories, it is heart-breaking, but at the same time it is comforting to know how many people cherish their dogs so much that they are ready to dedicate them so much time and care.


  52. Another helpful resource is the Facebook group named Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) Support Group. Our dog Maeve has had a very good response to the herbals Animal Apawthecary Hawthorn Plus and Herb Pharm bacopa, both available on Amazon. No more pacing, panting, sleepless nights. A miracle.

  53. Hello Eileen,
    My 13 year old Siberian husky is sleeping most of the day than walking around continuously in circles as if he wants to lay down but cant. I don’t know what the right thing to do is..He is getting some of the symptoms of this ‘dementia’ but we think its cause he is just ‘getting old’. He is also starting to pee inside and walk into sliding doors even when they are open. Thank you so much for posting this and please reply.
    Regards Natalie

    • Hi Natalie,

      I hope you can take your guy to the vet to ask about these behaviors. Keep in mind–dementia is a disease, and it’s different from normal aging. Sometimes the vet will have some medications that help. The vet also needs to rule out pain from what you say. Good luck, and thank you for posting.

  54. Hi Everyone! I am hurting so bad right now and crying. My 15 1/2 yr. old Dalmatian mix started pacing last night and roamed my tiny cabin all night. He is panting still. He won’t eat or drink water since last night. I’m going to take him to the vet today but I’m worried. He has arthritis and nerve damage in his back leg. Seems both back legs are failing now. When he was young he was hit by a car and his pelvic was broke in 3 places. I didn’t find him until 7 days later when he stumbled home and cried all night long. I rushed him to the vet first thing the next morning to find out about his pelvic, but it had already started healing so we let it heal naturally. He did great until his older age now. The arthritis came on strong when he was 14. But I’m worried because he does seem to have dementia or what the vet called doggie Alzheimer. Today he looks sad and confused. I was up all night with him. Barely slept. He tries to get up and has a hard time. I have to help him get up. He is falling down a lot. He cannot hold his urine and feces anymore. So I am calling the vet as soon as they open. I took off work today. I hope he is ok. I know he is very old. He is also trembling but seems to be because of pain in his legs? or too weak from not eating or drinking? I know he needed water after pacing all night but he wont’ take it. I even brought his water dish to him where he was standing. He is not himself at all. It tears my heart out. He has been through a lot with me and has a strong will to live. But he is not the same right now. I will see what the vet says. Thank you for this forum. I don’t think I will ever get another doggie again. This breaks my heart toooo much. I will give lots of love to all doggies but to own one and go through this pain again is too much. It may sound selfish but I love my fur baby so much and it kills me inside to see him go through this I can’t bear to do it again. He is my best friend, my side kick, my love.

    • I just found out it is something else. His kidneys are failing and he has a bacterial infection the vet believes is in his brain from the way he paces and stares out blankly. He is now in the vet hospital and getting fluids as well as antibiotics. Hoping he makes it through the night but the vet was not sure he will. He’s trying and hoping he pulls through.

  55. Dear Eileen,

    I have a 14 year old 2.8 pound love of my life female chihuahua that just 7 days ago started acting like a stranger. She has been a warrior in the sense that she is the last of the four chihuahuas I had since 2002. She underwent a major emergency hysterectomy surgery 3 years ago for pyametra, she was on life support for three days and went totally blind from the trauma of the surgery. On Top Of The Dry Eye Condition in her left eye, she has severe glaucoma in the right making her totally blind. They also removed the last of her bad teeth leaving her toothless. Up until now she has been happy and playful, full off spunk and energy, no change in diet or water consumption. Now, she squeals like she’s in immense pain when I try to pick her up, doesn’t want to leave her bed and has no reaction to command or my interest in my voice, which is so unlike her. I took her to the vet and had her anal glads emptied and still ho change. What I want to know is is their any way to aid my sweet without chemicals, and if I must put her on this Anipryl I’ve been reading about what is the most least and successful dose for her size???
    Thank you so much in advance!

    Distressed fur mama

    • Hi Amber,

      I’m so sorry things are going roughly with your dear little dog. Can you get a more extensive vet checkup? Did you tell him or her about her personality change or acting like she hurts? Only your vet can help you with this. Likewise with medicine, supplements, and dosage. I’m sorry to disappoint but I’m not a vet so can’t discuss that. Diagnosing dementia is a diagnosis of exclusion; several other things have to be ruled out first. So sorry you are going through this. Good luck.

  56. Squealing with pain is certainly significant. This alone could explain all the other symptoms. Get her to the vet to figure out the source of the pain. Get that diagnosed and under control first. Hopefully the pain will be from something easy like arthritis. If so, then you’ll be able to deal with the cognitive decline separately after the pain is under control.

  57. My old (17 years old next month) female Chihuahua has started to sway back and forth while sitting on the couch. Sometimes she just seems to be staring off into space. She can’t see very well or hear very well anymore. She’s old! Not sure if it’s anything to worry about-or if it’s just due to her old age. I think her age is catching up to her… She mostly just sleeps on the couch or in her bed. My daughter-who I bought the dog for-thinks I should have her put down-but I don’t think she’s in pain. Any thoughts?

    • Quality of life is hard to assess over the Internet, but there is nothing alarming to me personally in what you describe. IF your chi still has some enjoyments in life it sounds OK to me. Hope some others chime in.

  58. My 10 year old St. Bernard is showing some of these signs.
    -She has a lot of trouble aiming her mouth.
    -She has trouble keeping food in her mouth.
    -And many more.
    The other day she forgot who I was and refused to let me into my house. My other dog managed to convince her I was trustworthy.

  59. Hello, I have just been researching canine dementia and came upon your very helpful website. I have a 14 year old lemon and white beagle called Holly who is starting to exhibit symptoms of what I fear may be dementia. She tends to pace around at night but sleeps all day. She has always been a very quiet dog, her sister Alice being the noisy one, but she has started barking at nothing whilst sitting in one of the baskets. She seems easily startled, I thought it was because she was going deaf, but from reading the information on this website, perhaps not. When I get the other dogs on their leads ready to walk, she goes and hides under the stairs in the basket there, but if I go and find her and put her collar and lead on, she will usually come along and seems to enjoy her walk. She does have arthritis but is on long-term medication for this, so I don’t think it is pain. I am going to make her an appointment at our vet to have a check up, but I wanted to do a bit of research first, so I’d know the right questions to ask. I’m wondering how effective the medication currently available is and if a fairly early diagnosis helps.
    Thank you for providing us with a lovely site to talk about these issues.

    • Hi Danieal, how great that you are doing your research! Earlier intervention has been found to help in several studies. The medications’ effectivity really vary from dog to dog, but your vet can tell you more about that. Stick around–in a couple of days I’m going to publish a blog post that includes a wonderful movie, professionally made for a friend of mine, that shows enrichment for a dog with CCD. Good luck with Holly.

  60. My 11 and a half Boston Terrier Petey has just begain peeing in the house. He has been going to the hinge side of doors and getting stuck places. I had attributed thus to his blindness (due to cataracts ) (at 6000 we just can’t afford to have them taken off. ) now he turns in circles clockwise and then pees then tries to lick it up. We’re not sure whats going on. Our vet put him on cholodin to see if it helps. Our other Boston Terrier Buster had similar symptoms but also had seizures, then he ended up with cancer. We only got 2 years with him (he was 5 when we adopted him from the shelter as a stray ) Petey we got a s a rescue at about 1yr , he was heartworm positive at that time.

    • Hi Danielle, I hope you can get a firm diagnosis for Petey. That sounds hard on everyone! You might want to fill out the symptom list on the site and take it to your vet. Best of luck; sorry it’s going so hard with Petey.

  61. Hi ,my 17 dog bonny showed nearly all the signs listed for dementia for 2 years but we loved her so much we adapted to her – she was blind deaf and lame as well and a wonderful gentle dog who loved everybody in the family .Lately she had had more bad days than good so yesterday I made the appointment for today to say goodbye . She was having a good day today and the sun was shining I took treats with me and gave them to her in the vets and she was very relaxed and I stroked and loved her while the vet injected her and she passed away very gently .i am so glad I made that decision and it was so lovely to see her go on a good day.Dont be afraid

  62. Hi there. My 5 year old lab/rot mix has been experiencing all the symptoms you posted. I think he has it, but isn’t he a bit young to be having dementia? I did all sorts of blood work on him and all came back negative. Thank you.

  63. Hi – I have a staffie who is nearly 10 and is showing a lot of symptoms on your list – after reading all of the posts I too felt that she seems too young but am now beginning to think this what it could be? I have taken her to the vets for blood tests & scan for diabetes etc as it started with excessive drinking which were negative. Her behaviour has now changed weeing & pooing indoors & getting in corners just standing there, walking up & down. Are there any tests that could be done for a diagnosis or will I be wasting money for the vet to tell me what I think we could already know?

    • Sharon, the diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction is one of exclusion. That is, the vets have to rule other things out. But since those other things can be very serious (brain tumors, liver problems for example), it’s very important to see a vet so they know about **all** your dog’s symptoms. Good luck. Sorry things are getting hard for your dog.

  64. Hi Eileen – Thanks for taking the time to put this site together and continue responding after all this time. My Lily is a 13 year old shih tzu. The 1st time I noticed anything odd was 3 years ago following a dental. She walked into the shower in our bathroom and just sat there seeming confused. I chalked it up to after effects of anesthesia. Which still may have been the case. Although I’m wondering if it was the beginning of this CDD journey. (?)

    She has some early stage cataracts so is hesitant with stairs if the light is too dim. Especially going DOWN. (She is more comfortable going UP.)

    She started sleeping more and more during day/evening – and sleeping a lot HARDER. It takes a lot more to wake her up now. More recently she has started barking at us for food – which she hasn’t done for years and years. She also acts like she wants to play – then gets us to the treat table (kitchen island) for a snack. I chalked this up to just learning new tricks to get her way.

    Then she started barking at me in the middle of the night – wanting to go to the bathroom. Plus a couple of mornings when she would be going down the (Well lit) stairs with the other dogs – but turning left to pee on the pee – pads in the penned foyer instead of turning right to head to the patio door.

    She has a history of food allergies and had to come off of an antihistamine/prednisone combo due to ALKP levels raising. (BTW… found it interesting that so many CDD folks on this page mentioned food allergies.)

    ALKP isn’t fully resolved but is coming down and vet does not believe she has Cushing or Cancer. But does she think she is exhibiting “early stage doggy dementia”. She offered “Vetriscience Canine Plus Senior” supplement. I told her a friend had told me about good results with a product called Senilife. She said to compare ingredients and check reviews and try the one I felt best about. (She is holistic and knows I will follow up with her…4 dogs and 1 cat means I get frequent flyer miles at the vet clinic!)

    So, we started Senilife 2 weeks ago. Already I think we are seeing some improvements. She is sleeping soundly through the night again. No signs of urgency to urinate. She even wanted to play with toys the other night, which truthfully she hasn’t done for a couple of years now. I will be seeing the vet tomorrow with one of our other dogs and will be bringing her this info along with the box Senilife came in so she can see the ingredients.

    What I didn’t realize was a possible CDD symptom until reading through this whole page was shaking/tremors. I assumed shivers from the cold outside – or possibly pain. But now wonder if it could be dementia related. (Will ask about this tomorrow too.)

    I have been praying since she was a puppy that she would live to be 18 years old. Silly right? But I had met a neighbor when she was a pup – who had just lost their shih tzu after 18 years – and thought that it would be wonderful to have her with me that long.

    But like others on this thread – I also have a parent (Dad) with dementia. While he still scores well cognitively and shows more mental health symptoms than dementia – it is what it is; and he is in a care center. (Specifically in a Memory Care unit – where there are a lot of folks with more advanced ahltzeimers /dementia.) When I see the advanced stage folks I hope my Dad doesn’t get to that point…and now I don’t want Lily to either.

    Anyway – if you have heard of Senilife or any testimonials – I would love to know. The ingredients are:
    – 25 mg Pheosphatidylserine
    – 10 mg Ginkgo Bulova Extract
    – 20.5 mg Vitamin B6
    – 33.5 mg Vitamin E
    – 5 mg Reserveratrol (Grape Extract)

    Thanks again for your efforts here!

    • Hi Michelle,

      I’m glad Senilife is helping your dog. Supposedly it’s the Phosphatidylserine in Senilife that helps, but there haven’t been that many studies. Interestingly, in some of the most recent human studies Ginkgo Bilova has been not been shown to help, when formerly it was thought that it did. Good thing the research is ongoing.

      That’s interesting that Lily does better going upstairs. I think actually that was true for Cricket too, but I started carrying her early on (I have a long flight off my back porch that was just too dangerous).

      I hope Lily continues to do well. I’m glad you like the site and I’m glad it helped. Keep me posted!

  65. Oops. I only just now came across your “Treatment” page which I had opened in another tab while scrolling this “Symptoms” page. So, I see you are already familiar with Senilife. 🙂

  66. Thank you for this very valuable website and your dedication to helping others! My dog is older, best guess around 12 or so. He is extremely healthy with no medical issues. However, in February he began peeing in the house during the night. I also noticed he would go up and down the stairs during the night and seemed like he couldn’t get comfortable in one place. One night I took him out twice during the wee hours and even so he peed in the house that night afterward. He only pees in one spot, near the back door. The vet tested his urine and blood and everything is normal. He is not overly thirsty. He can stay in all day by himself, so there does not seem to be any urinary urgency. I realized he was only doing this at night, and thought maybe it is doggie dementia.

    He has no other symptoms at all, is very energetic and playful and good with commands and on his walks, etc. I started him on Cholodin and after the first night, he had no accidents for 5 days and slept through the night, so I decided it must be the dementia. Then on Day 6, I went out for dinner, and when I came home I saw that he had peed in the house, even though he had just been out before I left. I am wondering if this sounds like dementia to you? I also have a bottle of Senilife I hadn’t tried yet, but I can add that.

    My best option might be to install some type of doggie door since he seems to know he wants to go out the back door. It is just a bit complicated with the type of sliding doors I have so I haven’t done it yet.
    Thank you for any insight you can share.

    • Hi Amy,

      Just about any symptom that can be dementia can also be something else with an older dog so really it takes a vet visit to know for sure. Even they have to do it by ruling other things out. There isn’t strong evidence yet for Cholodin that I can find, although it is one of those supplements that seems like it ought to help with brain health. (No real studies with dogs yet.) There is some evidence for the main ingredient in Senilife.

      If your dog is starting to have cognitive problems, a doggie door might work for a while, but eventually he may not have the sense of purpose to go out to eliminate. But if your yard is safe, it could give him a little independence for a time.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes.

      • Thank you! This is helpful. He has been on Senilife for a few days but still peeing at night. I will finish up the bottle anyway, and call the vet.

  67. Since some of the symptoms cause be caused by other issues, it is good to take time to evaluate and talk to your vet. Dogs may not want to go up or down stair because of pain or they are losing their sight. Problems with eating may be caused by dental issues. If they are going deaf they may not hear you or may not bark as they used to at sounds.
    With my older dogs I see that the loss of sight and hearing can mimic some of these symptoms, especially if you move furniture or change rugs. There may be some confusion on their part until they figure out what you have done.
    It is a lot about knowing your dog and having an honest understanding of their physical issues, such as arthritis and loss of sight or hearing and going from there. At least that is how I am handling it.

    • Hi Patience,

      You are absolutely correct that some (most) of the symptoms that are typical of dementia can be caused by other issues. Not only because of sensory deficits, but also by other serious illnesses such as liver conditions, tick borne diseases, or even strokes or brain tumors. That’s why it’s important to see the vet if our dogs are exhibiting any of these symptoms.

  68. I have a question. I have two dogs and one has dementia. Will my dog with dementia act different to the other dog? If so, what should I be looking for?

    • Along with the other things they forget, dogs with dementia can forget their social skills with each other. So you will want to look for situations in which the dog with dementia unintentionally annoys the other dog. For instance, my little Cricket used to walk up to a bed that another dog was lying in and walk over them as if they weren’t even there. If your other dog has any kind of temper or aggressive tendencies, you need to be extra careful. It’s as if the dog with dementia loses his “manners” and is just rude all the time. Some housemate dogs are fine with that, but many aren’t. Perhaps some other folks will chime in here, but that is what I observed. I had four dogs at the time I had Cricket and I kept two of them completely away from her for that reason.

  69. hi,
    my dear old boy Whiskey is nearly 16 and has started showing most of the symptoms described here. I knew of doggie dementia, but i wasn’t aware of the symptoms until i watched your video of little Cricket. I cried as I realised what it was. He has become obsessed with food, and as he also has Cushings disease he is always hungry.
    I look at his lovely old face and remember all of the young years when we would walk for miles and his happy greeting when i was home from work.
    As I also fostered for the Greyhound Rescue there was always foster dogs around my home and he was such a lovely calm boy and helped settle them down quickly.
    We are blessed to have them with us for so long and I am honoured to be able to care for him now he is in his last part of his life.
    Thank you for your site and sharing Crickets journey.

  70. I have another question.. I had two dogs and ones as dementia my other dog has recently passed away. Will my dog remember my other one that passed any? How do I know if she knows that she has gone?

    • Paige, I would be wondering that too, but I don’t know if there is a way to know.

      There is a nice post by a famous dog trainer where she talks about helping a dog through a loss–but that is when there is clear grief involved. Helping a Dog Through a Loss

      I guess if it were me I would do the same in either case–just comfort the dog in any ways that seem to help. She may appreciate it whether or not she remembers, or is missing the other dog.

      Sorry about this difficult situation.

    • Hi Paige
      When whiskey’s long time companion had to be put to sleep I took whiskey to the vet with us. He was in the room when sasha died and he went to her and licked her face once she had passed away.
      We stayed with her for 10 minutes before walking home with broken hearts.
      I feel it made a big difference as dogs do understand death.
      I think if he hadn’t been with us he would have kept looking for her and fretting.
      I hope this helps.

  71. My lovely old girl Missy is 12 1/2 yr old staffy and showing signs of doggy dementia. She’s also recently been diagnosed with cushings disease. I just wondered if one of the signs of dementia is that they stop wagging their tails ? My lovely Missy doesn’t wag hers anymore. She does still seem to know who I am sometimes as she’ll come over for a cuddle but I find her in corners and trying to walk under chairs that she’s too big to get under. She’s started taling vetroyl every other day over a month ago and I have seen some improvement as she doesn’t drink constantly anymore and less accidents indoors. I’ve also started her on Cushex drops and looking into a non-grain diet. Your website has really helped and i feel for everyone who’s posted. My mum had dementia and I’m being tested for cushings myself. When Missy was first ill o kept thinking I was going to wake up one morning and find her dead but now I’m just enjoying what little time she has left. She one of a kimd and can let me know what she wants with her eyes. She got me very well trained.
    I thought it was to do with the Cushings but not too sure.

    • What a wonderful girl Missy sounds like. I haven’t read that stopping wagging the tail is exactly a symptom of dementia, but as the brain deteriorates (sorry to say it that way but that is what happens), their little personalities seem to flatten out some. I always knew my Cricket was in there– I saw little glimpses–but she wasn’t all of what she used to be. Take care. I hope you and Missy still have some good time together.

  72. Thank you for your helpful website! My 8 yr old spaniel started exhibiting odd behavior 5 months ago. He started by growling at dogs that he was already friendly with. Then I had trouble at night-instead of coming in the house when called, he would hide under the porch, or run away from me!! He was not affectionate anymore, started soiling the house, and many times he would just cower, shaking in a corner of a room.
    I went to the vet, and although most of his lab work was normal, he did test positive for Lyme’s, and was treated for 4 weeks. He still was not better, so was treated another 10 days with doxy. Also started on Prozac, which did no good at all-he just stopped eating and drinking altogether. Went for a second opinion with another vet, who tested his ammonia levels-which were normal. Finally, because he is so young, I went to a neurologist. I spent an obscene amount of $ for x-rays, blood gases, spinal tap and MRI, all of which were negative. So the diagnosis by exclusion was cognitive dysfunction disorder.
    My dog was started on Gabapentin, which has some sedating effects, and has worked really great for him. He is pleasantly confused now instead of being chronically distraught!! The neurologist also mentioned using melatonin and trazadone, but I’ll wait since this medication seems to be working well enough.
    I no longer give him the run of the house while at work, or let him in the yard at night. We go on leashed walks, with lots of positive reinforcement when he “wheedles” outside. Its like I have a 15 week old puppy again. So its been really helpful to me to read of others who have had young dogs with CDS, and what drugs or therapy have worked for them.

    • Hi Stephanie, I’m sorry for the delay in answering. It is really good of you to share your story of getting your dog diagnosed. Sorry it took a while, and it sounds like plenty of money too, but you did everything right. I’m so glad the Gapapentin is helping. Finding a drug that can help is priceless. I hope he is still doing well.

  73. My dog has almost all of these symptoms. When is it okay to say enough is enough? Will the vet put her to sleep or just think I’m being selfish and don’t want the inconvenience of dealing with her? I love her and it’s so hard to see her scared everyday and all night. She’s miserable and I feel the humane thing to food let her go– to be at peace.

    • I have been told that vets are taught that only owners know when they have had enough and to support their decisions. I can’t speak to your specific vet but I suspect that your anguish at making this difficult decision will be obvious to them and they will see what a caring and loving thing you are doing.

      I also know that medication helped my Cleo so if you can afford them you might want to try. Over the 2 years that we have been dealing with the problem the medications have changed a lot and she’s done well with them. There are more options than there used to be. Some websites are way out of date.

      Good luck to you. I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

    • Hi Cookie,
      I understand why you are asking because I asked those same questions six months ago. I only realized then why my 17 yr chi was acting the way he was. Just enjoy each day and appreciate what time you have. There were days I prayed that God would end it because of the clean up I had to do, but the day came…he stopped eating and drinking. He let know when it became too much and then I took him to the vet to make it easier. My vet was very sympathetic. He doesn’t like to put any animal down for needless reasons. He saw my pain and told me I did the right thing. Hope this helps you. I was wondering myself how it would all play out. You just let nature take its course but when its painful, you have the best course of helping the process along painlessly.

      • Well said! My 17 year old Chi has been acting odd for a while… She just sits and stares at nothing. She can’t hear or see much any more. Mostly sleeps a lot. But she still loves her treats–and me. I don’t think she’s in pain.
        My daughter-who I got the dog for-says I should put her down. I don’t think so. I think I will know when it’s time.

  74. Hello ~ So glad I found this site. I have a 14 year old mini-poodle who has been acting weird the past few weeks. Lately she has been scrounging for food excessively and has had a few accidents in the house. I have a doggy door and she always has access to her dog food as she and my other dog are free fed. Its like she doesn’t remember eating and keeps looking for more food. She has been pulling the table cloth off of my dining room table to get to food even if there isn’t any food on the table. Friday night she pulled the table cloth off to get an orange peel. She has peed at least 5 times in the house the last 2 weeks when she would never have an accident in the past. Its weird and like she is being driven by a motor to look for food.

    • Allison, I hope you’ve been able to take your dog to the vet. Any behavior changes like that can be indicative of several different physical problems. Good luck and take care.

  75. I have 17 yr old rat terrier that has a Meriad of health issues (CHF, collapsed trachea) we are treating but now she’s getting very aggressive with me, bitten me twice but not bad. She constantly licks the bed or carpet, has dug the carpet down to pad, is urinating when and wherever, barks at nothing, it goes on. However, she’s excited when we get home, if she hears us. Many times I have to touch her to wake her up. She’s on Tussigon every night to stop the obsessive licking. when do you know enough is enough? How long do I make her endure this? Is she afraid? Nervous?

    • Dear Lisa,

      I’m so glad it’s so hard with your rat terrier now. You are asking the hardest question of all. It is very very hard to consider helping a dog pass on if she still has some physical health and the problems are mostly behavioral. If it helps to know, I euthanized my dear Cricket while she could still walk, eat, and growl at the vet. But she was frail, and her quality of life had taken a turn for the worse. I knew it was the right thing, but it hurt terribly. Hugs to you. I hope you get some clarity about what to do and whether to intervene, now or later.

  76. Pingback: Senile dementia in dogs - DoggiesMatch

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