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




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.




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.



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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. says:

    Oh most definitely Carob never humans chocolate.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 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.

  8. Kim Carson says:

    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:


      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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

    • 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Melinda says:

    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.

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