Will there come a time when you need to help your dog with dementia leave this world?

Book: Remember Me: Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive DysfunctionI can help with that. My book has a whole chapter on the difficult question of whether and when to euthanize a dog with dementia. Because dogs with cognitive decline are sometimes still physically healthy otherwise, this question, which is always difficult, can be even harder.

I let my little Cricket go on May 31, 2013. Here is an article on how I made the decision. I tell the story in full in my book, and two other people generously shared their stories of how they made the decisions for their own dogs.


Quality of Life Calculators

These quality of life calculators can help you assess your beloved dog’s whole life situation. Often these calculators bring up conditions we haven’t considered.

Villalobos Quality of Life Scale: Add up numerical points to determine your dog’s overall quality of life

Quality of Life Scale for Pets: An online quality of life calculator from Journeys Home

How Do I Know When It’s Time?: Quality of life scale from The Ohio State University

Create a Custom Quality of Life Scale for Your Dog: This blog post links to a template you can use to create your own scale in consultation with your vet

Book on Euthanasia

I highly recommend the following book. It was a real comfort to me as I assessed and reassessed little Cricket’s quality of life.


Facing Farewell: Making the Decision to Euthanize Your Pet, by Julie Reck, DVM



Facing Farewell is a comprehensive guide to making the hard decision, but in addition, describes the euthanasia process in detail and helps you know ahead of time what to discuss with the veterinarian and what to expect.

Other Helpful Articles about Making the Decision

ASPCA’s End of Life Care FAQ: What to expect in your pet’s final days and how best to help

Let’s Talk: When is it Time to Say Good-Bye to Your Dog?: Commentary on the Villalobos scale (above) and links to other articles

American Humane Society: Euthanasia: Making the Decision Knowing when it’s time, saying goodbye, what to expect


Finally, here is a piece by a physician on grieving for a dog. I think he makes some very wise points.

Lessons from Zachary: What a Physician Learns from the Death of his Dog.

An old black and white rat terrier is lying on a bed with her head on a pillow. She is staring off into the distance
                               My last photo of Cricket


441 Responses

  1. Hi there,

    I think we are seeing the beginning of dementia in our dog, Hamish. Looking across the internet for information I found your page. Ultimately, I came to this part where you’ve said you had to say good bye to Cricket. I’ve been in tears all morning so this hit me hard. I just wanted to reach out and say, although it’s now been a while for you, you have my sincerest sympathies on the loss of Cricket.

    1. Cari, thank you so much. Yes, it’s been more than a year, but I do miss her so much. She was part of my heart. I hope you and Hamish have many good times still together.

      1. Find solace in the knowledge, the certainty, that you shall see Cricket in Heaven. Believe me, they do go there, it is us that I am not too sure about.

          1. Dear Eileen, first of all my sincerest condolences on the loss of your beloved Cricket,; I know they are our children. Here is my story; I have a 12 year old Shihtzu named Owen- 3 years ago this July he had eye graph on Both eyes-he is partially blind. LAST February 2015- he started showing signs of dementia- Lately it has gotten worse. My vet prescribed me Melatonin at night because they tend to sleep more during the day and not at night.This has worked perfectly, he sleeps all night. Although the last two nights he does Not let me give to him-I give it to him in a syringe-1cc- chicken flavor. He gets VERY AGREESIVE and trys to bite me. In the last couple days I dont think he knows who I am-he doesnt like to walk so much anymore-he likes to just sit in from of my house and smell the air and look around. Just yesterday, I was calling him and he didnt even turn around-or respond to me. He is sleeping and all of a sudden gets up startled and runs around the house with his tail down all spooked and confused. 2 nights ago he must have done that 15 times. The last 2 nights he refused to take his Melatonin- he is VERY aggressive towards me. I am afraid to get close to him in his bed- cause he looks at me with this bad energy look like he is going to bite me. He eats very well and is very healthy-it is heartbreaking for me to see him like this. I dont have the heart to put him down-right now as we speak he is still sleeping. Miraculously he slept all night with NO Melatonin-when I get close to him to tell him lets go do pee pees and poo poos-(his language) he just looks at me as if who am i?? He does NOT soil inside house- and my home being the only home he has always know-he gets around it just fine. Remember he is half blind. I dont see him happy-I am soo sad, I dont know what to do. I am going to take the advice of the smiley faces and a calendar and see what happens. Thank you for this website-I have read all comments and it has helped me alot!!!

          2. That sounds awfully hard. I’m so sorry you are going through this with him. I can tell how close you are from your message. Take care.

      2. I am working through several issues with my almost 16-year-old dog. We adopted her when she was 12 weeks. She has been healthy her whole life, but has exhibited many signs of dementia, was just diagnosed with melanoma and just 2 days ago seemingly forgot to go to the bathroom outside, came inside and urinated on the floor. I’m considering euthanasia, but feel guilty about that. She is certainly not living the life I feel like she’d want and the cancer will only get worse over the next few months.

        1. Carrie, I’m sorry you have this hard decision to make. I hope you don’t feel guilty, whatever you decide. Your dog is incredibly lucky to have someone who is taking such thoughtful care of her. Virtual hugs to you.

          1. I have had to put down many of my dog babies & it never gets any easier. But, I do ask the Vet to put my baby to sleep first, before euthanasia. Don’t know if it helps them or not, but I do know it helps me to know they are sleeping safe in my arms before going to Rainbow Heaven. My deepest thoughts and prayers for you.

          2. I think this is a very good idea and I recommend it too. I wasn’t able to do so with my little Cricket. Thank you for the kind comment.

      3. Eileen I came across your article on your precious Cricket at A time I was so confused and unsure about euthanizing my sweet little toy poodle, she is 16 years old and has dementia, I’ve known for a while that it’s time but couldn’t bring myself to do it as I just had to euthanize my other 15 year old girl last June 2020, after reading your story and bawling my eyes out the whole time I realized it was time to let her go, I’m very sorry about the loss of your baby Cricket but want to thank you for helping me with my decision!!

        1. Jackie,
          I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for letting me know my sad story helped you. That’s so kind of you.

    2. I also am facing this,i really feel so sorry for your lose of Cricket! I really could use some help i’m having a very bad time of this,if anyone sees this and your on facebook please look us up under Karen or Kerry yelk and we will except your friend request! Much Love kerry

      1. Dear Kerry, my heart is with you. My precious little boy (a Doxie) will be 12 this year, he has been our baby since he was 9 weeks old. In December of 2014 he lost his vision. He has adapted so well and and it’s amazing how he navigates the house and yard. Lately though he is showing several symptoms of dementia. I read an article about it and couldn’t stop crying when I realized it wasn’t just his vision loss. My husband and I will never let our babies suffer but I haven’t been able to accept this reality. As I hold him tight next to me right now I know the time will come soon. I hope that you too will rest in the knowledge that you gave your baby the best life possible and in in return were given unconditional love. Hugs to you.

        1. Sitting here contemplating on my decision to let my little 12 yr old Chihuahua/terrier mix go. She’s been sick only since Jan. Found out in Feb that she has renal failure. She has been declining since. Dr said she could live for years with it. Well, not so fortunate.SO hard…

        2. We had to put our beautiful benji to sleep as he had dementia . It broke our heart . He got it very quick and seems lost walking about the house room to room as if he was looking for us . I tried to get him to lie down but he didn’t hear me or see me . He walks forr hours at a time falling as he was so tired . Eventually he would lie down and start crying as if he found us it was heartbreaking . My partner and 1 took a week of work to be there with him as he walked about the house all night barking and crying . He was 15 we had to put him to sleep as it was so sad to see him like that . He started barking at the wall and looks so scared . I feel so guilty but know in my heart it was his time to go . I also have 2 other dogs my collie who is 8 has been really sad and looks scared since benji left us .

          1. Theresa, I’m so sorry. I can tell this has affected you and your whole family, animals included. Please don’t feel guilty. Cognitive Dysfunction is a disabling disease just like heart disease or cancer. It’s no less real. I believe there comes a point for some dogs where they need to be released. It sounds like you made a good decision. But I also understand just hating to have to do it. Hugs to you.

          2. I ended up here looking for an understanding of doggie dementia, and I wanted to tell you, Theresa, that you and your partner clearly gave your hearts to doing the very best for your sweet little guy. My heart goes out to you in having to make that decision, but I want you to know that 100% you made the right one. You chose the compassionate path to release him from the body that wasn’t working anymore and was frightening and confusing to him. Sending lots of love to both of you (and your other dogs), and hoping that my husband and I have the strength and wisdom to know when the time comes for our 16 year old cairn.

    3. I just had to put my sweet bichon mix to sleep this year, he was 16 and suffered all these symptons for a few years. I new he had dimentia because I work with the elderly and his behaviour was so so similar 🙁 Buddy was pace and walk in circles, jump on the couch and off the couch and sometimes stand and stare and wine and tremble. He would stand at the wrong side of the door to go in or out and often did his business in the house even though he would never have done that in the past 🙁 our hearts ached watching him, and he startled so easily often he would bite when we would attempt to comfort him until he realized who we were. In the last 6 months he slept all day and would start to sundown at dusk, he would pace and cry all evening. We had buddy since he was 8 weeks old, it was a sad day when I made the decision that it was time, no more suffering 🙁

      1. My Winston is 18 and has similiar symptoms to your Buddy. Winston is my only constant for 28 years. He has been through hell and high water with me and has stayed by my side. Winston urinates and defecates in the house 10 to 12 times a day. He paces and walks in circles and has been without sight for 2 years now. I do not think he is in pain but I am not ready to part with my longtime loyal friend.

        1. my dog did the exact same thing =( he passed away this past friday. we couldn’t think about putting him down. I feel your frustration and pain

  2. how wonderfull of you to offer advice on this awfull illness.my lurcher harry has suffered for 2+ years but still had a good quality of life,sadly we are reaching the time where we are having to re think whether its fair to carry on .he is nearly 17 years old and sometimes falls over.we have done all the things you did to protect him alas we cant make his legs stronger.your cricket ,bless what a beauty you did a great job.my best wishes jillx

  3. I too have a 16 and a half old Tibetan terrier called Jasper who has dementia. He has all the classic signs, but the worst by far is his continual pacing around the house. As our house is open plan, he goes round and round to the annoyance of my younger cairn terrier x Lulu. She will sometimes jump on him and try to bite him as she hates him pacing. He wees all the time in the house, even when I have just let him out in the garden, and is getting very grumpy and aggressive towards me when he doesn’t want to do something he is told to do. My 20 year old son says just have him put down, but I can’t bring myself to do this. He was my late husbands dog and this all started when my husband died unexpectedly a few years ago. I think we are all at the end of our tether, so after reading your website, I am going to take him to the vets and see if Anipryl will help at all. Thanks for your information on your website, it’s good to know I am not the only one out there with this problem. Best wishes, Ann

    1. Thank you for commenting, Ann. I wish you the very best luck with Jasper. I’m familiar with other dogs getting provoked with a dog with dementia. It seems like sometimes it is because the dog with dementia doesn’t respond with correct dog body language.

      What a hard time you have been through. I hope you can get a reprieve and give Jasper some more good time.

    2. Ann, it’s about 18 months past your post, and I am hoping you will still see this. I hope you were able to send Jasper off with peace in your heart. I have 15 yr old Tibetan, Matisse, who is now deaf,
      vision compromised , on maintenance meds for chronic hepatitis, and showing signs of cognitive decline. He also has been showing signs of neurbbological decline and weakness in his hind legs. But every morning he wakes up playful like puppy, as the day goes on he sleeps most of the time always waking up to follow me wherever I go..”” He has been with me since he was 11 weeks old. I am so sad to see him decline and know The big decision is coming soon.

      1. Today is the day I’ve decided to take my 16 1/2 year old Dalai Dama to the vet to be put to sleep. Her dementia has progressed rapidly and she is blind and deaf. Her hips have a lot of arthritis, but like so many of us, she has been with me since she was twelve weeks old and I adore this little gal.
        Thanks for posting. It has brought me comfort knowing that others have faced and dealt with this same difficult decision.

  4. I was glad to read your site. My little weiner dog is 14 and has dementia. He has been to the vet and everything else with him is good. He walks circles all day long when I am gone. He can’t rest until we go to bed and he burrows himself under the covers. My problem is he poo’s in the kitchen and walks thru it while I am gone. It doesn’t matter how long I am gone he will still do it. My son thinks it is time, but I can’t do it. He still lets me hold him, eats and drinks good. He still knows everyone also. I compare this so much to an elderly person. He is down to 14#’s and everyone’s comment of how skinny he is. I am sticking with him and see where it goes, but want to let you know how I enjoy reading of others who have the same sickness going on with their animals. Thank You!!

    1. Cookie, my little Cricket did that for the last 6 months of her life or so (pooping and walking around in it). I installed a webcam so I could get home whenever possible after she had pooped. Also, I kept dog-safe moist towelettes handy and also a plastic basin so I could just stand her in it to wash all her feet at once (the good thing about small dogs!). The walking around in poop was inconvenient for _me_ but I didn’t think it signaled the end for her. Good luck for your little guy. Great that he still knows everybody!

  5. Our boy Tucker is now 14 and has had dementia for the past 18 months. He also has Cushings and we know his time is coming to an end. Tucker seems to have an “event” that sends him over – this includes pacing around, getting stuck in corners, not recognizing us and worst of all aggression. This can last for anything from a few days to ten days which is the most recent one. Our vet gave us some wonderful advise for us – for each day he is having a good day put a smiley face on the calendar and each really bad day, put an unhappy one on – when there are more sad days than happy days it is time for him.

    The part that is heart breaking for us is that he seems to come “out of” this dementia daze and bounds about like a puppy, eats heaps and is nearly normal again. Is this something that other people are finding with their dementia dogs? The good period can last for weeks, and although he is still an old dog that gets a bit confused he is healthy and happy.

    Any information from other owners would be greatly appreciated. We know we have to say good bye soon, but we want to have him around for as long as possible.

    1. That’s such a good idea about the calendar. It is so easy for our perceptions or memories to get skewed in either direction: that things are actually better than they are, or the opposite.

      That must be so hard when he acts frisky and “with it.” I did not experience that with Cricket. I hope if someone else has, they will speak up.

      Good luck with Tucker. I’m glad you are able to still have some good days with him. Best wishes.

      1. Yes..My dog is 15 and she does the same thing. She comes out of her daze and starts to act like she is playing. She is a mini Shellie and is very small.
        I’ve noticed this change in her the past 5 months or so. She has a lot of the signs you have posted ….She does snap out of it. But as time goes on . When she starts to get lost and scared , I don’t think it will be fare to her. Just trying to make her happy as possible.

      2. Elleen,Our dog Casey has all the signs of dementia. He jerks when he is sleeping and jumps at any sudden sound .I know that it is time for him to go. (he is a 16 yr ole Malti-Poo) My husband is hanging on to the fact that once or twice a week ,or even sometimes once a day Casey will wag his tail and act excited,run around like he used to for 10 min. or so. My husband wants to let him die naturally.If we put him to sleep,it would be like killing him and my husband said ” I can not live with the thought of that”.

        1. Lynda, it’s a terrible decision to have to make. I hope the resources on this page can help a little bit. I hope you don’t feel badly either way. Casey is lucky to have you and I know that anything you do, or don’t do, will be out of love.

          1. I have a almost 13 year old Bassett hound named Herbie, he was diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction in November 2017, it’s so awful, he sleeps all day and paces all night, he’s gotten destructive, knocking down anything standing, I’ve tried sleeping with him on a mattress on the floor but he just continuously scratches at me all night and tries to walk back and forth over me, he’s 80 plds so it was very painful and I have been lucky to get 2-3 hours of sleep a night. I had to go back to bedroom and he ended up breaking my door down! The vet prescribed Acepromazine, and Trazodone for at night but it doesn’t stop him from pacing, his eyes glaze and he just keeps going. I hate giving him the medication, it just seems to make it worse. He has started urinating in the house but it wasn’t too bad until today. We went out to dinner and came home to our couch soaked. I am at a loss for what to do, he’s my baby he’s been with me his entire life. He eats, drinks and is happy to see me when he’s awake during the day. My family says it’s time to put him down and that I’m not being fair to him, but I see it as it wouldn’t be fair to put him down just because it has gotten very hard to take care of him. How do you know if they are suffering? Or at least enough that they would want to pass? My heart is breaking but I want to do whatever is best for him and I don’t know what to do

      3. Yes, my 26 year old German shorthair is having a few hours of peace from dementia symptoms. He will eat and wee outside. Then sleep, upon waking he looks drunk and may walk under tables. May wee on the carpet, his legs are giving out most days too. I’ve decided it’s time because I can’t be here all the time. Love him so much but he hates not getting his walks. Hme quits eating most days. Thanks

          1. Today we took him in and it was time. He was very much ready. So much pain endured. He is in heaven in a new body now.

          2. So sorry for your loss. I think putting down my dog was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole entire life. And I’ve been through the loss of a brother, both parents, three destructive hurricanes, earthquakes, financial ruin. Putting my dog down almost killed me. My only consolation is in knowing it was time, and I didn’t let him suffer long term just because I didn’t want to let him go. It will be 3 years now, and I still cry. Now it’s almost time for his brother and sister. How will I ever go through it again?

          3. Dear Lynn, I’m so sorry you are having to go through that again. You can do it because you love them so. It can be the ultimate act of love and mercy. But it’s just not fair that we should ever have to do it. Hugs.

      4. Yes, our boy Jimmy(beagle) of 12 years, is doing the dementia daze along with the other symptoms you have stated and others have has well. The “daze” is scarey in away, as you see them in the daze and their eyes are dark and just stare, and our like they are out of their body, lasting for around 10 minutes at a time. Then all of a sudden they are like they are a puppy again, jumping around wagging tail, and ready for play time this will last for approximately 20 minutes, then he lays down and goes to sleep. We have noticed alot more symptoms of this disease since we had to put our girl Molly(beagle) 12 years old down, due to back and spine calcification, ie when the medication stopped working on her, and she was in severe pain. We held her as she crossed over rainbow bridge. My 21 year old daughter and I are trying to heal, so was our boy Jimmy, Now that Molly isn’t here, we see that they both had doggie dementia but just thought our dogs were getting old together. We realized Jimmy had the more of the dementia then she did. Don’t know how long we will have with Jimmy(beagle). We will make it our best, reading and learning what others are doing is wonderful information as we go through the grieving process of our best friends. As I write this Jimmy is now acting like he is 2 years old and saying come on Mom, we need to go outside and play.:) Poor guy we go out he will look at me like what are we doing here Mom. Thank you all for your words of kindness. Mother and Daugther..(two Moms) to Jimmy and Molly(even in heaven, she is our little girl).

    2. I have a similar situation with our Lab, Otto. He is nearing 13 and has really taken a turn in the past couple weeks. He often gets lost in the house and cries when he gets stuck in corners. It breaks my heart. But, he eats fine, no accidents in the house, but sometimes I wonder if he knows us. He seems so confused. Physically he seems fine other than arthritis, which the vet said is normal at his age. I worry that he is worse off than I think he is. I just don’t know. But reading through this page, I saw your advise about the calendar. I think that seems like a good start in deciding our next step.

      1. I have a 15 and a half Malteese Jake. I’ve had him since he was 12 weeks old. Jake was diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Disorder (dementia) last April after I had several nights of him wondering, walking in to walls and corners. He is on Anipriyl (?sp) and has acupuncture once a week. Within the last two weeks he has been having episodes of urinary frequency and peeing in other places other then his wee wee pads. I took him to the AMC on Thursday to rule out a UTI. He had some white cells in his urine and treated with antibiotics. But I have the same questions as everyone else how do you really know they are happy. He doesn’t hear, his vision in his left eye is markedly diminished and he startles when I come upon him.He does”t like to go out much anymore and totally hates the cold. He probably sleeps app 22 hours a day. And then there are time when he will run up and down the hallway. I am at a loss.

        1. Carolyn I feel the exact same way as I took my 12 yr old English Bulldog to the vet this moring and she was diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Diisorder. I had no clue what was wrong with my bully, Daisy Mae as it began with barking at nothing, going out to look about and scratching to come back in within a minute or two. She would go out at least 10 times in an hour. She would then pee in the middle of the livingroom. She sleeps very deeply which she never did before. The vet gave me oodles of info to read and then he said to call him to decide what I want to do. Daisy Mae is my baby and making the decision on what to do is just overwhelming. I think I am going to try the calendar idea. Just sharing this with others is helpful knowing you are not alone.

  6. I have had the most wonderful experience of having the greatest Mobility Service dog I have ever in my life. His name is Hannibal, not after Lechter but the Carpathian general. He started showing signs of this when in a store, he just pooped and kept walking, my person was stunned because she had never seen him do this before, this kind of started after he had to be neutered because of prostrate issues. His habits have changed a lot since then and now he lives for going outside and just lying in the back yard which is totally enclosed. He has had a few accidents in the home but nothing serious. He still follows his commands very good but is now having issues with his hind legs, he can still gallop, sometimes even run, but he is slowing down more as time goes by. I want to let him retire, he will be 11 years old this month, the day after Christmas but he goes wild if I try to leave him at home and just use my motorized scooter. He hates when I leave without him and starts barking and howling. I want so desperately to just let him be a dog but so far, he will have nothing of it. BTW, he is a wolfdog that passed every test a Service dog could with way above average results, he has never shown any signs of aggression, never bit anyone & always was about the love. He is the strength and spirit of me that I always need to be there when my human spirit would fail from time to time. He loves me unconditionally as I do him. If more people in the world acted like him, the world would not be in the shape it is now. When his time does come, I swear he will NOT begin that journey alone, I will be there to hold him, comfort him, and I always, ALWAYS will let him know what a comfort and work partner he will always be.

  7. I have a 16 year old dog with dementia. Although she has dementia she still seems pretty happy . She does walk in circles but I noticed she only started doing that when she went blind . She does go in the house but if I put her out she will go for me . Now that it’s winter there’s so much snow I can’t . She sleeps at night and is up for the day . She does howl at night when I’m not downstairs with her and once I go downstairs she stops . I don’t mind taking caRe of her . She was there for me all her life now it’s time for me to be there for her . She’s a very sweet dog and still seems happy

    1. Deirdra, your dog is lucky to have you! It sounds like she still has good quality of life. Here is hoping you have plenty more sweet times with her.

      1. Hi. My Baxter is almost16. He has been going to the bathroom in the house he stands in the corners he paces the floor until i come home. I believe he has deminisa. He’s such a sweet dog. What do i do? He still eats and drinks he plays somtimes but mostly sleeps. Is he happy? He seems confused at times but then sometimes he seems fine. Im lost about what to do. Can someone please help. Thanks

        1. Hi Annette,

          It can be hard to tell how happy a dog with dementia is. But first, you should get a vet’s diagnosis to make sure that’s what Baxter has. Talk to your vet about options to help him.

          Some people count up how many good and bad days their dog has. It’s important that your dog not be in pain or scared. If he eats, drinks, and plays those are good signs. Keep a close watch and make sure he isn’t hurting or scared. Try some of the rating scales I have links to on this page. Even if you don’t want to add up numbers, the scales suggest things to consider.

          Take care and I hope Baxter has many more happy times with you.

        2. I have a similar problem with my 15yr old Yorkie ‘charlie’ he sleeps most of the time, shakes a lot especially at night, he’s having trouble with stairs, fallen from top to bottom a few times. Goes to hinge side of door & often goes & stands at neighbours door to be let in. Also he just doesn’t want to walk anymore & hasn’t made a sound in over 18mths, no barking no noise whatsoever. He sits with his head hanging down facing back of settee, he just looks so sad. He still eats & drinks, but he looks so sad, I’ve had him since he was 6wks & love him so very much.

          1. STELLA Our vet told us as long as the dog is not suffering from any phyical things dont do anything drastic yet Our dogs sleeps all day too and keeps us up at night ( we give him tranqulier at night ) he cant do stairs we carry him ,But his heart is good, weight good loves his rubs and we give him more treats that we should He hates walks but we take him The sun bothers him becaue he is giong blind ) Spend time with your dog walk him even though he may not want to go . GOD LUCK and remember there are meds and food for dogs with.dementia

  8. I will try to brief in my story if I can, 17 years ago my parents and I received from my brother 2 Jack Russell Terriers I house trained them together and then gave my mom and dad their puppy back to them her name was Suzy and I had my beautiful Maya. In 2006 I had to quit work to take care of my parents my dad was diagnosed with the dementia and he was my moms care taker for years before that. I was blessed to have them with me, dad passed in 2012 from the terrible disease of dementia and mom passed in 2013 from a broken heart. Left was Suzy who had started showing signs of dementia and started having epileptic seizures which caused her dementia to grow in intensity quickly and she become epileptic aggressive and would bite me severely when she didn’t recognize me. Your pictures and descriptions of your dog Cricket described Suzy to a T, her aggressiveness is what lead me to have her put to sleep I was afraid form my grandchildren and other children if she got out and she attacked Maya and their half brother Pepper all the time, which she never did before they were playmates and litter mates her and Maya and loved each other until the end I hated to have to do this.

    I had to put Suzy to sleep in 2014 and now my Maya is showing signs of dementia this is so heartbreaking my dad, Suzy and now Maya all with dementia and my mom gone with a broken heart not sure if I can handle this. Praying my other dog does not get this terrible disease as well thanks for listening,. Sorry for the double posts not sure what is going on with my computer it scrolls to a different destination when I am typing and makes a mess of things. God Bless all of you

    1. Dear Chandra,

      This sounds like such a difficult burden for you. I am so sorry. I don’t even know what to say. I can tell that all your loved ones have been very lucky to have you to love and care for them.

      I hope you have some good times with Maya still, and I, too, hope that your other dog will not get dementia. I guess with the dogs it is the price we pay, sometimes, for breeds that stay physically resilient for long lives.

      Take care,

      (I put your comments together since you said you were having problems with the computer.)

  9. I am sitting here crying so hard, I can barely see the keyboard. I believe that we are on the downside of life for our beloved 13 year old dog Grinch. He is a 65 lb Chow mix. He has had arthritis for a while. He has good days and bad days but he no longer walks in the yard very far. Getting up/down is hard. He pants all the time due to a collapsed lung (3 years ago) that has never fully repaired itself.
    In the past couple of months, he has taken to staring at corners, sleeping in a small spot behind a chair and barks at nothing, sometimes until he loses his voice. He has also fallen down the stairs a couple of times and had a few ‘accidents’ in the house. One happened right after coming in from outside.
    He still knows us and is happy to see us, which is what keeps us from making that final decision right now.
    Though I believe it is only a matter of time. We don’t want to be selfish and have him suffer just because WE don’t want to let go…..needless to say, I am devastated…

    1. Lou, I’m so sorry. It sounds heartbreaking. I wish you peace and confidence about whatever decision you make.

  10. Beeper was never diagnosed with dementia, although after her passing, I now realized that is what she had. Vets examined her physically. Found she had nodules on her liver and said she needed a biopsy to determine if it was cancerous. I took her in on a Sunday for what should have been a simple biopsy. She never recovered fully from the anesthesia. I believe she had a stroke that night, which the vet and I mistook for pain, she was given morphine injections (twice during that night) and was instructed to also give her tramadol. I took her to her regular vet Monday, he kept her over night, I got a call at work Tuesday morning that she was in a coma. She passed away before I could see her.
    If you have a pet with dementia, DO NOT let them be anesthetized. Their brain can not recover. I wish I would have known….

    1. Oh Tamlyn, I’m so sorry about Beeper. What a sad, sad way to lose her. I imagine it does vary a bit from dog to dog and how advanced the dementia is. But I’m with you; I probably wouldn’t do any kind of invasive procedure on a dog with dementia. Thanks for sharing Beeper’s story.

      1. Hi –

        I just wanted to make a comment on this. First of all, I am SO very sorry for the loss of your dog after being under anesthesia. Our 16-year-old cairn terrier just went through a surgery to get a pacemaker put in, as, after a battery of tests, it was determined that he was in “amazing health” other than his natural pacemaker in his heart misfiring. His neurological signs weren’t tested at the time, although I’ve suspected that he had slight dementia for the last year or so – nothing conclusive, just occasionally peeing in the house, more than anything. Otherwise, no one can believe this dog is 16 – he acts more like a dog half his age.

        That is, until after surgery. He now is showing a LOT more signs of dementia than he did before surgery; he doesn’t want to go on his daily walks (that was unheard of prior to this) and he seems more confused walking around the house. He’s also peeing in the house a lot more and it also seems like he’s gone a good deal more blind in the wake of the surgery.

        Worried that maybe the pacemaker hadn’t implanted correctly or that his kidneys were malfunctioning post-surgery, we took him back to the hospital. The kidneys are 100% and the pacemaker is good, so that left increased dementia from anesthesia. The surgeon hadn’t seen this before, but did have neurology do a consult. The neurologist said that yes, dogs with some neurological issues prior to surgery CAN get worse due to anesthesia.

        Now, in our case, we had no other option than surgery – his heart was stopping intermittently, causing him to collapse and then jump back up. Any of those collapses could have been life-ending, so I would not have made a different decision than I did – he needed the pacemaker or he wasn’t going to live much longer.

        However, I do wish I had known all of this prior to the surgery. That said, the recommendation at this point is to increase anti-oxidants, give him Sam-E as a supplement (10mg/pound), and, if needed, look to Anipryl or other meds to try to help.

        I am also giving him coconut oil after doing a great deal of research on it’s affect on dementia in people, and I believe I am seeing a good turn around with that. So, for anyone that sees this, that might be an option, too.

        I’ll update more as we see if the Sam-E and vitamins are helping….here’s to hoping so! Like all of you, he’s a piece of my heart and just want to keep giving him the best quality of life I can as long as I can.

    2. Your story is so sad. My dog is almost 19 and has Demetria and very bad teeth. They want to put Milo under anesthesia to clean his teeth and see how bad his teeth are and if he has any that need to be extracted. I have been against it because I was worried about the anesthesia at his age Thanks for the heads up. Now I definitely do not want to put him through that only to lose him before his time. He has arthritis and his back legs are weak and he falls. His eyesight is bad and he has dementia. I am glad that I found this website that has helped me learn all about CCD and what to look for and What to do to help my little guy. I am so sorry you had to go through this. I can only imagine your pain.

      1. My toy poodle is almost 16, has heart disease and is showing signs of dimentia. His teeth were SO bad, but I was scared to have them cleaned too. My vet put me at ease. She said there is an alternative to general anesthesia. Instead she would use a gas instead of an injection called Isoflorane where she gives him just enough to put him under and then monitors the amount as she is doing the procedure. She said it was much safer.
        Well my dog did just fine and his teeth are beautiful again and I’m so glad I did it.

      2. helga… i had my dogs teeth cleaned about 7 months ago. He never fully recovered form it and after it had more of the signs of doggie dimentia. it is heartbreaking for me to see my beautiful tibetan terrier clyde, go down hill so fast after that. don´t do any proceedures where they have to sedate him. now i don´t know what to do… good luck!

        1. Anesthesia becomes harder on most dogs as they age. Vets can do blood testing to see whether the dog’s general health is probably up for it. I’m also conservative about elective procedures for an oldster, but in some cases it ends up being necessary. It’s something to discuss with the vet.

    3. yes! My dog was showing signs of the beginning of dementia … but nothing I was really concerned about… The vet said Clyde needed to have his teeth cleaned… After that day, and the anethsethia he never fully recovered and it’s been down hill ever since and very fast after that. Clyde was never diagnosed with dementia and I brought him to 2 different vets both running all kinds of blood tests that showed he was a healthy dog… not one made the connection of his walking in circles etc. I finally made the diagnosis myself after doing tons of reading and research. We are now in Costa Rica and I have to get Clyde home to Vermont in April. I know this will be very hard even though he can come on board the plane with me… But I won’t leave him here or just put him down for the convenience of it. He’s my baby and I’ll stay with him and love him till the very end! Lesson… never never never allow a vet to give anethsitisia to an older pet…

      1. I need to say–it’s certainly a risk to give anesthesia to an older pet and what happened to Shona’s dog is tragic. But sometimes the dog’s life or quality of life is at stake. A vet can do bloodwork and give an informed opinion about whether anesthesia is safe. It’s always a risk, yes. But sometimes the risk may be worth it. Not for a non-essential procedure, but for a life-saving one.

  11. I have had Chancey for 4years this August-He was a rescue and elderly when I got him. He is blind in one eye/and has always had the dry-eye problem – He is deaf and has never showed much emotion. I believe he might have been a breeding/puppy mill dog He was dumped at the local dog pound.. He has obvious dementia and is losing strength in his back legs–falls down, and is now urinating quite frequently (in the house) He gets stuck in corners, etc. and does not know how to get out….He still has an appetite/drinks lots of water but doesn’t seem to know much of what is going on around him -He also has a chronic cough and I have never been able to “walk” him on a leash–…..I am having a hard time making a decision and I feel happiest for him when he is asleep–he seems so “not here”…but I can’t seem to make that final decision…I can no longer take him to be groomed because he gets so distressed. I have given him four years that he would not have had BUT still – How do I make that call???

    1. Jean, that sounds like an extra-difficult situation. I don’t know how to tell you. I put my little Cricket to sleep when she was still physically sound, though frail, because she started having seizures. I just didn’t want that to happen when I was not there with her. Chancey is lucky to have someone who considers his wellbeing so seriously. Please don’t feel guilty if it seems like time to let him go. It sounds like you are a wonderful caregiver for him. Take care.

      1. I am reading this , after I very sadly let my beloved mini poodle Lexee go. What is the right time, oh my heart breaks now, I miss my “best gir” , like all of you. She had a neurologist’s care for 8 months, it seemed that she was stable for most of that time, maybe we love our sweeties and are in denial??? They sadly do not get better, I am in the “guilt” phase now and hope in my Lexee’s honor to move into the “I love you” phase and some sort of acceptance. She was my sweetest girl, with me for 16 1/2 years, my family, I have a husband now( he never liked) dogs) I loved and laughed with Lexee, what a BLESSING?Lots of tears, artwork, poems and “Lexee’s Garden” Thank you for listening, in some special way I honor my Lexee every day?

        1. How lucky Lexee was to be loved and cared for by you. Please don’t feel guilty. I especially love how you honor her with art and beauty. I’m so sorry for your loss. There are those here who understand. Hugs.

  12. I know your feelings very well. All that I can say is that there is no going back once they get dementia. It will deteriorate his health and his desperation with being blind and semi deaf affects him emotionally and they start to panic and breathe heavily, leading to heart attack. I put my Westie to sleep yesterday because his agony was was too much. I only regret having waited almost eight months to do it. Don’t let vets disuade you from this decision, as they cannot cure them, and just want your money. Find someone who is understanding. There are still some vets out there whoa actually care and are compassionate. Don’t make my mistake; you will not forgive yourself easily, Be strong and of good courage, and let him/her go with dignity. let only your close friend in on it, as it is a very personal pain that will reside in your heart forever. Things will get better with time, one day at a time, but rest assured that you have done the humane, morally correct and godly thing. You re in my prayers. The little fellow goes straight to Heaven, where Jesus is waiting for him, where he will be happy, healthy, and loved to the max. I know this for a fact: faith. They come into our ives with a mission, and his has been accomplished. You will realize this post facto, one day, all of a sudden. Trust me. 🙁

  13. Hi. My dog, Victor, is the best dog you can imagine. He was a therapy dog and even in his old age (almost 16), he is a sweetie pie. He has a strong heart in every sense of the word. He is fully deaf and has some vision loss. He still climbs stairs and cuddles with us. He IS incontinent, and we have to change his “Tinkle belt” four times a day.

    Victor has his day and night reversed, and I am getting very sleep deprived. Last night, I only got 3 hours. He wakes up and paces, barking, whining, scratching the doors and walls, and ringing the bell to go out. But, if I let him out, it does not pacify him.

    Our little girls love him so much, and he is still so happy. But I am wearing out. Please give me some things to consider. I have a really hard time putting down a dog who is still so happy and sweet.

    Karen from Kansas

    1. Hi Karen,

      I hope you find this. Your comment go lost when I changed the site name, then changed it back again. I’m very sorry about that. Have you talked to your vet about a prescription for either the dementia, or perhaps a gentle sedative for nighttime? One reader has said that her dog did better after she put a light near his bed area–but it doesn’t sound like Victor’s situation is that straightforward.

      Sleep abnormalities I think are the hardest thing on the human. I hope you can get some rest.

  14. My 16 year old jack russel is blind and almost deaf . I think shes showing signs of dementia . Shes always been healthy and active but since losing her daughter 2 years ago she seems to be declining. She has started pooping and peeing indoors , shes never done this . I take her out almost hourly but still does this indoors. Ive started putting a nappy on her in the hope that this will help with that . She wanders aimlessly around and stands in a corner or at the wall for long periods . She sleeps a lot sometimes she walks and seems to forget where she is . Shes been aggressive with me when shes always been cuddly . I have to try and muzzle her to clean her eyes or trim her claws. I feel she has no real quality of life but at a loss as to whether her time has come . Dont know what to do for her. She looks a little like your Cricket . Beautiful

    1. I’m sorry Michelle. That sounds hard. It’s really difficult to know what to do when they still have some physical health. I hope you can find a little comfort in these pages and hope you can make the decision that is right for you and your dog.

    2. We just put our little westie, Victor, down yesterday. He had similar issues but was as sweet as the day we got him. My vet said, ” Many people wait too long. He’s only going to get worse. What will he miss out on other than increased suffering if you let him go now?”

      Well, it’s been excruciating. I cried 8 times today. But I really have peace that we did the right thing. I just needed someone to help me see that. Now looking back, I see that death was lazy and had already started to take him. It made it seem better than he was, but that gradual decline just made it hard to see how much he’d really lost already.

      1. Those are wise words, Karen, and you are very kind to share them right now when you are hurting. I’m so sorry about Victor.

    3. Michelle,

      I wrote into this forum some time ago when I had the difficult decision on what to do with our Tucker. He had Cushings and all the signs of Dementia. He too had always been cuddly and although he still was at times, he became very aggressive. This wasn’t him and I know it was because he was confused and scared. We delayed it for as long as we could and then we just knew that the time had come. This was the most difficult decision I have had to make in my adult life. He broke my heart and for weeks after it was incredibly sad but in an odd way it was a relief as I knew it was the right thing to do for him. It is almost nine months on now and we still miss Tucker incredibly. We have two new family members – George and Sally – but they will never replace our Tucker. I just wanted others to know that although it is a very difficult decision, you will know when the time is right. A vet we saw gave us a wonderful piece of advise and this helped us personally made the decision. She said for every day he had that was a good day to put a smiley face on the calendar, and for every bad day to put a sad face on. When there are more sad faces on the calendar than happy faces – the time is right. I hope this helps you and others. Linda Tuck

  15. My KC girl (13) has started all these signs..pacing, panting and wonderering at night- only at night. She goes to daycare already because of panic attacks during storms – we live in Florida, that stared 4 years ago Advice – what do i do! i Love her and want to make her better.

    1. Hi Tina! So sorry these symptoms are cropping up. Can you talk to your vet? Also about the storm phobia. Medications can help. You can’t generally stop the progress of the illness (if she has dementia), but meds can often slow it down. Good luck.

  16. I just read Shes Gine. Do yiu titallt gwt it. It was the same fir us but 2 sedatives, because she fought it, I believe and like Cricket dhe had string irgans at 16, I rescued her at 1 2 . Finally, a shot in the heart, as he could not find the vein.I had 3, major anxiety attacks and passed out briefly from the 1st one. Like I said, it’s hard enough when it’s very clear cut it is totally the opposite when you’re dealing with the mind and the dementia how that tortures the dog aside from the physical decline. I lovingly embrace you in heart and spirit with prayers for you and cricket. God bless and watch over you.

    1. Thank you, Gabrielle. Hugs to you and my best wishes. I’m so sorry you had to go through that with your dear one.

  17. These pages have been very helpfull thank you. Our Poppy, a 15 year old terrier is displaying all the signs described, some severely, which if you have never seen a senile dog are very distressing. She has had a 4 year old jack russel companian for just over a year now, and he seems to help her;ie- she copies him at eating time, and in and out of the house ( although the incontinency is now getting worse), and they sometimes play, although he cant understand why she is so feeble at it!. She has been such a wonderful gentle pet, and we feel she deserves to be well cared for at this vunerable time in her life.

  18. As above my 15yr old dog as all the signs. Has done for around 6months now. But when do you no is the right time to do the decent thing. xx

    1. That’s the hardest question, Sandra. The best thing for me was to try to assess my little dog’s quality of life without letting my feelings into it–impossible, I know! I did euthanize Cricket before she had completely collapsed into bad health. She still had her bond with me and I didn’t want her to lose it; I knew she would be completely lost. I didn’t want that. It was horribly, horribly hard though, even though she was frail and had started having seizures. Hugs to you with this difficult choice ahead.

  19. I had to put Buster, a wired haired terrier, to sleep last Wednesday. I took him to the vet and described his recent bizarre behavior, and she was completely surprised by his quick downward spiral. He went from being plain ornery, which he has always been, to confused and combative. I asked for her to put him on selegiline, but I honestly think it was too late to make a difference. He had all the signs; tripping over objects on the floor, going to the wrong side of the door to be let out and in, incessant barking at walls, pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing.

    My vet made this statement to me. When your dog appears to be having physical issues that make their lives miserable, it is easy to make the euthanasia choice for them. That is the truth. I had a Jack Russell with a heart condition, and I knew when it was time. But, with this condition we are confounded at our dog who is acting so oddly. They are healthy, but not acting right.

    It got to the point where he was choking on his food, throwing up, stumbling around. But the worst was that no one could handle him anymore. He was charging at us, snapping. I couldn’t pet him anymore for fear of being bit. In fact, he bit me the morning I took him for the last visit to the vet, all because I reached down to pet him. He plainly did not know who I was anymore, and I was the one in the family he had the deepest affinity with. Whether or not I made the right choice to put him to sleep is anyone’s guess. I don’t think he was miserable, as was the case with my other dog. I think his brain was such Swiss cheese that he didn’t have a clue that he was in outer space.

    He passed super peacefully. I’m happy for that at least. It’s been one week and I am still crying. It’s always hard to lose a pup.

  20. First, my condolences for Cricket and all the other 4 legged babies in heaven! I’m more confused then ever after reading everyone’s experiences. I have 2 senior Bichons, the female Kyla is 15 + and I’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old. She’s had a heart murmur all her life. She had a stroke in 2013 went to level 4; but has appeared to recover, minus the heart meds. One thing we discovered; we put her in her stroller at night with a towel over the top, she LOVES it, sleeps through the entire night! She has been recently showing strong signs of Dimensia pacing around the room for hours. This started right after we moved into our new home. 5 months ago. We installed an elevator because they both couldn’t handle the stairs. (3 level) She has survived falling down several flights of stairs, into the pool twice this week and previously, the elevator shaft, unscathed thanks to her Angels! Her anxiety has caused 3 trips to ICU due to bloody stools 3 times in 4 months; while we were house shopping. She still cuddles with me daily. Only shows aggression, when I try to clean her eyes. They are both showing signs by peeing in the house, right after we took them out. The boy Puff is 14 and appears very sharp other then loosing his hearing and a lil vision. On occasion he will seem oblivious that he is peeing….inside or outdoors, then walks right through it! Otherwise, I think we have more time with him. Both of their appetites are still there, though she throws up frequently. Bile in the morning, sometimes her meal, but will eat it 80%. She will stare into the air lost or perhaps seeing a spirit?? That she has been doing for over 2 years but more frequently recently. I’ve been blaming all of these incidents on the “new house chaos of contractors in our house all week” After a few friends mentioned Dimentia, I found your article.She’s been getting growths and will lick or scratch constantly, unless I’m home to stop her with distraction. Puff has licked himself or you, constantly for the 12 years we have had him, we chalked up to habit?? She is starting to loose balance and he is getting a lil arthritis but still jumps up on the couches? When we leave for errands or dinners, they have the downstairs level with a door open. We come home to her pacing and a peefest, though the door is opened? Is this rebellious or Dimensia? I do not want her pacing with anxiety; so I stay home a lot! Regarding the calendar and smiley face or sad, what really constitutes a bad day? Their tails still wag, they eat and drink plenty of water. In my head I want to wait for nature to take its course…these are my only children! In my heart, I wonder if causing her so much anxiety when we leave and her pacing for hours when home…is that cruel to her?? Sorry for lengthy story! Distraught 4 legged mommy

    1. Lisa… you sound like an amazing mom to your 2 doggie children. I don’t think you cause extra anxiety when you leave and as you said when you’re home you pay lots of attention to them and give them love. That’s about all you can do. I also have my baby, a 14 yr old Tibetan and he has dementia with all of the same problems you have with your dogs. We don’t really know if the dogs are hurting or not… same with people with dementia.. we just don’t know what constitutes a bad day… I get the distinct feeling that they aren’t hurting they are just living life “differently” than before. I also believe that we will know when it is time to let them go.. to either go in their own time or to have a vet help.. either way we will know. (I’m also more inclined to let it happen naturally) Good luck to you, and I’m so glad your dogs have a mom like you!

    2. Lisa… you sound like an amazing mom to your 2 doggie children. I don’t think you cause extra anxiety when you leave and as you said when you’re home you pay lots of attention to them and give them love. That’s about all you can do. I also have my baby, a 14 yr old Tibetan and he has dementia with all of the same problems you have with your dogs. We don’t really know if the dogs are hurting or not… same with people with dementia.. we just don’t know what constitutes a bad day… I get the distinct feeling that they aren’t hurting they are just living life “differently” than before. I also believe that we will know when it is time to let them go.. to either go in their own time or to have a vet help.. either way we will know. (I’m also more inclined to let it happen naturally) Good luck to you, and I’m so glad your dogs have a mom like you!

    3. Hi I know how hard this is and so sorry to hear about this. Our dearly beloved Staffie, Nelly, 15, is suffering from an ailment that we can only deduct is something akin to Dementia. The vets have done blood and urine tests and an x ray under light anaesthetic and cancelled out all other contenders. We are getting other symptoms though. Does anyone recognize these? Apart from restlessness in the evenings and pacing at night, staring, being ‘tottery’, weight loss etc Nelly is also regurgitating watery liquid (not food) and having very brief seizures immediately afterwards. We have found that homeopathy has helped her with her sleeping. Does the swallowing reflex get affected by dementia? And why does dementia cause seizures? Can anything help with the regurgitation of water? It also seems to go up her nose causing sneezing and mouth breathing on occasions. Many thanks

  21. Thank you for this website. It has been extremely helpful to read and the video of dear, little Cricket was very helpful to watch too. It is very good of you to share what must have been painful experiences in order to help others.

    My gorgeous rescue black collie cross, Jess, was diagnosed with a lung tumour a few months ago at the age of 14/15 (I’m not exactly sure how old she is because she’s a rescue but I’ve had her since she was about 2). She was fine until I went away on holiday and my parents were looking after her. She then stopped eating and has hardly eaten anything since. It’s been four weeks now.

    She is constantly pacing and staring at things. I wake up in the night and find her in the hallway just standing there staring and she keeps wanting to go out into the garden and just stands there on the grass, staring at nothing. At first I thought it was caused by discomfort related to her tumour but I realise now that it’s dementia, possibly brought on by her illness. A few times in the last few weeks, I’ve thought I was going to have to have her put to sleep but she’s rallied each time.

    It’s been very tough watching her decline. She’s been my constant friend and companion for nearly 13 years now. She’s a beautiful dog, both inside and out. The vets that have been treating her have been brilliant and have told me that they will tell me if they think I’m being cruel in having her treated with steroid injections for the tumour. They say she has some life left in her still but her dementia has noticeably worsened over the last few days. People keep telling me I’ll know when it’s time and I don’t think it is yet but am preparing myself for it to be soon. I am worried now that it will be over Christmas when there will be an onslaught of relatives. When the end comes, it’ll be a private, personal time and I’ll want to be on my own, not around lots of annoying relatives!

    It has been very helpful and reassuring to read both the blog and the comments underneath. Thank you for setting up this resource.

    1. Stephanie… My beautiful dog clyde has it too…. remember that your dog is probably in no pain at all from the dementia … he is just confused. Keep loving him and petting him and you may want to try to hand feed him his special and favorite foods… that’s what I have to do with clyde… he is like a little baby and I feed him and walk him and love him… Dogs are like little Buddhas in that they are constant and always there… and so just let him be where ever “there” is for him… Please excuse me if I say too much but wait till after christmas to do put him down… it will be much better for you to have him with you on this special holiday and will be a good memory for you. my best wishes to you Stephanie.!

      1. Thank you for the reply. I just don’t know what to do. She hasn’t shown much interest in food for a few weeks now. She has a lung tumour and I didn’t know if it was that causing her to behave like this as it’s all come on very quickly. She’s has steroid injections each week for the last three weeks and has picked up each time but only for a few days. She’s not eaten anything today and vomited up yellow bile earlier. She was flaked out all day but is now wandering around looking confused. She was absolutely fine about 4 weeks ago. She was diagnosed with a lung tumour but the only symptom was a cough. She was still running around quite happily.

        It’s going to be so hard over Christmas as I’m expected to go to my parents’ two hours away and the vet there won’t do home visits. If she takes a turn for the worse there I won’t be able to get anyone out to see her. I don’t want her to die in the surgery as she hates it in there anyway.

        This is so hard! If she’d just eat something I’d feel better but she sniffs at food now (and I have tried everything) and turns away.

        1. Hi Stephanie… It’s Shona here again. It’s so hard to say what is best… but remember also that our closest companions (our dogs) pick up all of our feelings and emotions, so if you can stay calm, go to your parents house like normal with Jess and try to be patient and calm… Jess will like that and of course she would want you to be happy.
          I tried many types of food for Clyde when he stopped eating… and some of them aren’t what dogs would normally eat… but I give it to him anyway, cause it’s the end of his life and it’s different now… so what worked for me was steamed squash and even put some honey on it and he loved it. Also a little steamed chicken breast with a pinch of sea salt. He also likes carrots. He also ate chicken liver when I cooked it… just steaming with some sea salt…He’ll eat a little kibble from time to time too but not much. But He only ate theses things if I hand fed him. I give him small amounts at a time and that seems to help him digest it and not throw up… as he also throws up stuff if it’s too much. I hold him on my lap and hug him now… he likes that (never did before) and talk with hime and love him and touch him a lot. I know you’re worried about not having a good vet near your parents house… but lets assume that on this special day of Christmas that your sweet Jess will be fine and you will get her home after the holiday to her own house. That is where she should be when her time comes… at home with you…. please believe that it will be this way and it will. Santa wants you and Jess to be ok… believe!
          Shona and her dog Clyde

          1. Thank you the kind reply, Shona. It’s lovely to hear about your dog.
            I have tried every kind of food for Jess lately. She’s been on these pills which stimulate the appetitive but even so she didn’t want anything today. I cooked her some chicken earlier and she hasn’t touched it. She did eat from my hands a few days ago but hasn’t wanted anything today.

            I don’t want to lose her but neither do I want her to suffer. I’ll see how she is tomorrow. The not eating has been going on for a while now and she’s becoming very thin. A few people have told me it’s time but I’m waiting for her to tell me herself.

            Thank you again for your kind words.

    2. Hi Stephanie. I am sorry that you are going through such a difficult time with Jesse. This website has also helped me so much. I too am going through the same thing. My jack Russell Milo who just had his 19th birthday has been going downhill. It is so difficult to let him go. My vet said I will know when it is time. He has been to the vet 3 times in the past 3 months. He also stares into space and paces for hours in the middle of the night. He gets stuck in corners and bumps into things. Milo had blood test which revealed the beginning of kidney disease. Milo was eating so I thought it was not time. Milo has been having accidents in the house but that did not bother me. I just cleaned it up. I remember when my grandmother had accidents and my father had to clean her and the mess. Everyone was telling me that I should put him down. I would get angry that they wanted me to kill my baby when he had life in him.
      Milo has been losing considerable weight. He is skin and bones. He was 20 pounds and yesterday I weighted him and he only weights 10 pounds. He is hardly eating and has been falling since his arthritis is worst because he has no body mass. On Friday I went to run errands and found him on the kitchen floor trying to get up. At 3:30 am I heard him yelping to find him again on the kitchen floor trying to get him up. I carried him to his bed and then I knew it is time. He is not going to get better. The steroid shot helped with his pain for awhile but now it is not. It breaks my heart to let him go. I was hoping he would go in his sleep but he is a tough little guy and is hanging in there. Last year he got sick and I begged him not to leave me but yesterday as I stroked him I told him it is ok for him to go. I told him it’s ok go to sleep. I love you and I always will. I have been crying all weekend. I know why you want to do this alone. People do not understand the bond and love we have with our babies. Milo would always bounce back so I was not ready but now I know that he will not get better. He is only going to get worst. My vet said I know when it is the right time and she was right. I know now that the time has come and though I will suffer I do not want him to suffer. Before I thought I was killing him if I did it but now I understand I am letting him go because I love him and do not want him to be in pain. I left a message to my vet to do this after Christmas but if he gets worst then before. My heart aches. You too will know when it is time. Spend every last minute loving Jesse.

      1. Dear Helga
        I am so sorry to read about Milo. He sounds a tough little guy. I feel the same as you – that Jess just wasn’t ready and I don’t feel that she’s told me it’s time yet. I do feel pressured to make a decision because of Christmas though as the lovely vet who has been dealing with her shuts down from Thursday afternoon to the following Tuesday. An emergency vet may not be able to see her at home and I don’t want her dying in a surgery. She would hate that.

        At least Milo has told you it’s time now which, although it’s awful, does mean that you can make a decision without guilt because you know you are doing the right thing, however hard it is. There’s a fine line to be drawn between making sure they don’t go before their time and making sure they don’t suffer. I don’t want to be cruel but I don’t want to lose Jess before she is ready to go either.

        I just wish it wasn’t now because then I could stop worrying that her vet is going to be away.

        Please let me know how you get on with Milo. I will be thinking of you. This is such a sad time.

        1. Hi Stephanie
          We think a like. I also feel that I did not want to put Milo down and he would get better. I would always think what if he could have been with me longer. Even though I know it is time it is still hard to let go.
          My vets office just called and said that his vet will not be in the office until after the new year. They said another vet will be there but I too do not want Milo to be stressed with a new vet. His vet is very caring and comforting. You are lucky to have a vet that will come to your home. I would feel better if his vet could come to the home. Milo is having a good day today. The weather is nice which makes a lot of difference in his pain. I forgot to tell you that Milo has gone blind.
          I will pray for both of our babies. I am hoping that I do not have to do this until after the new year. I can use this time to give him extra love. I still have pain medication for him and do not plan on leaving him alone. His major problem now is when he falls he cannot get back up.
          I too will be thinking of you and Jesse. I hope you enjoy your holidays and Jesse can enjoy them with you.

          1. Hi Helga
            Thank you for the message. I was going to post an update on here tonight. I had to have Jess put to sleep earlier on today. She had deteriorated and the vet said he could carry on with the steroid injections and the appetite stimulants but I knew he’d just be back in a few days having to do the same thing all over again.

            As soon as I made my mind up, he said he thought I’d done the right thing. And I’m glad it was at home and not in a vet’s surgery which it would have been over Christmas because they don’t do home visits then. And it would have been a different vet because the one I normally take her to is shut over Christmas.

            I’m devastated. I know I’ve done the right thing but I am going to miss her so, so much. I’m 39 and have had her for a third of my life and over half of my adult life. I went straight out to see a friend and stayed with her for most of the rest of the day – she lost her dog last year and so we had a good cry together – and then I’ve had to come home to an empty house. It’s awful being here without her.

            I do hope you get the extra time you want with Milo. It sounds as if you are lavishing him with care and attention and love. I’m sorry to hear that the vet won’t visit your home to see him. It has made it a lot easier to bear with Jess and has saved her the stress of going to the surgery. She hated going and would get very distressed.

            It’s so strange – my life has revolved around Jess for the last 13 years and now she’s gone I won’t know what to do with myself.

        2. Stephanie. Last year when Milo got sick and was not eating the vet said to give him cat food that the smell entices them to eat. I got him seafood and he ate some. The vet also said to try baby food but he only ate some. I was so desperate that he would not eat that I bought a baby bottle and diluted gator aid and bottle fed him.
          Milo is not eating much now either but when I make salmon he eats. Something about seafood. Try it.
          Good luck

          1. Hi Helga
            I’m not sure if you saw my last message? I had Jess put to sleep this afternoon. Thank you for the thought though.

  22. Oh Stephanie I am so sorry. I can only imagine your pain. Of course it is difficult to lose your Jesse. It is going to be hard not having her there with you. I will pray for you to have strength in this difficult time. I am glad that you have a friend that understands what you are going through. That is the best friend you need at this time. I will be thinking about you.

    1. Thank you Helga. It is awful – like a bad dream that I think I will wake up from. Seeing my friend earlier was helpful. Being back at home now without my girl is so hard. I was thinking of trying to go into work tomorrow so that I’m not at home by myself but don’t know if I’ll be able to manage it.

      Thank you for the thoughts and the prayers. I will be thinking of you and Milo too. Please let me know how you get on.

  23. Hi Stephanie
    How are you. I have been thinking about you all day.
    Milo is not doing well. He does not want to eat and he was laying on the kitchen floor and peed and was laying in it. I had to give him a bath. I think that on Monday I will have to call to euthanize him. I have to see if the vet can see him since his vet will not be in until after the new year and if Milo refuses to eat I cannot wait that long.
    I hope each day gets easier for you. I am sure you have wonderful memories of your precious Jesse.

  24. Hi Helga
    Thank you for asking. I’m tearful but am not too bad as long as I’m out of the house. It’s when I come home that it hits me that Jess isn’t here any longer. I’m so used to her being at my feet wherever I go and I wake up in the night thinking about where she might be if she’s not lying on the bedroom floor, where she usually would be. I went into work yesterday and they were all lovely, but anytime anyone was nice to me I would start crying.

    I feel exhausted with the stress of it all. I’ve spent the last four weeks at home with her, other than when I’ve been at work, but lately I’ve been working at home, watching Jess decline. And three times I thought I was going to have to have her put to sleep until the last time when it was final. It has been a very stressful, upsetting time and it’s all hitting me now. One thing I did do was get some photos of us taken last Saturday. I had a photographer come out to the house and take some pictures of me and Jess together. He e-mailed through the proofs today. There are some lovely ones but Jess does look tired and sad in them. I’m very glad I had that done but it is heartbreaking to see her looking so tired.

    I’m so sorry that Milo is getting worse. It is hard watching them decline like this but you know you have done everything possible for him now. The one thing that’s made it easier with losing Jess is that she was not herself anymore and wouldn’t eat and so I know I have done the right thing. Of course it still hurts like mad though. And I think you said Milo was 19? Jess was a rescue dog so I’m not exactly sure how old she was – 14 or 15 (and I had her for 13 years). I was hoping she would live until she was at least 16 or older. If it’s any consolation, you’ve been lucky enough to have had Milo for a lovely, long time – though I know that, in some ways, the longer we have them, the harder it is to lose them.

    I’ll be thinking of you over the next few days. Please give Milo a cuddle from me and let me know how you get on.

  25. Hi Stephanie
    How are you? Today we had to put Milo to sleep. My baby is gone. I miss him already. This apt is so empty without him. All I do is cry. He dies in my arms. He put his head on my chest and looked into my eyes. He went so quick. The vet said he was ready. He just did not want to leave me. I feel like my heart was ripped out. It does not feel real. I feel like I have to go pick him up. He was always with me. We took him everywhere. He followed us all day except at the end when he could not walk without falling. My daughter went with us. I was glad she was there. The vet and tech were so kind, caring and comforting. I told them to take Good care of my baby.

  26. Hi Helga
    I was wondering how you were getting on. Thank you for letting me know. I’m so sorry that you have lost Milo. I know how devastated you must be feeling right now. It is a week ago since I lost Jess.

    I know the first thing I felt at first was relief that Jess wasn’t suffering anymore but then the sadness and the exhaustion kicked in. Caring and worrying about a sick dog is very tiring and you must be shattered right now.

    Making the decision to say goodbye is so heartbreaking. We know we are doing the right thing but selfishly we want to keep them alive for as long as we are. You had Milo a long time and he was a big part of your life. I hope you have a lot of understanding and supportive people around you right now. Some of my friends and family have been brilliant but others haven’t been in touch at all and I’ve been hurt by that as people knew what Jess meant to me.

    I am at my parents’ house. I came here for Christmas and am not going back until Sunday. I had taken the week off in the hope that I could spend it with Jess but I’ve spent it grieving for her instead. It’s been useful to be able to shut myself away and take the time I need to gather myself together. I was exhausted with the worry of it all and you must be shattered too. I know how much you’ve cared for Milo in the last few weeks of his life and I hope you can take some time out to grieve properly for him.

    Please don’t let anyone tell you to move on, or get over it, or that you should be feeling better etc. I have been reading up about grieving for a pet and it’s clear that we don’t just get over it and move on when they are gone. Everyone grieves in different ways and we need some time to be able to deal with it. Someone sent a really good quote which I will find and post here for you. It was very helpful for me. I have given myself permission to take as much as I need and to do whatever I need to do to deal with this, even if that means shutting myself away for the week. I hope you are able to do the same.

    One thing I set myself to do was to write to the vet and thank him for the care that he showed Jess in her last few weeks. It was a hard letter to write but I did it and I also wrote about what a lovely dog she had been. They only saw her when she was sick in her last few weeks and they didn’t get to see what a clever, funny and feisty dog she was when she wasn’t scared at the vet’s surgery.

    I still look for Jess even though I know rationally that she is not here and I know it will be worse when I go home. I also hated leaving my house on Christmas Eve because – and this sounds mad – I was thinking, what if she tries to come home and I’m not here? I felt like I was abandoning her. Totally irrational but I couldn’t help it. I’m getting her ashes so that I can have her near me.

    It’s clear to me from your posts that you adored Milo and he had the best possible care from you. The fact that he had such a long, happy life is testament to the wonderful care that you gave him. Saying goodbye is so hard. I wish I could give a big hug right now.

  27. This was the quote. I hope it helps:

    “I know you’re sad, so I won’t tell you ‘have a good day’. Instead, I advise you to simply ‘have a day’. Stay alive, feed yourself well, wear comfortable clothes, and don’t give up on yourself just yet. It’ll be better soon. Until then, have a day.”

  28. OMG Stephanie I feel the same. I feel like I abandoned Milo. That he is all alone. He was a Mamas boy he had to have me in his sight at all times. I keep looking for him because I forget for a second. I feel so lost without him. Thank you so much for your words. I would love to see a picture of Jess. You can email it to me at newswingsextet@aol.com

  29. I had two dogs, Lucy and Sadie, both 15 years old. We lost our precious Staffie, Sadie Bird almost a month ago due to failed kidneys and terrible arthritis in back hips. Lucy and Sadie were like sisters and raised together since the age of three. Lucy, a mini Schnauzer, is almost totally blind and deaf and was showing moderate signs of dementia prior to loosing Sadie. Now she has spiraled into full blown dementia according to my research, but my husband is in denial. She barely knows me and bites when I try to pet her or pick her up. She wanders around the house, stopping to just stare into space for 5-10 minutes at a time. She has to be hand fed, but even doing this, she has a hard time remembering to the food in her mouth and it drops onto the floor. We have steps in our home and she has fallen down these quite frequently as well as falling off of the bed. I have solved the steps problem by blocking them off and carrying her up and down. She is actually doing better with peeing in the house. The vet has her on an incontinence medication and I am diligent about taking her out every 2-3 hours and standing with her. She is so confused, agitated, frustrated and aggressive, I hardly know this dog any more. I do not know what to do if my husband refuses to see there is a problem and just chalks it up to her getting old. I watched my mother die with Alzheimer’s and the last ten months, she could not walk talk or feed herself and was either crying or screaming with rage. When she was somewhat lucid and managed to get out a verbal communication, she always asked “What happened? I am miserable. Want to die.” It tore out my heart and know my dog Lucy is basically going through the same thing. I cannot watch her waste away like my mother. I know it is time, but I just cannot have her put to sleep without my husband’s support and approval. He always just throw it back on me and says. “Just go ahead and kill her, but you take her. I’m not doing it.”

    1. Rosemary, I’m so very sorry you are going through this. It’s a terrible enough situation, without the complications of having it all be on you. My thoughts are with you. Hugs.

  30. Our dachshund/terrier is now approx 18-years-old. We adopted her when she was about 1 to 1 1/2 years-old. She has always been high maintenance, but there are many great memories as well! She has been diagnosed with dementia for approx a year or more. In the past 6 months we have seen a big decline. She gets stuck in corners, walks randomly through or over items, gets lost in our yard (and often stuck in hedges, etc.) so we have to go get her, she paces all day and night sometimes…the biggest challenge is that she has destroyed our carpet in our house. She is crated at night and some mornings we wake up and she has defecated in the crate and it is all over…she will defecate inside at times, but primarily it is repeated urine accidents–no matter how much we take her outside. Her personality has changed so much that she seems like a completely different dog. When I look back even a year or two ago she was still the same, just physically changing. When we took her to the vet recently, they did a complete blood work up and x-rays to rule out masses. She is in perfect physical health except for her spine which is also deteriorating. The vet has not discussed end plans at all. My husband is at his wit’s end, but our 10-year-old daughter has only known our dog to be in the family. I am at a loss as to what to do…

    1. Sharon, I’m so sorry. The loss of housetraining is a common thing and it is so very hard to deal with. Have you checked the Quality of Life scales or the book I recommend on the When to Say Goodbye page? Sometimes it can just help to write things down. My heart goes out to your and your family.

        1. I wanted to post here again. Sadly, we had to let our sweet girl go on April 5th. She had not eaten for a couple of days. When I came home that day she was standing in the kitchen with her head in a corner. I took her outside and had to give her water with a small animal baby bottle. I went to get a towel and came back to see she had collapsed on her side. I sat and let her and talked to her. I said “I hope we were good parents to you…I hope you forgive us for when we weren’t”. Then she wagged her tail. I could not believe it. She had not wagged her tail in a very long time. It was like a gift from her. My daughter said her goodbyes alone…then we all cried together. My husband and I took our dog (our daughter wanted to be with a friend) to the vet. She was on her soft dog bed as I held her and pet her. We remembered the day we brought her home, picking her up from a volunteer who had transported her to us. We were there as she left us, hands on her, tears falling….I kissed her goodbye before we left. We had her 16 years and 8 months to the day. She saw us through every major life event since my husband and I got together 22 years ago.

  31. Eileen, Thank you for your kind words. As I posted earlier, my little dog Lucy has dementia and my husband refuses to recognize there is a problem. Lucy had a stroke yesterday and instead of having her put to sleep, my husband chose to bring her home. It breaks my heart that she is so pitiful and she can barely walk without falling over nor can she eat on her own. She is still drinking OK. She has suffered neurological damage and her right leg and paw are in a uncontrolled constant pawing motion. I prayed all last night that God would please take her. My husband left this morning for work without giving her her three of her medications and this makes me so angry I could just kill him. If he insists keeping her alive, he can give her the medications. Now I am going to have to fight to get these 3 medications down her and it is extremely stressful for both of us.
    I pray that I have the strength to handle this without killing my selfish, stupid husband. He is either in denial, blind or uncaring about the quality of life of this sweet little dog.

  32. HELP! I am in dog hell. My 14-year-old has dementia, has become aggressive and impossible to deal with at night, soils in the house even though he’s just been out, eats and drinks sporadically, and is losing control of his back legs. He is destroying our rental home. He was just at the vet, was put under to have his teeth cleaned and an eye tumor removed and we were told he has perfect blood work, which is unusual for an old dog like him. He has been the best dog ever, and we’re having a really hard time making the decision to humanely end his life. NOW our 9-year-old is acting out, probably due to the old guy’s issues, and is eating poop and then getting sick all over the house as well. Our lives are consumed with cleaning carpets and watching their every move. We are at a loss as to what to do, for both of them. We have tried everything: medications, diet change, more exercise (they get PLENTY)…we had to buy gates and TONS of rugs (the whole downstairs is hardwood and very slippery AND so darn hard to clean if there are accidents). We are at the point of rehoming the younger dog and putting the older one down, we are so distraught and fed up. I know it sounds harsh, but until a year go, we had NONE of these issues. It’s all too much to deal with. Any advice would be helpful.

    PS: we just moved to a new town in 2014, know no one who can/will come help us or give us a break, can’t find a reputable kennel to leave them at for a break, and feel we’re out of options.

    1. Rebecca, I am SO sorry. It sounds like you are doing all that is humanly possible to do right by your dogs. They are so lucky to have someone who loves them so. I do believe that your quality of life counts too. But what a heartbreak. One idea: if you can afford it, and if your vet will work with one, you could try a board certified veterinary behaviorist. He/she doesn’t have to be local; they can work through your vet. They are experts at all the kinds of medications and behavioral interventions that can help. Here’s a list of them. http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/

      I am so very sorry. I don’t know if we can help you make any decisions, but there are people here who know a bit about what you are going through. Take care.

      1. Thank you. It’s April and things are only getting worse. He paces so much that even though he eats, he is skin and bones. His brain won’t let him rest enough to keep weight on. He crams himself in corners and behind furniture and acts like he can’t get out. Now every time I try to get him to do anything, he runs away from me. If I try to leash him to move him outside or to another room, he bites. He soiled the house and stomped through it, destroying a whole room in less than 10 minutes. This happened RIGHT after we let him out. It’s time. We will celebrate his 15th birthday tomorrow night and have him euthanized next week. He’s just too dangerous and I couldn’t live with myself if he bit someone else.

        1. So sorry, Rebecca. That’s got to be so difficult. Hang in there. Your dog is so lucky to have you loving and looking out for him, even to making the hardest decision of all.

  33. Hi Rebecca. I am so sorry for what you are going through. It is not easy. I just had to put my 19 year old jack Russell to sleep on December 29. I too was cleaning poop, and urine after taking him out and he would not do anything outside but then would do it in the house. I was exhausted and found myself stressed out but he was my boy and after the clean up I would look at him and all was ok. I know it could really rattle your nerves. What breed is your dog. At 14 he should not have been put under anesthesia. Milo needed his teeth cleaned at 14 and the vet told me because of his age she would not want to put him under. Your problem is worst because you have another dog and he is feeding off the stress of both of you. I just tried my best to make Milo more comfortable and enjoy the time I had left with him. You are upset and want to give up but believe me you will feel worst when he is gone. It was so hard for me to say goodbye to my boy. I am so heartbroken. I miss him so much and if I could still have him I would clean up his poop and pee and have him pacing at night. The only reason I had to put him down was because he stopped eating and was falling and could not get up. He had arthritis in his hip which affected his back legs. I wish I could help you. You just need a break. At the end I used wee wee pads which Milo would use. I think he just did not want to go out anymore because he was weak and in pain. I hope you come up with a solution which is best for all of you. I will be thinking of you.

  34. I just came across your page, and had to leave a comment. My Fluke had Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. He would get stuck in tight spaces, stay in corners with his head low staring into space. It finally came to a head two weeks ago, when on the 4th of January 2016, the vet told me (after he gave him a pain injection) that if he didn’t start eating , it may be time to let him go.
    On the return visit on the 8th January 2016, Fluke hadn’t eaten for 5 days, he was inconsolable at night, had black diorea. He was beginning to suffer, and I didn’t want his suffering to continue just for my selfish needs. Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease. And I had to let him be put to sleep. I keep wondering if I did the right thing, maybe I could have let him go on. My thoughts are with you and Cricket (wonderful name btw) I can understand. Hugs Becky x

  35. Hello, I thank you for your information and am glad I am not alone in this unusual predicament. I rescued my yorkie, Rory, about 7 years ago, after his own family had him for 9 years and then abandoned him at the local shelter. He has been a great dog, never barked or had accidents in the house, so I was thrilled to get him and confused as to why anyone would give him up. Well….now that he is getting to be very senior, he is also becoming very confused, very quickly. He paces throughout the night, not knowing where he is, he barks at things that aren’t there, he acts as if he has no idea who I am, and he now has so many accidents that he wears a doggy diaper. The hard part is that he is still so young acting, otherwise. He has no other health issues, except perhaps hearing loss, but trots around on his walks like he’s a pup. It saddens me to see him when he is in a state of dementia. And it seems to progress quickly, happening more and more each day. Sometimes he drags his little bed all around my home over and over again, for a half hour or more. He actually has symptoms of “sundowning” just as humans do. I am wondering how long he will last like this, and when is the right time to say good-bye. I do not look forward to that day. I want him to have a good quality of life, so all I can do now is watch him and be guided by the balance of happiness and confusion.

    1. Hi Mary, I am sorry you are going through this like so many others who have commented here. It’s extra hard to find the right time to say goodbye when our dogs’ minds are deteriorating but they are otherwise physically healthy. It sounds like you have a good sense about how you want to look at the situation (and I agree with you). Good luck with Rory. How lucky he is to have had his “second life” with you.

  36. My heart goes out to all of you on this forum. I had my fourteen year old chihuahua put to sleep two years ago because of his worsening dementia. We had always had problems with him in regard to toileting but the last year he constantly used to go in the house even after being taken out to the garden hourly. He had very bad cataracts on both eyes, was very deaf, and had started falling down. He also barked constantly if I left the room and he had forgotten where the doors were. I got him as a puppy, the smallest thing I had ever seen. After he died we had to replace all the downstairs carpets, both sofas, all the chairs and basically everything he’d been able to reach. I have been severely depressed since losing him even though I know it was the right thing to do. I prayed constantly he would die in his sleep but he didn’t. I am also wracked with sorrow and guilt because after the vet gave him the injection I could still feel his heart racing and thudding. I am tormented by it. I would love to have another dog but I am old and it could outlive me, also I feel unfit to be a dog owner after what happened to Chichi.

    1. Dear Caro,

      Any dog would be lucky to be your dog. I am so very sorry about your pain about Chichi. If it helps to know, I euthanized Cricket when she could still walk, eat, and growl at the vet. And she didn’t go easily. It was awful, but I know it was the right thing to do. They don’t always “tell us” when it is time. Sometimes they can’t. I can tell how much you loved and cared for Chichi. Take care. I hope you can feel better about this. How lucky he was to have you as his loving owner.

      1. God bless you for your kindness and compassion. Your little Cricket had such a lovely little face. Thank you .

    2. Caro, Below is the information regarding the injection used to put dogs to sleep. I hope this will be a little comfort to you knowing that Chichi was already unconscious when you felt his erratic heartbeat….
      “The solution, which is injected, is simply an anesthetic overdose. It is a lot stronger than the usual drugs that the vet uses, so it works very quickly. Your vet will place the syringe with needle attached alongside the dog’s leg and slide the needle into the vein. A small amount of blood is usually drawn back into the syringe this ensures that the needle is in the vein. Keep gently stroking your dog and reassuring it. As the vet injects the dog it takes only seconds to relax and anaesthetize the dog, usually before the syringe is empty. By now your dog is fully unconscious and it is only a matter of time for the body to stop. The vet will inform you when you pet has passed away and leave you alone to say goodbye”.
      Hope this gives you peace of heart and takes away any guilt you are feeling about the process. .

        1. I know. I miss my sweet, Sadie Bird every day. I have her ashes in a little chest and have told my husband and son that when I die, they are to be in my casket. My other dog, Lucy Belle, is the one who is still living with the after affects of a stroke and doggy dementia. I love her to death, but I just don’t have the bond with her as I did with Sadie. I really feel that Sadie Bird was my soul mate, as strange as that may sound. I guess people who just think dogs are animals will never understand us who know differently. They will know how close you can become with your dog and the lasting bond that you have for your little four legged soul. I hope you feel better and it does get a little better day by day. Really, do think about getting an older dog who most likely would be passed up for adoption. What better way to honor the memory of Chichi than to help a dog who has little chance of being adopted and needs love.

          1. Thank you for your wise words.I’ve decided to donate monthly to my local rescue centre. I don’t know if I could face losing another pet but at least I can feel I am doing some good in his memory.

  37. Dear Caro
    I’m so sorry to hear of your pain and sorrow over the loss of you sweet Chichi. No one really knows when the time is right, but as Chichi’s mom you had to make a very hard decision. It’s true that we never know if any of our decisions are right, but there are those who believe that there are no mistakes in life… that this is the way it was meant to be and you, as Chichi’s mom get to take advantage of this wonderful lesson … the lesson of love. No matter how you look at it… whether he died in his sleep or you put him “to sleep” you’re love for your pup is never ending…. to keep him in your heart is priceless and keeps the love flowing. Keep his memory alive and allow yourself to enjoy your life. Chichi came to you to show you how dogs love life… and to help you love your life… I hope you’ll begin to enjoy more because he would want that for you, as I’m sure he loved you very much too. I’m in a similar situation with my dog Clyde, a Tibetan Terrier, who is 14 now and has had dementia for maybe 10 months or so. He is a sweet boy and still remembers me but I can see his mind fading with the sun. And like your Chichi, he is peeing and pooping around the house and I know I’ll have to replace things … but that is nothing to me.. I will do that gladly because he’s worth it. Clyde is not yet in the final stage where I need to make a decision but I know that day will come! Like you I pray that he dies peacefully in his sleep some day and like you I am older and don’t know if I will ever have another dog in my life again. This especially saddens me as Clyde is the first dog I’ve ever had! I also find myself getting very depressed and anxious when I watch Clyde roam around and stare at things with that look in his eyes of “where am I?” I know that there is a grieving process that has to be completed here and I wish for you the best… Tell yourself that you will do something everyday that is enjoyable and fun to honor the memory and the life of your pup…. and if you say you’ll do this… I will also do this…. to honor Clyde now while he is still here and to honor his memory when the day comes that he is gone. Many blessings to you, Caro

  38. Hi, lately my dog Skoshi (yorki) has been sick. We started noticing symptoms of dizziness and memory loss about august 2015, and we think this may be the reason why. He seemed to be getting better but now we think it’s because he’s just getting used to his conditions. I’ve already lost an old dog to cancer and other disease but I’m not sure how I’ll cope with him. He’s been sick for awhile and I wonder if he’s in pain or if we should see if we can do anything else. I want what’s best for skoshi, even of it means letting go. Any advice?

    1. Hi Carson, your vet should be able to tell if Skoshi is in pain. Dementia isn’t painful in itself, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between physical symptoms that are a result of the mental problems and symptoms that are from other ailments. There are medicines that can help with the pain, too, if you choose to look into that. Take care. I know it’s hard, especially if this is the first time you have come up against this condition.

  39. Eileen, I should also mention that dementia was not the only reason for having Monty put to sleep. The vet from whom I got the second opinion also did a urine test and believes Monty has the beginnings of kidney disease.

    By allowing Monty to undergo further treatment I feel as though I was prolonging the inevitable. I am going to miss my little buddy soooo very much…..

  40. Hi Carson
    My dog Clyde has CCD and he’s had it for about a year. Through time it has gotten worse and if this is what Skoshi has then he will slowly go down hill. In answer to your question, I don’t believe that these dogs are in physical pain, and even the confusion that goes along with it, is merely confusion. Personally for me it feels more painful to me when I watch Clyde walk around in circles or stare at things…it causes me sadness and grief…. but no I don’t think he’s in pain and Skoshi probably isn’t either. Hang in there… it can get tough but our sweet dogs are worth it. You will know when his time has come … they may stop eating and drinking and not be able to get up anymore… put a list together of times he’s doing well and times he’s not…so you can watch the progress. By the way, I have been using vitamins minerals and coconut oil and these things seem to work. Talk to your vet also as there’s a medication called Anapryl that is being used now for dogs that can extend their good times.

  41. I am so thankful for this site. Capone is a Welsh Corgi, 10 years. He was diagnosed with diabetes 3 years ago, which devastated me. I knew that his life and mine had to make many adjustments. His shot schedule and healthy meals became a priority. With that I know his life with me was extended. The past 3 months he is trembling more, eyesight is not good and shows signs of dementia. I am aware that the diabetes is a factor. He doesn’t seem to be in pain, eats like crazy. Very lethargic, difficult to find his way around but he uses his sense of smell to find his way. This week reality hit and the grief is unbearable. Knowing he may not be with me much longer and watching him so frustrated and confused. I am concerned about meds for him because of the diabetes. I not so sure the vets I have taken him to are well versed in diabetes. One over prescribed insulin I nearly lost him. Any ideas on safe meds.

    1. Oh Sheryl, that sounds like a hard situation. Kudos to you for caring for your dog with diabetes so well. My friend has a diabetic dog and I know how tricky it can be. Is there any chance your vet would help you consult with a specialist? Either a board certified vet behaviorist (they are most familiar with the medicines for dementia) or perhaps a specialist in internal medicine? Some of these specialists will consult with a regular vet by phone for free.

      The main prescription medicines for dementia are listed on this site, but I can’t make a recommendation for Capone of course.

      I’m so sorry about your grief. There are folks here who are familiar with what you are going through. It’s awfully hard. My best wishes for you and Capone.

      1. Eileen, spent more time on you and Cricket’s site this evening. Realize that your time spent with Cricket and information you gathered to share with us is truly an act of compassion and love. Thank you so very much. Happy moments: my family includes Capone, Ally, 3 yr old Borgie and a 5 month. Lab/Chia..Toby. Toby’s family lost their home, he was on his way to a shelter known for parvo and short life if not adopted. He is a handful, but has a safe home. God knows Ally and Toby have a special place in my heart, but Capone will always be my little buddy. He and I now spend alone time and do a lot of reminiscing. I do most of the talking and crying.

  42. I’m going through this terrible dilemma at the moment as well. Our Lab, Sassy, is somewhere around 13, and she has been showing worsening signs of CCD for the past year. She’s been a part of our family for almost 9 years now, and I don’t know what I’ll do without her. She started out peeing inside, and gradually started pooping in the house too, even after being let out to go. Now, she’s getting lost in different rooms. She’s only interested in food and water, and has started biting people’s hands if she thinks they have food. She’s eating things that aren’t food, like a piece of hot wood charcoal that fell out of the smoker. She’d never done anything like that before. She never even blinked, even though it burned her mouth. That broke my heart seeing her doing something that should have been painful, and it didn’t affect her at all. It just makes me worry what else she could do to hurt herself when I’m not home. She drinks water constantly, though the vet has found no medical reason for it. I’ve actually had to ration water, because she will drink an entire gallon at one go if it’s available. She stares at our refrigerator for hours every day (literally, hours), and is no longer interested in affection, and now she’s starting falling and staggering. I’m so torn up inside, wondering if it’s time. My vet isn’t much help in that department, either. I’m just so afraid she’s going to somehow get loose (she’s still quite strong) and bite someone, thinking they have food. I know it’s probably time, but it’s so hard to let her go.

  43. I found this site on a Google site while looking up denentia in dogs. My 15 year old cocker spaniel Misty has had signs for a while but the past week is much worse. My sweet girl doesn’t bark any more but yelps at night, will go round in circles and has been stuck under a kitchen chair a few times, she doesn’t remember how to back up. While trapped under the chair she has urinated because she felt so anxious. I feed Misty boiled chicken breast with carrots and green beans and she eats great. She drinks water constantly and does have accidents in the house a lot. I feel our time together is near the end and my heart is breaking, she is the sweetest girl and I can’t imagine life without her. Reading the other comments I realize I’m not alone in this very difficult decision of when to let go.

    1. Yes, you are among some kindred spirits here. Many of us are struggling or have struggled with the same things. So sorry that things are getting difficult for you and Misty.

  44. Hi everyone. I posted on here about Fluke month or more ago. He had dementia and was put to sleep in January 2016 , so only 7 weeks ago. No one has replied or commented or anything. Feel let down as I thought I could find support here. I was wrong 🙁

    1. I’m so sorry, Rebecca. I try to answer every post but I missed yours. Having a dog with dementia can be so lonesome and letting them go is the hardest thing of all. I did go back and finally found your post from before. FWIW, I think it was very unselfish of you to let Fluke have his peace. I’m sorry you are still hurting. There are some nice folks here and I bet you will get some support. I’m really glad you reached out again, and again, I am so sorry.

    2. Hi Rebecca, First of all my heart goes out to you for your loss. You have my support. In the last 2 months my daughter had to make a decision to put her two labs to sleep. Thank God not at the same time. Kristi made the decsion which in our hearts we knew it was time to say goodbye. Although our decisions were right Kristi still questioned herself days after. I kept reinforcing her and myself that it was the right decision, we could tell by the way Kanobi and Yoda looked at us. At this time my Corgi, Capone is suffering with blindness and dementia. He has good days and sad days. He will let me know when it’s time. I will need your support.

  45. I am new to this group, joined just days ago. I’m so sorry for your loss, the pain must be unbearable. Yes, I am going through the delema of questioning myself when is the right time, am I just being selfish for not letting her go… I admire your courage. Please know my heart is with you.

  46. Hi Rebecca… I’m new as of a month ago. I didn’t find your original posting, but I want to say how sorry I am for your great loss. I can only put myself in your position right now and know it must have been such a tough decision. My dog, Clyde, has had dementia for a while now… He is holding steady and the medication and nutritional supplements and constant walking with him I think is making a difference… but still little by little he is loosing more and more ground. Someday I will have to make that very hard decision like you did and I hope you’ll be able to help me through it. You must have been a great “mommy” and I’m sure you loved your Fluke very much!

  47. We just had dental surgery on 15 year Pudzzy He was already showing signs of dementia .The vet was worried about it getting worse We didn’t have a coice it was surgery or PTs because he was in pain… We where so happy when he came out of anesthesia fine But today is day one and we now think his dementia is worse ..
    He now walks around him circles. He cry’s and is still keep us up all night All the signs on dementia .. We are hoping its still the anesthesia that hasn’t wore off yet ..But now we are wondering ..Did we to get him out of pain to see him like this …We are going to try medication maybe the Melatonia ( we have not had a good nights sleep in months) But we feel bad thinking we did the right thing with his teeth only to hurt him more

    1. Sandra, we can only do what we think best for our dogs, given the information we have. If it was either have the dental surgery or be put to sleep, I don’t know many people who would pass up the chance of keeping their dog alive and happy. Hang in there. Talk to your vet and be patient. I hope Pudzzy comes back to himself.

      1. Hi Sandra,
        I’m sorry to hear the your sweet Pudzzy isn’t doing well after his dental surgery! It’s always so hard to make a decision like that but really you made the decision you thought best at the time…and please stand by your decision . My dog, Clyde, also had dental surgery around the time he began to show signs of “doggie dementia” or CCD. I didn’t realize he had CCD at the time and my vet didn’t either. So we did the surgery and just like your Pudzzy he came home and wasn’t himself for over 2 weeks and he was having diarrhea and acting very strange. In the end he also got worse from the dental surgery and the anesthesia. But he needed the surgery badly too. So I have to say that I feel that I did the best I could at the time, and that I would never intentionally hurt my baby boy Clyde. He has full on CCD now and like you I don’t sleep much but we have to do the best we can until we know that it is time to say good-bye. Good luck with your sweet dog, Sandra!

    We have to remember If it wasn’t people like the ones on this forum who love their dogs like we all do here WHERE would that dog be if you hadnt adopted them & loved them in their senior years.. JUST make their last time on earth happy ..Thanks everyone ..Pudzzy is doing better today.. But we got no sleep yesterday .Vet has given us a small dose of tranquilizer to try tonight ..Lol I think we need them not the dog .. He drank lots of water today&ate a bit of special vet dog food He stopped staring at the wall, We took him for 2 walks even though its raining . He Just has trouble finding the door to get in from the garage .
    His brother died 2 years ago of heart frailer ..We did have to humanely Euthanasia him .We knew when the time was right.. We kept him going for 2 more years after his heart frailer Diagnosis

    Don’t ever give up on an elderly Dog… We know our life has changed.. We don’t visit or go away because we know he may have an accident in someones home
    No one wants the problem of baby sitting an old dog ( they aLl say What if he dies when your away)
    . We have to crush med in his food ,Carry him up and down stairs watch out for his bad biting and growling moods. among other things.
    We are home bound & if we go out one of us always stays with him.. We are not young ourselfs But like our vet says it takes special people to do what we do ..Not many folks do.

    Its a sorry world when you see older pets thrown away and put in dog pounds because it costs them too much to take care of or too much work .We even took a 2 mortgage on our house when we had 2 old dogs to take care of .
    We would do it again too ( but don’t think we will get another dog ..) we have always adopted older unwanted, unloved dogs and they have had a good life with us ..

  49. Dear Sandra, Our Casey is 14 lbs. We give him 1 half of a zanax .0.5 mg ( 2 and a half mg ) and 1 half of a baby aspirine 81 mg ( 40 mg ) desolved in a little bit of water. We give it to him from a midecine dropper thing ( looks like a tiny turkey baster). We can”t give it to him in food like we used to because he won’t Take it.This takes a half an hr. to kick in,but it stops the walking around in circles and the jerks that knock him of his feet . He will eat when he is ready.He only eats a little of something he likes when he is finally hungry,.Sometimes for a day or two,but he still drinks water..He will sleep for 3 to 4 hrs. When he wakes up he is normal until the jerks start up. We We repeat the morning schedule then. It is usually around 3:00 PM. Casey is 16 years old.He is blind ,deaf and can’t hold his bladder. He can’t smell anything but chicken..He should have been put down but my husband can not think of it. He wants Casey to die in his sleep. In the meantime this is the way we cope .Hopes this helps you Sandra.

    1. LYNDA Ty for your reply Pudzzy will not let us give him any thing by mouth …Last year he got sores all over his mouth and nose . The vets did test by taking biopsy. It cleared up with predisone ..But now he wont let us go near his mouth .He has snapped at us and growled.. I was worried he would bit someone.. Now he takes meds in his food or on a treat .

      It wasn’t until the vet said to me that the anesthetic to pull his teeth may make his CCD worse that I even knew he had it . .I was surprised I didn’t know I just thought it was old age.. I’m so glad to find this site & have been reading everything in it.. I also was hoping my Pudzzy would go in his sleep ..I also thought his brother would because of his bad heart but we had to take him to vet when he was really bad.. No CCD in his brother just his heart & was a happy little guy until the end ..I really miss him because he was himself & a crazy little dog all the way to end ..Even the day before.he would push his little cat ball under the door of the bathroom so we could roll it back He used to lay on his back and snort at us if we weren’t paying attention to him .. I sure miss him & will so his brother pudzzy..We never had a dog with CCD before ..All all my dogs have lived to be old age .Will keep pudzzy going as long as we can now we know his problem… Pudzzy is also going blind & does wet in the house .Good luck with your Fur baby Casey..

  50. Through tears I was reading all your emails today. I have 9 year old mix boy from a 10 week puppy. He has the classic signs of CCDS, pacing, confusion, barking, panting and now peeing in the kitchen. Its heart breaking seeing him wandering around all night. He does sleep a lot during the day,but he isn’t like that every day, his appetite is fine and he’s alert and affectionate.The confusion can come over him maybe once a month or twice a week. Sometimes it last for few hours or whole night. Yesterday he stared to pace at 5pm until we all gone to bed at 11.30 pm. He was exhausted , he had those “episodes ” for few years. All points at CCDS but I can’t understand because he is still relatively young.
    Can this happen to younger dogs ? I welcome your comments.

    1. Oh Marzena, that sounds rough. I haven’t seen any literature about it, but I have heard of a couple other cases that seemed to be early onset of CCD. Also I know that some vet behaviorists start treating dogs as young as 8 to try to prevent dementia later. I hope you can talk to a vet about it. Vets have to exclude other possible conditions in order to make a definite diagnosis of CCD. If it is CCD, you could ask about medications that might help. Good luck. That is totally unfair at age 9….

  51. I am so glad I found this site. Now I think I understand why my 15-year-old Yorkie has been peeing and pooping in the house for the last year. I originally thought it was because we moved to a new house and somehow he got confused.

    Last night he got very sick and pooped and peed all over himself in bed and was unable to walk this morning, so we rushed him to the vet. We found out that he has a large tumor in his abdomen, but that it doesn’t account for these symptoms. The vet is wondering if he has had a seizure, but now that I read this site, I think he may have the condition discussed on this site.

    I am so scared for my poor little dog, he spent the evening tonight walking in circles, getting stuck in corners, and then just lying in his bed. He hardly seems to know us and he hasn’t eaten all day. I don’t know how he got so sick so fast. Has anyone here had their dog go downhill so fast? Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi JB, I’m so sorry that is happening! A couple of people here have reported that things happened very fast with their dogs. Why don’t you print off the symptom list and take it to your vet? The vet will know how to rule in and out some other conditions. In the meantime, maybe you can arrange a room so your little guy can keep his footing and not get stuck in things like chair legs or other furniture hazards. Take care.

  52. our dog has the same problem but he 16. He sleeps all day keeps us up at night & peed on our couch yesterday. We just have to learn to live with him . He has good days and bad days too ..Sometimes we think OH hes fine, then get our hopes knocked down when he acts strange . We never leave him alone & know that his time is numbered so have love him love him no matter what way. Our doggy just had dental surgery & its made him worse .. We give him a tranquilizer at night & some food and Vits for dementia,, We now whats your going through. Good luck

  53. Hi JB
    I really don’t know about these symptoms coming on so fast, but I suppose this can happen. Hope you can talk to your vet about it. Anyway, I just wanted to say how lucky your little guy is to have you as his mom and I know you’ll continue to give him lots of love. All of us on this site are in your same shoes, if you know what I mean, and even though that may not make your life any easier, I hope you know that we’re all rooting for you and your little Yorkie. good luck!

  54. Hi JB
    Sorry to hear about your Yorkie. My 19 year old jack Russell went downhill pretty fast as well. I printed out the questionnaire on this website and took it to the vet and his vet agreed that he had dementia/Alzheimer’s. The vet told me not to move anything in the house because he knew where everything was and moving things or getting something new would only confuse and stress him. Milo was having lots of accidents but I did not care. It broke my heart when I had to make the decision to put him down. Milo had stopped eating and lost so much weight and was falling and could not get up. When I would help him up he had peed on himself and was drenched in pee so I would have to bath him. I loved my boy so much and part of me went with him when he died. It was the hardest thing that I had ever benn through. I know what you are going through and I feel your pain. You love them and they are like your child and you have to say goodbye because they are in pain and you do not want them to suffer even if it means that you will suffer a tremendous loss. I’d say Milo’s last 2 weeks he went downhill fast. It is hard but be strong. I will be thinking of you.

  55. Thank you Rosa & Kelly.. Pudzzy seems to be doing better since he had his teeth done ….At first we thought the anesthetic would make it worse & It did for about a week . We where devastated however hes will l let us us touch his face & pet him which we couldn’t do before .

    . He still has accidents .2 days ago in our bed ..We put a plastic sheet on our mattress .. He knows hes done something but doesn’t know what .Because he comes and rubs up against us I feel you pain I just hope we know when the time comes, He eating so much better with his bad teeth out & still likes hes walks he also sleeps all day but at night when we go to bed he jumps off the bed then wants back up ..we spend hours doing this …he has always slept on our bed so we can say sleep on the floor . When hes not jumping off the bed we have to pick him up to put him back on the bed .. He also wants out 4 or more times at night

    We also carry him down stairs because he cant make it down He also drinks lots of water so we worry about his kidneys and stopped his tranquilizer at night .GOOD luck everyone with fur babys.. all we can do is love them and not get mad when they make mistakes

  56. I’ve come across your site today as I am so worried and unsure about what to do for my 15 year old Jack Russell bitch, Gucci. She is diabetic, although fairly stable, she is deaf and I think almost blind. The dementia symptoms have got worse and worse over the last couple of years and she paces, stands in corners and manically licks the kitchen floor and carpets. She shakes and suddenly crouches and shudders in the garden in the last couple of weeks. She loves her food and becomes bouncy and puppy like in the few minutes before being fed. She won’t go for walks any more and used to love playing with toys, but hasn’t gone near them for about six months. Does she have any pleasure from life anymore other than when she is about to be fed…? I love her with all my heart, but it is like my little friend has already left me, I just don’t know what to do.

  57. Hi Jane
    I’m so sorry to hear about Gucci. I think when a dog stops eating and drinking it is a sign but … it sounds like she still gets joy out of food. Can you also pet her and lightly massage her? Even sing to her if she still hears.. My dog loves that. Look into her eyes and give her love and hug her. She will feel it!
    I wish you the best of luck with Gucci and also please remember to take care of yourself too!

  58. Hello Jane. I know how hard it is to go through what you are faced with but you are not alone. Sometimes we have no idea what to do for the best and truth is whatever we do, we will have doubts and regrets over it. Try to take it one day at a time and trust your own instincts. You are a good owner and a decent person, doing the best you can. Will be thinking of you and Gucci, sending you and all the others on this forum, every good thought. Best wishes, Caro.

  59. Yes I know how you feel.I’m going thru same things,sometimes I think he is lost,it is really hard but I know time is not on his side.I’m am so heart broken and he isn’t even gone yet………any advise would be great………thanks Kerry p.s And some same guys don’t get upset.Wrong we do very much so get attached and very sad!

  60. I know exactly what your going through! For the past month, the dr told me you must think of his quality of life. The pain, the confusion, those bits of clarity that is gone in five minutes. I listened, but I didn’t want to listen. So I got out a notebook. Every day I journaled his day. For six days, then I read it. He was in terrible misery, I was being selfish. So yesterday I called him and we let him go and it really was beautiful. All the pain, confusion an peace on his face.. Was truly love and his gift to me, and my gift to him. He was an outstanding German shorthair. I’ll never forget him. Feeling lost today. So I hope this helps you.

  61. Came across this site a few months ago and was sure I posted on it but never found my comment. However I’ve been reading all the comments to my email since. Its heartening that we all love our dogs so much giving the amount of animal abuse we now see in the world.
    My girl was only diagnosed in January (after a number of vet trips with exhaustion – me as she was barking all night, she also wasn’t eating and I was sure she had pancreatitis again) The vet put her on Vivitonin which I saw a huge improvement for the first few weeks but not anymore. She panics if I’m more than 5 steps away from her, cant be left alone at all anymore. Doesn’t eat her breakfast and is reluctant to take treats. she does eat dinner with gravy or boiled chicken once Im in the room.
    She now sleeps on my bed every night (well spends half of it walking on me & shaking but better than end of last year) Breakss my heart to see her like this & like everyone else Im questioning myself on her quality of life. The rest of the family think Im over reacting but shes my girl and I dont want her forgetting who the people around her are when shes going. I’ve already requested the vet to do a house call when the time comes – for her not to be stressed in her final moments & for her adopted sister to be there too
    She’s had a tough life – I rescued her from a sanctuary and we had about 8 super years then she got a huge tumour and needed chemo & surgery with a graft. We’ve spent huge chunks of time in vet hospital which stresses her out. Shes had a spinal stroke and bounced back from it.
    The tumour is also growing again so I’m fighting both issues alongside my head & heart
    I feel for you all going through this its an awful thing to see our loved family pets to go through. All I know & tell myself is I know her better than anyone else and I’ll know when its time. I guess I’ve had time with the cancer and all to try and get my head past the “I cant let her go” and I know I’ll be devastated but will make that call for her despite it.

    1. Dear Shauna,

      I looked through and couldn’t find a comment from you either; I’m sorry if it got lost in the wires somewhere.

      I can tell what a wonderful bond you have with your girl. You will certainly find others here who are familiar with the heartbreak you describe. I’m sorry for that pain. I made the decision with my head, and I think I did “OK,” but my heart is still mad about it.

      Your dog is SO lucky that you found her and love her so.

      1. Thanks Eileen its most likely still in cyber space somewhere so I said i’d re do it. I managed to get signed up for comments so I was seeing everyone else and the pain and indecision we all go through.
        I was lucky to have found her shes been my best friend for the last 13 years and its the last thing I’ll do for her & walk it with her as far as I can. Her paw prints will forever be in my heart as are all of the other posters beloved dogs imprinted.
        All we can do at the time is what seems to be the best for them and our hearts will always doubt us but if you’ve looked in those eyes and seen the answer staring back at you what more can you do.
        Funnily I found your site before the vet diagnosed her as I’ started wondering if it was possible so was less than shocked when my vet said it was CCD – so I thank you for all the information which left me better prepared to ask the vet appropriate questions and routes to take for my girl
        Thanks again

        1. One of the blessings of this site for me is hearing from all these people who are so devoted to their dogs. Thanks for sharing, Shauna. Hang in there.

  62. Hi Shauna,
    I completely understand what you are going through. I too came across this site when Jessie my lab (13 years old) was dealing with dementia. My heart goes out to you. Most of the sites that discuss doggie dementia do not mention the panic and fear the dog goes through. My Jess was the exact same way. She would be terrified for hours on end… shaking horribly… Her poor little nails clicking on the hard wood floors and her teeth chattering as if she was freezing cold.
    Anytime I was home, she would stick to me like glue, and look for ways to get underneath me or closer to me. Constantly moving around me, but no position would bring her comfort. When I wasn’t home, she would overturn tables and chairs looking for hiding places. Even when she found one, she would look for another because it wouldn’t bring her comfort. Crating her just exacerbated her anxiety. Medications never helped for long… Xanax actually made her worse. Trazadone actually seemed to help for the longest, but then it wore off as well… We upped the dosage by giving her a morning and night dosage, which did help for another week, but then all the symptoms came rushing back… Each time the anxiety would come back, it seemed to be worse than it was before the medication.
    You are not overreacting at all. I can see why some people may think that though. It is hard for someone who has never had to deal with dementia with a person or an animal to understand the constant stress on the person or animal and the caregiver. As Jessie’s dementia got worse, she spent more time in the terrified state. At the end, the terrified state became her new state. I used to wonder how on Earth she wasn’t giving herself a heart-attack with the heightened anxiety levels she was experiencing at her age.
    After reading your story, I felt compelled to reply. Jess also had cancer when she was two, and then had her knee rebuilt when she was seven. She had a lot of hard times in between the good times. But our good times were pretty awesome… The vet ran all sorts of tests because I was sure that there was something else wrong, but she was actually in good physical health when dementia began to overtake her.
    Even though we try our best to prepare for letting them go, it is so painful to do it. I never had to take my pet in before Jess, and although I spent about six months watching her get worse and watching the toll it was taking on her and me and my other pets, the guilt and the pain was/is pretty tough. I feel guilty for letting her go (how could I let my best friend go?), and I feel guilty for not letting her go sooner and letting her last couple months be so hard on her. I don’t think there is a right or wrong in this situation. And, I think you are right… You will know better than anyone else when its time. Just know that there are many of us out there that completely understand…

    1. Jody, you said, “I feel guilty for letting her go (how could I let my best friend go?), and I feel guilty for not letting her go sooner and letting her last couple months be so hard on her.” That sums it up so well. It’s such a terrible decision to have to make. I hope some people get some help from the Villalobos Scale and the other helping tools I have on the website. They did help me.

  63. Hi jody
    Thanks for your reply. Wow your girl was lucky to have you in her life.
    It’s hard to see them suffer like this with ccd and even worse when they’ve already been through so much. The vet and I have already decided that there’s no need to keep returning for visits unless she gets a lot worse and stops eating for more than a day or two… To be honest if this happens I’ll be calling her to the house for the final time.
    My girl was always high anxiety anyway and never did well in vet kennels or crating and she’s always wanted to be near me but now she had to be touching me or be able to see me. Even then she’ll jump up with fear that I’m not there. I think my other adopted dog helps too and she’s so good she moves for the older girl to be beside me and gives up her bed for her.
    The support of one another on here is so lovely and is a great source of venting or asking advice. I’ve recently been talking to an acquantince who’s studying veterinary and we’ve discovered she’s done some learning in lectures with my girl used as a case study given all her complicated history. At least all that hardship might help another fur baby get better treatment down the line.
    Is it long since your girl ?
    Thanks again

  64. Hello,

    I’m not sure if this site is still active or if I can get any kind of support but I’m having a tough time with my dog and her CCD. My dogs name is Beast (weird name, I know) when she was younger she would tear up the house like a “beast” and she accompanied the name. She is an 11 year old board collie who has had a healthy and happy life until about 6 months ago. She has been anxious beyond belief and nothing will sooth her. She constantly tries to crawl and climb into tiny spaces that she can not get back out of without assistance. She hates being without human contact (we have two other dogs yet they can not comfort her). She has hip displacia and it scares me to death I will come home from work and find her hurt because she has tried to climb behind something. We have tried the pills and they just are not working. I am having a hard time with making the discussion to let her go because there is nothing physically wrong with her (besides the displacia) which hasn’t been a problem until she started the climbing phase. It breaks my heart to see her so anxious and scared and she is not acting like the dog she once was. I want to validate my feeling and know that I’m doing the right thing for her. She has been my best friend for most of my teenage years. I knew this would happen eventually but I never imagined that dogs could get Alzheimer’s and it would be this hard. I appreciate anyone’s input or opinions. Even if you have gone through the same thing and can relate to my emotions. It will be a freeing feeling to know I’m not alone and I am doing the right thing. Thank you


    1. Tina, have you heard of veterinary behaviorists? They are the “psychiatrists” in the veterinary profession. They have a bunch of additional training in neurological and behavior problems. Your situation makes me think of them because they generally have very broad experience with the drugs and other interventions out there. They are familiar not only with CCD but other brain conditions that can bring on behavior changes.

      Because your dog’s situation came up so soon and because she is otherwise healthy, I would really consider consulting with one. You need to do it through your vet. Some will do a free consult through a vet, but there is usually a charge if they take on your dog’s case over time. They don’t have to be local; they can work by phone and with videos. Anyway, below is a list of board certified vet behaviorists, in case you are in the U.S. (Some dog trainers call themselves “behaviorists” but unless they are on this list, they are not a vet behaviorist.) Good luck. That sounds very very tough.

      American College of Veterinary Behaviorists Member Directory

  65. Wow, I felt so alone, my pomeranian is at least 16, we rescued him at two years old. I hear they say 2 for most rescues. He had been pacing, panting and whining. When I feed him he stops whining, but sill paces. He goes out in the night and barks some. He also is having a lot of accidents. My husband and granddaughter say he is driving them nuts, can’t say I’m not disturbed myself. He is still quite energetic, don’t know what to do. Any ideas?

    1. Donna, I’m sorry this is happening. Have you been to the vet about it? If you haven’t, be sure and write down every problem behavior before you go so you don’t forget anything. Other people here and also my book has suggestions for the problems that come with CCD, if that’s what your dog has.

  66. Hi Shauna,

    Unfortunately, it does seem only so much that can be done with dementia, so there is that point that is reached where taking them to the vet becomes futile. I suspect it is kind of like hospice for terminal patients. We just do our best to make them comfortable and to enjoy what little time we have left with them. My vet told me after 5 visits in two months to just call. I kept thinking maybe there was something else that could be done, so I kept taking her in. But your situation is a little different because there is another health issue besides dementia.

    I let Jessie go on January 27th. I miss her every day still. It does get a tiny bit easier with each passing day, but there are so many days when I wake up and reach out for her… Just to realize she isn’t there anymore. I do have a Rottweiler mix (also 13) and a cat (19), so I suspect this year might be pretty tough for me and them. I either adopted or inherited all my animals through breakups when I was in my twenties. I have just entered my forties, so I have been lucky enough to enjoy them for a good span of time. (And hopefully, they feel the same way…)

    Thank you for your kind words. Jessie and I were indeed lucky to find each other… We did have a good run. She helped me through hard times, as I would like to think I helped her through the same. We were very close friends. She “got” me, and I “got” her.

    I am interested in hearing what your acquaintance has learned. I always thought there could/should be more study in this area. Once Jessie was diagnosed with dementia, it was like there was no other hope. All we could do is try to treat her symptoms. Hers symptoms were primarily confusion and severe anxiety. I always hoped that someday there would be a treatment to try to slow down the progression of CCD instead of just focus on treating the symptoms. So, this does give me hope… Thank you…

    What is your girl’s name? If you don’t mind me asking… I don’t recall reading her name.

    1. Hi Jody, how are you doing this year with your remaining pets? I am so sorry for the loss of Jessie. I wish I would have known about dementia before it was apparent my dog was in the throws of it. But, he also had a host of other conditions that complicated things. I miss him. I hope you are doing ok.

  67. Tina,

    You are not alone. Please don’t ever think you are. I completely understand about it her being scared and her not being the dog she used to be… My Jessie (13 year old lab) became the same way.

    I was just like you… I never heard about a dog getting Alzheimer’s, until Jessie was diagnosed with CCD. Her body was in good health; her mental state deteriorated quite quickly. She became quite fearful, destructive, and unpredictable. I don’t think she was meaning to be destructive. I think she was always trying to hide… Under something. She was about 75-80 lbs. So, she could quite easily turn over end tables, chairs, desks, you name it. I never knew how to expect the house to be when I got home the last few months. She was once hiding in the tub wrapped in the shower curtain…

    She would pant, shake, teeth-chatter, and would just become overtaken by absolute fear for hours on end… Sometimes the whole day. To get her to sleep, I had to give her more drugs than I, myself, could handle. And, even then, she wouldn’t sleep for long.

    There are several medications that can be tried, along with supplements. You mention that you have tried pills. I don’t know what pills you have tried yet. Certain prescriptions may give her (and you) some peaceful days. Some people say they were able to get a year or more of time with their dog with them. Jessie and I were not as lucky as they were. I only had six months with Jessie after her initial diagnosis.

    I said this previously, and I want you to know… I truly believe there is no right or wrong when you are dealing with a terminal illness or dementia. Guilt will still be there no matter what choice you make. I chose to let Jessie go, and I still feel guilty. Guilty because I let her go, and then I also feel guilty because I let her last couple of months get so bad because I didn’t want to lose her. I always swore I would never let my dog’s quality of life get that bad. It’s truly is no win situation.

    Just try to do what is best, and know that you did just that. We are all in this crazy world together… All we can do is to try to make the best out of the time we have with each other. Please be strong.

    1. Hi again, I just went through this recently and if you are willing, please email me as this is very hard. Thank you.

  68. I had 5 teeth pulled & Dementia worse. But he needed them out BUT I HAVE A question Does anyones dog have mouth problems . He rubs his mouth and acts like hes in pain .Will not let vet touch his mouth. He never has unless she sedated him ( we cant go near his mouth too) Im at a loose what to do Is this part Dementia or does he still have mouth problems. ANYONE’S DOG HAVE PROBLEMS WITH MOUTH

    1. Sandy, since no one has answered you, I just wanted to say that I haven’t heard of mouth problems being a symptom of dementia. I hope your vet can take another look if your dog still acts like he is in pain. Take care. I know that’s hard on you.

    2. I know this is old but my 14 y/o Shiba did and he was scratching his face constantly and crying that I had no choice but to give him peace. Kenny had dementia and other neurological problems. Nothing seemed to smooth him…talk about running out of options and time. He was just a little over 14…

  69. I posted about 2-3 months ago about Lucy, my 16 year old Schnauzer with dementia. She has gotten so much worse and paces constantly. She has had a stroke, is deaf and almost totally blind. She gets lost in the back yard and in the house. She gets stuck in corners and cannot get out. Tonight I gave her one of my Xanax, as has been prescribed for her previously but she is still pacing. She has not eaten in about 2 days, but is still drinking. My husband thinks her stomach is upset from some left-over spaghetti she loves and ate a couple of days ago. I wake up every morning to pee or poop in the house. I have RA and fibromyalgia and slipped on some pee and fell on my knee in my bathroom yesterday. Of course it is swollen up like a balloon. My health has been compromised by all of the stress this has caused. With two chronic pain diseases, this is almost more than I can bare. I spend my day following her around the house and take her out about every 2-3 hours. Sometimes, if Im in a lot of pain that day, I get very upset with her and am sure she senses this which I beat myself up for every time I loose my temper with her. I never strike her, but am not as gentle with her as I should be. Then I beat myself up about it and feel stressed out and guilty every time it happens, My husband refuses to see anything is really wrong with her except old age. When I try to talk to him about how bad she is, he pretty much ignores me. Even the vet said it was getting time to think about putting her down. So I spend every day following her around, taking her outside and spend hours cleaning up dog poo or pee. I just had my house redone with a little money that was left to me when my mother passed away. The carpets I purchased are basically ruined. It’s gotten so,I can hardly leave the house because there is always such a mess to clean up when I get home. I always put her in a bathroom or make her a pen with those baby gates. She steps in it and tracks it all over the area. When I come home she is still standing looking lost and will not lay down. I am so resentful of my husband and this poor dog, I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me and any advise would be helpful.

    1. Dear Rosemary, it looks like no one has answered your plea so far and I’m so sorry. Can you tell your vet everything you described here about your dog? He might help you communicate with your husband. I’m so sorry about your health problems as well and that they have been worsened by the situation with your dog. Take care. Folks here understand the pain. I hope by the time this reaches you that you have come to a peaceful place with the situation with your dog. Please don’t feel guilty. It is a heavy burden but you clearly love your dog. Take care.

  70. Hi Barbara,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your sweet Jimmy boy . I wanted to tell you that my boy, Clyde, a 14 year old Tibetan Terrier is acting so much like your Jimmy. He walks around in circles and stares at the walls. Then I might feed him and all of a sudden he starts running and jumping around the house like a puppy. I’m terrified that he’s going to hurt himself but there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop him. Then like you said I might take him outside (always on leash) and he runs around for a while and then stops and looks at me like “why are we out here?” Fortunately for me, most of the time he does want to pee and poop outside so sometimes he decides to do that… After all that he comes in and sleeps like a baby! The hyper activity is dangerous and scary to me. I was wondering if many dogs have this hyper activity? He runs around like he’s out of his mind! Anyway, Barbara … you’re not alone and even though it doesn’t take your pain away from what is going on, it’s nice to know there are other dog parents going through it too and we are all helping and supporting each other. I’m so sorry for the loss of your little girl dog and for what you are going through now. You sound like such a good mom to your Jimmy and I’m sure he had a wonderful life because of you. Stay strong and keep giving Jimmy all the love you can… I believe that they really do feel our love and that it makes a huge difference to the quality of their life and to the dignity they will have at their end. Shona

    1. Sona,
      Thank you so much for your reply, it helps. As I type my daugther has taken him out side for a walk, he is been in the stare off mode this afternoon, and panting and wondering all inside the apartment, he wanted his dinner early today, has cried and cried in his room today. Then he comes out and lays down beside us for a few pets…then he is up and wondering, panting. So Jimmy and my daugther have gone for a walk to see if this helps his dementia. We took him to the Vet last week who gave him pain medicine for his arthritis and it was working well, even today. The life of a senior, we are hoping he lays down and calms down when they come back from a long walk.

      Thanks everyone for listening to the life and times of a senior dog with dementia.

  71. Hi i have a dog name benjie, he is suffering dementia too, it is really hard to make a decision when you love them so dearly.

  72. I am comforted by the feedback on this page as my 16 1/2 year old toy fox terrier, Pepper, is also doing the same panting, pacing, barking at the walls, sleeping most of the day, etc. He is no longer the smart, playful and loving dog I have known for all his life. I don’t recognize him anymore and he does not seem to recognize my husband or me. We have said we’ll take him to our VET to be PTS when he stops eating but he still has a voracious appetite. He was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago so we’ve kept him alive with two shots of insulin a day. If I search my heart, I think I am keeping him alive for MY selfish reasons. I am afraid of the loss and that somehow he would be mad at me. We have another dog at home and will definitely adopt another dog when Pepper passes. Sometimes I wish he would just pass on in his sleep.

    1. Hi Eileen,

      I’m sorry that I didn’t see this comment before. We have chatted elsewhere, so I’m going to publish it in case you want to follow up later about Pepper. Hugs.

  73. I’ve enjoyed reading all the posts here. Nice to know that I’m not alone with something as cruel as this dementia issue. My beagle Buddy was the sweetest dog I’ve ever met. I adopted him in 2008. He was a bit older and had clearly been abused, but he quickly became my best friend. In early 2015, he began exhibiting symptoms of dementia. The confusion, the pacing, the lack of desire for affection or play, eventually forgetting his house training and getting to the point where he would step all over/lay in his own urine and feces without even knowing it. He still had his lucid moments(usually when food was around, lol), but he was clearly no longer himself. Along with his arthritis and heart issues, I felt his quality of life seriously declining, and made the decision to put him to rest last October. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, in a life full of hard times. I’ll never forget him, and his name is now tattooed on my shoulder. Thanks for making me feel a little less alone, and my condolences on the loss of your pup.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story about Buddy. I can tell how close you were. It was brave of you to help him go to rest–some of the rest of us here know about that. Take care.

  74. Eileen! Was Cricket a rat terrier? I am having the same problems with my 13 yr. old rat terrier that just had his 13th birthday on July the 4th! He is my little man and my sole companion and I have had him his whole life. I have watched your videos of Cricket and read your post with tears flowing down my face. I dread the day that I have to make the decision to put him down. frown emoticon:( Sandy

    1. Hi Sandra, yes she sure was. I tell the story of how I got her and our life together in my book. Rat terriers are my favorite, favorite breed. I got her at age 6-8 and I had many more years with her than I ever expected, but of course they were not enough. I hope you can talk to your vet; if your dear little man has dementia, there are some possible interventions. Good luck and hugs to a fellow rat terrier friend!

  75. I am writing because we just had to euthanize our wonderful little Jack named Josie. She was a few months over 18 and , like others, we had to guess when the time would be right. I hope our comments help others to deal with CDD and the question of when to help them along.

    Josie was in CDD for at least the last year and a half. Towards the end we were having to watch her almost 24/7 as she was exhibiting the extensive pacing and getting trapped under or behind things.

    Initially, Jose would wake up (yes, she slept on our bed) with severe panting and twirling. We knew that she was losing her sight and her hearing, but even until the end she could see things close and directly ahead. We conjectured that her panting and twirling may be due to anxiety of not knowing where she was or where we were. We began leaving a small wattage light on at night and that seemed to cure her panting and the twirling right up to the end.

    She loved her food and we often helped her eat if she couldn’t clean her bowl completely because she couldn’t see where the food was. Her younger brother Jack was always willing to help her clean up her bowl :>) She ate enthusiastically right to the last day.

    We were fortunate that she slept well 90% of the nights as she was often exhausted from her eternal pacing during the day. We would often have to grab her hold and pet her and put her in her bed where she often would fall asleep and give us a break. At night, we would be sure to let her drink well so she would often sleep thru until 6-7 AM from 10 PM. Sometimes, she would wake at 1-3 AM, smack her lips and that meant she wanted a drink. While she never hardly ever had an accident in the bed, we did have to sleep on the edge in case she awoke and might fall off the end of the bed.

    For some reason, she lost quite a bit of body mass in her haunches. She could still walk, but exhibited rear leg weakness if she tried to stand still. We could not detect any pain or cancer to be causing the loss of body mass. It appeared to be similar to what we observed in old people.

    She still knew us and accepted our hugs and pets. But she was losing more and more of herself and we did not want to let her decline to where she could not eat, or could not walk, or did not know us at all. So after almost a year and a half of not traveling or going away (Josie did not travel well any more), we decided the time had come.

    We are blessed with a pet service called, Gentle Goodbyes, in boise, ID. It is an appointment service where the Vet and an Assistant come to your house to do the euthanasia procedure. They are kind and gentle. We knew the time they were coming so gave Josie her meal and held her for a couple of hours until the time. When we her holding her, they shaved her leg to insert the IV. They put her fur in a small sachet for us and lit a candle. As they did her leg, Josie was relaxed and we imagined that her face looked at us and said, “I know that it is time to go and Thank You for this last love. Gentle Goodbyes takes your pet to the crematorium. We have had to do this final act in the Vet’s office and it is always more traumatic to us and our pet.

    Finally, we tried Sentilife and Coconut oil as food additives and they seem to help her in the last months.

    We surely miss her and a large hole has been left in our lives. We hope our experience helps some others.

    1. Carlton, your story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing it. Such a blessing that you have a good option for in-home euthanasia in Boise. I encourage people to look for that option in their own areas. There are more and more businesses doing that. Thank you again for sharing about little Josie. We should all be so lucky as she was to have such love and care from you and your family.

    2. I am so sorry for your loss I wish I would have known about this site and to try the coconut oil etc on my dog Sunny. Three vets didn’t mention it at all. How very sad for many owners who just don’t know what’s going on until it’s too late. I could have tried some of these things at least to see if there would be any change. Instead, I opted to euthanize my Sunny – without knowing which of his conditions were ailing him the most. 🙁

  76. Dear Eileen,

    I am also one of the unlucky people who had to euthanize my dog recently – actually, exactly 10 days ago. I still haven’t come to terms with it, although she wasn’t my first dog and although I have two other dogs to comfort me in these difficult times.

    Sherry was a sweet little Yorkshire Terrier, almost 17 years old. Having read the last post written by Carlton Yee, it was as if I had written it myself … My Sherry was exactly the same!

    I started noticing dementia about a year ago and at first, I had absolutely no knowledge about it. Thank you for your wonderful book “Remember me?” that I found by coincidence and immediately read it cover to cover. It was really helpful in so many ways – including making the hardest decision of all … to say goodbye.

    Fortunately, Sherry never lost her appetite, so her last meal was very special. She had trouble drinking water though, so I had to help her most of the time. The endless pacing could go on and on … she got stuck in the corners and under the furniture, kept falling asleep in the middle of the room in she couldn’t make it to the nearest bed etc.

    After her last breakfast, I let her lie in the sun for about ten minutes – she really enjoyed that every day and I wanted to make the last morning as comfortable and nice as I could. And then, off we went to the vet …

    I know it was the right thing to do, but it was definitely the hardest decision of my life. Knowing that she could perhaps keep me company for another month or two – but it wouldn’t be fair to her. I miss her with all my heart and think about her constantly. My other two dogs know exactly what happened and for the first couple of days I could see that they, too, were mourning – making it even harder for me because I had to keep them busy all the time.

    Sherry is buried in the corner of my mother’s garden under a cherry tree; which is kind of comforting to me. I couldn’t leave her at the vet and there is no possibility of cremation where I live. For me, this was the only acceptable option.

    She has taught me so many things … her tiny little pawprints will remain in my heart forever.

    Thank you, Eileen, and everybody else – I had no idea there were so many of us experiencing the complicated yet beautiful life with dogs diagnosed with CCD.

    1. Dear Deana,

      Our situations with our dear dogs sound so similar. You know from the book that Cricket couldn’t drink either for her last weeks, but she kept her appetite until the end. I’m so glad you could give Sherry a lovely last day and I’m sure every day of her life.

      Thank you for your kind words about my book and I am SO glad that it helped. That’s why I wrote it. Hugs to you. Sherry was so very lucky to be loved and cared for by you. I can tell how lucky you were to have her as well.

  77. My little Missy girl is a beautiful toy poodle she is 16 years old and is so bad with CDD, she is also blind and deaf. Just started finding out what was wrong with her I thought she was doing the pacing because of her blindness. But I am starting to realize she is suffering and it’s time to let her go. This little angel is so special! She was the last gift my husband gave me. We got her in November and I fell madly in love with her and so did my husband and two children. Tragedy struck our lives when my wonderful husband was killed in an avalanche while snowmobiling in the mountains. My children and I were devastated that was almost 16 years ago and that little baby was there to comfort all of us and I thank god for her. Today my daughter said goodbye to her and she said mom her fur holds so many of our tears and I agreed. This is the hardest decision to make to let her go! Thank you all for sharing your stories as that has helped me to understand it’s the right thing to do. At first I felt like I was giving up on her but I know she doesn’t want to live like this. She still eats and she is such a good girl hasn’t messed in the house that much she has always used a litter box and she manages to find her way to it. But I see the fear in her and the sadness. There is know joy for her anymore, so this week it will happen. I just can’t plan the day, that is to hard. Writing this has helped a lot!

    1. Dear Paulette,

      MI’m sorry–my delay in responding may mean that you have already let your little girl go. I just can’t imagine how hard it must be given the other tragedy in your life. I’m glad you found a little solace in the site. There are others here who have had to make very, very hard decisions regarding their beloved companions. Hugs to you and your children.

  78. I have a almost 13 year old shitzu Darby. Up until about 8 weeks ago she was a perfectly normal dog. Out of the blue she started jumping up and running around acting scared. We took her to our vet and he prescribed an anti anxiety med that she takes every am. She was so bad in the beginning panting, pacing, trying to jump on our coffee tables scratching and barking when we left the house never had this happened. She has been better during the day but still gets the scared attacks where she will jump up and run around the house scared. She still will not sleep at night . We give her Valium if she is really upset. It does calm her. Today we took her to a neurologist she did a thorough nerological exam and said she didn’t seem like she had an signs of brain tumor. But could only be 100% sure if they put her under did an Mri and spinal tap I wasn’t willing to put her through that after a good nerological exam. This doc mentioned doggie dementia or that maybe she should see a vet behaviorist. We are at our wits end 8 weeks later and still nobody can give us a real diagnosis it’s all maybe this maybe that, the not sleeping at night is awful it’s going on 8 weeks. She stayed with my mom for a few days in June and was perfectly fine, I just don’t get it. We don’t know what else to do. Any advice would be so helpful. All her lab work was perfect and to look at her she looks like a healthy dog. I have been doing so much research on the web and it seems that a lot of people go through this with older dogs. Thanks for listening we just don’t know how else to help our poor Darby.

    1. Dear Tammy,

      Not knowing is the hardest thing of all, especially if it is coupled with not getting enough sleep. If your vet is mentioning a vet behaviorist, though, that’s great! That is something you can do. If there is not one local to you (be sure and look for Board Certified Vet Behaviorists; there are some trainers who use the term behaviorist and that’s not what you need), some do teleconference consults. I have worked with Dr. E’Lise Christensen using video and phone consults and she is fabulous, and the price is reasonable (lower than most). Here is a link to her practice. You can contact them yourself to start the process but she will need to work through your local vet. I strongly suggest you try this. Good luck with Darby. http://www.behaviorvets.com/about-us.html

  79. Eileen,
    I am afraid I am coming near the end with my beautiful Maya. She is, we think, a 16 y/o husky beagle mix. We were originally given a three year range and went with the youngest due to her energy and we doubt she is any older then 16 now. She has been diagnosed with dementia for over a year already. It was really mild at first. Just getting lost on walks at times, or forgetting that we were outside with her and barking at the back door to be let in. This summer she has progressed to not recognizing some neighbors and barking non stop. She cries all night until she actually cries herself to sleep. The last few nights I actually slept on the floor with her for a few hours to keep her calm until she was fully asleep, this is with her rescue remedy. I’ve known for some time that the end would be near but now the fear is setting in. Here’s why… I originally got Maya as a foster dog on my daughter’s second birthday. I had always promised her a dog when she turned two. The difference is my daughter died when she was 17 months old. Maya and her never met. Maya became my lifeline. I don’t have any other children and I can’t so Maya really became my world. She had the spirit of my daughter inside of her in so many ways that I can’t even explain! Now knowing that her life will soon be coming to an end, I feel like I’m losing my daughter all over again. How do I even begin to say goodbye? I just find myself praying that I won’t have to and that I will wake up one day and she will be playing with my daughter Willow. I don’t want to make that decision!

    1. Karen,

      I’m so sorry you are having to look at this decision. I can tell that it is even harder than usual. I’m so sorry about your daughter as well. I hope for an easy passing for Maya and that your heart can rest.

  80. My 16 year old Zoe Bella, toy poodle, has been exhibiting signs of dementia for several years now. She has worsened so much over the last few days. I know it’s time and I know she is miserable. It’s just so hard to know when. Question, do most people cremate their dogs and take home their ashes or not. She has been the best and smartest dog I’ve ever had and have had dogs my entire married life of 34 years and all growing up, we raised poodles and Dobermans. I’m just devastated. My dad is not well and the thought of losing both this year is killing me.

    She sleeps most of the day. Last night she fell over twice. She gets separatation anxiety a lot and when we leave and come back, find her scared and in strange parts of the house, no longer at the front door. She is blind and deaf. She has been a finicky eater for the past two years. She has always been a kisser, to the point of mania but we haven’t gotten any kisses the past few days. I am just so sad. I know you all understand and appreciate that I found this site. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

    1. My little Cricket was the only dog I ever cremated and got her ashes. I know it is comforting for a lot of people but it wasn’t very much for me. I made a pretty urn for them but there are other things–her toys, her pictures–that make me feel closer to her.

      Dogs have their ups and downs but sometimes they do go down and don’t recover, or not as much. It’s such a hard thing to do, but I hope you can make a peaceful decision in your heart. It is very clear how much you love her. I’m very sorry for the loss of your father.


  81. My Cody…17 year old Border Collie. Rescue dog who has always had ‘quirks’ which made him such a beloved dog. Over the last year, he became restless at night with heavy panting. He now pants constantly (aside from when he is sleeping), restless (unable to get comfortable – lies in a spot for 2 seconds, then get up, repeats), barks at walls, can’t hear, losing eyesight, can no longer hold his leg up while peeing, goes to the wrong side of the door to be let out, can’t judge the distance of objects/steps (trips or jumps way too high). He still enjoys walks (although excessive panting the entire time), eats and poops. Uncertain of his quality of life and I don’t want/know if he is in pain.

    1. I hope things are still OK with Cody, or no worse anyway. Maybe you could talk to your vet? I’m sorry. I know it’s hard.

  82. We have a mixed breed dog, Jodi, almost 17 years old. We just read about doggie dementia a few weeks ago, and know that that’s exactly what she has. She stays outside almost all the time, just comes in the house here and there. She has almost all of the classic symptoms of doggie dementia. It’s so helpful that we found this out when we did. She seems to have had it for about 6 months. We couldn’t figure out what was going on, but this really explains it. We are usually gone all day one day a week. Last week when we got home that night, she wasn’t in her house. We thought she was probably wandering like they do at night. It’s now Tuesday evening, and we still haven’t seen her at all We live in the country–we only have 3 neighbors nearby. We have been looking all over for her since Friday morning. The neighbors have been out looking all over the fields and woods nearby since Friday, on tractors and ATVs. I keep thinking if she wandered off, could she wander back? I hate to give up hope on her, I just wish I knew. It’s very sad not knowing if she is with a family, or has she passed? She’s a friendly dog. Everyone has passed the word in the area, and we don’t know what else to do.

    1. Oh no. I’m so sorry, and sorry for the lateness of this response. Did you ever find her? That is a special kind of heartbreak. Hugs to you and your family.

  83. I have a greyhound who’s approaching 13 years of age. ..just recently I have noticed that she doesn’t seem to be herself she appears healthy in a physical sense but I am sure her minds not there anymore

  84. Our dog of 11 years is on his last days. Thank for your videos and info about Cricket. It has helped us emensly understanding what is going on. My mother in law passed of Alzheimer’s and sad that our canine family members get it as well. God bless u ad thank u.

  85. My 14 1/2 year old, 30 pound jackabee now wears size 4-5 toddler pull ups with sheet holder straps attached to a harness because she no longer lets us know when she needs to go. She just starts going to the bathroom in the house whenever she feels like it instead of alerting us that she wants to go out. After a week of constant steam cleaning, I felt like the diapers were my only alternative. She has P.T.S.D. from being abused as a puppy prior to ending up at the pound where I adopted her as a puppy. She won’t let anyone brush her, clip her nails or bath her without yelping in her very high pitched yelp that she uses when she is startled or touched. She is mostly blind and mostly deaf. I distract her with a treat and stand with her between my legs to change her pull up diaper. She is confused and paces chronically every night and she also paces back and forth when we vacuum. She mostly sleeps during the day. I love her and I realize she just has canine dementia so I try to accept it as a part of old age and I try to give her a good life. I still take her for walks, although she forgets where she lives and what she is outside for. Herbal supplements for dogs for relaxing them helps during the evenings when the dementia is typically worse.

  86. hello.. my 17 year old pincher got sick yesterday, she was very weak and we took her to the vet, the vet said she had a very high fever and was dehydrated, he gave her medicines and she got better, after we got home she started walking non stop for 3 hours, like if she didnt recognize the house, she got stuck in every corner and furniture, and hasnt layed down since… im very worried, she doesnt want to sleep, is this Canine Cognitive Dysfunction? im from venezuela and we dont have a good animal health care here, what can i do? .. when i try to put her to rest she starts panting from tyreness,, but still doesnt want to stay laid down…

  87. Hello, I have a almost 13 yr old Husky who is showing lots of signs of dementia and he is just miserable but then I see him play at times. How do you know when is the time to say good-bye? He is very nasty with barking when my younger pup comes around like he hates him and I feel bad even thinking about putting him down….is there a right time to say good-bye and when do you know?

    1. I too have a 13 year old husky (cross) and she is at the end of life I fear. I feel the same way, at ties she plays with her toys ad wags her tail and then she paces, drools, and tries to get into every cabinet i have. She has tried to bite me and my husband. I put her on Prozac and Xanax….vet recommended and its not helping. I am like you in wondering if its time?

  88. Eileen, thank you for continuing this web site to support and comfort owners of dogs with dementia. It is comforting to realize how others have and are dealing with the same hard decisions.

    Buddy, my Shiba Inu who I have had since he was 8 weeks old was the world to me. I have loved and cared for Buddy for 15 1/2 years, and he was my best friend and loving companion. Buddy was diagnosed with dementia in January 2015. My vet prescribed Anipryl 15 mg Tablets, and I gave Buddy this prescription for just over a year. Other than for dementia, Buddy was always very healthy, and he had very good blood test results.

    Over the years, the dementia started to get worse. I was lucky enough to be able to change my hours at work, and eventually stop working to care for Buddy. He was restless at nighttime, and after going to bed, Buddy would need to go outside several times a night. Then he would pace for a while until he was ready to go back to sleep.

    In May 2016, I enrolled Buddy in a canine swimming fitness program to strengthen his back legs. He was starting to be unable to walk as far, and his back legs were becoming weaker. Towards the end of 2016, I had to carry Buddy up and down the stairs, since he was no longer able to navigate the stairs on his own.

    Although Buddy has had dementia for over two years, recently his pacing and circles have gotten much tighter and more intense to the point of making him dizzy. After pacing for a while, I would pick Buddy up and put him in his bed, and he would go right to sleep. During the day, Buddy would have anxiety whenever I would leave him alone. I limited the time I was away from Buddy because when I returned, Buddy would be screaming, sometimes at a bathroom door. During the night, Buddy would walk around the bedroom, sometimes fall and be unable to get back up on his own, and he would stumble and hit his head on the walls at times. Other times, I would find Buddy in a corner of the room, and I had pillows to prevent him from going behind furniture.

    It became apparent Buddy was living more and more in a state of confusion, and his quality of life was not like it use to be. Sometimes at night while in bed, when I tried to pat him, he would get upset until he realized it was me. Buddy needed to be close to me, actually laying next to and touching me to go back to sleep.

    Buddy started to become unstable and would fall into his food and water. I would lift his food and water for him to eat and drink. He was always very good to do his business outside.

    Although your vet can only see a very limited snap shot of your dog’s behavior and illness during their appointment, I shared via a video with my vet how Buddy was pacing more during the day and at night, since I did not want Buddy to be taken a day early, and I did not want to be selfish and keep Buddy an extra day if he was starting to suffer at all.

    My vet saw Buddy in February and thought he was doing fine, and in March he said he saw a decline, and it would be in Buddy’s best interest to consider saying goodbye. I held Buddy for several evenings, patting him and telling him how much I love him. On March 16, 2017 Buddy passed very peacefully in my arms. I never cried so hard and for so long. It was the hardest decision ever to have to make. My heart is broken to have to say goodbye, and Buddy is now at peace. Buddy has been a wonderful companion, and I have been blessed to have him.

    My only guilt is you never know when is the “right time” to say goodbye. I pray I made the right decision in the best interest for Buddy, and that the decision wasn’t premature. I would love to have been able to keep Buddy forever, and I will in my heart, until I see him again.

    I love my baby and miss Buddy so much!

    1. Dear Tom,

      Buddy was one of the luckiest dogs there ever was to have you as a caregiver. What a wonderful life you gave him, and the ways you accommodated the changes he went through are admirable. Thanks for sharing your story. We always doubt ourselves about such a serious decision, but if it helps to know, it sounds from here like you decided just right. I’m sorry for the pain of missing him. Take care.

    2. I’m so sorry about Buddy, I just lost my boy two weeks ago not knowing exactly which one of his conditions was ailing him. This is such a hard condition. But, it does sound like you took great care of him, and when you contacted your vet to get more of an objective perspective I think that was right. Three vets I talked to said I should really consider Sunny’s quality of life. Problem is, before that time, I felt abandoned by them in helping his conditions. Never a mention of a behaviorist, it was almost like well, he’s old and he has likely neuropathy or neuromuscular disease – he will just decline. Sorry. 🙁

  89. My heart is breaking as I write this, I am dealing with this times two, I have a 15 year old Scottie (male) and a 15 year old Schnauzer (female) I’ve had them since they were 8 weeks old. The Scottie started slowing down about 2 years ago, but the Schnauzer was as active as she had always been until about 6 months ago. They both started showing all the symptoms of dementia ( circling, appearing lost, not responding, pacing at night, not making it onto their beds all the way, changes in eating, acting frightened of people they know sometimes, the Scottie has been peeing on the floor even if he has just come in from outside, and he never had an accident in the house until this all started) It started 4 1/2 months ago and has gotten progressively worse. My daughters Schnauzer was 6 months older than my dogs and he had a severe stroke last year and she had to make the decision to put him down (very difficult for me and her, but the poor baby couldn’t stand or hold his head up, there was absolutely no choice and it still hurts) I don’t know if I could make that choice for my two unless they were in pain or in the same condition my daughters dog was in. I don’t want to feel like I am prolonging their life just to satisfy my desire to keep them with me, nor do I have a desire to end their life because of the dementia. How does a person know how to make the right choice for their much loved pets? Are there guidelines that help you know you are doing what is best for them?

  90. My dog Button is 17 years old and almost totally blind and almost totally deaf and has full on CCD. I keep having the vet check her and he says that her eyes say she is not ready to go and she has a strong heart. But she has no quality of life and she is getting to where she doesn’t remember how to eat. She does eat, and gets her food but it takes her forever to eat. She cannot walk a straight line and just walks in circles; not even just circling but almost twirling and falling over. I get dizzy watching her. I get to points where I can’t take it anymore. I cannot get her to calm down sometimes. I’m constantly changing and washing blankets and beds that I just washed and put her pen together with pads and blankets. I give her Anapril and it really helped for a while but it’s not doing much any more.

    Thanks for giving me a place to vent. I think I am going to have the vet help her pass on to her next life even though he says she’s not ready. She is 17 and has had a great life and needs to be happy again. Thank you.

    1. Liz, you know your dog best. If it helps to know, I intervened in my dog’s life earlier (it sounds like) and helped her pass on. I don’t regret it. It is very difficult with a dog who is still physically robust, but it sounds like you have assessed Button’s quality of life well. Hugs.

  91. My beautiful 17 yr. old (in two weeks) has very little sight. She has arthritis which has left her back legs very weak. I made a harness to help her go outside. It has been three weeks since we have had a decents night sleep. She has been on Anapril, however, it only keeps her for about two hours. Her quality of life includes sleeping and staring into space most of the day. Eating, drinking water and going out to poo and pee. At night after giving meds she will sleep for about two hours and begin grunting with a bark. I try to hold her to calm her down, however, I can feel that she is very uncomfortable. This could go on for some hours. Until she is so exhausted, she will sleep again after drinking water snd eating.We knew she needed help physically and have done everything in our power to keep her going. Including meds for arthritis. We never experienced Sundowners until it began three weeks ago. On Friday we took her to our Vet looking for anyway to continue to help her. Our Vet said we could try another course of action that would include Melatonin and Selegiline, but it would take two to three weeks to kick in. However, she was not very encouraging. When I asked her what she thought Miesa’s quality of life is from 1-10 she said a 3.We filled the script and started her on it last night. As my husband and I talked about all of this, we realized that yes during the day she gets by, however we can’t remember the last time we saw her wag her tail. Or see happiness on her face when we return after having been out. All of this along with her anxiety and lack of sleep at night,we have made the hardest decision of our lives. We had to look at the fact that she is just about seventeen. IF the Selegiline and Melatonin does some good after two weeks how much time can we buy her, as well as what other age related ailments would she might suffer. We have a Vet coming to the house at 4pm today to help our Miesa cross The Rainbow Bridge. My heart is breaking and I am questioning myself every minute. However, I keep telling myself better a week early than a day too late. I pray this is the right thing to do.

    1. I hope she passed peacefully and your heart is at rest about the decision. I know you will miss her terribly. Hugs.

  92. My dog was diagnosed with dimentia nearly 2 weeks ago he’s probably had 2 really good days out of that time and a few really bad nights with aggressive barking and staining at corners , he also wouldn’t come in from the garden on a few occasions and doesn’t want to come near me more often than not he growls sits and stares or just growls I don’t k ow what to do I’m at the end of my tether.

  93. This is not really a reply but a question. I have a 12 year old mini schnauzer.( human years) he is practically blind and also losing his hearing. He seems to have arthritis also. He constantly whines. He still eats and drinks but sometimes forgets where the food is. He has started acting very strange like wondering around like he’s lost. This morning we found him lying in the cats litter box. Later he looked pissed off and tried to dump the cats food over and his water over. I’ve never seen him act like this before. I know he is very old and uncomfortable. Do you have an opinion on what o should Do?

    1. Check with your vet. So many things can go wrong with our older pets and some of them are treatable. I’m sorry you are going through this. But your vet may be able to help. Hugs.

  94. Our little Shih Tzu, Maggie, is in end stage dementia.
    She no longer wants her treats and gets very confused at night. This morning, she went out with her “younger brothers” and kept going up and down the ramp not able to figure out or perhaps she forgot she had to potty. I had the boys show her what to do and then they had to show her how to come back in. She always ( like Cricket) follows me around, now because she just didn’t remember, I have to pick her up and put her on her favorite spot on my chair.
    Thank you so very much for sharing Cricket’s story. It truly was a big help. God bless you and we can all look forward to seeing our “kids” someday, because ALL Dogs Go To Heaven!!

    1. Dear Mary,

      I’m glad Cricket’s story helped. I can tell how much you love Maggie. I’m glad she still knows you and is attached to you. Hugs.

  95. I am so thankful I found this site! I am just learning that this disease exists. Murphy is around 13 or 14 (he was a stray) that has been slowly declining. He is at the point now where he is barking almost all day and night. He still eats well and has a bit of a pep in his step. At what point do you say enough is enough? I know no one can answer that question, really. But I don’t know that I want to take him to be put down when he is physically fine. I also don’t want him to mentally suffer. He has always been very happy go lucky and the last several months he has become anxious, and on one occasion, very aggressive. It breaks my heart.

    1. Jamie, I’m so sorry. This is so hard to go through. You are right that no one can answer that question for your personal situation with Murphy. But if it helps to know, I did euthanize my little Cricket when she was still physically capable. No pain that I knew of, good appetite, could still get around. She was frail but not decrepit. But dementia is an illness as well, a terminal one. I tell the story in my book of how I made the decision, and also have stories from two other people who helped their dogs pass on before they were physically incapacitated. Hugs to you.

  96. we have 2 staffordshire bull terriers, Chucky our boy is 15 and Kezzie our girl is 13.
    Chucky over id say the last 3 years has been declining. we have taken him to the vets on a few occasions one for a lump to be removed from his foot and others for really bad gas.7
    i was looking up doggy dementia and on the last visit to the vet said, hes got cataracts in both eyes, hes hearing has gone, either that or he just doesnt want to listen. He cant go on walks because he flops down after because hes back legs are not as strong, and alot lately he slips onto his rear. He paces up and down, stops in your way, you tell him to move but he doesnt, walks in circles, wants to go out every 5 minutes but never actually does anything. and the obvious, stares into space.

    The vet saw no issue said hes healthy, good heart healthy teeth.

    does this sound like doggy dementia to you or am i going mad!

    1. Hello, I am sure you have already managed your poor dog’s health and well-being by this point. I just wanted to share that although some of what you describe does sound like dementia – there could be other things going on too like Cushings disease which makes them pant and drink excessive water (and pee), he could also have laryngeal paralysis which makes them not be able to walk far and could have a breathing crisis. That is usually the first sign of a general neuropathy where their muscles will get weaker in the hind legs and maybe even eventually in the front. It’s a mad cycle as if they can’t walk as far due to whatever reason, then their muscle is going to waste. It sounds like a behaviorist or canine rehabber is the way to go and I will keep in mind if I ever adopt another dog. My dogs passed on 2/26/18.

  97. Hi Eileen 🙂 Here’s the review I just left on Amazon….. (if you look at it, you can see my sweet Sassy) “This is a truly wonderful book. One night last February it hit me that my 14-year-old rat terrier mix….my GIRL…..couldn’t seem to remember how to hold her chew toy. It hit me like a thunderclap. I googled and found Eileen. After the initial shock and grief….how could my dog be coming down with the same condition my mom had???……I regrouped and we had 4 more wonderful, meaningful months. I hand fed her twice a day by putting peanut butter and dog food on the roof of her mouth because she seemed to have forgotten how to eat consistently, but she still drank and still walked like a CHAMP. She let me know when it was time by stopping her water intake, and she died at home, without even requiring euthanasia, about 2 weeks ago. I am eternally grateful to Eileen for her website and this book. Eternally. She gave us 4 months by elucidating what we were dealing with. I cannot thank her enough for this beautifully written book.”

    1. Oh, Sassy was gorgeous! I love the picture and so glad you included it in the review. Thank you SO much for copying your review here. It’s silly, I know, but I just kind of dread looking at the Amazon reviews so I don’t do it often. I’m glad I was brave and looked at yours and saw sweet Sassy. Comments like yours make me so glad I wrote the book. Hugs!

      1. Thank YOU, Eileen! You are a treasure. I’ll be reading your other site carefully as I’m starting my new adventure with my new little rescue guy 🙂 Many, many blessings to you.

  98. Eileen,

    Your dedication and devotion to dogs and owners struggling to cope with family pet members suffering from CCD is remarkable. Thank you so much for all the helpful information.

    My 17 year old Pug, Mr Pibb is well into the later stages of CCD. He is on medication and a vet recommended diet for his condition. In the past month, he endlessly barks. It appears to be stress/anxiety related but I cannot confirm this. Initially, it seemed to be a way for him to communicate a need (food, water, attention etc) now it is relentless.

    I was hoping you might have a recommendation how to manage the barking. Thank you again for all your incredible insight and dedication to furry family members.


    1. Dear Patrick,
      I wish I had a suggestion for this but I don’t, really. I know it can be super distressing to the whole family. I guess if I were in your shoes I would ask the vet if there were possibly a safe, gentle sedative that would help. (Depending on what other medications Mr Pibb might take.)

      It’s not surprising that it first it “meant” something but that has dropped away. That seems to be part of the decline, I’m sorry to say. Good luck to you and Mr. Pibb. I’m so sorry I don’t have an answer for you. Barking and sleep disturbances seem to be the hardest symptoms for the humans to deal with.


  99. While I realize this thread/comment line has been going on for years, I wanted to add my own small contribution. First: Thank you for this site and all of the information. Second: Thank you for continuing to monitor this thread and offering your support and wisdom to the people who keep coming here, year after year. You are truly giving Cricket a wonderful legacy here. Third: I wanted to share my own case as a heads up/warning. My border-collie/saluki mix, originally a hard-case, abused rescue, is not 13, 14, 16, etc. as many of the other dogs in this thread. She is, tragically 10 years old. And she is in advanced dementia. It is all wrong for her breed/s and almost unheard of, but she is well into CCD. (I don’t know why they give it another name, she acts just like my father did and they called it Alzheimer’s: everything from Sundowner’s, to spatial and visual disorientation to loss of inhibition and you name it.) I believe her condition is related to a lifetime of a brain and body bathed in cortisol as a result of her abuse and subsequent anxieties, but whatever the case, she was unmistakably suffering from this sad condition by the time she was 9 years old.

    We have seen specialists and run every test one can imagine, and there’s just no way around it. It is now terribly advanced and we are literally taking it week by week. But I wanted people to know that this can happen to dogs much younger than you would ever dream of. 3 months ago, she began to have difficulty periodically remembering how to eat and drink. She sometimes chokes while drinking and often will carry food around in her mouth for long periods — last week she carried a piece of chicken jerky (I make our own) around in her mouth for over 35 minutes, even standing over the water bowl, “Want to drink. Something in mouth. Want to drink. Something in mouth.” for 10 minutes. Strangely, she has had very few “accidents” in the house — perhaps because I work from home and let her out a lot. She still loves walks and poking about in the garden, sniffing in spite of serious spinal arthritis and a lot of difficulty keeping her feet under her. We have “trails” of yoga mats through the house for traction on the hardwood floors and she wears Toe Grips which have been very useful, but she is just what you would think of as a 16 or 18 year old in her breed/s.

    Medication has not helped, except in the way of arthritis meds — we use Rimadyl and high CBD cannabis and it keeps her moving. She is still interactive, although she sometimes “fails” in that she comes up for attention and then veers away inappropriately. We just coax her back for her snuggle and she’s happy. But I have promised both her and myself that we are really in the week-to-week stage now and that if we have a week where the bad days outnumber the good, we are going to say goodbye. I refuse to let her get to the point where she is suffering before I will let her go. I had to watch my father go well beyond the stage of kindness and I will not do that with her.

    1. JD, thank you for your kind words and the kindness of sharing your dog’s sad story. People do ask about “early onset” dementia in dogs and to my knowledge it is not documented in the literature. But as you say, dementia in dogs is similar to Alzheimer’s in humans–even some of the brain changes are the same. I’m glad you have told the story of your dog’s diagnosis, sad though it is. It may help some others.

      Sounds like our philosophies are similar about “when to let them go.” People typically feel so guilty for euthanizing a dog who has a neurological/mental disorder and may be otherwise fairly healthy. Sorry to speak to bluntly. But I’m with you–better a week too soon than a day too late.

      That said, I hope you have many more good days and weeks with your dear dog. Thank you so much for sharing.

  100. Hello,

    First, let me extend my heartfelt condolences to all who have or are suffering with making decision to stop the pet’s suffering. For I was faced with this four days ago.
    I knew he had changed after a dental surgery in 2016. No longer wanted to go for walks – which he loved – seemed a bit confused. Then another dental a year later just seemed to push him further into confusion.
    I tried everything. His diet was always good – his treats were small bits or organic apple/carrot. Filtered water free of fluoride and chlorine. He was always a big pup…and had a massive reaction to vaccinations and almost died. Then, came the flood of allergies!
    Within the past few months, I noticed him pacing and getting “stuck” in corners of the rooms then begin to cry or howl. My house had many barriers to help him. And then came diapers – – he would try to let me know…by whining. But I thought that was just him being him. I began my research immediately and bought every helpful supplement I could find.
    Kept his walks going, and mixed up his schedule just a bit to keep him from boredom. To no avail. I worked endlessly. Part of me felt there was hope. Maybe a glimmer. He had been my faithful companion for almost 14 years (Feb 16th) and I was not about to give up.
    Then — it became worse.
    The lights are on, but no one is home — became the description for my beloved baby boy. It tore my heart out.
    I began reading everything and anything I could on surgery and the older pet and the outcome of dementia. It isn’t good and it isn’t something the medicals will share. I had no idea.
    If I had the chance to do it over, and I wish I could, I would find the top vet that monitors everything for my pet. Forget the COST! One who is aware of possible worsening of dementia and cognitive disorders. I owed him that much. But I didn’t know
    Now I sit – missing him and feeling so much pain inside. I can’t stop apologizing to him and feeling I let him down. I always research medical procedures, medications, etc for myself or my family – yet for this – I failed him.
    I am sorry SammE. I miss you so much.

    1. And I meant to add that I called his new vet (who did NOT do the dental) and made the decision to have the relaxing shot given while holding him in my arms…and then the other.
      While repeating “I love you Samme, I love you so much” Sent him on his way with love to last for eternity.

      It is so difficult. Awful. But it was painful just watching him trying to get thru his day totally confused and stressed. 🙁

    2. Barb,

      I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you have gone through. I think you have done a superb job taking care of SammE and he was so lucky to be your dear boy. Remember–dementia is an illness and it’s not an uncommon one. We can’t control everything that happens. You took all the right actions to help mitigate the symptoms.

      Hugs to you. I am so, so sorry for the loss of your dear companion.

    3. HI Barb, how are you doing? I am sorry to hear of the loss of your baby Sam. I too just lost my boy Sunny end of Feb. I too am racked with guilt over why I didn’t do more for him in the last 9 months of his life? he had great vet care up until then. I dropped the ball – I didn’t take him to an Ortho, I didn’t get canine rehab done on him, I didn’t know about dementia and they didn’t ask me questions about it considering my dog was 14/15. I felt like I let him down over the last 9 months when I had so much else going on. I just figured he’d still be there – he always was – his neuropathy wasn’t that bad – some weak back legs – he can still manage short walks. But, then the weakness moved to his front legs, and he carried his head low. He was getting chronic UTI’s, wearing male wraps and having fecal and urinary incontinence. But, I was dealing with that fine. It was when he started getting stuck in places, he couldn’t turn around. He would have a stool and get stuck because his back legs would go straight on him and he couldn’t bend them to get up. His sleep patterns now changed and he now required his full body harness. When I would walk him outside – and lay him in the grass – he would just lay there – he didn’t lift his head to sniff the air – he didn’t look around. On our final car ride (he used to LOVE the car rides) I put him in the cargo area with the seats removed – and he just laid there – not even trying to get up to look out the window. THAT BROKE MY HEART. IT KILLED ME. My dog went everywhere with me. I couldn’t get out the door first – he was always first and in the way. He would prance around the car and get so excited; but on this last car ride – windows fully down and wind all throughout, he didn’t even lift his head. I am crying writing this right now. My boy who was always there – was no longer there. I feel like I failed him in these last 9 months – I would have started him on any drug to help keep him aware. I just didn’t know about any of it. Sunny, please forgive me.

  101. Thank you so much for writing this article. We said goodbye to our dear dog of 15 years yesterday and this article really brought me peace. At the end our Abby just walking in circles and getting trapped in every wall and corner. She was having accidents and hadn’t wagged her tail in weeks. She truely had no idea who we were. She had lost 10 pounds in the last few months. We knew we couldn’t watch her waste away any longer but euthanizing her made me feel like I was killing her. Your article helped to to realize that we were doing her a kindness in helping her along. I know your loss of your precious dog Cricket was a few years ago but sending you condolences for your loss. 😢

    1. Meredith, thank you for your condolences and your generosity in writing now when you just said good-bye. I’m so sorry for your loss. I am so glad for any help my article gave you. Abby was so lucky to have you. Hugs.

  102. Hello, I’m so sorry to read about all of your sweet fur babies. Our black lab mix will be 10 years old next month, but is already showing significant signs of CCD. He paces constantly, where he used to sleep 14 hours a day. He stands in doorways and stares off into space for long periods of time. He sometimes seems confused about where he is… etc. We have taken him to the vet multiple times and first thought he had anxiety (which he does, but now know it’s associated with the CCD.) He is also losing muscle mass and within just a couple of weeks had already lost the ability to jump on the bed and is now finding it difficult to get in and out of the car. We had blood work done, which was normal, then we had x-rays done to see if maybe there was a tumor or blockage, but everything looked fine.
    We know what we will eventually have to do and we know this is only going to progress, but he’s so much younger than all the other dogs mentioned here, he still has some good days, and he’s still so sweet and knows who we are. I would, of course, rather let him go too soon than too late, but how soon is too soon? Thank you so much for any advice you can give.

    1. Jessi

      I’m sorry to hear you are going through this difficult time with your beloved lab. Ten is quite young and that’s awful. I wonder though since retrievers also have an inclination towards having neuropathy issues related to laryngeal paralysis have you gone to an Orthopedic vet to see about the hind leg weakness and try to determine if it is muscle related or nerve related? I would also consider consulting with a canine rehabber – they can let you know if they can help him maintain his strength or help to build it back up. Now is the time to do that before it gets worse. I just put down my 14/15 yo chow/retriever mix end of Feb. I’m still a wreck because no one could tell me which of his conditions were causing the decline. He wasn’t diagnosed with CCD but I was never even asked about his cognitive state (so perhaps I’m not working with the best vets). I was working with a Neuro doc and I should have consulted with an Ortho too – and rehabber – but I never followed through. So, these are the other things you might want to consider – in addition to trying some of the natural remedies for brain health suggested or the prescriptions. Some folks have mentioned a behaviorist – and you can even do consults with some online. If you are inclined, I would try the Ortho, to try to find out if the origins of the weakness are muscle or nerve related (or both), a behaviorist for the cognitive decline (they might have medication recommendations) and even a canine rehabber. I would personally do all of this first, at this young age, before taking any drastic steps.

      Keep us posted.

  103. I wanted to say thank you so much for your website. I have visited countless times to read about those with similar stories. My 13 year old shih tzu has been suffering with ccd for awhile and we have tried every single thing available with little to no results. Pharmaceutical…natural.. we have tried them all. Tomorrow is the day and I can’t describe how devistating it is when physically he is fine but mentally….he is not ok. Barking, crying, whining, confusion, can’t sit still..etc. We have always said when good days outnumber the bad…it’s time. I know this is the right thing, but nothing will ever make this easy and my heart is broken. Thank you all for sharing your stories, as reading that we aren’t alone makes things just a little bit better.

    1. Rian, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can tell how much you loved your dog and took such great care of him. Condolences to you and your family.


    1. Dear Cheryl,

      My heart goes out to you in this difficult situation. None of us can tell you the answer to this. I do hope you talk to your vet. He or she may be more sympathetic than you think. Or may have some medical answers for you. Here is a little survey you can fill out on your dog’s quality of life that can help you see most of the pertinent issues.

      Take care, and I’m sorry you are in this hard situation.


  105. We lost our older dog (16) to old age and dementia about 3 months ago, and since then our younger dog (8/9 years old) has been displaying all the signs of dementia. Sleeping all day, not wanting to go for walks, loss of interest in human interaction, loss of house training, shaking for no real reason and in the past two days she has stopped wanting to eat. Initially we thought that it was depression due to the loss of her older companion, but she as been getting worse and now we are afraid that she has dementia as well. We are taking her to the vet today but are fearing the worst. It feels like she should be too young to get dementia and yet all the symptoms seem to be the same as the ones on your list. We are very sad at the thought of loosing both of them so close together.

    1. Dear Janie,
      My best wishes for the best possible diagnosis and lots more good time with your dog.


  106. Hi, we put our girl down 2 days ago and she looked just like your Cricket and was almost 18 y.o and she had the same Dementia symptoms, she also started having seizures from a month ago, she forgot how to eat most times. I questioned myself if it was too soon, but seeing your site today it gives me comfort to know the time was right for my precious girl. Thankyou

    1. Hugs to you, Karen. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad the site gave you some comfort.


    1. I’m sorry, Nancy, I don’t know of any research on that. But some other people have reported it here in their dogs. So sorry you are going through that. Try another vet maybe? Not everything is fixable, I guess, but there are a lot of conditions that have some or all of these same symptoms. Good luck.

      1. I am depressed because I took in a 12 yr old Maltese female and tonite has broke me all the way down. I’m bipolar 1 with PTSD ocd and ADHD, so my patience is not very good, but my love for dogs is as great as my love for jesus. She has placed our home all day and got lodged behind a dresser in a tight space for around an hour and was upside down struggling when I came into the room. Not long after this episode I took her out to potty and she got startled and run in fear bumped her head on my truck while running away. It has progressively gotten worse over this past week and she paces all day and gets lost behind doors stares into corners gets trapped behind chairs ect… I’ve not had her diagnosed, but plan on taking her Friday. I’m so down and depressed but reading your posts have lifted my spirit. This is a beautiful place you’ve created with all of the most informing information and calming words I’ve ever seen. God bless you all with your babies and continue to help us have peace and understanding . God bless.

        1. She sleeps all nite eats & drinks well and looks totally healthy, but she is suffering. I really appreciate you eileen

        2. Dear Christopher,
          How difficult that sounds. I hope your appointment on Friday went well. There are a lot of people here who have been through what you are going through with your Maltese. It’s clear you love her so much. Good for you for taking such good care of her.

  108. Sophie is my 14 year old Lab/Greyhound mix. She was diagnosed with dementia about 1 year ago. I have her on a huge mix of dementia meds and supplements which have really helped her. She does all of the things I’ve read at your website, i.e. wandering, getting lost in circles, etc.. She has always been a runner and very active. She has a great appetite and is in great physical shape for her age. I have to feed her by hand now and guide her around to go the bathroom. She does have pee accidents daily in the house. What has been happening recently is that she will be very active and really pull when we go for a walk in the evening and seems fine when we get home. After resting before bedtime, she’ll get up and not be able to put weight on one of her paws. This happened last night and she was in pain. I got her outside to potty and then made her comfortable next to me in her bed. I thought she had injured her paw walking so hard. I was going to take to the Vet after I spoke with them in the evening about everything because they thought she had injured her paw. She woke me up at 3 AM and wanted to go outside to potty. She displayed no evidence of having injured herself.! She walked fine although hunched over like a 14 year old dog.This morning after our walk and breakfast, she started strongly favoring her other right front paw. I made the realization that her dementia is causing some significant neurological issues with her extremities. I spoke with my pet sitter today who comes to let her out at lunch and feed her and was told that she was running around like there was no tomorrow with no limps or pain. 30 minutes later she was favoring her right paw again. How do I know when the right time is for her? I made an apt for her to be euthanized in my home in 2 days but now I am really questioning my decision. I thought she had told me with her eyes last night that she ready. I guess I was wrong. Have you seen this before?

    1. I’m so sorry, Paul. Did you go ahead with it? I haven’t heard of those exact symptoms but my dog did have problems with her rear legs. I hope your heart is OK with whatever decision you made. It’s clear what great care you take of your dog and how much you love her.

  109. My Maltese is 13+ years old. He’s been diagnosed with cognitive disfunction syndrome, like Alzheimer’s. He paces for hours and barks at walls, corners, curtains etc. He’s on trazadone now. Just had to up it because it wasn’t helping anymore. He won’t sleep in his little dog bed which is right next to my bed. I’ve had to gate him in my room with me or shut the door and he barks to get out or knocks the gate down. He doesn’t really like to be touched anymore and sleeps slot during the day. He’s deaf and I think he’s losing his eyesight. He’s also always been on the aggressive side too, except with my 4 year old grandson. How do you put a dog down who still eats well? Just thinking about this makes me feel so guilty.

    1. It’s very, very hard, Judy. One thing to consider is that it is completely arbitrary that we use the dog’s ability to eat as a deciding factor. Especially with this condition, sometimes they can still eat when the rest of their life doesn’t have much quality left. (I’m not saying that about your guy, just in general.) Have you looked at the resources for judging quality of life? Sometimes they can be helpful. FWIW I euthanized my little Cricket when she could still eat. I helped her leave this earth when I could see the downward spiral that was starting and I didn’t want to make her go all the way to the bottom.

      It’s different for everybody. I hope this helps a little.

  110. Hi Eileen, I have a 17 year old yorkie named MIa. She is showing some of the signs you mention. The hardest is not sleeping at night. She is eating and drinking fine and still likes to go out for walks. However, sometimes she doesn’t recognize me and definitely stares out into oblivion. I currently have her on Anipryl (she has been on it for 3 months) as well as CBD oil at night to calm her. She is better but not sleeping at night as long as I would like her to. But I’m going to continue doing the best I can and fighting for her. I just want to make the right decision and I don’t know how to determine when that is. 🙁

    1. Dear Anna,

      It’s the hardest decision ever. Many of us have been through it. I know you will do right by Mia. She is lucky to have you. Hugs.

  111. Thank you SO much for sharing your story and writing your book! It is so helpful to talk about and share these experiences….it helps me feel less “alone” in this process. I have purchased your book and also Facing Farewell….both are very helpful resources. I am dealing with health issues with my senior heart dog (first dog I have ever owned and first dog I will lose:( Back in January 2018, my 13 yo border collie had vestibular disease which was diagnosed as central brain vestibular. He was also diagnosed with the start of kidney disease and we found nodules / masses on his spleen and liver (chest and lungs were clear at that time). I was told he probably had cancer and was given a few weeks to live. I immediately changed his diet and started some supplements (treating as if it is hemangiosarcoma) and amazingly he is still with me today! After reading about CCD, I was thinking he may be showing some of the symptoms…..more active at night and barks at nothing….stopping on walks and looking confused. Then last Tuesday night into Wednesday, he had 4 “episodes” where he couldn’t get up and when he finally did his head would drop low and he would stagger and lose his balance, sometimes falling over. After these episodes (which only lasted a few minutes at most) he would be very anxious, pacing and panting. Now at night, he does pace and pant so we started him on Trazadone and that is helping. My vet thinks the episodes could have been small seizures. He also sways when he walks and his hind end is getting weaker….though he can still get up, just slowly. I am just wondering if you (or anyone on this thread) experienced the staggering and loss of balance episodes? Vet said it wouldn’t be Vestibular again because that gets progressively worse and lasts much longer. I didn’t see anywhere in my initial research that CCD causes staggering / loss of balance so perhaps something more serious is going on neurologically….but it definitely seems like he “sundowns” now so that is why I was thinking CCD.

    1. Dear Dana,

      Thanks for buying the book and I’m glad both books have been helpful. This can be a lonely situation, caring for a senior dog with these problems. Thank you for posting your own story. Answering just a lay person, I see a lot of dogs with CCD who have rear end problems, but that may just be because so many seniors with advanced age have these problems. I hope your boy has some good times left. He has got to be a pretty tough guy! And you are clearly taking wonderful care of him. Good that you are doing research and staying in close contact with your vet. There is a lot a vet can do for a senior dog when they know the whole story of what is going on. Take care!

      1. Thank you for responding Eileen. I am sad to say that we said goodbye to him on Sunday. He had a bad episode that he wasn’t recovering from, he was very uncomfortable and clearly in pain. When he collapsed face first into my lap, that was my sign from him that it was time. We let him go gently and peacefully in my backyard on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I have no regrets about my decision because I know it was the right decision for him. But the feeling of loss is debilitating right now…..I am overwhelmed with grief. I know with time dealing with his loss may get easier, but I also know I will never “get over” the loss of my heart dog. I really appreciate your time and efforts….please know that it does help.

  112. hi Eileen thank you so much for the words that you have written. it is my 54th birthday today. I had saved what you have written and am drawn to it today. I have a gorgeous 15yr old dog called Tyson. he has been diagnosed with doggie dementia.he has arthritis like my self and is on meds like my self. he also has cataracts in both eyes but he can see light and dark so he still gets about.the vet said he wouldn’t make it through the op so I have not had them done. it has really helped me reading your story as I didn.t know what was wrong when he started circling and staring into a corner of the room. I, like so many others, am having difficulty in deciding when the time is right! I talk to the vet but he says if Tyson was my dog I wouldn’t put him to sleep yet. sometimes he looks sad and each morning I check to see if he is still breathing. I lost my parents,my mum to dementia ,last yr and sometimes feel so guilty that I think that I am keeping Tyson alive just for me. I just do not think I can cope with losing him. he does have accidents in the house sometimes but I now know when he wakes to be carried to the garden quickly and all is ok.I know you nor any one else can tell me when or if the time is right. I now realise I want some one to tell me so that I do not feel guilty about losing my little best friend.my 2 daughters who are 18 and 24 are worried that I will find him dead next to me one mornin and say I should make that decision before that happens but I would rather that happen.I guess I am just looking for answers but thank you for your words. x x

    1. Dear Marita,
      Oh, that sounds so hard. I understand about wishing he would pass on his own. Boy, do I understand.

      My mom had Alzheimer’s as well. It’s so hard when you get it in your family both ways like that.

      No, we can’t tell you when the time is right, but please know that there are a lot of people here who understand your pain and wish you well with your sweet Tyson.

      1. hi Eileen thank you so much for replying. it is comforting to read what every one is writing. it was such a good idea for you to write the books as you say there is not really any help out there but you are helping a great deal. Tyson is still plodding along but he has started howling at different times of day. I check if he wants to be let out, thirsty.hungry, etc. I just don.t know if he is telling me he is in pain.

        1. Dear Marita I totally understand as I am the same in that I pray that my dearly beloved Bella could die in her sleep…the whole euthanasia process horrifies me and takes so much time …I wish there was a tablet that one could safely administer oneself at home…my heart goes out to you and lets hope that both Tyson and Bella can pass comfortably in their sleep …my Bella is 15 and a half years old and dementia signs showed about 4 years ago ..i sometimes blame myself and think the plane flights she has done with me did not help .

  113. We helped our Lillie make her walk over the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. She had been battling “Sundowners” for almost 2 years and complicated further by being deaf and blind. However, she could see light and shadows, so I had night lights plugged into wall sockets everywhere so that she could navigate easier. She would pace all night long around the perimeters of the house, which would wake me several times a night thinking she had to go outside to potty. A lot of times, she would stand in a corner seemingly lost and other times get lost or caught behind chairs. I would always have to help her turn around into the opposite direction. Then she would continue her pacing routine for the rest of the night, then collapse into a deep sleep by sunrise and stay that way all day if I let her. At first, since she was deaf and blind, I thought it was her way of exercising since she no longer could go outside on her own without getting lost because of blind and deafness. She didn’t enjoy walks, so that wasn’t an option for us as she was always used to being out in our fenced yard and do her favorite thing, chase squirrels before she became blind and deaf. We gave her supplements to help with anxiety, then the vet gave me CBD oil to help her. Nothing helped with her pacing all night. She ate and drank normally, wasn’t having accidents in the house until last week. I’d take her outside. Sometimes she’d go, but most of the time she wouldn’t. When she came back in the house, I was standing next to her when she just squatted and peed right there. I was shocked. Then she started pooping everywhere. She constantly circled. She lost interest in eating, but would still drink water. It was obvious that her quality of life just wasn’t there any longer. It was a hard decision to let her go, but in hindsight, I probably waited too long. I miss her dearly already, but letting go is the kindest thing that you can do for your pet when quality of life is no longer there for them.

    1. Debbie, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s generous of you to share your story here. I think many of us feel we have waited too long after we finally make the decision. But it comes from love. How lucky Lillie was to be loved and cared for so well. Hugs to you.

    2. thanks Debbie for your share. I guess it made me realise that Tyson has sundown syndrome as he howls etc late afternoon and night time. it is another thing that I do not want him to suffer with. I do not want to regret that I kept him alive too long just for me, but I can not make that decision to let him go. he is having some accidents in the house but I just clear them up. I literally crying whilst I write this.am in so much turmoil. thanks for all your advice. x

  114. I have a 12 yr old puggle. He went blind at 6 called SARD.
    He is now displaying signs of dementia. The vet seems to think that’s what it is. I thought he was going deaf. I called his name clapped my hands and he appeared to hear but would walk right into the wall or behind the chair n couch and stare. He eats and drinks does not pee in the house . He sleeps all day except to eat. I put a leash on him to walk . He is turning 13 in oct . He has been my little buddy but I’m wondering what to give him ie supplements or different food..any suggestions. I am moving to Fla from Ma which will be a big adjustment. Tonite he fell down the cellar stairs which he never ever goes near the stairs bc of the depth perception w being blind. Tonite he fell all the way down. No apparent injuries. I’m worried it’s going to get worse from what I’ve read..last year I got diagnosed w cancer 8 days after I retired then ran over my 15yr old sweet Molly dog..my heart aches for her but I’m wondering if my Bear is depressed and missing her too.any help for food supplements or advice would b helpful. I want to read your books but I cry a lot bc of cancer and loss but I will try

    1. Oh, what a lot of hardship for you in such a short time, Dorothy. I’m so sorry. Have you talked to your vet about diet, meds, and supplements? There are some things that can help. I can’t make recommendations–I’m just another well-meaning person on the internet–but my Treatment page does list all the things that have some evidence behind them. Good luck with your dear puggle. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

  115. thanks Debbie for your share. I guess it made me realise that Tyson has sundown syndrome as he howls etc late afternoon and night time. it is another thing that I do not want him to suffer with. I do not want to regret that I kept him alive too long just for me, but I can not make that decision to let him go. he is having some accidents in the house but I just clear them up. I literally crying whilst I write this.am in so much turmoil. thanks for all your advice. x

  116. I’m laying here now at 4:02am with my dog who has just now decided to lay down.. Hes constantly up at night for the past three nights.. he will wake up and just stare at the wall and I don’t know what to do. I just hold him and pet him.. He doesn’t eat now during the day unless he’s absolutely hungry.. He’s drinking like crazy though.. It’s never ending. He will sit and shove his bowls together for hours and we have to yell at him and tell him no more.. (We just now today begun to see its dementia) He’s 14. He’s a Mini Doxie I’ve had him since I was 8. I’m 22 now.. The thought of putting him down is killing me. I keep asking myself, is his quality of life there?? He seems so happy during the day with my husband and I.. I could really use some advice! He also has anxiety and takes trazodone during the day.. I fear me putting him down is the solution.. But very hard for me to come to terms with especially since we had to move half way around the country for my husbands work and I take him to a vet I’m not familiar with.. Unlike the one at home that we have gone to for 13 years..

    1. I’m so sorry you are going through this with your Doxie, Samantha. Did you look at the quality of life assessment tools? Sometimes they can help.

      Also, I have a suggestion. If you are in the states, look for a fear-free certified vet. That at least tells you they have gotten training in handling animals with the lowest stress possible. I think that’s a great starting point for looking for a caring, thorough vet. Also, check out board certified vet behaviorists. They specialize in this condition.

      Your dog is so lucky to have you. Your love and concern for him shine right through.

  117. thanks eileen & everyone for sharing your stories. My little guy has had dementia for a while, it is very challenging and some days are better than others. We had a sunny day last week so I picked him up , despite much opposition, and sat outside in the sun and nursed him for about 5 minutes like we used to do. Its hard when they no longer recognise or respond to you. I know I have to say goodbye very soon, health has deteriorated rapidly. I dont want to leave it too long but I guess I want one more good day before then.

    1. Dear Vivien,
      It’s so hard A lot of us here understand. I hope you had your good day–and maybe some more? Thinking of you and your little guy.

  118. Hi Eileen!
    God bless for your blog!
    My 9 and half dog started having severe panick attack when wind blows and started to act weird. I took him to a behavioural therapist and she diagnosed a mild ccd.
    I have the feeling some vets tend to minimize ccd, they just say” it’ s part of getting old…”, Or , even worse, they don’t even know about it.
    When I told my vet about the therapist diagnosis he said that my dog might even not display cognitive simptoms… I was so angry: if ccd is a degenerative disease how could he not, sooner or later?
    I wanted to ask you, Eileen or anyone here in the comment section:
    1) could you post something about anxiety in ccd, your experiences?
    2) Has anyone experienced a longer life expectancy than 2 years?
    3) my dog is not even 10 y.o and already diagnosed with ccd: anyone else had their dog diagnosed at a relatively younger stage of seniority?
    Thank you

    Hugs from Italy

    1. Dear Michela,
      I’m glad you found your way here, but sorry you had to!
      My dog’s first symptom was anxiety. We didn’t identify it as CCD. That diagnosis didn’t happen for another year. I’m not a medical expert, but I can tell you from what I have read that not all dogs get all the symptoms on the lists. But as they age with this disease, it does seem to me that cognitive decline is going to get more and more likely. There are physical brain changes, just like in human Alzheimer’s.

      My little Cricket probably had CCD for almost 3 years, but as I mentioned, it was not diagnosed at first.

      We’ve had some people write in with dogs younger than 10 years, some of whom I think were diagnosed with CCD. (Some of them may have had other conditions; it wasn’t clear yet.)

      I try not to push my book here, but I do think it would be helpful to you. Good luck to you and your dear dog, Michela.

  119. Thank you Eileen, and thank you for building up a community on this topic, I do think that knowing we are not alone helps somehow. And I will purchase your book.
    Thank you again.

  120. hi Eileen I have bought your pdf version of your book today through paypal. but I now cannot seem to find it any where,do I have to buy again? please help as I really need to read it

      1. thank you so much Eileen. have received it now. I have also decided today 21st August 2018 is the day booked for Tyson to go over the rainbow bridge. the words in your book have been a complete support for the painful journey I have ahead. my 18 yr old daughter is crying for me not to go ahead but I can’t bear to see Tyson stumbling and banging his head anymore as he can not see, howling with his dementia, being restless.His life is eating,sleeping and banging his head.that is no quality at all. I cannot stop crying but I know it is the right thing to do.send me some positive thoughts please. xx

        1. Many, many positive thoughts sent. I’m so sorry. He is so lucky to have had you for his guardian and friend. Hugs.

          1. update on Tyson.I phoned and went to the vet, we have delayed him crossing over the rainbowbridge.Tyson is home and he has upped his meds. I am going to nurse him for a few more wks.they have said they will squeeze him in if he needs to be seen urgently. takin one day at a time. thanks for your support X

          2. I just wanted to let you know, I have just got home.Tyson has now gone over the rainbow bridge. I can’t talk, my heart is broken. I can’t stop crying.please tell me this gets better than this. thanks Eileen for all your love and support x x

  121. Oh Ellen, you are my hero! Moses was in an Amish Puppy Mill for 16 long years. All his teeth were knocked out with a broken jaw and he was inhumanely debarked. He was to be put in a wood chipper at noon if our rescue did not get him in time. He came to me after his vet care. I figured it was hospice–a few months maybe? Almost three years later–Moses fooled us all. He too comes to work with me every day. He cheers up my dislocated adult trainees as he romps the halls and teases them and runs away. For almost three years we were inseparable unless I was traveling abroad. He goes to church, restaurants, doctors offices, concerts, and anywhere I go–he is with me. I said “this Moses truly entered his promised land!”

    Well a few months ago he started with signs of cognitive dementia. Circling, head pressing, not finding his bed or food. But like your dear Cricket, he still loved to eat and I considered that very positive. He walks aimlessly and looks for me which is comforting. He loves being in my lap even at work when I can hold him. But he declined rapidly. I then asked the doctor for Anipril and it seemed to work almost immediately but then side effects of central nervous system stimulation occurred. He is ataxic, screams like a bird and becomes rigid so that I must hold him tight until he relaxes. It is not a seizure. This is a bad day. Then he can have a decently good day. I have made an appointment for the vet to come to the house twice and called it off. Until I read your article today, I was double minded. I take in many hospice dogs and know when it is time with physical diseases, but this is so very different. I just sent Baby over the bridge last month in end state kidney failure. Eight months ago, Gabe left us with COPD. So I am not usually so confused.

    But you made it so clear. This is a disease just the same and there is a time that is right and there is a time that is over due. Although Moses can have a good day now and then, he doesn’t deserve to face seizures and even worse. He is ready and I need to let him go. He will eat a good meal and sleep close to me on Thursday night. Friday he will be released. Thank you for making it so much clearer and easier to let him go. It will be the most difficult thing I have ever done. But I know it is right. And it is his time. His story has taught so many over these three years about the Puppy mill culture. Many did not know and their minds were changed about pet shops and breeders. He inspired my trainees to never give up. How did such a tiny Yorkie survive 16 years of abuse and torment in a rabbit hutch? He was feisty and strong and able to live for the glorious day he was rescued and came to live with us. The fighting spirit of Moses will always be with me. Thank you again, Ellen. God bless you. I can’t wait to read your entire book.

    1. Oh Cathy,

      Moses (what a fantastic name) sounds like a wonderful little guy. Your post makes my heart ache, but I am so glad if I helped. This is just the hardest, hardest thing. And bless you for taking in hospice dogs. You remind me of my friend Blanche. Be sure to read her story in the last chapter of the book. I’ll be thinking of you and Moses on Friday.

  122. My wife and I have an 11 year old Jack Russell. For about two years, he barks at me at night, showing his teeth, when I approach my wife to hug her and give her a good night kiss.

    We taped the behavior and showed a vet, and she said it is probably dementia (CCD), but I’m not buying it.

    During the day, he hunts as usuall in our huge back yard, he plays with his toys, his diet is normal, he looks forward to his walks, and he is very familiar with his surroundings, space, and so on. He never gets stuck in corners or behind furniture and his spacial awareness is very good. There are no blank stares.

    This vet said, “Euthanasia is a very difficult decision but sometimes it is the best thing for the dog, especially in cases like this.”

    I am aghast that this vet was so quick ro hint at euthanasia when it is not clear at all that our dog has CCD.

    Any recommendations on how I should respond to this vet?

    1. I’m not a vet and I don’t know your dog, but it does seem odd to diagnose him on just one behavior that could have several causes. I might consult another vet, or a vet behaviorist (they are the “psychiatrists” of the veterinary world).

      Here’s another idea. This scale was created after a lot of clinical study. It is very accurate in determining whether CCD is possible. You could fill it out for your dog and show it to your vet. http://rng.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/CCDR-scale-revised.pdf

      Good luck and I’m sorry you are going through this.


  123. Hello All! I would greatly appreciate some input from those who are taking this journey with their beloved senior dog. I am really at a loss of what to do. My miniature dachshund, Noah, is 18 years old and has Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. He has been symptomatic for about 8 months.

    I adopted him from rescue at age 10. He had barely survived being horribly neglected and starved. When he came into our lives he was blind in 1 eye and had no teeth left. We bonded instantly and he has been my shadow ever since. I have spoiled him in every possible way in an effort to love away all the horrible experiences he had before being rescued.

    He is now almost completely blind but physically doing well and has no major chronic health issues other then the CCD. The biggest challenge has been his night time anxiety and agitation (barking, whining, pacing, searching) for which he is inconsolable and often doesn’t seem to recognize me.
    He had been worked up by his long time Vet and nothing else was found to be wrong. We started on alprazolam (doggie Xanex) and within 1 month progressed to max dose for his size of 8 lbs. It became ineffective in about 2 weeks. So, we moved on to Trazadone 50mg tablets. After 2 months he is at max dose again and now it only works for 4 hrs at night. We tried thunder shirts, snug wraps, calming pheromone collar, and herbal supplements (Zesty Paws Calming Treats Dogs – Anxiety Composure Relief Suntheanine – Organic Kelp & Valerian Root + L Tryptophan) all without success.

    He has always slept in our bed along with 2 other mini-doxies. Needless to say, once he gets agitated everyone wakes up. We don’t mind letting him out once or twice a night if he would go back to sleep. But my husband and I can’t function on 4 hrs of sleep. Our Vet states there are no other meds to try other then stopping the Trazadone and slowly titrating Prozac over the course of 4 weeks. I hate the way this sounds but I can’t be without sleep for 4 weeks and I don’t want to put him through such anxiety/agitation when it might not even work. (I have a health condition which flares if I am sleep deprived for long periods of time).

    The big question is, is it time to euthanize Noah? Is there anything else reliable we could try? Is it fair to Noah to keep going when his quality of life is mostly sleeping/sedation and agitation/confusion? Am I being selfish?

    1. Dear Joanna,
      I commend you for trying so many different avenues with Noah. I can tell this is hard on your whole family. You didn’t mention selegiline (Anipryl), which is the drug that’s been tested and found to help some dogs with dementia. This is not a medical recommendation; I’m just mentioning it. But it’s incompatible with some other drugs, and if your vet hasn’t recommended it there could be a reason to avoid it.

      Another thing you could do is contact a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. They are the specialists in the veterinary world who deal with cognitive and neurological problems. Your vet could do a consult with one, probably, or you can approach one on your own (they’ll need Noah’s records and will probably need to coordinate with your current vet unless the behaviorist happens to be local). They are knowledgeable about a wider palette of treatments and are familiar with the problems that a whole family can have if a dog has dementia.

      Good luck. Sorry this is so very hard.

    2. How wonderful that you tried so many options. I am sure Noah appreciates the dedication you have had to helping him.

  124. Hi there,

    I’ve recently been struggling to figure out what I should do with my 16 1/2 year old yorkie who has dementia. About two years ago I noticed the starting signs, having more accidents in the house, losing her sense of direction, etc. and it has since gone downhill from there. I am only 19 years old but have had her since she was a puppy so you can probably see as to why I’ve been holding on to her for so long. I’m at the point where I hand feed her twice a day and help her drink water through the sink and I just don’t know how to let go. My mom helps me take care of her some days as I am a full time college student but I am at the point where I’m think: is the time now? Have I prolonged her pain for my selfishness? I’m at a loss but cannot imagine not having my best friend around as she’s been with me for everything growing up. She sleeps just fine in her kennel next to my bed (fluffed with the softest pillows and blankets), she is on a set schedule with food and bathroom breaks, but her days consist of walking around in a large space aimlessly until it’s time to eat, nap, and repeat until bedtime. I am unsure about what steps I should take next and am looking for some sort of guidance from anyone because my vet appears to say she is okay as long as she continues eating, but I want advice from people who have experienced the same as me. My baby hasn’t experienced any horrible signs of seizures or really appeared to be in pain… it’s almost as if she hasn’t had a clue about what is going on but she does still seem to sense when I am touching her. I’m stuck.

    1. Hi Bailey,
      Oh, I can’t even imagine how hard it must be with a dog who has been your buddy for essentially your whole life. What a heartache. Have you checked out the quality of life scale? It can help us take an objective look, sometimes. For me, it would make a difference whether she is in distress. From what you describe, she seems more out of it and wander-y than anxious. I would take that into consideration, as well as the lack of pain. Whatever you decide, I know it will be right. Unfortunately, dogs with dementia don’t always give us a clear “sign.” We just have to make the awful decision ourselves. Good luck, and I’m so sorry this is happening. What a hard thing.

  125. I just put my baby Maximus Down as he was up all night very uncomfortable with dementia. My heart is broken. As I took care of him for 15 years, last 4 blind and deaf. Everyday with a routine, and I loved him all night and night. Cuddles most of the day and slept on me at night. It sucks, as he was my world. But he was very uncomfortable at the end and I couldn’t let him feel this way anymore. I hope he is free from being so trapped. I don’t know where dogs go and I’m scared for him but I’m hoping he is safe and happy.

    1. Dear Geri,
      I’m so sorry for your loss. You released Maximus from his discomfort, which I think is one of the greatest gifts we can give our dear dogs. But I also know it’s a terribly hard thing to do. You must miss him so. Hugs.

    2. My Foxy was blind and deaf the last years too. It’s been a week and a couple days and I am broken hearted. I cry many times a day and miss her very much. I am sad others have gone through this too, but also take some comfort knowing there are many people and animal bonds similar to ours.

  126. my friend jenny passed over yesterday, on the Saturday I can only describe as some form of communication which she was telling me that she had had enough and it was time to go..the weekend saw a rapid descent into circling she circled for 4 hours nothing I could do would stop her agitation, this was when I decided
    it was time. the sunday she circled less but Monday she returned to it it was so painful to watch she trembled until 2 am in the morning, when she passed there was a mixture of I left it too late and how could I have let her suffer, its love that clouded my judgement
    there is a huge hole in my heart which I doubt will ever be filled. I came to realise too that cdd affects them physically, my girl had these unexplained spasms/lameness that disappeared as quickly as they came even the vets didn’t know why. this disease is I can only describe a vile and viscous
    my solace is that she is a better place

    1. My Pom Foxy went through the same thing the last night she was alive. She and I didn’t sleep all night but maybe 1/2 hour or so. I found when I brought her out in the cold (live in Mn) she would fall asleep in my arms. Within 10 mins of bringing her back inside she would twitch and wake up and scratch me to get down only to start circling again. It was so sad. I’m sure Jenny knows you love her.

  127. Hi I have an old German shepherd x mastiff who has arthiritis and vet says possible cognitive dysfunction he’s 12 he’s lost his muscle has muscle atrophy , he’s been pooing in the house for over a year, and has been weeing in the house for 6 mo this now he’s leaking and sleeps in his bed wet as he goes while he’s asleep and everywhere else, he does struggle with stiff joints which he’s on metacam for, he goes 5hrough a ritual of getting up several times early evening when I’m sat down up , and down turning round trying to get comfy , then hel sit down n get up again, he licks his penis and legs where the wee leak son to I’m afraid of scalding which I try to keep him clean , he eats ok and drinks I’m turn is it time? He can walk but not too far , now, he can’t stand for too long as his back end goes, I have to hold his bac’ end while he’s eating can you advise , he does enjoy his walk and his treats still thankyou,

    1. Dear Judy,
      I wish I could help better, but this is such a hard decision for all of us. Have you checked out the Villalobos Quality of Life Scale on this page? Sometimes it’s helpful in letting you weigh all the different factors. I’m sorry you are having to go through this, and it must be especially hard with a big dog. I’m glad he still enjoys his walk and his treats. Those are important things! Wishing you clarity with this hard decision.

  128. Eileen – Thank you so much for your blog and for your book. I stumbled across them today and I am sitting in my office crying barely able to see my laptop screen.

    My girl Chicory, the joy of my life began presenting symptoms that I didn’t understand about four weeks ago. Two vet visits later and a few hours on the internet and she was diagnosed with cognitive disorder. In looking at her symptoms it is clear – confusion and agitation especially at night, restless and unable to sleep at night, barking at me, the walls, the couch, the plants, the door, the shower mat, inconsolable when agitated, pacing, becoming lost in a room, less human contact and a willingness to sleep during the day anywhere, and forgotten house training. She deteriorated rapidly and it continues.

    When the symptoms first appeared and even this morning on my way to work, I rationalized them. Chicory is strong. This is the dog that ruptured two disks one at age 1 and one at age 2 – she wasn’t supposed to live. She was paralyzed mid-back down. I kept her in a play pen, slept next to her, and nurtured her with love and physical therapy until she learned to walk again. We survived house fires, family deaths, the destruction of relationships, hurricanes – we have spent holidays together and gone on road trips to NYC. She has loved me like no one ever in this world and I love her. I have spared nothing throughout her life to ensure she is safe and healthy – her back issues resulted in her vet suggesting she be euthanized due to a low probability she would walk again and high probability the back injuries would continue, she spent a week in an oxygen tank recovering from pneumonia after aspirating during a routine surgery, I walk her twice a day for 30 mins each time and have a dog walker come mid-day because as she has gotten older she needs that extra mid day break, and I threw myself in-front of an off leash dog that severed the muscle in my arm as it attacked me but I protected her.

    I knew when the symptoms worsened and especially at night when I could not console her and I wasn’t sure she even knew who I was or why I was in the room that I would soon be called upon to be the human and make the decision. I have been putting it off. I work from home and during the days she appears almost symptom free – snuggles with me, follows me around, sleeps in her bed at my feet. Then the dreaded sunset comes, a time I used to love, and you can see the agitation, followed shortly by the pacing which in the last few days is frantic. I want to fight this and beat it with her, just like we did with her back. I want to hold her and love her and be both anchor and beacon – and in your article I realized that I can be those things for her but the course of action that I must take for her is different than the one I selfishly want for me. I realized that I must confront and take action before the entire world has become something scary to her, I must act while I can still hold her and talk to her.

    I have sent a note to my vet and will schedule the time. My heart is so broken.

    I once witnessed wedding vows that I reflected on an found to be the most beautiful promise. She said to him, “I promise that I will live longer than you so that you never feel the pain of living in this world without my love.”

    Thank you again for sharing your journey. I will say goodbye.

    1. Dear Lon,
      Thank you so much for sharing about Chicory and the amazing life you have given her. My heart is broken for you. Take care.

  129. I’ve gotten a lot of comfort from this site the last few weeks. We figured out our dachshund mix Sweetie had “dog dementia” in the summer when after walks she’d run up and stand on the opposite side of of front door, behind milk cans to be let in. That’s when we started to realize the standing in corners and staring into space were all part of it. She progressed fast from summer to December she no longer enjoys walks, has started to relieve herself every day and night in the same spot in the kitchen, stares into space, gets lost in corners and most recently seems to have forgotten how to eat. I tried to purée everything but she not interested, in anything. She licks at it and then walks away. I’ve seen the joy of life leave her eyes and most recently her recognition of who I even am as well. She hasn’t ate in two days and so today I’m going to let her go. She’s been to the vet and he said as long as she was eating to take it day by day, but it’s as if she has forgotten to be hungry. My Grandma died last January and had dementia from a stroke, it’s weird but Sweeties Actions are just like my Grandmas. She just stares at me blankly and won’t accept food. My heart is breaking. She was a rescue I found her 6 years ago dodging traffic, we eventually found her owner but when he saw how attached I’d become he let me keep her. She is the best dog I’ve ever had. I’m glad I’ve given her the best life possible. The last month she had been beyond spoiled resting on an electric blanket for warmth day and night.
    I’m really struggling here as I keep wondering “am I doing the right thing? Should I wait?” But If she isn’t eating and all she does when she’s not standing on her bed staring into the corner is sleep, her quality of life isn’t there, right? I know it’s the right thing to do I just wanted someone else who has been through it to comfort me I guess.
    “How lucky am I to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
    Winnie the Pooh

    1. Dear Jill,
      I’m so sorry. What a lovely tribute to your little Sweetie. Thank you for writing. There are a lot of people here who have had to make the same decision. This is just my own opinion, but I think it’s better to let them go a bit early than too late. We all have to make the best decision we can, and I’m sure that whatever you do, it will be right. Hugs.

  130. An internet friend suggested your book to me, and I’m so very glad he did. I’m struggling with my own decision right now, as many folks who commented here are, about my beloved Petey, my 13.5 year old pit bull whom I’ve had all his life. I’ve known he was going down the dementia path for a year or two now, but his issues were and still are manageable. He eats with gusto and drinks fine, he never pees in the house, he can walk, and when he falls (his back end is greatly weakened with arthritis and muscle loss), most of the time he can get back up on his own. He can manage the two stairs in and out of the house, sometimes with help. He likes his food toys but gets confused now by a peanut butter Kong, formerly his favorite. He poops in the house quite a bit, about every other day, although he doesn’t seem to be too distraught over it. We can go for slow walks, sometimes for long periods, and he seems to really be interested in all the smells, more so than the exercise. But if he isn’t asleep or resting quietly in bed, he paces endlessly, usually in circles. He’s vacant – all his formerly goofy, loving personality has been replaced with this empty shell. He’s not really interested in people anymore, not even me – and now he’s starting to look at me like I’m just this nice lady with food, or a random person who’s just shown up. That’s the part that has me most worried. He and I can keep his body going, and I don’t think he’s in (much) pain due to his meds. It’s the mental decline. It’s so hard to tell whether he’s actually in there, whether he’s bothered by his confusion or whether he simply isn’t aware of it. I’m wrestling with the decision to be proactive about putting him down – I don’t want him to get to the point where he is suffering, any more than he might already be. Thanks for your book, and your own story – I’ll be thinking about it a lot over the next few days.

    1. Dear Karen,
      I think that’s the very hardest, when you can’t tell what’s going on in there anymore. It’s so so hard to see our friend disappear while still on the planet with us. I’m glad his pain is controlled. I wish Petey some good days, and for you the clearest path possible. I’m glad the book has been helpful, and thanks for letting me know that. Take care.

  131. My nearly 9 year old dog ( Stanley) started having grand mal seizures 5 months ago. He’s on medication for these and although he has been seizure free for the last 8 weeks, I’m beginning to see more and more behaviour changes which make me think he has dementia. Are seizures a common part of this condition? I’m really struggling to decipher if the behaviour changes I’m seeing are related to his epilepsy meds or if they are part of another condition. My vet has agreed to reduce the meds to see if that brings an improvement, and I’m in the process of doing that this week, but last night I picked him up from the kennel after a 2 night trip away and insted of seeing a little improvement in him, he was worse and he didn’t even recognise me. I fear I may never get my beautiful, bouncy happy go lucky boy back.

    1. Hi Jackie,
      I’m so sorry this is happening with Stanley.
      I’m not a vet and can only report the symptoms that I have read about. I have not seen seizures linked to CCD, even though they are both tied to brain conditions. And most of the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction can also be a result of other brain abnormalities, so I think it’s up to your vet to try to untangle this. It’s really really hard, too, when meds are involved that might be causing side effects, or might not. I’m sorry I can’t be more help about this. I really hope Stanley bounces back.


  132. Our mini doxie Buddy has been diagnosed with CCD. We rescued him when we was three years old from a horrible shelter. He had been abused and was scared of everything. We also rescued a 6 month old mini doxie, our beloved Dixie, at the same time. They were together night and day. We lost Dixie a few months back and Buddy has gone downhill so quickly it scares me. He walks in circles, gets lost in corners, doesn’t really recognize us anymore, and our vet says he is blind and mostly deaf. He is at the vet’s office now being checked out again but our vet doesn’t think there is much we can do. Fortunately, my husband is home all day and can take care of him, but I don’t know how much longer my poor little baby can hang on. We are heartbroken and don’t know what to do. It’s the saddest think I have ever seen. Letting him go will be hard but I can’t stand to see him this way. We will have to make a decision soon, and I hope we are strong enough to know when the time comes to let our baby go.

    1. Dear Pam,
      I’m so sorry you are going through this with Buddy. How especially hard it must be after losing Dixie. Thinking of you and your little guy.


  133. My 14 year old Minpin Max is at the end Stages of CCD. He doesnt really recognize anyone anymore. He is up all night pacing, Always confused, Lost all housetraining and has been in diapers for months now. He is now showing signs that he is suffering physiscally as well. He never stops licking his legs and is constatntly re-positioning as if he cant get comfortable. I am never goinbg to be ready to say goodbye, But I know I have to so he doesnt suffer. How do people get through this ? He is the best friend I have ever had !

    1. Dear Tarah,
      It’s awfully hard to get through. Many of us here have done it; one just has to. I’m so sorry you are going through this with Max.

  134. Losing a pet is never easy unfortunately it’s one of the last kind things we can do. I’ve lost many over the years our Sophie Sox is losing her marbles but at 13 1/2 everyday is bonus day . She does make us laugh whereby in the past she would have gladly drunk your tea or sipped a drink now unless it’s milk she’s not interested so we have gained a cat in that respect where only milk will do . She’s happy in Sophie world until it changes dramatically again ,so are we sleep tight darling 4 legged friends . Mummy is always here till we meet again. Xxxxxhugs

    1. “Every day is a bonus day.”

      I love this, Lindy. I love how you describe Sophie Sox. I hope you still have many happy bonus days.


  135. I was so happy to find this site and book. I am going through this with my 14 year old chihuahua, Angel. I lost my 11 year old chihuahua, Precious 6 months ago. Since then Angel has started to have more and more difficulty. Over the past week, Angel has been in the hospital off and on for years because she stopped eating. Everything has pointed to age and dimentia. Right now, she will eat sometimes, other times she wont. She paces… loses me and goes looking for me even if I was right by her… I have checked off almost every symptom 9n the list. Since the last hospital stay, she wont sleep unless it is with me. She will just howl if I go to my room at night. So I have been sleeping with her on the couch. I know my time with her is growing short. I have had to make the decision to let go several times but it was due to disease. This is so much harder. 🙁

    1. Dear Jill,
      I’m so sorry you are going through this with Angel. And I’m sorry for your loss of Precious (and Angel’s loss of Precious, too).

      It can be so hard when our dogs are otherwise healthy to see this happening and have to make “the decision” about it. I wish you peace with this. It’s very obvious that you give Angel the best of love and care.


    2. Jill, I am going through a similar situation. My beloved 12 year old chihuahua Angel passed away on 12/29/18, and her 14 year old brother Pancho has gone downhill since then. He had no issues before her death and now I Can also check off every symptom. It’s heartbreaking. I guess it’s comforting to know I am not alone.

  136. Hi there
    I took my beloved boy for a health check November last year.
    He has shown many signs of dog dementia including getting lost in corners, loved food to now not eating very much at all, doesn’t recognise my husband and family, very low in mood, whines all day, shown aggression towards husband and granddaughter. Sleeps a lot.
    He does enjoy a walk most of the time, refuses to walk with anyone but me. The only quality of life is the walks when he is up for, sometimes he can’t get his balance on shiny floor. Have to help him by picking him up. Doesn’t see very well, hearing okay but doesn’t follow instructions!
    I am struggling am I being selfish am I not making the right decision for my boy!
    Any advise would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Karen,
      I’m so sorry you are going through this with your boy. I’m hoping some others will chime in here because you’ve probably already read my story. Did you check out the Quality of Life scale on this page? It can be helpful.

      Canine cognitive dysfunction is a medical condition. We have to do our best to determine how much, if any, our dogs are suffering from it.

      Good luck and peace to you.


    2. Hi Karen,
      I’m so sorry you are struggling with this, and I’m sorry I didn’t respond before. I thought I had. Is your dear boy still with you?

  137. Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. We put our sweet little Marsha to sleep and it hurts so much. You article was a great comfort tonight because I do feel guilt. She had some good days and was physically still able to still get around with some energy. However, she didn’t like to do any of the things she used to like and she was very confused. She stopped wanting to on walks and she stopped wanting to snuggle with us. She only wanted to eat and even that was sad because she would forget she had just eaten as soon as she was done. She had daily accidents in the house and we often found her pacing or staring at the wrong corner of the door when we did try to take her out. I miss her so much and hope I did not decide to end her life too soon.

    1. Dear Todd,
      I’m so sorry for your loss. Marsha was so lucky to have you looking out for her. It’s the hardest thing to do, to let them go, but sometimes it can be a gift. I hope you can say goodbye to the guilt. I think you did right by your dear dog.


    2. Hi Todd, I have been searching the internet for a story similar to mine and I think I’ve found it in yours. We had our beloved Jeanie put to sleep on the 1st April and I am suffering with the most tremendous guilt. We took her to the vets last August when we had started to worry about her dementia symptoms. The vet suggested euthanasia but we decided the time was not right. She was deaf, confused, had lost a lot of her zest for life, sometimes stared into mid air and occasionally at the wall, she was jumping into the patio window, standing at the wrong side of the door and missing kerbs on the pavement. She was absolutely obsessed with food, constantly begging and I think she’d forgotten when she had just eaten. She was suffering with anxiety when alone as we arrived home at times to find her pacing about howling and crying but she had also started to soil in the house which she had never done before. At first this was just frustrating and annoying, arriving home after work or an evening out this was not what you wanted to be confronted with especially if you had guests but it got worse, she had started treading in it and walking it everywhere. She and we found this very upsetting and hard to cope with. It was after one of these episodes on that fateful day that we made our decision and I now feel I acted selfishly and it was more of the right decision for us than Jeanie. I worried about when we are away for the day or on holiday and my 19 year old daughter would be left to cope with these situations. People are telling me we did the right thing for Jeanie as well as for ourselves but I miss her so much and hope we didn’t act in haste, she still had her good days, enjoyed a leisurely walk and was not in obvious physical pain although she sometimes yelped when we picked her up.
      I just hope we did the right thing for her and helped her along before things got worse.


  139. I put my boy ben down two weeks ago today,absolutly awful.ben was a big dog an estrela mointain dog my second he helped me heal after losing my first.ben was 15 looking back he was twelve and a half when his symptoms began i had no idea what he had until the last three monthes of his life thanks to this site.ben did have partial larengeal problems but did well,he had dysplasia in one hip and arthritis and two fused disc but walked very well thanks to metacam however his constant pacing over the last year ruined his ability to use his hind legs very well without help.the last year was the hardest things just got worse slowly but quickly at the same time ben always went to work with me so i could always help him and my business partner also would help.ben began barking while driving then started barking outside the truck and the only way he would stop would be to let him pace until he tired and sleep,this wore out his hips so me and my friend helped him pace with the help of his harness. nov began night barking no longer taking cammand the only way to stop him was to let him pace, he could still use his hind legs up to mid january then we began helping him walk .he would be up all night until in jan the vet gave trazodone.all along he was also going in circles somtimes big somtimes small at work i could get him to walk around yards .i know i am all over the place sorry.even though he no longer listened to me it took monthes before i realized he was truley in his own world.he would either bark or walk and he would not stop even if you tried to comfort him.this dog i had since he was 8 weeks in all the 15 years i was probably away from him a totsl of 10 hours.this has made losing him like tearing my soul in half.the last two monthes my freind who has a seep disorder helped me in night shiftes so ben could get help if he needed it since he could not get up on his own because even on trazodone he would still want to pace just not as long also he had to have his pee pad changed each time he wet so he would not be laying in it.i bathed him daily because he would still get pee on himself.he had an air mattres at home and in my truck that helped his hips.he no longer wanted attention except to get up.his walking or pacing was almost like a zombie.ben ate ok buy only ok and drank just fine he gave no more kisses and was just distant ,so painful to have a dog that was my life slowly pull away.driving to and between jobs were bad ben would just bark if it were an hour drive it would be an hour of barking with no way to stop him except to finaly stop and walk him thankfully most driving was 15 min to half an hour at home always he was up and down until pill time.i was happy to help him never wanted to stop but realized one day that ben was just existing not living .i thought because i was doing the right thing when i put him down that i would feel fine ,instead i have fallen apart with guilt,sadness and regret whishing i had held on and just helped longer,i have lost 20 lbs in just 2 weeks cant eat and sleep is awful.i miss him so much.ccd is the worst and i am upset that i never knew this happend to dogs everyone i talk to did not know.if it was not for this site i would never have known.i wish he were still here cant stand that i let him go but could not stand to see him get worse.also when he barked the last month and a half he would end up biting his lip over and over again tearing it repeatedly still he would not stop barking yes i did all i could to keep his lip away from his teeth but it was impossible only walking helped. At one point we were one in the end my life has been shatterd.

  140. I am thankful for this site.hearing other stories so simmilar to mine it helps just enough to get through another day.i have lost many pets over the years but putting my dog down was the hardest its so hard not to just ignore there suffering so one does not have to face the reality of life.i know for months i promised my self and my dog i would no longer let him suffer only to cower away so i would not feel this pain,so unfair of me .having had pets die naturally i know there was guilt and anger and now putting my boy down i feel the same guilt anger and extreme unconsolable saddness.the sun does not shine as bright laughter does not exist the for now is hollow and dark i know one day this will change but it seems so far off.i know his life was no longer happy each day filled with horrible anxiety ,pain and discomfort.the anxiety deemed the most painful never finding peace unless he slept,so many times i prayed for him to get better then i began to pray for him to go in his sleep i even thought if i just have him sleep all the time on meds i did not do this but it was these thoughts that made me realize i had to let him go .he is gone now and i try to remind myself how bad his life was in the end ,thinking of the happy times just makes me feel guilty like i did the wrong thing.i know it was right for him but of now its pain for me.this site helps so much as i have said but time will be the most effective thank you all for your stories may god help comfort us all and make the days brighter

    1. William,

      Thank you for your post. You put into words exactly what I have been feeling. Had to put my darling 15 year old JR terrier down recently. She was the love of my life. I’m trying to remember the happy times, but it is still agony. Knowing you can’t go back, but can’t go forward yet. I hope time has allowed you to look back on Ben with warm memories.

  141. I’m having a terrible time making this decision. Three years ago I lost my Pomeranian to congenital heart failure. He was in cardiac arrest when I brought him to vet so the decision to not let him suffer was made immediately. It was super hard but all signs to let him go were there. There were no grey areas like dementia. I now have a 14 year old Pomeranian who is in advanced stages of dementia. She circles non stop all day to the point that I worry she will walk herself to death while I am at work. She has lost weight from all the pacing during the day. She has lost her eye sight and can barely hear. She is eating and drinking normal but will not stop pacing until I put her to bed at night with me at which point she collapses with exhaustion. I take her out and she goes to the bathroom normally but has had accidents in the house since learning of her diagnosis. I realize I am closer to making this decision because of research but its incredibly more difficult actually doing it having a dog that eats, drinks and goes to the bathroom normally and only real sign of distress is pacing and getting lost. Grateful I found your website.

  142. I acquired my Brothers Small Chocolate Lab in November 2015. She was 13 . She was approx 65 lbs. and a very sweet tempered dog. An evening in October 2016 she started shaking, falling, throwing up, peeing and her eyes went to the back of her head and scared me to death. We rushed her to an emergency vet a half hour away. On the ride she did calm down. She was diagnosed with Vestibular Disease and we were sent home with prescriptions and instructions. As time continued she got better everyday – Her head tilted pretty far to the left but after a few months she was almost normal. Life went on and we took our usual walks for 2 more years. Late 2017 she started having more and more trouble getting up, she was losing her muscle mass and weight. She started doing circles all day long around the living room coffee table until she would tire herself out and fall down and sleep. Evenings were the worse. She would not stop walking in circles and would often howl if she was down. Mid 2018 she was diagnosed with having Dementia. By this time she was losing her kidney functions but I did not care. I work from home so I was always there – she was never left alone. As the months went on – she never stopped trying to walk. I would pick her up and get her going for awhile…. all day long. Early in March 2019 she was really struggling with walking – but she still had a great appetite, Drank Water, Peed and Pooped like normal. I was not giving up until she told me it was time… Saturday evening March 23, 2019 she went into a full seizure…. I have seen seizures before but it is always scary…… my friend drove us to the emergency vet and even though she calmed down in the car quite a bit – she was still struggling to hold her head up and stop twitching….. The hardest decision in my life had to be made…. I stared into her eyes and told her I loved her and I thought she deserved a letter life than what was possibly to come if I kept her alive. Not really knowing what that life would be – I opted to have her euthanized. I’ve question myself every minute from that day – was it the right thing. She fought so hard every day to walk and she never showed any pain at all. I don’t think she ever wanted to give up being with me no matter how hard it was. I feel like I gave on her.

  143. My sweet Tedi has dog dementia. When she’s not sleeping, she’s pacing, going in circles, stumbling, walks in between dresser and bed and stays there. She pants heavily, she’s blind and the only thing she seems to like is walks and treats. Her walks aren’t like they used to be but she seems to still like going on them. She can’t manage the stairs anymore. She barely eats but drinks lots of water. She goes to the bathroom anywhere she needs to. She was trained and used to always let me know when she had to go. This condition may have been coming on for a while but it became drastically noticeable when she went blind. The vet said my Tedi is ok with being put to sleep. I didn’t expect that. He suggested I take a few days to get ok with it. I’ve done a lot of praying and reading and trying to spoil her as much as she lets me. I got her from the pound when she was 4. She has been my happy place for the past 10 years. I’m gonna miss my baby.

  144. Hi –

    I find your site to be very informative and helpful. I am struggling with my best friend Banjo, a 15 year old Beagle Basset hound mix. Although the vet has found all of his lab work and testing to be well within normal limits, he seems to suffer from many of the symptoms that you discuss here. He is often pacing, whining, licking, staring at walls, getting trapped in corners, under beds, etc. He is constantly underfoot and seems to only be responding to me, not my SO or her kids. He shows about 25% of his former participation, however is clingy or restless about 75% of the time he is awake. He sleeps much more (as one would expect) but is restless all night unless given anti-anxiety meds. He still walks with me and shows his normal obsession with food, but sometimes the walks are shorter than ever. sometimes I have to lift him out of bed to eat or go out because he just sleeps right through his normal feeding time.
    I struggle because I don’t know if the restless agitation can be fixed, if it is a sign of poor quality of life (the checklist on this site wasn’t working) or if I am just fearing the inevitable and feeling the family friction of new people coping with my dog (the kids and SO are new to living with him the last 2 months). He has been on this cognitive decline for over a year, but it has been very slow. Any advice would be helpful as I know it is up to me, but he can seems so vibrant at times and so uncomfortable at others.

  145. We have a 16-1/2 yr old Rat Russell Terrier who we believe now has Dementia, she also walks in circles, looses control once in a while in the house, stands in corners and will bark at times at nothing. She does eat and drink a lot, which to me is encouraging, but I can’t bear the thought of one day having to put her down. She is my “angle from god” and I don’t want to loose her. She is my best friend. It is so hard, we don’t want her to suffer, but we also don’t want to let go. She does still recognize me and when I get home from work, seems to be more alert than during the day when she sleeps a lot.

  146. We had our darling Jeanie put to sleep on Monday and my goodness am I struggling. She was like our third child at nearly 14 years old a beautiful Lancashire Heeler, she had gone deaf her eye sight was failing and she had signs of dementia. She would jump into the patio window or wait at the wrong side of the door, she was absolutely obsessed with food and would be begging for more after her meals, I think she had forgotten she had eaten. She had lost so much weight and would mostly sleep when she wasn’t looking for food. We would sometimes find her staring at the wall. We think she had started to fret when we weren’t around as we had entered the house on a few occasions to find her pacing and crying/howling. She had also started soiling in the house, the easy pick ups were annoying but I could deal with them but more recently she had started to walk in her excrement which was then trodden everywhere. After a hard day at work or an evening out this was difficult to come home to and this is why I’m really struggling with our decision to euthanise. It was after one of these episodes that we rang the vet and made our decision. We had taken Jeanie to see the vet last August when her symptoms had increased and were told then that the kindest thing for Jeanie and ourselves would be to let her go but we couldn’t do it at that time. She did have good days and still enjoyed a leisurely walk but she wasn’t the same. I am just absolutely wracked with guilt and regret that my motive was more of a selfish act after coming home to a kitchen and dining room laced with faeces laden footprints. I feel sick to my stomach, constantly bursting into uncontrollable tears and am just so so sad. I miss you Jeanie with all my heart and I hope you can forgive me my beautiful baby 💔

  147. I just put my dog down after 3 years of slow progressive dementia that took a huge turn to the worse 6 months ago I regret not putting him down sooner it would have been the right thing to do I kept holding on till he got alot worse and he suffered and i suffered too 6 months my average sleep was 3 to 4 disruptive hours which took a toll on me and my job and i even snapped at him few times which I would have never ever done but lach of sleep and 24 hr care took its toll ..now I have tremendous guilt about it ..dementia is a cruel monster and the best thing to do is to put them to rest b4 it completely takes over and torments the pet and the owner ..I kept hoping he will get better he had a rough year teeth surgery ..got out and the ppl who found him kept him the yard in the sun in a 90 degree weather he got a 3rd degree sunburn. Then we moved and it was hard on him I just wanted him to have a few good last days i was selfish he didn’t have last good days he suffered..he was like my child and I should have done right by him..

    1. Currently going through this to a T Dina! Tortured daily if I should let him go, but I hold onto hope. I’m so very sorry you both went through such suffering. I know what torture it is each and every day & night. I think I need to find the strength from deep within and let him go this week. Bless you both. 💔

      1. Hi Sommer C.
        I’m so sorry you and your fur baby are going through this. I just released my fur baby ‘Bruno’ of almost 15. (3 months shy). I wanted so much for him to make it to his 15th birthday, however his dementia started progressing. He began pacing more and wouldn’t settle. He was lost most of the time. I struggled with knowing when the right time was until I read something very interesting. I would like to share with you and everyone else that may be struggling.

        Someone once wrote;

        There’s a big difference between existing and living.
        Dogs can exist with dementia for a long time, but that existence is without joy, eventually is filled with fear, and can’t be called living in any true sense of the word.
        When your dog losses his or her sense of identity that’s serious business. Dogs function on an intuitive level most of the time and their sense of who they are as dogs is important to them. Their sense of identity gives purpose and joy to their lives and when they become confused about who they are, that sense of purpose and joy is compromised.

    2. I have a 15 year old rat terrier with dementia. He had a seizure 2 years ago, and about a year ago started showing signs of dementia. He cares about food and knows exactly when it’s time to eat. He wants to go on his walk but only a block or less. He sleeps a lot during the day and walks a circuit in and out of our home in the afternoon and evening. He often stands with no purpose. We are afraid to leave him alone as he may wander outside and not know how to get back in or become prey. When we have to leave, we keep him inside. During the night, he circles and scratches trying to get comfortable. He is having some difficulty with his hind end. He still knows me but startles easily. I carry him a lot as he has spatial difficulties and some loss of sight. He still spins for a treat but can’t figure out shake or sit. ,He does not appear to be in pain and he knows to go outside to urinate I am struggling with the euthanasia decision as he is not outwardly suffering. I think I am more afraid of harm to him. Any thoughts are appreciated.

  148. I was so relieved to find your website Eileen, thank you for all you do. My 10 year old lab Tao has had anxiety in his later years but the last 6 months have been intense. He’s up most nights and is so fearful he scratches at the walls or bedside table until he tires himself out and lately has just wanted to get out of the house so badly.. he goes straight to the car, I think he feels safe in there. I’m at a loss of what to do as the last few days he seems to be spiraling fast. He’s not just anxious at night, now he’s also not wanting to be in the house during the day. It’s so sad when I go out there he looks so scared and really sad too. The vet said because of his repetative scratching at the bedside table ect, that it sounded like CCD, we’ve done exrays and blood work and everything else came out clean? If anyone has any suggestions or insight I would so appreciate. Have you ever heard of this extreme fear as a symptom of CCD? If this carries on I don’t think I can let him suffer in this way for long. He was on alprazolam and that stopped working so now he’s on trazadone and that doesn’t seem to be helping much either… sigh. My heart is breaking for him and I can’t watch him suffer..

  149. Our elder Cubby will be Sweet 16 next month. He has always be an independent dude and just enjoyed his person (me) but he has always had one or two rescue siblings around. He has 1 3/4 cataracts, and can’t hear. He is in early stages of dementia, physically he is doing well. Acupuncture every 2 weeks to help lower back/hind quarter weakness. He does the stairs, takes walks just fine. Our biggest challenge is the incessant barking at times for hours. It is stressful to the humans in his life and heartbreaking at the same time. We had a family sedar Saturday night and he barked from the time everyone arrived until they left! I gave him some anti-anxiety med and rescue remedy to his water. It was not a good time for anyone. This is a first for us and we have lost many a beautiful furry child to old age, as life goes. But this is a tough situation for his people as I am sure it is for him at times. Any suggestions for a good calming treat for him. It is definately worse at night. Sundowner for sure. We feel his quality of life is still good although his needs are minimal now, food most important. He sleeps most of the time. He has had a rescue sister for a few years now, she is almost 4 and has gotten into his routine, she would like him to play with her, but when she isn’t sleeping she amuses herself, luckily she is a great fit, very chill.
    Thanks for the support.

  150. Dear Paula, William, Cristin, Marti, Becky, Dan, Melody, Lisa, Dina, Sandi, and Rita,
    I am so sorry that I have not been able to publish or respond to comments for the last few weeks.

    Some of you had already said goodbye to your dogs when you posted; some are probably still wrestling with the question.

    Your dogs are the lucky ones, to have owners like you who love them so much. Take care, and feel free to respond; I will be more active in responding again now.


    1. Eileen, your little Cricket was precious. I too have a Rat Terrier named Cricket. While she is doing fine, I have a 17 year old Chihuahua named Chloe who is not. Very similar symptoms as Cricket… loss of back legs, then pacing, then seizures and now constant circling. She eats well and usually sleeps through the night. I’ve consulted with 3 vets and they all say the same… neurological and not much we can do. When she circles, I redirect, pick her up, give her a treat, put her in her dog bed, hoping the sedatives will work or she will be tired enough to rest. As you know, this is heartbreaking every minute of the day. She looks so peaceful sleeping (just like your last photo of Cricket), but when she’s circling or whining, it takes its toll. You hit on a good point, it’s harder to consider putting them down when they’re still eating and getting up each day. But, even on all the meds we give them, we will never truly know how much they may be suffering. You don’t want to let them go, yet it’s the kindest thing you can do. It takes so much strength. You don’t want to wait until they are so sick that there’s no other choice. But, you can’t bear the thought of ending their life one minute sooner than necessary. You wrote very eloquently about this process. I don’t know how I am going to handle this. It truly is different than any of the other dogs who had very obvious physical decline. The cognitive issue is a tough one for sure. Thank you for sharing your story and experience. I love Rat Terriers, you and Cricket were lucky to have each other.

      1. Your Chloe and Cricket are lucky to have you. I’m so sorry you are going through this with dear Chloe. I am so late in responding that I don’t know if Chloe is still with you, but I am sure you are doing or have done just the right things for her. Hugs to you.

  151. I don’t get much sleep now my dog is 17 at the end of the year and strating to wet her bed walk into doors looks strees most of the time and can’t sit still for a second it’s as if she has forgot she was out..I am at the stage when is the right time for her to rest.

    1. Carol, I’m so sorry you are at this stage with your dog. A lot of us here know what you are going through. Hugs.

    2. There is never going to be a right time just a point when you have to decide are they happy ,are they only existing and is it ok to live like this.the answer will be different for everyone.you will always wish for more time so dont be too hasty,but also be sure they of course are not suffering.if they eat drink and are not in pain ,if you can still keep them entertained all be it in there own world hang on.if diapers and pads help hang on .if they seem scared and truly sad not just old and distant this is the time to question.i do feel i let my boy go too early and it pains me ,but you cant go back he was not in good shape and was mostly just existing,but i feel now i was able to make his life better by keeping him busy showing him new places and things .was it a bad time to let him go?no but i could have waited for me and for him it is a mixed bag i think most would agree,and for some it is better to let go than to hang on.every situation is obviously different.having gone through this i say if you can give yourself and your dog 2 weeks time to decide ,and think can they handle this then think can i handle this and then think can they handle this if i can handle this.its the most thoughtful and painful decision to make so go slow, dont think how hard it is on you but how hard is it for them and then think can i make it better for them,ask and answer all questions before you make your choice because when they are gone there is no going back ,but they will always love you no matter what you decide that is what they do.

  152. I have my Lil’Bit, he is 18 and was actually my fathers dog. We call him, “our inheritance “ . I love this boy, and want to do the best for him, i know my father would have wanted the same thing. He brought my father great comfort in his last weeks, and I only want to do the same for him.
    Obviously, by my being on here, reading this, I’m looking for answers to an impossible question….
    I will take the next two weeks, regard him seriously, and make a decision.

    Tonight I have had to give him drugs to get him to relax. This is something I have not had to do for a few weeks now. I don’t like doing it, but I know it’s better for him than pacing all night. Poor lil guy….

    Let’s see how tomorrow is, and I’ll look for the light in his eyes.

    1. Yes, the impossible question. I’m so sorry you are facing it. I wish for you peace and a clear path, and for Lil’Bit some of what he loves the most.

  153. I am asking myself the question daily – am I allowing her to suffer, selfishly? But how can I, who am I to make that choice for her? My mom is 92 with similar symptoms, it would be the same for her, not?
    My Peke, Angel, is almost 16. She still looks beautiful, internally is fine and eats well but the Sundowners is very sad with her loosing eyesight and hearing She paces continually from about 5pm, very restless, her legs slide sideways when she stands still or eats, stares at the wall corners and forces thru under tables etc. rather than walk round. She is OCD about it. I have to steer her in another direction to help. She tries to push thru tiny areas, lands up getting stuck and yelps for help. I keep furniture either away for the wall or right against it, in the same place all the time, large water bowl always fresh, and every one watches out for her when she goes to toilet outside. She got out last night, I drove around looking for her in our complex and found her wondering lost under our Willow trees – all sticky, I think from tree sap, black dirty paws and leaves stuck all over her. Bathed her at 11:30pm, blowdried her, put a drop of lavender essential oil on her neck to ready her for bed. But night time is very restless, waking up pacing, getting stuck and tripping. Am going to try Alzam, a light dose, at night for rest. At least, I think, she doesnt have pain, she doesnt yelp or moan, but a slight silent grunt sometimes when I hold her at night.
    I see her bravely hop and bounce and run a little when I whistle for her to eat, walking down to passage to my room, which I close up for her to eat at her pace. She only hears a high-pitch whistle, and knows I am looking for her. And she if she realises I arrived home, she’ll walk in my direction and try find me with those clouded eyes but if Im not quick enough to pick her up, she looses interest and turns away.
    Thanks for listening. It has done me a lot of good reading your posts… thank you.

  154. I ran across this wonderful page about 30 minutes ago. What a God send. My sweet furbaby, Lobo, was diagnosed with dementia just a few months ago. I was my parents fulltime caregiver for 8 years; both passed from complications of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Lobo had the sundowners look in his eyes; I saw my parents. It brought tears to my eyes immediately. I knew he had this horrible disease. He’s on 400 mg of trazodone daily; and beginning to have more bad days than good ones. Lobo’s 13 yrs old, golden/lab mix, I rescued him when he was 1.5 yrs and my protector. The sundowners has become worse. Praying for when to make the final decision for him. Thanks for your shoulders

    1. Dear Wendy,
      My mother had Alzheimer’s and my dog had CCD, so I know a little of what you have been through. And I know the look you mean in the dog’s eyes. I hope you can make a peaceful decision and know that you were/are the best “mom” for Lobo ever. (I’m sorry for the delay in responding. I know a lot can happen in three weeks.)

  155. Our 11 year old dachshund mix Rocco has just been diagnosed with CCD. The vet just started him on Xanax 3 days ago and it has seemed to help some. He still has times when he doesn’t seem to know who we are and he trembles with fear. When he goes out to potty, he sits out in a corner and doesn’t want to come back in the house and acts scared. Will he keep getting better with Xanax or will his symptoms just start to get worse as time goes on? Thank you for your help. This is all new to us as we have never had a dog before with this problem.

    1. I know I am almost a month late in answering your post. Addressing a dog’s fear and anxiety can be very helpful. No one can say (and I’m not a vet!) how the meds will work. But I know some vets prescribe different meds at different times. I hope you can keep in good touch with your vet about Rocco’s condition. I’m sorry he’s got CCD but glad he is in your hands.

  156. I have read the comments and I see that a lot of your fur babies are much older than my 11 year old rough coat collie. I just don’t understand why this is happening. She is so young still. But I noticed a few weeks ago that she couldn’t hear much. Actually nothing at all. I started using hand signals to get her to come inside. Then at night we would catch her standing in our bedroom just staring at the wall. Recently she is pacing back and forth and sticking her head in every nook and cranny and whimpering. We have to physically lay her down and rub her head so she can go to sleep. I had an appointment to euthanize her yesterday which I cancelled. I know I am being selfish by letting her live this way. But it was just last week she was running around in the yard playing with the kids. And now this. I keep thinking if I get her the best food and vitamin C she will come out of this. I haven’t taken her to the vet as of yet for fear of hearing that “it’s time”.. I have even contemplated CBD oil. This is horrible. I just wish if she wasn’t going to “snap” out of this, she would just go to sleep and not wake up. Thank you for letting me comment and thank you for all of your stories.

  157. I just came across this and I feel so less alone suddenly. My dog is almost 15. I have noticed small symptoms, getting lost in my small house, growling at nothing, etc. Last week he started peeing in my bed at night. I got belly bands and he takes them off. I am torturing myself as to when is the right time because by looking at him he is otherwise healthy for his age.

  158. My miniature Schnauzer ,Dixie has been showing signs of dementia ! She turns in circles for hours , until she is so wore out ! I am saddened to watch her ! She eats well , but when she goes out the dog door , she just walks around in the yard in circles, she forgets were she’s at. Then she doesn’t know how to get back in the dog door, she stays in the heat until her sisters go out and show her how to get back though the dog door! I don’t know if she is suffering ? She is so stary eyed ! I feel bad for her . She has really went down in the last couple of weeks. I love her , but I want to do the right thing for her! My heart is broken! I don’t want to put her on drugs! I am lost! Angelia Haase

  159. This Saturday Sept 21st my husband and I are putting our sweet little min pin, Sara, down. She has given us 16 1/2 years of pure joy but unfortunately dementia has taken her over. She does still eat and drink but we have to pick her up and take her to the food and water, she can not find it on her own. When she is awake she turns in circles for hours until she finally gets tired and lays down. She runs into walls and gets stuck behind furniture. I have a area in the house that I have to block off just for her so she won’t hurt herself. She poops and steps in it and pees and falls in it. She has really gone down hill fast in the last 6 months. We are heartbroken to have to let her go but we know that it is the right thing. I can’t even imagine what it is like to live in her world. This is the part of being a pet parent sucks, when you have to say good bye!!

  160. I haven’t read all the comments yet, but will surely do so over the next few days. I believe my little guy, Little Archie, has CCD. Archie is about 15, I’m not 100% sure because the rescue from which I adopted him was not quite sure of his age; my vet said a year and a half to 2 and a half. He has been a wonderful dog! In June of 2018, he fell down a flight of stairs, and although he didn’t get physically hurt or break anything, I do believe that started his mental decline, as it so often does with elderly people. He slowly stopped playing with his favorite toys and now looks right thru them. He NEVER wags his tail. He sleeps pretty soundly from about 3 AM until late morning/early afternoon. We would walk a nice slow mile every day, and he enjoyed each step. Now, he really doesn’t want to go out and when we get about 3 houses away, his anxiety kicks in and he runs home, vocalizing to get there. Almost kills himself trying to run up the walk to the stairs. I always carry him up and down. He doesn’t want to even be out on the deck or in the yard. I had to switch vets because he no longer tolerates car rides and is screaming the entire time in the car. He wakes me up during the night for a drink of water, or to go outside to urinate. It barely bothers me anymore, I am so used to having my sleep interrupted. He has started to have accidents in the house, so I do my best to remember to get him out often, rather than waiting for him to ‘let me know’. His hind legs are a bit weak, and occasionally he splays when on a smooth surface (wood floor, ceramic tile kitchen). I put a lot of small rugs out to alleviate this, but sometimes it still happens. I feel so bad when I find him splayed out in his urine. So sad for him. I don’t think he is in any physical pain, but I do think he may experience some discomfort (arthritis).

    I can deal with all of it, but what is becoming truly hard is the increasing anxiety when we aren’t home. I am retired and am home a lot, as is my husband, but we cannot be home 24/7. We now confine him to the kitchen when we are out for a few hours, up to 6. My neighbor told me she heard him ‘screaming’ and ‘felt so bad”. We installed a camera to keep an eye on him and he paces back and forth for hours, will not lay down. A few times, he had a bowel movement, and when we walked in the door, he was screaming and the floor was covered with poop because he paced back and forth thru it, thereby having it embedded in his little paw pads, requiring an immediate bath, which further increases the anxiety. I just don’t know what to do. I recently read an article that said sometimes the mental anxiety experienced is far more painful that certain physical pains. I just feel so bad, for all of us.

    Archie was diagnosed with anal cell carcinoma in October 2013. We caught it quite by accident, very early on. Had his anal glands removed, along with the tumor. Vet said he had 6 months to a year and a half to live. Six years later he is physically healthy, but mentally not so much. Had a vet come to the house last week to evaluate him, he is healthy.

    So how do you put a dog down that is physically healthy? He has lost his sweet, loving, precious personality and now is just an anxious little old man who doesn’t seem to be happy at all…

    Sorry this is so long, I just don’t know if it is being fair to any of us to keep on keeping him going. Someone said to me, ‘better a week too early than a day too late’.

    P. S. I am one of those people who keep their dogs alive way too long, and then look back and regret what I did…

    Sorry this is so long…

  161. My 13 year old was diagnosed with Doggie Dementia when evening comes she whines so load, hits the table in front of me and I can’t comfort her. If I am lucky I get 2 to 3 hours of sleep at night. I hate the thought of putting her down, I believe she is so frightened when this happens, her muscles in rear legs have wasted and is starting to have problems getting up and down, I tried Hemp, Raw Hemp, Ace to no avail, nothing is happening. I fear the best thing I can do is to put her down but sad thing is she is normally fine by morning, sleeps a lot but I feel her quality of life is getting diminished, any suggestions or help I would appreciate it. I am a dire straights.

    1. I’m so sorry you are going through this, Kathleen. Did you look at the quality of life scales on this page? Sometimes they can help a little. Also, there are lots of comments on the blog post about Euthanizing my Dog with Dementia. You may find some solace or guidance there. A lot of people on these pages understand the decision you are having to make.

      Take care,

  162. In January we had to say goodbye to our 12 year old dachshund Lucy who had dementia. To be honest, this was probably about one week too late. Her sister Edie (now 13 years old) started to show signs of dementia about 3 months ago, she just seemed a bit lost at times but not much more than that. A week ago I found her staring at the shower cubicle. She was just rooted to the spot and it took me a while to bring her round. She also became absolutely fixated on me, following me everywhere, obsessively licking my hands and always searching for me if I left the room, which is very, very out of character. On Wednesday, I came home from looking after my grandchildren (my partner stayed at home with the dogs) to find Edie very distressed. She is very lost, fearful, barely recognises me and just wants to sleep all the time. Although her symptoms vary from those Lucy had, it’s very obvious that she is very unhappy. Yes she still loves her food, but after eating it she just stares into space. Today we have made the decision. Her appointment is at 2pm. We will take her out to the harbour in an hour for an ice cream, then on to the vets. Our other dog Elza (2 years old) is going to be so confused. We have gone from 3 dogs to now one dog and knowing her as we do, she is going to need company. My heart is absolutely broken but I know we are doing the right thing. Actually this morning she is very weak in her back legs, so this just confirms it. I’m posting this not just to help myself, but to help and reassure others out there. I woke up this morning and there she was ready for her breakfast and my first thought was, ‘we’re making a mistake, it’s too early’, but after eating she stood at the back step staring out at nothing and I knew that this is the right decision. I don’t have any religion, I don’t believe in heaven, but I think her little essence will stay with me, just as Lucy does. Crying now so I’ll go.

    1. Julie. My heart is breaking for you. I said good-by to my dog with dementia June 1st 2018. I am still so sad.

    2. I am so sorry to hear this about you’re beloved wee dog and you’re description of him is everything my wee dog is doing now and has been doing for a few months now still lives food as he was always a greedy wee thing, he has become totally blind as well and am finding it very difficult to try and make him happy he’s not even interested in walking anymore also but goes with his dog walker but I think she gives him lots of treats and that’s why he goes , how was youre dog diagnosed if you don’t mind me asking?

    3. Hello,
      I have had to have three dogs put to sleep in my time as a doggy dad. Each time it has broken my heart and I am sure you are the same.
      It is what makes me realize that WE are the right kind of people to have a wonderful animal like a dog to share our lives albeit for just a short time.

      I know that all of my dogs loved me and I will always love them and think about them every day.
      Lucy was lucky to have such a great owner and I am 100% certain that she knew that.
      Bless you.

  163. I am trying to decide if it is time for my Mattie. She is about 14 yrs old, having a hard time with her back legs and is on pain medicine. She also has glaucoma in one eye and is losing her hearing. She can’t go up or down stairs by herself or get up on the couch. The other night she went down the hallway in the dark and sat down and began low barking. I had to go to her and tell her to come back to the living room. She is still eating, drinking and has not had any potty issues. How will I know???

    1. Bobbi, it’s one of the hardest decisions to make. Did you check out the Quality of Life scales linked on this page? Sometimes they can help. I hope you still have some good times with your Mattie. Even though it’s agony to consider, it’s good that you are thinking about this.

      Hugs if you would like them,

    2. Bobbi, I am having the same issues with our 14 yo Maltese, Niko. He’s blind in one eye, partially in the other, has hearing problems and DJD. His hind leg slides under him while he eats, he has trouble getting fully into his bed and for the last 3 weeks, he barks randomly while facing the fireplace which is away from us. I’ve had the discussion with our vet about euthanasia and I am trying to make that decision. This is really my daughter’s dog, as we got him when she was 9. In reading this website, I have some additional things to discuss with our vet, that may improve his time with us, at least for awhile. Stay strong, don’t ever think you are being selfish. Like Eileen says, if you are on this page and searching the internet, you are doing your due diligence.

  164. My dog has severe dementia, but is physically healthy. I give her CBD for extreme anxiety , trembling and pain which is very helpful. I am a nurse with experience with the elderly. Finally decided it was time to put her down. Went to the vet who said she wouldn’t euthanize a healthy dog. Offered to do $300 of tests and suggested her problems could be “managed”. This is the 3rd vet I have seen; moved recently to NC. I’ve been crying since I left the office

    1. I’m so sorry, Eileen. If you are still struggling with this, drop me a line through the contact form on the Photo Gallery page. I have a dog training friend in NC and she knows a lot of vets there.


  165. My dog is 15+ years old. I rescued him 9 years ago to help me transition to widowhood. He went blind from SARDS a year and a half ago. Once he went blind we also discovered he is deaf. He pees in the house so I keep male diapers on him while inside. Our vet said she thought this was dementia but I didn’t believe it because he is a smart little guy. He sleeps much more than he used to but whenever awake he paces. He is crated when I leave home and is anxious. We recently added Trazadone but it seems to have little effect. He barks the entire time I am away so I am often hesitant to leave home.. It is hard for me to determine if his behavior is from impaired sight and hearing or if it is dementia. I have been struggling with the decision to euthanize him for many of the reasons stated throughout this website: he seems happy sometimes (especially upon waking in the morning), he eats as he always did, he walks less but is this dementia or blindness, and does it matter why? I’m just confused and often feel overburdened. I struggle with guilt over this decision.

    1. Dear Christine,
      It’s super hard when they have sensory problems as well as dementia. I’m so sorry your dear dog is going through this. I don’t have an answer to your question, but please know there are others here who have had this same struggle. My heart goes out to you. –Eileen

    2. Christine, I am trying the Trazodone with our 14 yo Maltese, to see if it will help decrease the random barking sessions during the day while I sleep (i work nights) and the nights when my husband is sleeping. My daughter lives out of state and wants to be there when the time comes, so I’m hoping this buys us a bit more time.

      1. I put down my sweet Cody this week. He was 14 and I realize now he had been suffering for years of dementia. The last few months I had been giving him trazadone twice a day to make him more comfortable. I don’t think it did anything except make him more confused. He was constantly crying at me and pacing around the house. The last few weeks something must have happened because he got lost in our house, wouldn’t take our routine walk and just demanded food and to be let out every 10 minutes. I took him for blood work but was told by my wonderful vet they could do nothing for him physically. I never brought him home I haven’t stopped crying and just pray I made the right decision.

  166. In May 2019, I made the decision to put Dazee, my 17 yr old Llasa Apso, to sleep. She had been showing signs of dementia for about two years, the last year being much more difficult. With a hardwood floor it was easy to just let her potty in the house on pads and towels. The final decision was made when I slipped (but did not fall) on a puddle she made in the dining room. This made me realize my health was in danger if I fell, the injury would make it impossible to care for all three of my pets. Taking her to the vet to be euthanized seemed like the only choice and I did so with heavy heart. Her sweet and gentle nature left her many months before, but I could still remember how much she just loved life. A few months after Dazee left us, her “sister”, 14 yr old PennyLane began showing signs similar to Dazee’s. I was stunned to think she too would be embroiled in this dreadful disease. It was surprising to me how quickly her dementia progressed and I discussed this with my vet. He gave some suggestions and reassurances, but I can see with my eyes that she is slipping more quickly than Dazee. I am at this time suffering from sleep deprivation due to night pacing and barking. It is so difficult and so different from Dazee. I am not looking forward to the next step with Penny. She has been a sweetheart and very loving to everyone. It is hard to see her withdrawn from human interaction and losing this battle. Thank you for allowing me to share this very painful time.

    1. Best wishes to you at this difficult time. I’m so sorry that PennyLane is showing signs of dementia too. Hugs.

  167. My 13 1/2 poodle, irish setter mix started with symptoms 6 months ago. He has episodes of being very needy but I didn’t think too much of it. A few days before our annual car trip to Florida (bags were packed), he started wandering into corners, barking, walking under short tables and then needing reassurance lasting a couple hours. Trip went fine. Got here and everything escalated. Barking, howling, panting severely and wandering progressing to nose bumping and knocking things over floor lamps, books on tables, tv tables, floor vases. Then he would push these things around the room. Went into the shower and knocked the shampoo around ..anything that was on a table. At first, the episodes were every couple days lasting about 4 hours….that is despite the new vet giving and increasing his medication to Prozac 40 mg., Trazadone 200 mg. three times a day, Xanas 4 times a day, acepromazine 3-4 times a day. Despite the increase in meds, his symptoms increased occurring more frequently, night and day and lasting longer with little rest in between. After an 8 hour episode, at 2:30 in the am, he was leaning his front paws on me as I lay down on the bed and panted, rapidly for about 1 1/2 hrs. I promised him I wouldn’t let him suffer any more. Despite the many symptoms of CCD, it seemed like more to me. I called my vet at home and he wondered if he had a brain lesion. I had wondered the same thing. Without seeing him, I wonder if anyone has seen symptoms this severe. Not that it changes anything and despite his age, I wish I knew what caused his symptoms.

  168. Brain – Dementia Update

    About a year ago, my dog Brain (15.5yo Boston Terrier, mostly blind, mostly deaf) was diagnosed with canine dementia. For some time now, he’s been showing all the known symptoms of the condition. Caring for him has become increasingly more difficult. The more challenging traits he displays are aggressive behavior, and extreme restlessness during night time hours. Meds have helped some, but the condition is permanent, and his behaviors have been getting more worrisome over the last few months. He already takes Gabapentin, Denamarin and Trazodon.
    I’m not sure there is anything else I can do for him, and I am in a desperate position. I am very sleep deprived (very!), and don’t know what to do. My health (and that of my family) is taking a toll. I feel like I’ve been taken hostage by my own dog, and it is quite obviously not his fault. I love him so much and want to take care of him and do right by him.
    I don’t know if Brain is happy in general. He seems mostly miserable, except for when he eats, sleeps, walks outside in good weather (which isn’t often), and only very occasionally when he allows limited petting… those moments give me hope that he at least he is still capable of enjoying life to some degree. But then the barking, howling, whimpering, heavy panting, pacing, all night long, suggests he is not having a good time. Mental anguish is not as straight forward as physical pain, so it’s hard to know where the lines are drawn. There’s an inner life inside that little head, and I shudder to think that I must decide at one point when that light should go off.

    This whole situation is really not sustainable, and I don’t know what to do.

    Any advice is welcome and appreciated.


    Brain was never an easy dog. I understood that to be the case from the get-go when I adopted him as an already adult 9yo dog set in his ways. I accepted the challenge, even though I never had a dog before and had not experienced caring for one. I don’t think I was entirely aware of how much a pain in the ass he could be, but we were right for each other nevertheless, and I have loved him like I never imagine I could. He came with all sorts of issues, and I certainly didn’t know any better, so I gladly dived in. Brain was anxious and prone to barking fits from which it was never easy to snap him out. He was very demanding and not the kind of dog who favored snuggling or kissing. He was growly and spunky, though never malicious or threatening—he never once bit me back then. Growling was his way of expressing every single emotion in his arsenal. It was a really funny and charming aspect of his personality.
    Brain had not been properly socialized, I assume, so he didn’t get along with other dogs. But he did love humans! And he loved attention, which for him meant an expectation of extreme play time. If one petted him even for a second, he immediately took that as an open invitation for him to rush and grab a toy and not give up until you played fetch and tug-o-war straight until he tired, something that could take quite a while. Even at 9, 10, 11, 12 years old, he had enviable amounts of energy. That was a challenge, but it was manageable, and I loved how into playing he was.
    Even with all his quirks, complicated patterns of behavior, and medical conditions (of which he had a few), I loved looking after him and could manage it without much problem. When I traveled, which I often did for work, I had designated dogsitters who knew of all his quirks and how to handle him.

    But of course, handling him has become an entirely different thing. He lost most of his hearing and then most of his eyesight, surely an extremely confusing thing for any dog. But then his mind has been going as well, and that has truly complicated matters much more, as anyone dealing with canine dementia will surely attest. His behavior began to show symptoms of aggression and confusion, toppled with nighttime restlessness and at times, extreme separation anxiety.

    Pretty much every symptom associated with canine dementia, he has shown to varying degrees. All of them concerning in their own right, but it’s the aggressive behavior that became the most worrying. It became tough to handle him. Putting on his harness or dressing up for the cold turned into potentially unsafe situations for myself. It got so bad that at one point last year I believed the end had arrived. He bit me pretty bad. He had that evil dog look in his eye.
    He was prescribed Gabapentin, and that helped a lot in calming him down. Though of course, aggressive tendencies popped up from time to time.
    He was also put on Denamarin when it was confirmed he in fact was suffering from dementia. (Selegelin was prescribed before but it only made him more restless and aggressive)

    Things got substantially better, though of course, a dog with dementia is a dog with dementia and I’ve had to resign myself to the idea that the disease progresses no matter what. As of the last few months, he has become very barky, confused, extremely restless at night, and sometimes a little aggressive and snappy.

    At night, he really doesn’t let me sleep for very long before he barks, whines, howls, scratches at walls. He wants to pee probably 7-8 times a night, and I have to let him out. (It would be great if he’d just do his business on wee-wee pads, or even straight up on the floor, but he demands to go outside). He wants attention, or rather he wants something. He is confused and restless and agitated. He paces back and forth, panting heavily, and no matter how many times I let him out to pee, or try to comfort him somehow, he keeps at it.

    I have been very sleep deprived the last year or so, but especially more the last few months. I have a 7 month old baby, and I am blessed that he is a good sleeper and doesn’t wake up with the barking (it’s a miracle, really), but my wife and I are truly suffering with all this. I constantly end up sleeping on the couch in the living room, with Brain leashed to the end of the couch so he doesn’t ambulate freely all night long creating havoc. If he barks or howls I will pull on the leash a little, see if that works. Or I may get up and let him outside.
    He was prescribed Trazodon as a sleeping aid, but that will only knock him out for an hour or two, after which he will wake up, drugged, confused, and equally barky and howly.

    I am the only one that can handle him when he’s at his worst. I know all the subtleties and nuances. I know when he will snap and when to quickly move my hand away before he chomps on it. A 20lb, 15.5yo Boston with missing teeth can still bite down hard and break skin if he catches you unguarded.

    Another concern of mine is that my son is fascinated by Brain. He doesn’t even flinch when Brain has a barking fit. He is 7mo and is now showing signs he’ll start crawling any time soon. Before we know it, he will be walking/running as well. That gives me pause. Brain will not attack unprovoked, but and uninvited hand could surely be taken by him as provocation. We will always keep them apart, but walking infants and old dogs are both unpredictable and occasionally sneaky.

    Brain sleeps most of the day, so at night he is definitely energized. I’ve tried to keep him up during the day, but work schedule doesn’t allow me to constantly monitor him. It’s also not easy to keep him up during the day, though. He is lethargic and mostly uninterested in doing anything. He is not very keen on going for walks unless it’s warm outside. But even if I did manage to keep him mostly awake and active during the day, he will still be agitated and disruptive all night.

    I am looking forward to warmer weather soon so I can at least have him exercise a little more. Maybe that will help with his cognition, and hopefully it will tire him enough to maybe sleep better at night.

    I don’t know if there are other drugs he can take, but it seems like we have tried everything his body can take (he has other health issues, so not every drug is on the table).

    THE END?
    I know his journey is coming to an end in the not so distant future. It’s a disarming thought. Mostly because dementia is not clear cut, and the decision of when to draw the line will fall on me. How do I know if he is suffering more than he is enjoying life? Mental anguish is not as straight forward as physical pain. At some point, this will not be sustainable. I don’t know when that is, though. When one can confidently draw that line. All I know at this moment is that he is not doing great, but it is also probably not his time just yet. I think that’s the case. I hope that’s the case. I can’t tell and I’m getting desperate not only for him, but for myself and my family too. I can’t stress enough how sleep deprived I am and how much it has affected my own health and well-being, and that of my wife, who maybe doesn’t deal with Brain at night, but does wake up often with the barking and the howling.

    I am not going to send him away to a shelter or anything like that. I doubt he would be any happier in an unknown place, living in a crate. (I for one can’t bear the thought) And he’s most likely not the type of dog that could be rehabilitated with training at this point. Too late for that.

    Sadly, I am thinking that I will wait for the weather to get warmer, maybe that will help some, and in the meantime suck it up with the limited sleep and constant stresses. Best case scenario, he will have a good spring summer and be active during the day and sleep at night. Worst case, he will enjoy some days and continue to be miserable at nights.

    At the very least, I want him to enjoy a few more months of walking out in good weather (whenever that happens), smelling whichever tree and fire hydrant he desires. He genuinely does seem happy then. That makes me happy.

    Please, if you have some suggestions, I would love to hear them. I am pretty bummed out about it all and anything is appreciated.

    1. Dear Joseph,
      It’s hard for me to imagine doing more than you are doing now. I wish I could make this easier. The only suggestion I might have would be if your vet would be open to a consult with a vet behaviorist. Several of them do phone consults and they are the absolute experts in meds, although it sounds like your vet is doing a good job. A VB may be able to help find something that can settle Brain down more at night. I’m so sorry you are sleep deprived. That is so hard. I hope maybe some others reading may have some suggestions as well. Take care. You are doing such a great job taking care of Brain.

    2. My god Joseph, I can’t believe more people haven’t responded to this very descriptive and well written out post. Not to mention how truly heart wrenching yet heartwarming it is to know that Brain has an owner like you, along with the previous two you lost. (My condolences) I’m only sorry I just came across this. I lost my first dog George to dementia but with a very different form of it. And most pass by complications of that or Alzheimer’s in my family so I’m very (unfortunately) familiar with the disease(s). And my current senior sound closer to your Brain but nowhere near as severe. But I can tell you during his lucid moments he remembers you and appreciates you being there. But I think it is time if you haven’t already done so already. Same for my magnificent senior Grandpa Greyson.

      You have been a true hero to Brain and just think of all the new rescues you will be able to give all that attention to! And don’t forget to think about adopting a senior in honor of Brain. That’s what I did to help relieve the overwhelming hole and grief left after George passed in February 2017 with Greyson in August 2017. Just a thought. Hope to hear an update of how you and the family are doing.

  169. I had to put down my doxy, Duke, 3 weeks ago.

    I had rescued him from the Humane Society. They did not know his age.

    My vet thought about 14 yrs. old at the time we put him down.

    I did not know dogs could get dementia.

    I had called my vet, crying, as I did not know what to do.

    My little Duke was mostly blind and deaf and was having trouble breathing through his nose. He was on medication for it.

    He would walk into a corner, chair, etc and just stand there. When I talked to my vet about his barking all night, and getting me up every 2 hrs. to take him outside to potty, my vet told me it sounded like dementia. I was shocked.

    I have rescued dogs and never had experienced this. After 2 1/2 weeks of getting up and dressing for winter to put him out, at age 82, I had called my vet and told him I did not know what I could do anymore to help Duke. I’d give him his medicine, carry him outside, and he was starting to slow down on eating. My vet told me to bring him in as it was time to let him go.

    I felt so sad. I slept with Duke on the couch that night so he would not bark for me and he was put down the next day. My vet assured me that I did the right thing. Duke is at peace now. I loved him very much.

    I have 4 small dogs yet, that are rescues. That has helped. I have lost 6 rescued dogs now, in 2 years, but rescuing these mostly senior animals has kept me active, and to love and play with. My husband probably wonders why he has so many little dogs coming over the Rainbow Bridge to see him.

    1. Dear Mary,
      Thank you for loving and caring for these dogs who need extra love. What a blessing you are to them. (And them to you—I know how that works!)

      I’m so sorry for your loss of Duke. Thank you for telling his story.


  170. Its been a week since we had to put my Chica to sleep. It was one of the hardest things ive had to do. She was 16 years old i was only in 5th grade when we got her and im 27 gonna be 28 in a couple weeks. It was so hard to let go but it was hard seeing my lil baby struggle she lost her vision was going in circles for months kidneys failing and she was on a heartpill. My mom and i did the most we could for her she was a fighter and im greatful for all the years she blessed us with. I truly hope i will see her again in the next life

    1. Steven, I’m so sorry. It’s heartbreaking. I bet you and your mom gave her the best life ever.


  171. Wow 😯 I didn’t realize that dogs got dementia. Not 100% certain, but it seems perhaps my 16 year old Shih-poo likely had it. I put her down 10 years ago after finding her lying down on the floor and she didn’t eat/drink all day. Wish I scheduled in advance because it was not only double the cost at this after hours emergency clinic, but it wasn’t a warm feeling. They injected her with something and it made her “seem normal for 1 minute as she licked my face” as I was hugging her that I wasn’t sure if I should put her down, but then she quickly sank back again. The vet was rude too.

    Her behaviour prior:

    She was always speedy, playful and nosy. She slowed down a bit at 15, but at 16 she wasn’t right. She’s sight seemed worse, but the vet (not regular) said she was okay, but said she only had a short time left when I took her for an unrelated reason. My dog was very thin at this point and I was young and didn’t think of asking “why”. I called her regular visit and told him she still enjoyed life and whether I should put her down and he said no. Everything else is blurry as it’s been 10 years.

    She fell down stairs one day, but seemed okay. Eventually, she walked in countless big circles never walked straight again and didn’t seem responsive (wouldn’t stop until I’d hold her but once let go she’d go in circles again). She was eating or drinking or going to the washroom outside but had indoor accidents.

    I didn’t think and still feel the guilt and was unable to look at dogs for years, and not knowing what was wrong with her. It’s been 10 years and I can look at dogs, but still feel occasionally guilty. Because my apartment sucks (tissue thin walls) and current financial status I can’t have a dog now.

    Although it’s sad, I feel better there are others whom have done through this. Non dog people don’t understand and are quite cruel.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, and for your horrible experience at the end with your dear dog. There are plenty of people here who understand. I hope you can let go of the guilt. Sounds like you were wonderful to your Shih-poo. We can’t know everything. I hope learning about dementia, as awful as it is, rests your mind a little about the last period of your dog’s life.


  172. Thanks, Eileen, for this site and everyone else for your comments. One of our dogs, Buzz, has many of the symptoms of CCD and more than once other people have suggested that it’s “time to let him go.” Because the good days still significantly outnumber the bad and he still expresses joy in the ways he always has, we haven’t thought it was time yet, and going through the quality of life checklist confirmed that for me — particularly as his symptoms are not as serious as many of those described by some people, whose empathy, love, and commitment to their beloved companions, as well as compassion for other humans in pain, are incredibly moving. Thank you all.

  173. Thank you for all the information on Doggy Dementia. My 14yr old mix dog went under anesthesia in July of 2020. He needed a small mass removed as it kept bleeding and he kept nibbling at it. During this time he was a happy old man who still ran like there was no tomorrow and was active. After his procedure he seemed to be very disoriented. We thought it was maybe some side effects of the anesthesia but he never really came back the same. Within a weak he started breathing heavily, seemed anxious and agitated, and started bumping in to things and falling over. He also developed head and body twitches. His back legs would always give out. The only issues he had prior to this was he back legs would sometimes give out but he would always get right back up. The doctor told us since he was a senior dog, it could take 1-2 weeks for him to fully recover from anesthesia. He never really did and came back a completely different dog. Sadly each week he just declined more in to cognitive disorder. I have several regrets about ever having to have put him under at his age. I had faith all would be good as he also went under in January 2020 for some serious dental work and he recovered very well. He is still hanging in there. He has seen every specialist possible, cardiologist, internal medicine, ophthalmologist, and currently his neurologist. He takes selegiline, Galliprant, Keppra and lots of supplements. We also changed him to Hills brain disease kibble and we pair it with Just food for dogs wet food. At this point we simply are unsure if we are being selfish. He doesn’t soil himself and is still able to walk on his own with the exception of him bumping in to everything. He sleeps okay through the night and will have his bad days where he barks a lot and goes in circles. Those days are not daily. I just regret having to put him under. My biggest regret. I feel this would not have happened had we found a different alternative to his little growth on leg. To all those pet parents going through this, hang in there. I truly believe our babies will let us know when they are ready. We have gone through sleepless nights and very emotional draining days. I encourage all of you to love your companions as there is no tomorrow. Thanks for allowing many of us a space to share our experiences.

    1. And thanks for sharing your experience, Vero. I am so glad you have what sounds like a great vet team and great care.

      I hate that even with all that care, we can’t “fix” our dear dogs who have this condition. I’m glad your fellow still has good days. You sound like a wonderful owner/guardian for him.


  174. I have read and reread your story of Cricket so many times I’ve lost count. It brings me peace and understanding. My heart goes out to you for your loss of such a sweet dog, My sweet little girl, Whisper, 25 pound mix of mini Australian Shepherd and Poodle is 16. I have had a consult with our Vet and she said I should feel no regrets or guilt I have gone way above and beyond with her. She has CCD and also some back issues causing her to walk a little funny and when she goes down on wood or tile floor she cannot get herself back up. But she can pace for hours and hours, but if she stops moving she goes down. If she is not sleeping she is pacing in circles around the coffee table, the island, the sofa. When on a leash she wants to walk in circles and does not enjoy walks anymore, she is quivering and panting the whole time. She still has the instinct to chase our other dog down the hall but it always ends in her running into a table, chair or wall. Her vision and hearing are very bad also. The other day she slid so badly (and I have so many throw rugs everywhere but she won’t always stay on them) and she slid into a table and just laid there staring into space for about 3 minutes. I thought that was it but she shook it off and I helped her up and she limped away. I think she was in shock. I have to spoon feed her and sprinkle lots of treats in her food or she won’t eat. She goes #1 outside but for the last year does not want to do #2 outside. I can tell by her tail when she needs to do #2 and if I take her out she has a panic attack pulling the leash and running in frantic circles wanting to go back in the house. If I make her tough it out she will go outside, otherwise she waits till inside to do it. This is a dog that was the smartest, sweetest dog ever and never ever had accidents in the house. She for the last couple of months not only will #2 inside but she will walk in it and track it everywhere if I’m not watching her. We have her in a 6 foot square pen lined with pads in our bedroom with 2 beds for her for at night, so clean up is easier, but she still needs a bath because she walks in it. She has always shivered and shakes when being bathed and tries to jump out of our doggie bath tub. Well last night she had an accident in the middle of the night and I put her in the tub to bathe her and she didn’t shiver, shake or fight me, she just stared off into space and kept trying to walk in circles while I gently bathed her. That was the sign it was time. The bad fall earlier this week, and her last nigh her zoning out while being bathed told me she is not with me. I don’t want her end to be tragic with a bad fall or injury with pain and that fall earlier in the week made me realize that. I would rather see her peacefully drift off to sleep in my arms than have to be put down because of an injury. I know she will not get better and she does not have any good days ahead of her. Only decline. I have come to terms with it this morning, now I have to make the appointment. Thank you for being such a good source of comfort. My little Whisper Doodle is near her time and I want her to go peacefully. Hugs to you for sharing with all of us your journey with Cricket.

    1. Dear Judi,
      I’m glad that Cricket’s story has helped you. I don’t know if you have said goodbye to your dear one yet, but you really have done everything right with little Whisper. I hope you also have peace about your decision, whenever you make it. I’m sorry you are facing this loss.


      1. Dear Eileen,

        You don’t even know the depth of what your advice and sharing of Cricket’s and your story has done for me. We said goodbye to Whisper on Nov. 14th and we buried her at the Illinois Pet Cemetery on Nov. 19th, near my childhood dog that was also buried there 40 years ago. It was a peaceful, gentle goodbye. We all laid on the floor on a big soft blanket at the Vet’s office (including the Vet), and she gently drifted off. Of course we cried so very much, but I knew in my heart this was the best for her. No more endless pacing, anxiety, or messing on herself. She had so much dignity all her life and she was not the same. My 6 year old granddaughter who loved Whisper so much since the day she was born, told me “Grandma, I know you are very sad about Whisper dying, but now she is happy and not sick anymore, and Grandma did you know when dogs die they go to Doggie Heaven, and they all become puppies again and are happy and healthy and can see their mommy’s again”. That brought me to tears but comforted me as well. Thanks Eileen you are so kind and again I can’t thank you (and your sweet little Cricket) enough for helping me to make the right decision at the right time.

      2. Hello Eileen,
        We did make an appointment, and yes we said goodbye to Whisper a few days after my post. It was difficult, but you really helped me through the process and helped me to see it was the right thing to do. As my vet said, Whisper was a perfect dog and never had accidents, and for her to be having all these accidents it was very stressful for her. We buried her in a local pet cemetary near my childhood dog. Not a day goes by I don’t think of her. We have our 11 year old Brittany and he is a source of comfort and joy and still is very healthy and active. Thanks again. I did not revisit your page for a long time and just came across it. You have given me peace and for that I thank you tremendously. I am forever thankful I found your story about Cricket. God bless you for all the help you gave me and countless others in understanding dementia in our furry four legged kids.

  175. My Angel suffered for 2 years with dementia. She went down hill quickly after we unexpected lost our younger chihuahua which was like her adopted baby. We said our goodbyes to Angel last Saturday. She was so lost all the time, could barely stand and would constantly fall and hit her head. I have been through euthanasia many times but this was by far the hardest. Over the last few weeks, I have been caring for her 24/7. She couldnt be left alone. I slept on the floor next to her. Now that she’s gone, the house, my life, my heart just all feel so empty. I will heal but right now it is still to draw.

  176. Everything here is heartbreaking and useful at the same time.

    Our Jack/Chi is coming up on 13 years old, and the last year has been rough.

    Started that she was having trouble jumping on/off of our bed. But then she started stumbling on the stairs too, so we kept her off the bed, sofa, and put up gates by the stairs. That was good at first.

    But the last 6 months or so, she sleeps 20+ hours per day, and when she is awake, it’s only to walk in circles, or get stuck and stand in awkward spots. When she circles, she constantly hits her head into the wall or furniture, but she won’t let us stop her without getting annoyed at us for, well, stopping her. She doesn’t go for walks, and any outside time is either just standing still or going to the bathroom.

    She’s blind in one eye, the other isn’t much better
    She seems mostly deaf
    She’s lost a bunch of teeth
    Her weight is down
    Over 50% of the time, bathroom accidents in the house

    Sounds awful, except that she’s still very much herself. She’s sweet. She wants to be around us. Loves the kids. She likes her usual foods and treats. She wakes up and shows up immediately at the smell of chicken cooking.

    Vet says that her heart, lungs, everything inside is in great shape.

    But obviously, she’s struggling an awful lot. Not in pain, but she’s not having the easiest time with anything when she is awake.

    Doesn’t seem quite like time to say goodbye, but dang, this is hard stuff. We promised her that we would care for her in her old age, until the very end. And that’s what we’re doing. I just wish I could stop the circling and constant bumping of her head.

    1. MB,
      It really is hard. I know what you mean about her still being herself, even with all the problems. I’m glad you have good communication with your vet.
      Thinking of you and your little one.


  177. Hi there,

    I think we’re seeing the start of dementia in our dog, Hamish. Looking throughout the net for data I determined your page. Ultimately, I got here to this element wherein you’ve stated you had to mention correct bye to Cricket. I’ve been in tears all morning so this hit me hard. I simply desired to attain out and say, despite the fact that it’s now been some time for you, you’ve got got my sincerest sympathies at the lack of Cricket.

    1. Deborah, that is so very kind of you. I still miss her.

      I hope Hamish is still with you and you still have some good times ahead.


  178. Dear Eileen

    I just wanted to say a huge and heart-felt thank you to you for this website as a resource and for writing and explaining about such a difficult, heartbreaking topic in such a compassionate and caring way.

    I also want to thank all the folks who have shared their experiences and stories by commenting on this article.

    I can’t tell you how helpful it has been for me to read about other people’s experiences.

    This article and everyone’s comments have given me such comfort and reassurance in helping to explain about dementia and how it impacts and unfolds in our wonderful, lovely dog friends.

    Most of all, your article Eileen, gave me the strength I needed to make the right de I sip at the right time, out of love, for our beautiful boy Bill.

    Bill was a Border Terrier and was 14 years and 8 months old. He had been with my wife Hannah and I since he was a puppy. He was the love of our lives and was the best friend we could ever have had in our lives.

    I won’t go into all the details of how his dementia progressed and manifested itself, but just to say that reading your article a few weeks ago really helped us. It gave us the strength we needed to know what was the right thing to do.

    We said goodbye to our boy on 17 June. It was the last thing we could do for him and we did it out of love. He is at peace now.

    Fortunately, our vet came out to us at home (we were worried that because of the pandemic they might not do home visits). So we were able to say goodbye to our friend Bill here at home. He was in his own bed with us holding and cuddling him and talking to him and feeding him maple cured bacon as he drifted off peacefully to sleep! He was totally relaxed and I don’t think he really notice or cares that the vet was there. It was a good way to go. The best it could be.

    My wife Hannah and I are heartbroken but we are OK. We have all the amazing memories of Bill’s great life with us and are so grateful for everything he did for us and gave us.

    So thank you Eileen and everyone else who has commented above. You really gave us strength and comfort.

    All the very best

    Gloucestershire, England

    1. Alex,
      Thank you for writing, and I’m sorry for your loss of dear Bill. I’m glad for him, and for you and your wife, that you were able to say goodbye at home and he was relaxed. That means so much.


  179. I’m so upset reading all of this. My dog was just turning 15 and for the last 4 months he had constant pacing and panting in the evening, asking to go out and then back in over and over again. Nothing we did calmed him, but it was just gentle speaking etc. because I didn’t think it was possible to do anything else. Then in the last month he started getting up in the night doing the same thing – no noise except I could hear him moivng around and came downstairs, so let him out over and over again. I found him under the table once and assumed he couldn’t get up because made no attempt to move, just constant pacing. He had a lipoma in his neck which was getting bigger (had an op last year to help but we knew it would get big again). His arthritis was getting worse and he couldn’t walk far, sometimes he’d collapse on the walk but got back up again. He would get confused with which side of the door to go to etc. but still I didn’t realise it was a ‘thing’ and there was anything called sundowners syndrome. I could really sob as I realise now it’s too late that we could have tried meds, although nobody nor the vet ever suggested anything that could help. He couldn’t have gone on like this as he clearly found it distressing – and to be honest we did too seeing him like this – but I feel I gave in too soon and accepted his quality of life was now even worse so putting him to sleep would be the best thing for him. I thought I was doing it out of kindness, when now I find this site which I didn’t find before in all my searching. So depressed and guilty I can’t think of anything else. People tell me he was so spoilt – and he was – but I can’t believe I’m now finding info that would have helped him. If I’d known and put him on meds or natural remedies he’d be with me now. He wasn’t hugely keen on his short walks, nor very cuddly any more and I can hardly remember the last time he wagged his tail. But was this dementia symptoms? I’m hoping not, or I’ve taken away my best friend and made myself more miserable than I’ve ever been and he didn’t even need to go. I hope he can forgive me, I can’t forgive myself and find it hard not to cry non stop. I have kids and work from home, but struggling to concentrate on anything as it all seems a bit meaningless and didn’t need to happen yet.

    1. Liddy, I’m so sorry. I think you acted in love and kindness. We can’t know what would have happened otherwise.

      I think your dog would thank you for treating him with such love and concern. You were not being selfish. You did everything out of love.


  180. Thank you so much for your site. Over the last year we struggled with dementia in our elderly dog, Cody. He continued to worsen over that year, becoming completely incontinent, sun downing at night, not knowing when to stop when drinking water, seeming not interested in us, not coming when called and walking away when being petted, sitting and lying in uncomfortable positions, endless pacing, no interest in walks or playing, and much more. Last spring we allowed the vet to try some medications, but they didn’t work. We continued to struggle with what was best for us and Cody. We made the appointment for euthanasia but still struggled with that decision up until the day of the appointment. We discussed the possibility of cancelling the appointment, but I decided to search one last time and came across your site. Reading your words gave me comfort in our decision. I realized that I was not being selfish and this was the most unselfish thing I could do for my beloved pet. Last night, with my husband and daughters, Cody crossed the rainbow bridge. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but the veterinarian was so supportive and comforting, telling us he was a firm believer in helping our pets cross with dignity. It still hurts, but I keep telling myself that there is a difference between living and existing. And Cody was not living anymore, just merely going through the motions, and the most unselfish thing I did was let him go in dignity. Thank you for having a resource for this horrible illness.

    1. Dear Traci,
      Thank you so much for writing. I am so sorry for your loss. And I agree with you: what you did for Cody was very unselfish. It is breathtakingly hard to do it. But I know you did right by him. He was so lucky to have you.

      Take care,

  181. November 24, 2021. The day my beautiful baby girl decided to leave this world. Prior to that day, it wasn’t the first time I had searched up on Google about dog dementia. I knew she had it. But every time someone would tell me “she looks older, why can’t she hold her balance, she can’t see, she bumps into everything..” I would get defensive because even though I knew deep down they were right, I still wanted her to be the sweet girl she always was. The last two weeks of her life were strange. I had been patient with her for so long, and I started to get frustrated that she wouldn’t sleep, or eat, or drink water, or even just wake up from her naps without right away bumping into something. All of a sudden, she started limping from a leg and barking. We took her to the vet, and found out she had kidney failure. Her days she spent at the vet weren’t so great, in fact, when we brought her home, she started having breathing problems. This was so heartbreaking, because the day before she wasn’t doing that. Turns out at the vet, she aspirated her own vomit. They didn’t take care of her like I did. On the 24th, she passed away during a car ride home. She always knew that I would never be able to put her down, and she left without making me choose. The only guilt I feel in my heart is for not being as patient with her as I had been. But the only thing that keeps me going is that if it wasn’t for me, she would have gone months earlier. In August, she lost interest for her food. Ever since then, I would put her food in her mouth and almost help her chew it. I stopped going anywhere for the sake of being with her in the house without worrying that she was stuck or lost in the house. It came to the point where honestly, they only time I felt she was calm and safe was when she would sleep. I hope she remembers me for all the sacrifices I did for her, and not for the impatient person she saw the last days of her life. If I could I would give my life for her. Dog dementia is such a horrible thing. Her passing happened so quick. I will always remember how I rescued her from the shelter when I was 7. Even though I saved her life, in reality she was the one that saved mine. I will always love her.

    1. Jacqueline, what a wonderful friend and guardian you were to your baby girl. Thank you for sharing her story. I am sure she will remember you as her loving friend, and I hope that you can forgive yourself those slight feelings of impatience. It just sounds like you are human like the rest of us. I can tell you took wonderful care of your dear dog and gave her a wonderful life.

      I am so sorry for your loss.


  182. Eileen – I can’t thank you enough for the countless hours of work you’ve put into writing these articles and blog posts, years after you’ve lost Cricket. It’s so apparent how much you love her even though she’s no longer here; I can see it in the effort you put into connecting with other people whose dogs suffer from dementia. Your words were some of the first I encountered when I started looking into CCD, two years ago when my boy Kato was diagnosed. They terrified and resonated with me equally. I’ve never known anyone else whose dog had this disease, and reading about Cricket’s condition & watching your videos was a hard reality check, but it has prepared me for where Kato is now.

    I don’t know how old Kato is, but I say he’s 13.5 because he was “two to four” when I adopted him in January 2012. I was seventeen years old, and he was my first dog of my own. He was a skinny stray husky/heeler mix from La Junta, Colorado who was already housebroken – I’ve asked him so many times what his life was like before me, but he’s never answered. We grew up together. He’s moved with me more than 15 times across 4 different states in the last ten years, my only constant while we went through poverty and housing insecurity.

    Even though his DNA test shows him to be mostly husky, heeler, and Australian shepherd, he’s never been a high energy dog. He was always so content to sit beside me on the porch, or at the top of the stairs, watching the world go by. It’s been a long time since he was able to relax enough to simply sit on the porch with me, and observations like that are the reason why I’ve scheduled an in-home euthanasia appointment for Friday night this week.

    Kato and I used to hike up mountains and run across beaches – he was always so good off leash – or go swimming (he wasn’t a fan, but if I swam out and called for him, he’d come swim circles around me). We’d go camping every year. We used to go for bike rides and car rides. He loved to sit next to the open car window and stick only the very tip of his nose out. At home, I’d often find him sleeping completely upside down with his paws splayed out in the air. And at the dog park, he’d crouch down at the entrance and herd all of the other dogs coming in through the gate, like an asshole. He was never interested in toys, but sometimes he’d chase a ball once or twice as if to appease me. Everyone who knows him absolutely adores him, even cat people. I’ve worked in animal welfare at shelters and vet hospitals for seven years, and I’ve still never met a dog as sweet, kind, intelligent, handsome, gentle, and funny as him.

    I mention all of these things specifically because he cannot or will not do any of them anymore, and hasn’t for a year or longer. The Kato I knew is not there anymore. He still knows who I am, and will follow me everywhere, but he is a different dog, living a shell of a life. It kills me to say this, but I don’t remember the last time I saw him wag his tail. It just hangs limply, where once he would carry it proudly.

    And, if it were “only” dementia, that would be one thing, right? But now he can’t stand up for longer than 10 seconds before sinking into a sit, and then slowly melting to the floor. He struggles to get up, and paces my apartment all day, sometimes falling down as he turns around. He’s becoming incontinent and often tracks poop throughout the house, so I got a work from home job to help prevent that. Last year he fell off the stairs and screamed and cried. He’s okay, but after that I stopped letting him go up and down by himself, and now he can’t do either without basically being carried. The other night, he somehow tipped over the water bowl while I was asleep, and I woke up to find him soaking wet laying in a damp puddle on the carpet. What kind of life is this?

    Long hours and days of Googling while crying led me to two pieces of wisdom that helped me more than anything else while I was trying to decide whether it was time to let him go or not. One: what, exactly, am I waiting for – some miraculous turnaround? Some impossible reversal of the damage dementia has done to my old man’s brain? Neither is possible, and in fact it will only get worse. And two: if you prefer for your dog to have a good, peaceful death over a traumatic, painful one in the ER, then you’re probably gonna have to let them go a little sooner than you’d like to. I don’t want Kato to die at all, but more than that, I don’t want to see him suffer, especially not in the last moments of his life. The obvious choice is still an excruciatingly difficult one to make.

    I’ll be spending as much one-on-one time with him as possible over the next three days. It feels so uncomfortable and sad to give him the best last days I can, knowing that at the end of this week, I’ll be paying a stranger to come to our apartment and kill him. I’m really struggling to see it as the selfless gift everyone says it is rather than the act of betrayal it feels like. I don’t believe in any kind of afterlife; I know that when the injection is given, he will cease to exist, and I will never see him again. But he doesn’t know that. He trusts me and I hope I can find some comfort in that eventually; for now, it just hurts like hell.

    I’m watching him fall asleep on the floor in front of me. His fluffy tail is curled around the left side of his body, and his sleepy head is resting between his front legs. He is such a beautiful dog, all red and orange and black and blonde with merle legs and a perfect, kissable white star right on his forehead. I love his adorable triangle ears, one a little floppier than the other. And even though his eyes are dull now, the heterochromatic colors in his irises are still as bright as they were ten years ago, like little landscapes of sky blue and muddy brown.

    In less than 72 hours, they will close for the last time, and I will be there for him until he takes his final breath. I am so scared to do this life without him, but he is such a good boy, and a good boy deserves a good death. I must give that to him no matter how painful it is for me. I owe you nothing less, Kato Potato. I will hold onto the pain so that you don’t have to anymore.

    1. Dear Marina,
      I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your touching post about Kato; I loved reading about him and your life together.

      I really really agree with your two reasons for letting him go, and I’ve never heard them put just that way before. Good for you for putting his quality of life first; I know how hard it is to let them go.

      Take care, and thank you again for writing about Kato.


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