Resources for Owners of Dogs with CCD

Six Practical Hints for Living With a Dog With Dementia

Here are a few of the things I learned from life with Cricket:

  • Make a safe room. Just as you may have puppy proofed your house when your dog was young, now you need to make your house safe for your old dog. Make sure there are no spaces your dog might get trapped in. Remove things they may stumble over, slots they can’t back out of, and places where they might put their head through. (View the first section of the video to see what I mean.) Be sure you don’t have tangles of cables they can get trapped in. Your dog may forget how to back up. I think this may be why they get stuck in corners so much.
  • Use the corners. Speaking of corners, take advantage of that corner thing! Put their food bowls and water bowls in corners so they don’t walk through them and tip them over. I bought a water dispenser for Cricket with a little tank on it that was too big for her to tip over and stuck it at the end of a hall that she tended to pace up and down. I watched Cricket like a hawk to make sure she drank enough. She had a really hard time telling what the level of the water was, and would hover with her mouth about in inch above the water as I held my breath, hoping she can drink. Try to get bowls at the optimal level, and avoid really shiny drinking bowls if they appear to confuse your dog about the water level.
  • Toileting. Your dog may forget her house training or forget how to tell you she needs to go. You still may be able to tell, and you can work out ways to deal with messes. For instance, Cricket sometimes sat bolt upright in the middle of the bed in the middle of the night. I knew that if she did that she needed to go, and I lifted her right down to a pee pad that I kept by the bed. Try to learn your dog’s new signals.
  • Door Problems. Be careful around doors. Your dog will often be standing in just the wrong place when you try to go through a door. I have a pair of French doors in my house that Cricket often stooed in front of and looked through. Even though she could see me trying to open the door, she just stood there. Sometimes I opened the door just enough to put my hand through and threw a treat for her to follow if I could get her attention.
  • Other Dogs. Be ready to keep her separate from other dogs. She may not give out the right social signals, and other dogs may be rough with her or even aggressive. For instance, I allowed Cricket to be loose in the same space with only one of my dogs, gentle Zani who was only a big bigger than Cricket. But even so I had to keep an eye on things. Sometimes Cricket would head for the same bed that Zani was in and start to walk over her, and Zani would (understandably) yell at her. I always separated Cricket from all the dogs when I wasn’t home.
  • Enrichment. Clinical studies say that keeping dogs active in mind and body can help prevent or slow the progress of dementia. Do whatever you can to keep those problem-solving brain cells going. Take her on Sniff-faris. See if she can play with food toys. Try a Snuffle Mat. Don’t assume you can fight back the rising tide, but you can probably help her keep what she’s got for a bit longer.

Tips from Other Owners of Dog with Dementia

Be sure and check out the comments sections on all the pages. There are some great suggestions from other readers who have dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction. And if you have a tip, please submit it as a comment.

Articles about Dogs with Dementia

Cricket 2012 in doorway

General Resources for Senior Dogs

DVD

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The Gift of a Gray Muzzle: Active Care for Senior Dogs–Kathy Sdao and Lori Stevens  This recorded seminar covers the many issues of having an aging dog: health issues, exercise, diet, keeping them eating, enrichment, and many more. The presenters are tops in their fields and a joy to watch.

Book

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Dog Food Logic: Making Smart Decisions for Your Dog in an Age of Too Many Choices–Linda Case This book covers nutrition for all ages of dogs and has some of the best information about feeding dogs you will find anywhere.

Articles

 

Dogs with an AARF Card, Growing Old Gracefully: Old Dogs Should Learn New Tricks–Interview with Dr. Gary Landsberg.

My Dog is Aging–Now What? More Training, of Course–Lori Stevens

How to Care for an Older Dog–Whole Dog Journal

Teach Senior Dogs New Tricks to Stay Healthy--The Bark

 

See resources on end of life and euthanasia decisions on the “When to Say Goodbye” page.

Fitness Course

Lori Stevens gives a fabulous course on fitness for senior dogs through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Check the schedule to see when it will next be offered.

Closeup of face of black, white, and tan rat terrier with big ears

Copyright 2014 Eileen Anderson

83 Comments

  1. tracey watson says:

    my dog is 16 yrs old, i have had taz since he was 6 weeks. for almost 3 yrs taz has started to cry on a night, the cries have increased to all day and all night, he screams, howls, barks. this is when i am out or in bed, i have spent the last 2 and a half years sleeping at least 3 nights of the week on the sofa, if im there he is ok 99 percent of the time, he is almost blind and deaf, I dont think hes in any pain, he still eats fine, drinks fine. any advise would be appreciated.

    • Eileen says:

      Tracey, I hope you can check with your vet. They can verify that he’s not in pain, and possibly prescribe something for the restlessness/crying. It sounds like you are doing whatever you can to cope, but that’s got to be hard on you. So sorry. I don’t have further advice than that.

    • Ha Smith says:

      Hi Tracy
      Mum cocker spaniel is 12yrs old and is very much like Taz, it’s very difficult and I empa with you.

    • Sheila says:

      I’ve read the comments and found them all very interesting, Informative , and some, very helpful! My little maulti-poo has sundowners also as well as arthritis . I’m not sure what all he does have actually , I just try to pay attention to his symptoms and try different things to help each symptom. The most serious problem he has , that has affected our life also , is his night behavior . He is 16 now but started having problems about two years ago . He started out not wanting to go to sleep . He would just start panting heavily and walking around and staring into the night just like he was looking at something in the dark . It was actually kinda weird and scary . We started him on some meds and melatonin to help calm him and to sleep . It helped some . I even tried giving him Benedryl . He will go to sleep now, but only for a few hours . Then will wander around , sometimes pant , get back in bed, then get up , just over and over all night . He wants me to get up . Ill foow him around the house . He’ll get to the living room and stop and just look at me.It seems like he is telling me that its time to get up . Sometimes I just sleep on the couch because I’m just so tired of going back and forth . Recently I started letting him our to use it and he does not want to come back in and actually gives me a little growl when I try to pick him up to take him in . So finally one night I just said well fine then , you just stay outside, I’m going to Sleep! The best nights sleep I had in a very long time and the next morni g he was laying right on the patio waiting to come in . This began a mew routine . He sleeps a few hours inside, then the rest of the night outside! In the past he would have never slept out like that ! He would have clawed the door down to get back in! Another crazy thing he does . My elderly father lives with us, 90 years old. He sleeps with oxygen .His tank makes a little humming noise , and right in front if it is a carpet rug that I have by my fathers bed . My husband gets up first and let’s the dog back in . So when I get up, the dog has gone back to sleep on that rug , right in front of that oxygen tank . I always tell my dad that my dog has taken up with him and loves to sleep by his bed . He likes that . But in reality , I think it’s the hum of the oxygen Tank It must be comforting to him . But I was just wondering about this habit of wanting to stay outside during the night . I’ve not read where anyone else has experienced this with their dog. ( I live in the country where it is safe for the dog to stay out .) I am really curious if anyone has experienced this behavior .

      • Eileen says:

        Hi Sheila,

        I have never heard of that specific behavior–wanting to stay outside–but one of the symptoms of dementia can be behavior changes of all sorts. I am glad you have worked out a safe system where both of you are getting some rest. That’s interesting about the oxygen tank, too. It is so touching to me to read all the things that the wonderful dog owners do to take care of their dogs when it gets this difficult. Hugs to you.

      • Teresa says:

        Hi Sheila.
        My Border Collie has dementia as well. Like your dog, evenings are the worst. The pacing , the panting and also a wild eyed look, were very hard to deal with. My husband and I would be awake most of the night until my dog would literally drop from exhaustion. He wanted to go out at night but I wouldn’t let him because I don’t have a fenced yard and he would just run!! The vet came to our home a couple times and we tried to figure out what to try. I started with a gravol, helped one night, then tried Melatonin, only worked for a couple nights. The vet then suggested a nightly tranquilizer which I did try but it literally knocked him out cold..so that worried me and I stopped giving it to him. I called another vet where I had taken my dog before, as I was getting so I couldn’t deal with it anymore, and he suggested trying Gabapentin ..started him on 200 mg in the am and 100 mg pm, and within two days my dog settled down and started sleeping through the night!! That was over a year ago, Boomer is mow 14 years old , and still doing fairly welll, although I did increase his night pills to 200 mg.. He gets up sometimes just to move to another part of the house, but we are still managing. It may come to a point where I might have to give him a tranquilizer nightly, but I’m hoping not for a long time!! Not sure how helpful my story is but the gabapentin made a world of difference for my dog!!

  2. Christina says:

    I running on fumes from lack of sleep. My otherwise healthy happy 18yo shih tzu Oreo appears to have canine cognitive disorder CCD. Nights are awful for him. He “Sundowns” at 8pm and is restless all night….barks for us. Last night I was unable to comfort him….I usually hold him and rock him. I desperate for ideas for night time!!! Valium and Xanax don’t work.

    • Eileen says:

      Christina, man, I’m so sorry. That is one of the hardest things to deal with. Is he pretty active during the day? Have you talked to your vet about Anipryl? It is prescribed for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction and has a calming effect for some dogs. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know any other suggestions. I hope some readers who have dealt with this will chime in.

      • Jan Smith says:

        Hi Christina, my cocker spaniel, is much like your Oreo,and me and my husband are exhausted most days, due to disturbed sleep.
        I too am desperation help.
        Love my dog to bits.

  3. Tina Pollard says:

    Thank you Eileen for your practical & informative tips and advice on living with senior dogs. The videos are a great way to clearly demonstrate the signs of dementia in your dog. Your cricket was certainly a beautiful dog and your love & care for animals is evident to see. My 2 cavalier king charles spaniels Buddy & Truffles are both 15 this year and started heart med’s last year. I found Buddy through a local newspaper add for $50, my guess was the breeder thought that as he was born with 1 eye he wouldn’t fetch the same as a pedigree like my Truffles who was bought through a registered breeder. Buddy’s 1 eye has served him well all these years, he still loves to watch birds fly, he just cant chase them. Buddy recently suffered from a disc problem in his back & after a 2nd opinion, the right meds & with required rest is now back to short strolls and enjoying his favourite treat (bones). I have been slowly modifying my dogs room and yard (making it smaller) adding a small ramp to do away with the small steps as well as fencing off the garden tiers which had become dangerous for Truffles who has all the signs of doggy dementia. His hearing & sight have nearly all but diminished and his mobility is limited. He still loves his treats so i will introduce some of your advice & make it a little more interesting for him. The two dogs have always shared a special bond & give each other comfort. Like all concerned owners i am just looking to make their last years as comfortable as possible & give them the love & care they deserve.

    • Eileen says:

      Tina, thanks for writing! I am glad you are able to adapt your dogs’ space and lives so accommodate their needs as they grow older. I hope both your babies can continue with good quality of life for a good long while.

  4. liane says:

    My dog is 17 & he is waking me several times a night. he’s in good health but the vet says he has mild kidney impairment and the only thing he will give me is opiates. Almost as soon as he started taking them we got very close to the maximum threshold he could take and he still isn’t sedated. I can’t believe there is NOTHING else he can have to sedate him. There has to be something because I can’t face much more of this. I love him but he has eaten up my whole life since he got dementia and I can’t go on.

    • Eileen says:

      liane, I’m so sorry. I am not a vet, but there are other sedatives. Opiates, as you know, are aimed at pain relief and usually provide physical and sometimes mental relaxation. There is a whole other class of tranquilizers that work on the brain only. Perhaps your vet has a reason for not trying the others that has to do with your dog’s individual situation. Or perhaps it’s time for second opinion? Good luck. I’m so sorry you and your dog are having such a rough time. He is lucky to have someone who cares for him so well.

  5. Judith Collins says:

    Our baby “Bear” is a 17yr old Jack Russell, he is almost blind and almost completely deaf. For about a year now we’ve had to clap our hands to get him to come to us as he no longer responded to a whistle, however now, even though he can pick up the clapping he is confused as to where it is coming from even if we are right in front of him, so touch is the next best way of getting his attention or guiding him to where he needs to go. He barks for everything he needs or wants, or to get our attention, particularly when his body clock tells him is time for his tucker. My husband and I feel that we manage his dementia quite well. We cared for my mother who had Alzheimer’s and let me tell you that the symptoms and behaviours are almost identical, this has helped us to understand Bear and what he is going through.
    Many symptoms or obstacles for the demented are. Lost, confused, disoriented, perception, restlessness, agitation, repetition which I know you will say that’s happening to my dog.

    I have placed some suggestions below that have worked for us with Bear and my mother too and I hope that some of them might help others in some small way.

    “WANDERING AIMLESSLY”
    Use your intuition as a guide to help you guess what your dog is attempting to communicate,
    Ask yourself is there a need that is not being filled.
    When Bear wanders aimlessly we first check if he needs to go outside for toileting, after that if he continues, we take/guide him to his water bowl for a drink, after that if he continues, we guide/take him to his bed sit down with him with give him some petting and talk to him and that usually settles him down.

  6. Judith Collins says:

    “IN THE ZONE”
    Use distraction.
    We call it in the zone, where Bear seems to become fixated and will just sit and stare at us or into space he will do this for half an hour or more… Once we see his is in the zone for too long, we get him out of it by leading him to his bed or distract him by making him do something else have a little game, give him a cuddle, give him a little treat, whatever it might be to snap him out of it.

  7. Judith Collins says:

    “NEW, STRANGE, THINGS ARE OUT OF PLACE”
    As much as we would like to change the furniture occasionally or shut a door that might normally always be open, or move an ottoman to butt up to a couch or put a pot plant in a different corner…. whatever the changes might be, we don’t do this because it is confusing for the demented, it’s strange, it’s unfamiliar, their territory is not the same, it’s not recognisable. The same goes for their water bowls and where they eat and sleep. No out of the usual place obstructions, is best.

  8. Judith Collins says:

    “ROUTINE”
    Have an effective daily routine Waking time, going to bed time , eating main meal time of the day, it really helps to maintain the same daily routine for the demented dog as their body clock knows better than us when it’s the time of the day or night that they would or should be doing these things so it’s less confusing for them if these events happen at the same time every day, otherwise if it’s not it will cause the wondering, barking un necessarily and other strange behaviours, it’s less confusing for them..

    “ATMOSPHERE”
    Keep it quiet, no loud crashing or banging noises, no large crowds, no yelling, and no loud music. This can be very frightening for the demented dog.

  9. Judith Collins says:

    “LOST AND DISORIENTED IN THE DARK”
    Bear sleeps in the back quarters inside the house and about a year ago he started with barking in the middle of the night, we would get up take him outside for a wee, tuck him in and go back to bed and he would start barking again, this went one for a few weeks until we came to the conclusion that he was waking up getting out of bed and losing his way getting back to his bed, so we decided to put some “SOLAR LIGHTS” on the floor either side of his bed a bit like a guiding light and sure enough we have not had that problem ever since. The reason for the solar lights is because they are portable, cheap to use and you can place them wherever you want, in this case close to the bedding.

    • Eileen says:

      A big thank you to Judith Collins for these wonderful, practical suggestions! I am sure they will help many people and their dear dogs.

  10. Gene says:

    Over fifteen years ago, my wife at the time brought home a little Jack Russell Terrier puppy we had gone and looked at together. He was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. He was overwhelmed by his new environment. I remember the first few weeks we had him – he would hide under the end tables and it took him a while to grow confident enough to come out and play. But once he did, it was clear he had a huge personality and he would curl up in the bed between us and wanted to be as close to us as he possibly could.

    As time went on I became more and more attached to Marty. He loved to play fetch and for me to chase him around the house, and he would wait until I got right up on him and then he would scamper away and hide behind a doorway waiting for me to find him. We would play this game until we were both tired out and then he would lay in my lap while I read a book or watched TV. He was a spoiled little dog. He had so many toys and was always lavished with attention.

    Soon Marty was almost eight years old, and my wife and I had decided to divorce. We had never had any kids, so Marty had become like our child. I kept Marty with me after the divorce because my wife knew how much I had grown to love him. He kept me company through many lonely nights and weekends. As long as Marty was there with me, I never felt truly alone. He would climb up to the window and watch me leave for work each morning, and he would be there waiting for me each night when I came home. I’d see him looking out the window, and as soon as he saw it was me he would jump out of the window and run to the door where he would be waiting for me. He would be so excited that his whole little body would be wiggling.

    Marty has been with me through several job changes, relocations and losses. He has always been the one thing I could depend on and the one constant in my life. When things get crazy and stressful, he brings me back down and helps me manage my anxiety. I have taken the best care of him that I possibly can. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. I got him surgery and radiation, and travelled fifty miles each way every Monday and Friday for a month to being him to the University of Georgia Veterinary Hospital for his radiation treatments. Nothing was too much trouble or too much money, not for this little dog who has been there for me through so much.

    He came through the treatments like a trooper and the cancer has never returned. Now, though, we are facing a new challenge, and this time he won’t be able to beat it. Marty has been diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction. He will be 16 years old in August, and he is still my baby boy. But now I take care of him, in exchange for all the years that he took care of me. He sometimes seems confused, he will pace a lot in the evenings, he walks more slowly and he can’t handle stairs anymore. Sometimes he will get stuck behind furniture and get upset, and I will help him out. He still loves treats though and he still loves to be petted. He is still the sweetest boy, but I can tell he is winding down and that he is now truly in the twilight of his life. Every day that we have together is a blessing.

    I have Marty taking several supplements like Cholodin and Senilife, and I spoil him every day with treats and spend as much time with him as I can. I love him so much. I can’t help but think about how empty my life is going to seem without him around. He has been with me the entire time I’ve been on my own. I don’t know how I am going to live without him. I know I’m lucky to have had him for so long, and that he has had a full life, but it seems like the time has slipped by far too quickly. I feel guilt about the times that I took him for granted or didn’t pay as much attention to him as I feel I should have. I hope he knows how much I have loved him. I am not ready to say goodbye.

    • Eileen says:

      Gene,

      I feel privileged that you have shared your story here about Marty. I am a loss for words. I am so so sorry you must anticipate the loss of such a great friend. Thank you for telling his and your story.

    • sherry s says:

      gene i dont know you but i love you for all the love and support you have gave your little boy, i wish more people were like you and me, i too love my little boy that is 16 and he also has ccd i too give him cholodin and also found that a little t shirt sleeveless from petsmart seems to help him in the evenings he cries a little and then falls asleep , also give him pure coconut oil on his food and my vet told me to give him krillex treats he loves this and it has i am sure has also helped him this has omega 3 and its a treat for them please try and send me a update i hope your baby lives many more years for you and keep up the good work thank you for taking such good care of and loving such a sweet fur angel sherry s nashville tn

      • Eileen says:

        Thanks for your nice comments to Gene. I’m glad you have found some things that have helped your dog. None of them are guaranteed, or even likely to help with CCD except perhaps the coconut oil and that would not work quickly. Again, I’m glad you are doing well with your dog but I don’t want to raise false hopes for anyone else. The things that are most likely to help with this condition are listed on the Treatment page and none of them are dramatic cures. Also, garments can make a dog appear to be calm when they are actually intimidated and uncomfortable (it’s often called “shut down,”) so we all should take care with trying those things. I’m sure you know your dog; I’m just urging people to take care.

  11. Kara says:

    I have a 17-year-old Jack Russell mix suffering with dementia as well. I recently changed jobs and now that I have more time at home with him, it is heart breaking to see the symptoms.
    He is definitely having sun-downers symptoms, wandering aimlessly to a door or wall repeatedly and just barking from sunset into the evening. He used to wake me up at night, especially during storm season but I think his hearing has deteriorated over the last year and a half, so he doesn’t notice thunder much anymore. But when he had a lot of difficulty with it, my other dog developed a fear of thunder.
    He, like so many other dogs described here, is otherwise healthy. Still house trained, eating, drinking as he should, just losing his sight and hearing and always confused.
    I just want to comfort him. I just pick him up and put him in his bed when he begins obsessively pacing or when he starts barking at the wall. I wish there was something more I could do for him. I can’t afford medication, I have used melatonin treats, Rescue Remedy, lavender, calming collar and we still use the Thunder Shirt from time to time. I haven’t noticed enough relief or improvement to bother with any of them much anymore though.
    I appreciate that this site is here to relate to others going through this.

    • Eileen says:

      Dear Kara,

      I’m so sorry you and your guy are going through this. Just a heads up: some medications for anxiety can be gotten generically, and even selegiline can be sometimes, if your vet can help with that. They are much cheaper that way, in case that makes a difference. Anyway, hang in there. Some of us also know how hard it can be.

  12. Graeme says:

    Hi Kara
    We have a 17 yo Moodle who has very similar symptoms to your Jack Russell and after several different medications without much success now have her on a cheap human sedative at night. This has helped her through restless nights and gives us and some neighbours some peace as well. Your vet or friendly GP should be able to prescribe these and a recommended dose.
    Good luck

  13. Betty says:

    I am going through the sundown type symptoms with my 13 y/o dog as well. She gets anxious, restless and begins pacing as soon as it gets dark out. Somewhere between 10-15 times a night she barks to go outside. I take her outside and then she stands there looking at me. I feel horrible and helpless for her. I’ve always tried to go the holistic/alternative route for my pets and myself so I am looking into Melatonin to see if it will help. I will admit that I have used Benadryl on a couple of occasions now but I’m not sure it helped. She’s recently had bloodwork so I know her body is functioning well and that’s why I’d rather not use heavy meds on her that cause liver and kidney damage. If I decide to try Melatonin (after I research it’s safety), I’ll make sure to post the results. I do know that Benadryl is safe for use in dogs but owner’s should always talk to their vet before starting it just to be safe. So I thought mentioning Benadryl might help as an alternative for others in this situation with their loved pets as well.

  14. Linda Camellino says:

    None of the articles from people has mentioned how long the dementia lasts, ours has had it for a while and not sure when the end will be. She is a rate terrier and is eating very well, and drinking water. Will there be an appetite change when it is time?

    • Eileen says:

      Linda, it can last up to several years if the dog is otherwise healthy. There is sometimes an appetite change, or the dog just gets more and more frail.

  15. Dianne says:

    My baby Niza (pronounced Neesa) is a rescue who rescued me too, the most amazing loving being myself and family ever has known. She is now 15 and I from this very thurough article know she very much has Dimentia, came on quick and strong. 1.2 Wks ago her annual she was pretty great. Doc agreed. She does all that your sweet Cricket does now, bad. It’s Sat afternoon so I can’t get the medication until Mon when they get my message. It hurts me to see her so anxious. She is also blind from cateracs for years and almost totally deaf. My husband looks at me now like this might be what should be the reason to let her go. I never had children, she is it. I won’t let her suffer, but it’s been the two of us longer than anyone and through so very much, I am holding her like a baby listening to her awesome breaths… I can’t envision it. I will do what’s best for her.. but I wish there was a way to let her have a few more happy rolls on her rug and happy hellos 🙂 She is our joy and I love her so very much.

    • Eileen says:

      Hi Dianne,
      Hang on until Monday! I can tell how close you are to Niza. I know about the breathing thing. <3 Bless you and hang in there.

  16. Lynda L. says:

    Eileen thank you for starting this blog. Our Casey is a16 year blond cockapoo. . He is almost blind.I know now that he has dementia because of all the previous comments .Casey will no longer let us pick him up.Casey was such a lap dog.He always wanted to be up on the chair or couch next to my husband or I. He never played faverites.He would spend an hour with Ken and jump down and come to me,spend an hour and go back to Ken.My heart breaks every time I look at him now.His time for Heaven was a good 4 months ago but my husband will not let go.We have found a solutation for the time being.Casey gets half of a baby asprinie 81 miligram ,but cut in half,so that is 40.Along with that a half of a zanax 0.5mg (perscription) which makes it 0.2-1/2mg. Today for the first time we melted the two half pills in a little bit of water .then got it down him using a doggie liquid medicine dropper .I hated to force feed him the pills mashed in food.He only eats if he wants to and he did not like that procedure. Well,that did not work because he had no food in his tummy so he just went to sleep. Tomorrow it is back to the old way. It is a hassle but as soon as the pills take effect he stops jerking.He can walk, get himself up and down (on the carpet) not in the kitchen. Still sudden sounds,like just moving pots and pans around or tossing a spoon into the sink makes him fall and still when light hits his eyes he jerks his head.We had to stop taking him for walks last october .Just for reference. Casey weighs 14 lds.Our first zanax came from the vet.They gave us 5 pills for $7.00. Since we had our own zanax from our Dr.We give Casey some of ours.Much cheeper. Hope this helps someone out there.

    • Eileen says:

      Hi Lynda,

      I’m sorry about the changes Casey has gone through. I’m so glad you have a medication combo that’s helping. FWIW, many vets will order a prescription for you from a drug store at the generic price. (I want to caution all other readers that you must check with your vet about any medications or supplements, even over the counter ones, you want to give your dog.) Anyway, Lynda, I hope Casey still has some good days with you and your family.

  17. judi1922@bigpond.com says:

    My dearly beloved dog has gone now and I can understand what you are going through. Just a hint, our dog would never take tablets, but he loved dog choc’s, so anytime he had to have tablets, I melted some dog choc’s and coated the tablets in chocolate then set aside to harden again, this worked a treat every time, it might help???

    • Eileen says:

      Good idea! And to all those reading, remember, it has to be “dog chocolate” (is this carob maybe?), not the chocolate humans eat, which is poisonous to dogs.

    • Kathy W says:

      A trick I used with my last dog to get her to swallow pills was this: I got cheap peanut butter. Sometimes when you first open the jar, there is a layer of oil on top. If there is, pour it off. Put the peanut butter in the refrigerator. It doesn’t get hard, but it does get firmer. I would then scoop a spoonful and stick the pill inside until it’s completely hidden. The peanut butter should be firm enough to hold its shape. Because it’s now firm, there isn’t really licking necessary. My dog was so fond of peanut butter that she’d just swallow it without noticing the pill. She was extremely smart, and this was the only method I found that was successful for her. My current dog loves pill pockets, so it’s not an issue for her.

  18. judi1922@bigpond.com says:

    Oh most definitely Carob never humans chocolate.

  19. Sandra says:

    I really want to thank this page and the people who comment on it I never knew what was wrong with my Puddzy until my vet said after his teeth surgery you do know your dog has Dementia has the surgery may make it a little worse . Im glad I found this page before my dog is full into Dementia ..I also see we are not alone in our problems I see others who are sleep deprived & why my dog peed on my bed and may poop on the floor Now I know what to do THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYONE II have put this info on a few pet facebook pages I belong too

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. This has explained a lot about my older dachshund’s behavior. I assumed a lot of his behavior was from poor eyesight and bad hearing associated with older age but I am starting to see a lot of similarities to your dog and her dementia. I have had my dog since I was 5 (now 22), In a few months I graduate and am moving (he will continue living with my parents) He’s always been such an adventurous and fun loving dog but now pretty much sleeps 22 hours a day. I realize this has a lot to do with his old age but I was wondering if you or anyone had any ideas of activities that won’t stress him out of confuse an old dog. I really want to make the most of the little time left with him and make him as happy and comfortable as possible!

    • Eileen says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      So lovely that you and your dog got to grow up together. Most dogs love using their noses for things, and it’s a low stress way to enrich their lives. Did you see this blog post? Teaching an old dog how to play with a food toy

      The most important thing is to make it super easy at the beginning, easier than you think you need to. Another thing you can do is lay out some healthy but smelly treats (does your Doxie like boiled chicken?) in a little trail around the house. Again, start easy with the treats close together, but if you change things very gradually you can make it a little more challenging after a while.

      Good luck. It’s not too late to try this kind of thing, and it’s wonderful that you want to make his life the best it can be.

  21. Crystal G. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. My dog, JD, is a 15-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier who began exhibiting symptoms of CCD a few months ago. He is not sleeping at night, getting trapped behind doors, staring off into space. I am currently giving him Zylkene, melatonin and Omega 3, per his vet. These meds worked well for a few weeks, but not so much now. He also likes to repeatedly scratch the furniture to get attention from me, even when I am interacting with him. I am trying my best, but my patience wears thin, especially when combined with a lack of sleep. I appreciate the opportunity to share and hear how others are dealing. He is extremely healthy and it is so heartbreaking to see him decline in such manner. Just trying to love him as much as possible!

    • Eileen says:

      Hi Crystal,

      Sounds like you are doing a great job with your AmStaff and I’m glad you are in touch with your vet. I hope JD has many more good days.

  22. traci weeks says:

    I still find myself reading up on this even though my sweet 17 year old Bailey passed a year ago. He represented so many life changing chapters..from moving to Calif, to fLa and now downtown Chicago..he loved them all. HE would ride on the end of my paddleboard with the same excitement as movie night. I met my husband walking him …I learned of my fathers sudden passing while walking him..so many things. It started with the staring…eyes did not have cataract (as if yours does get fixed as painful)…but more of blurred ..I noticed he started to pace..than get stuck at corner wall…yet was same in day…he lived with this sundown for over two years…even when we traveled I made sure not to be in car or plane (he went in cabin) during that time. I would just hold him and he would want down…looking back now wonder if I kept him too long..but he allowed me to ween myself as know he was not enjoying things as time went on. We were going back to Calif for few weeks and I decided drive him vs fly bc he was starting to get anxious in his beloved travel bag. Oh those were some sleepless nights in hotels…worse he would slip if on wood floors…so I lined the floors with yoga mats (huge help)…I am sorry for all those going through as so hard to see our buddies go through but just provide safe feeling. When I would leave for few hours I would find him stuck behind certain places barking…I bought a playpen and left him in which was a help …I even went so far as have web cam make sure he okay…Oh my bailey…he was the most fun….we had vet come to the house…they say having a dog will give you the best days of your life and one of the WORST DAYS of your life…so true….thinking of all

    • Eileen says:

      Dear Traci, thank you for sharing about your sweet Bailey. What wonderful times you had together. I did the yoga mat thing at home (along with carpet runners and bath mats. The playpen is a great idea and may help someone else here. Bless you.

  23. Kim Carson says:

    Eileen,
    I happened to stumble across your work while looking up websites for older dogs. I had taken my 11 year old border collie mix, Spike, to the vet multiple times in the last year. Last summer he was in the best shape of his life and suddenly over this year he was hardly going on walks, wanted to stay inside, and slept all day (of course then he was pacing at night!). The vet keeps testing for medical causes since he is on the young side, but after reading your work and using the checklist I have been able to better communicate his behaviors to her. Pacing, walking in circles, stepping into his food bowl, staring into space, getting stuck behind furniture and corners, etc–oh my gosh! Honestly I am just so thankful for an answer. I feel lucky that he seems calm and happy enough right now and doesn’t seem to be stressed out. I am not looking forward to his further decline but having an answer to his odd behavior and a place to find community is greatly helping. Thanks.

    • Eileen says:

      Kim,

      I’m SO glad the site helped and that you let me know. That’s why it’s here. I hope things go well with Spike. Keep us updated.

  24. Mun See says:

    Hi I used to have a 16 yo Shih Szu, Yoyo, who had dementia and problems walking around. I sent her for acupuncture but it was costly even though it was just a once a week thing. So I decided to boil some hot water and poured it into a pail of cold water until the temperature was right. Then I let my Yoyo soak in it for about 10-15minutes. She enjoyed it as it kind of calmed her down. It improves her blood circulation. Giving her a full massage also helped me to bond with her. It’s not easy taking care of her but we tried our best.

  25. Candie G says:

    My dog Moxie is 17 and is in the late stages of dementia. He is incontinent, 75% blind, almost all deaf, and runs into everything in our yard from walking in circles all day. We have him in a crate at night, but we are struggling trying to find a safe place for him to spend the day times. Is there a fence or playpen you can suggest so he can walk on the shady grass? He seems to bang too much in the wire walls of the crate. We think he only has weeks left and are trying to make things safe and comfortable for him without having to do an elaborate and permanent build in the yard. Thanks!

    • eileenbanderson@sbcglobal.net says:

      Candie, have you checked out “exercise pens” at the pet supply stores? (They are badly named because they are not big enough for a dog to exercise in. But the bigger ones are big enough for the dog do walk around in.) They are wire, so you need to be sure your dog wouldn’t get his feet caught. There are some pictures at the bottom of this blog post. (I used them to fence the dogs out of my garden beds, rather than the other way around.) Good luck and Moxie is lucky to have such a thoughtful caretaker.

      • Deb McCann says:

        Hi, just want to chime in here to say I saw an excellent dog enclosure created from a disuse trampoline. The bouncing mat was pulled back so that there was both light and shade within the enclosure. I guess you could look as some different types of materials to run around the base frame that may be gentle if the dog walks into it whilst still enclosing the dog within.

  26. Tired Shiba mum says:

    I have a Japanese Shiba Inu that’s 14 and now screams for most of the night. He’s partially deaf and has cataracts so virtually blind as well which increases his anxiety. We’ve tried the medication prescribed by the vet for dementia but it’s had little to no effect and is expensive.

    In every other respect he’s healthy (eats well, no toilet problems, strong heart etc) but lack of sleep is making me hate him (which makes me feel awful as I know it’s not his fault).

    I also work from home / work part time so while my husband and daughter get relief being out at work and school respectively, I’m stuck in the house when he whines and screams during the day too.

    I’m at the end of my tether with him (3 nights of virtually non-stop noise as he’s sooo loud). I really don’t want to go down the euthanasia route if possible but he can’t be rehomed so see no other alternative if we can’t find a solution. It would break my heart though (and the rest of the family). I just honestly don’t know what else to do.

    • Eileen says:

      I’m so sorry this is happening! Have you talked to your vet about possible medications? There are some that might help overall, or maybe your vet could prescribe a situational one at night to help your Shiba sleep. It sounds extra hard since you get it night and day. So sorry!

  27. Judy says:

    This page is very helpful, thank you for your hard work and everyone’s posts!
    My 8 year old pug, Deimos, was diagnosed yesterday . I’ve spoken to his vet about his symptoms for several visits. Finally confirmed that he is dealing with dementia. So far it’s been accidents info the house and getting “lost” at night. He would end up under the bed, behind closet doors, even facing the wrong way while I sat next to him on the floor.
    He and his sister were crated when they were younger, but aren’t anymore. I tried it last night but by 2AM her was anxious. I talked to him softly until he calmed down. By 5:30AM he soiled his crate and I had to get up. Not sure crating is gonna be the best idea but I’ll keep trying. His sister does try tend to him, it’s all quite sad. He was started on anxiety meds. I’ll monitor for a week like the vet suggest and see how he does. Poor lil man.
    Thank you for the education and support.
    <3 Judy

    • Eileen says:

      Dear Judy,

      I’m sorry this is happening to Deimos. It sounds like he is in the hands of a good vet and I’m glad for that. I hope things improve for him. Thank you for your kind words about the site. Hugs.

  28. Natalie says:

    My 16 year old Collie cross German Shepherd- Elie has had dog dementia for about a year and a half now. This website and your book have been a real comfort, as I never knew about dog dementia before I learned that’s what was affecting my dog. It is a really tough thing to see your much loved pet go through. In a matter of months my dog began to show real signs of not being herself and acting strangely. And I found myself feeling really regretful that I hadn’t noticed before and tried to stop it or hadn’t made the most of the time before. It was rather upsetting to see her lose a lot of interest in things which she loved such as going for walks and running after the ball. And she wouldn’t recognise her name. Despite this and despite the fact that she wouldn’t wag her tail or barkat all, she was still somewhat happy. But in the past few months she has stopped sleeping at night, gets very anxious in the daytime and can’t be left alone, can’t seem to go to bathroom without assistance and has began to lose a lot of her ability to walk. She has also become rather aggressive at times and has started biting. I know the time is coming where it will need to be time to save goodbye, and I already feel selfish for not being able to already. But I can’t seem to face the idea of losing my best friend and I know how much of a mess I will be. I feel guilty because it should be about what’s best for her. And I keep waiting on something to make the decision clear. It will be losing a member of the family and Elie has been a crucial part of our lives since she was 6months old. I am so unbelieavably lucky and happy that we got to spend nearly 16 years with her but it is still killing me to think of letting her go.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Natalie, I’m so very sorry. I can tell how much you love Elie. Nobody knows the extent of another’s pain, but I suspect there are some people here who have been through a similarly tragic, painful situation. My heart goes out to you. I’m glad the book was a comfort; it would be so much better if we could just get rid of this dreadful disease, though. Hugs.

    • Lori Garrett says:

      Natalie I am so sorry you are going through this. We are experiencing the same with our little boy Marceo. Praying for comfort for you and your fur baby.

  29. Lori Garrett says:

    My husband and I have been dealing with CCD in our 16+ year old Shih Tzu Marceo for about 2-3 years now. So thankful to our groomer who told us he was showing signs of dementia 3 years ago, I found this site and have had him on several of the recommended supplements which have helped and seemed to delay the inevitable outcome. His pattern for the past year or so has been what I call several good days followed by several “not so good” days. And the past few weeks he’s been really good considering all the symptoms he has (pretty much all the ones he could have according to the charts). The last few days have been “not so good” and I wonder how many more times he can actually “bounce back”. I know the outcome and I know the decision that lies ahed. I’ve been there before and don’t look forward to experiencing that pain again. But more than that I worry about my husband, who has taken it upon himself to make sure Marceo lives “forever”. In the meantime, our other two fur babies are perplexed by the attention and accidents that their “brother” gets away with. Our lives have been forever altered by this disease, and frankly I am beginning to consider the decision, but know I will be the “bad guy” and worry that my guilt will be awful. Physically, Marceo is perfect. Our vet even told us at his last visit a few months ago that if he could get him a brain transplant he would live forever. This is the ultimate, cruel irony. Loving a a dog so much and sparing no expense to make sure he always had the best care, nutrition, and love. Only to be robbed of him to CCD.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Lori,
      It is so, so hard when they are otherwise physically healthy. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I hope you and your husband can get on the same page about it, whatever and whenever your decision might be. Hugs. Marceo is so lucky to have your love and care.

  30. Melinda says:

    Hi
    My 17 yr old shih tzu also has dementia. And she has gone deaf and partially blind from cateracts.
    My question to those on here. Are your dogs also deaf and blind? I read that this contributes significantly to dementia from being disoriented. I am considering cateract surgery for my dog and am wondering if this might help.
    She is otherwise very healthy. If this would change her life. I will do anything for her.
    Thanks Melinda

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Melinda,
      My little Cricket was deaf, but from what I understand, the dementia is from changes in the brain that have to do with aging. I think being blind can probably make the condition harder for the dog, but they are still two different things. That’s my understanding, anyway. Good luck with your Shih Tzu.

  31. Katherine Selman says:

    My 16year old Shitzu female, Kiki, has démentia. She only has basic instincts now. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Pee.
    She stares at walls, has vision and hearing loss. She has no interest in any of us or our other shitzu. She gets lost in the yard, and we have to go get her. She is incontinent and just pees where ever she is. She was always my best friend sitting in my lap or wanting me to hold her. Last year we took her to the beach on a long road trip. She was great. No problems. Just the perfect little elderly dog. She can only be groomed now with sedation, and it’s just too hard on her physically. She cries the entire time I give her a bath. She has pain and pancreatitis. We may be having her put down peacefully soon. We feel our Kiki is gone and not there anymore. Now she is mostly scared and just pacing or staring into space struggling to get her legs to let her lay down. It is breaking our hearts to see her in this state. I feel we may be saying good bye soon. And hopefully we can avoid her having a scary and painful slow death. We have to have mercy on our pets. They don’t show their pain like humans do. They can have pain for years before we even realize. Our little Kiki refuses any type of pills and going to the vet completely stresses her out. So, we may have to say goodbye, but at least she won’t be scared or in pain anymore.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Katherine, I’m so sorry. It’s so awful to see that happen to our dear companions. It sounds like you have a good handle on her quality of life. And you clearly love her so much! Here is wishing you peace with whatever decisions you make.

      • MRgaret hall says:

        We are in exactly in the same place, Poppy is seventeen, and has deteriorated with symptoms like these over the last six months or so. She doesn’t bark anymore. Yes it’s a hard decision one which I think we must make shortly 😥

    • Ginni Cioffletti says:

      Katherine, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I am experiencing similar but (not yet severe)) symptoms are just past few weeks. Anxiety, restless, confusion. Definitely at the sundown stage. Better in daytime. However, I know things will not reverse. Vet started her on meds to see if it helps. It’s already disturbing our sleep. Never easy knowing what lies ahead. Just remember that she lives life day to day and doesn’t worry about missing her tomorrows. That has always helped me feel more peaceful.

  32. Crystal says:

    My dog was diagnosed with dementia a couple months ago. He has several of the symptoms but the most difficult one for our family to cope with is the barking for no reason. He barks if I have to leave the room and he is alone or even if I am in the room but occupied with a chore, he will go on the other side of the room and bark. He will often times go on for over half an hour before he finally stops. I have gotten him different brain games and treat toys, etc. and that gives us some relief for 10 minutes at most and then he seems to lose interest in the toy and will start barking again. It has made it very difficult to do any chores. Any thoughts on what I could do to get him to stop barking? He does not seem frightened and some have suggested to try giving him benedryl which makes him drowsy but I don’t want him to just sleep his life away. I would like it if he would cuddle up with me on the couch the way he used to, but on the rare occasion he does, it only lasts a short time and then he is back to pacing and barking.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Crystal
      The barking is one of the very hardest things to deal with. It’s hard on everyone. Have you talked to your vet about meds? There are medications that can sometimes help with that but don’t have such sedating effects.

      I wish I had more suggestions, but I don’t. I hope he does settle down on his own or that perhaps your vet can help. I know how hard it can be.

      Hugs,
      Eileen

      • Joha says:

        Hello! My dog is 17 yrs old. She was diagnosed with CCD, and the most difficult thing for me to cope is with the barking. There is nothing I can do, that seems to help. The vet prescribed some meds that help her with the anxiety, but the barking seems an issue. Is there anything I can do to help her other than the anxiety medication.

        • Eileen Anderson says:

          Joha,
          Veterinary behaviorists are the “psychiatrists” of the dog world. They know about all the meds and supplements available, and many will do a consult with your own vet over the phone. (They can’t work directly with you unless you live close enough to go see them.) Dr. Chris Pachel in Portland, OR, has a consulting service over the phone that is quite reasonable. He may be able to talk to your vet about other options for your dog. Good luck. I know that barking, especially in the nighttime, can be a terrible problem.

          Eileen

  33. Linda O’Donnell says:

    Thank you so much for the information you provided. My husband and I have 3 miniature pinchers that we rescued and are our children. Our 16 year old Carmine is doing great but Delilah our 14 year old had gone blind and she was deaf when we got her and Phoebe is 10 and doing great. I learned and researched a lot once Delilah 4 months ago was diagnosed with Dementia. The last month I was getting 1 to hours of sleep and needless to say so was the others in the house hold with exception to my husband who moved to one of the guest rooms. My health was deteriating and I am a cancer survivor for 3 years. 5 pm to 5 am she was barking excessively could not get comfortable even when I would hold her the barking would stop but she was restless. 2 am yesterday morning since I was up I found your article and it let me know it was time I had done everything I could. I had my husband read the article when he woke up and we both agreed it was time. I called our vet and he knew we were making the right decision because he knows how well we care for our dogs. She went peacefully in my arms wrapped in her blanket and I left her on the table wrapped in her blanket peacefully. So thank you . We all got 10 hours of sleep last night and our other pups seem to know why she is not here. Especially Phoebe who was always trying to comfort her was stressed out.

    I can’t thank you enough for your words to let us know when it is time.

    • Kim Willbanks says:

      Today, I am where you were. Thank you for your post. It gives me confirmation that I’m doing the right thing for my little Theo, who is a 17-1/2 Maltese. He has every symptom, except he still eats and drinks. God bless you

  34. Eileen Anderson says:

    Dear Linda,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I am glad you know in your heart that it was time. Much love to you and your other sweet doggies. I know Delilah would thank you if she could.

  35. Kathleen Sheridan says:

    Our dog Lucy is 14 and has reach the sundown part. She also barks and licks the carpet all the time. Has anxiety, cannot hear. But she acts like she sees things and then gets startled. Is she illusinating?

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Kathleen, I don’t think anybody knows. I know that my Cricket startled for no apparent reason a lot. Humans hallucinate, but only in the late stages (and the stages go farther for humans than they do for dogs, if that makes any sense). I’m sorry this is happening to Lucy.

  36. Julie says:

    Yesterday I had to have my 13 year old dog put to sleep. Three weeks ago he suddenly slipped his lead and ran off. Something that he has never ever done in his life as he always walked to heel and never went far from us. Thankfully we found him, but from that moment he was a totally different dog. His body clock has completely changed – he was asleep all day and then constantly pacing up and down in the evening – kept wanting to go out in the back garden and he just used to walk around and come in or just stand out there staring into space – at times he would bound in as if he had been spooked. When he did sit down he was constantly panting as if he’d been running. If he was laying down and we called him he couldn’t determine where the sound was coming from. Night times he used to sleep on our bed but the past week he suddenly started to show aggression when we used to pick him up to put on the bed. The last two nights – he paced and paced and paced. He distanced himself from us – didn’t interact – stopped bringing toys to play – he had no “life” in his eyes. Vet told us yesterday that it could be sudden onset dementia and even though they could try a few things the outcome really would be the same as it only gets worse. His anxiety level was through the roof. He used to come to us to be picked up but as we bent down he would run off scared . The past three weeks we had seen our dog change into something that was too heart breaking to watch and we didn’t want his mind to be tormented any more as it was being tormented enough. So we made the decision to have him put to sleep for his peace of mind. The hardest thing we have ever had to do as the house is so empty and our hearts are broken. Last night we both kept saying had we done the right thing but I think we have as we have taken away his suffering even though it has caused us to suffer. Like I said it really started just over three weeks ago when he ran off and the decline was very quick. God bless you my boy. I miss you, and I just hope that you forgive me in letting you go.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Julie, I’m so sorry about what happened to your boy. How confusing and tragic! I hope you have no doubts about your decision to help him pass on. You clearly did it out of pure love and caring for him. I’m so sorry, though. That’s so fast for that all to happen. I euthanized my dog with dementia the day she had a seizure (she had already declined and a lot of other things had happened; it wasn’t just the seizure). Even though I had been worrying about it for two years, it was still way too fast. So I can only try to imagine how hard it was for you. You are very brave and your boy was super lucky to have you.

      Hugs,
      Eileen

  37. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for all the info you, provide. I am in the middle of deciding what to do for my 14 year old yorkie. She’s had cognitive issues starting slightly about 2 years ago. Staring at the wall was the first sign. She also has arthritis (I give her CBD oil for over a year now, has helped) making her desire to go on walks virtually non existent now. But maybe it’s also because of the dementia? Now I just let her out, she does her thing most of the time, but sometimes will pee, want to go in, and then poops a few min later in the house. Or vice versa. Also now pees occasionally anywhere as well. And taking her out in the dark seems to freak her out. She’s become a little more difficult with eating. Not liking what she used to love.Not finishing her meals right away or at all. But will eat most things I eat, so maybe its the dog food she doesn’t like? I don’t know. Her pacing has become worse. My vet prescribed an anxiety med which does help, most of the time. She shakes and freaks out in the car. So I won’t take her anywhere anymore. She’s not who she used to be as you said with your dog but she’s still here. Loves her greenies and treats for sure. I just don’t know if its time or not. this is agonizing!

  38. Sharon says:

    I have a 15 year old mixed breed that is showing a lot of signs of dementia. Sadly I cannot afford to taker her to the vet. She was showing signs of sundowning last week but this week it’s not just at sundown it’s happening during the day. She can’t get close enough to me and refuses to be far away, she used to be a barker but now barely barks at all, she pants 75% of the day, paces half the night, has started to get into small places she can’t figure out how to get out of, trying to burrow into my bed and bedding, stares into space and at the walls. I have also notices her eyes are starting to get a haze to them. Most nights she won’t let me sleep until after midnight. When she takes a deep breath it’s like she shutters. She also is startled easily and bolts upright out of sleep. Because I am seriously low income, is there ANYTHING I can do to help her? Besides sending her over that rainbow. I know the day will come sooner than I want but I don’t think we are there yet. She is my love and she’s had me for 14 years.

  39. Patrick says:

    I have a 13 Year old Daschound he is not sleeping at night but sleeps alot during the day. He wanders and paces around at night too. I would appreciate your thoughts and ideas on this issue and offer any solutions.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Patrick,
      You need to speak to your vet if you haven’t already. The mixed up sleep cycles can be a symptom of cognitive dysfunction but can also be related to other diseases and conditions. Your vet may be able to prescribe something to gently calm your Doxie at night.

      Good luck. I think the night wandering, and barking, are among the hardest behavioral things to deal with.

      Eileen

  40. Calvin Long says:

    I’m going to get some information that I can use its really hard taking care of my dog 🐕 THANKS

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