Types of Dementia Symptoms in Dogs
There are many behavior changes in your dog that can be signs of canine cognitive dysfunction (dementia in dogs or “doggie Alzheimer’s”). These are the types of symptoms you may see:
Changes in social interactions
Loss of house training
Changes in activity level
Inability to learn
Specific Dementia Symptoms in Dogs
Here are some of the specific symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction :
•Pacing back and forth or in circles (often turning consistently in one direction)
•Getting lost in familiar places
•Staring into space or walls
•Walking into corners or other tight spaces and staying there
•Appearing lost or confused
•Waiting at the “hinge” side of the door to go out
•Failing to get out of the way when someone opens a door
•Failing to remember routines, or starting them and getting only partway through
•Barking for no apparent reason and/or for long periods
•Ceasing to bark when the dog used to be very noisy
•Forgetting cues and trained behaviors she once knew
•Exhibiting motor difficulties like difficulty backing up (aside from physical problems)
•Getting less enthusiastic about toys or stopping playing altogether
•Performing repetitive behaviors
•Having trouble with eating or drinking (finding the bowls, aiming the mouth, keeping food in mouth)
•Failing to respond to her name
•Having difficulty getting all the way into bed
•Trembling for seemingly no reason
•Falling off things
•Getting trapped under or behind furniture
•Sleeping more during the day and less at night
•Forgetting house training
•Having difficulty learning anything new
•Seeking attention less; getting withdrawn
•Acting frightened of people she once knew
•Having trouble with stairs
•Getting generally more fearful and anxious
Copyright Eileen Anderson 2015
This symptom list was carefully researched and professionally edited. It is under copyright, both on this page and on the printable PDF. Please don’t copy and paste the list or parts of it into blog posts, articles, or other documents. That’s a violation of copyright. Instead, please link to one of the versions on this website.
A printable checklist you can fill out for your vet can be found here.
Thank you so much for your posting on CCD. My Tessie, a corgi mix, is 14 yrs. old. I work out of town, was gone for 3 days, came back home, and had a whole different dog. My husband has been ill himself, is retired, and really is kind of in denial about how our pets are aging.
We got Tessie when she was less than a year old from a high kill pound, and honestly, I have never loved a dog like I do this one. In a few days time, suddenly, she has every symptom on your list except not eating and drinking, and she still loves to go outside and feel the sun on her face. But she stares at nothing, gets caught in corners, and doesn’t seem to know who I am. Her face is blank, she barks all the time, trembles and shakes. I took her to our vet the same day, whom I love and trust, and the dr. told me about dog dementia, and gave me a med, which seems to agitate her more. Yesterday, she had a seizure, so we are going to try Phenobarb.
Tessie is a “down” dog, she has been paralyzed in her back legs with IVDD for 6 years, and my husband and I have expressed her bladder 3-4 times/day every day since. Our vet said she never believed Tessie would live so long as a down dog, and I never could get her to be in a cart, but she is healthy and has always been happy till now. She just isn’t there, and I have cried buckets this week, because I didn’t know what to do.
My husband says as long as she eats and drinks and enjoys the outside, we can deal, but she seems so confused and blank to me.
Your website has given me hope that maybe it isn’t as bad as I thought, and thank you for sharing pictures of your sweet dog. I would send a pic of Tessie, but I am not that computer literate.
My email is tessiesmiles, because Tessie was a champ at the “submissive grin.” She learned early on that people went nuts when she grinned at them (with her teeth), so she did it whenever she approached ANYONE. Her smile is gone now.
Thank you again. I needed a “fur mom” who would at least understand how I felt. I really didn’t know what the right thing was.
My heart goes out to you. That is tremendously tough. Have you asked your vet whether there is an acclimation period for the original med? I’m hoping Tessie can get used to it.
You love her so much! I know the blankness is disturbing. Cricket didn’t have it badly, but I know some dogs who have. I hope you can figure out how things are from her point of view. I think the blankness bothers us more than them, but if she really completely doesn’t know you, that’s more difficult to handle.
If it helps to know, Cricket went through a transition period where more things scared her and I think she was more agitated in general, but she got through that. For about the last year she has been much more calm.
I would love to see dear Tessie. Contact me through the form on the Senior Dogs Photo Gallery page. Tell me whether it’s just for me or whether I can put it in our gallery.
I hope Tessie can keep surprising the doctor and stay with you longer. I think I do understand how you feel. Not only watching so much of your dog disappear before your dogs, but to suddenly be faced with these tough decisions. Hang in there.
Hello! My dog Molly Mae doesn’t have all of the symtoms but she is walking around the house and staring into space or getting zoned out a lot. She also sometimes won’t look at me when I call her name. She has also for a long time slept a for a long time during the day. So I don’t know if this enough symptoms or not to say she has this disease.
They don’t have to have all the symptoms. You could try filling out the symptoms list and take it to your vet and ask. Also, some symptoms can be for other diseases instead. So it’s good to know. Good luck!
My Patchie is doing just these things ,you guy’s are saying ,he stands there ,in front of staring off ,doesn’t respond when I call him ,not food aggressive but oriented, I keep his bowl full ,but if you have somethingin your hand or plate you can’t leave it he will snatch it up ty all for your posts ,my husband has cancer our insurance just maxed until the first of the year ,God I feel so bad for both Married 33 years had patch for 11 ty
My 15 yr old pug has all the symptoms that are mentioned. He whines a lot also.
Eats very well still. Hungry a great deal still. Hips & shoulders joint issues. Have him on supplements.
I hope things go well for him, Sandra. I’m glad his appetite is good. Have you talked to your vet about the symptoms? Other meds might be in order at some point. Take care.
My dog Koko has Dementia he is 16 years he is doing all that you say your dog is doing. He dose not sleep good at night he did sleep all night tell last month we found out has this. He sleeps all day he did sleep all night tell last month we are doing are best to keep him comfortable we love him. Hope this will help you out Ginny
Hi to all – we are facing the same horrible decision to say goodbye to our handsome and loveable, loyal Charlie boy – 14 yr old Cocker Spaniel. Has every symptom mentioned by Crickets owner and now has uncontrolled trembling. In the last 2 days has lost the ability to be able to walk far without dropping sideways to the floor. The dementia is so cruel and really Charlie having had it for about 18 months now – we realise hasn’t been Charlie for quite some time. We are phoning vets this morning for the dreaded appointment- but are thinking of him now and not us. We want him to leave with some dignity as most has been taken from him and he was such a proud dog. We have our wonderful memories of fun, laughter and love for him – go peacefully and rest now. I know you will always be with us in spirit – Julie (UK)
Eileen – I have read your book and found it comforting that you have experienced what we are going through now and offered knowledge and help to us. Thank you so much – and Cricket was amazing
Thank you, Julie, and I’m sorry for your loss of your dear boy.
Hello, my name is Destinie I am very concerned it is pretty late and my dog Bruce is showing a lot of these signs all at once almost all of a sudden. A couple I’ve noticed before very vaguely. He woke me up by jumping on my bed my thought to cuddle but he seemed uneasy. So I took him out to pee and when we got back. He begged to come up on the bed. He then proceeded to looking all around the room to which he retreated to a tight spot in a corner against the wall behind a kennel by my bed
Destinie, I’m so sorry these things are happening with your Bruce. Can you get him to a vet to make sure what the diagnosis is? You can use the symptom list in the sidebar of the blog. Hang in there. A lot of people here know how hard it can be.
My baby, Oscar, who is 13 began showing some of these symptoms about 2 weeks ago. He is so much worse now. The aimless walking, accidents and not being able to recognize his food is horrible for me to watch. The hardest part though is I don’t think he really knows who I am anymore. We’ve been to two different vets and have another appointment next week. They can’t give me any answers about what to do, except one said try ginko biloba. I so miss his kisses and him lying in my lap looking up at me lovingly. I wish I knew what to do.
I’m so sorry. That’s such a fast progression! I guess the vets checked him for other conditions? In any case, I hope you have more good time with him. I’m sad for you for his decline. That’s so rough.
Have had to do the hardest thing I ever had to do today Friday 25 Nov and that was to put my beloved dog Chester to sleep. A 16 yrs of age was a good age but to see him what he had become from how he was was heartbreaking.Apart from the barking he had all the classic symptoms of dementia walking into walls/corners totally devoid of emotions etc and was heartbreaking to watch him deteriorate and so after many years of being my loyal best friend I made the decision to do right by him and not think of myself . For any dog lover it’s the very least you can do whethevr your friend is ill or old and their time has come and one can only do what is right by them and end their painless suffering. If i could offer any advice I would freely give it but every one will have to cross their own bridge and it isn’t going to be easy I write this with tears rolling down my cheeks and look forward to remember it the good times we had together.thanks for reading.
Chris, I’m so sorry. Anyone reading this will know how much you loved and cared for Chester. It sounds like you have given him the ultimate gift. I just wish it didn’t hurt us so bad to do that. Hugs.
We are about to lose our pal as well,Our beloved Jack Russell “Homer”. 16 years old ,we noticed it this past summer that he wasn’t listening, hoping he would rebound as he always has. He went from a muscular little Titan, to a much leaner image of rib bones etc. In the last 6 months he has seemed to have lost his bark, no longer alerting us at the door when he needed out and messing and throwing up inside the house. We have been vigilant with taking him out but alas he just won’t go outside anymore. Just absolutely breaking our hearts knowing that it is time.My wife and I know that we will “Always” remember him for the joy, the laughter, the playtime, the antics,everything that made him the gaurdian of our Household, door greeter with a lick, and forever our best friend, “Best Friend” indeed, and that we promised we would try not to remember the dark days, and remember the greatest ,and beautiful memories bestowed upon us by our Handsome little buddy.
Chris, I appreciate the fact you posted.We feel the exact same, We thought we could wait it out, hope for a chance, but that would only be thinking of ourselves. Time to let go, time for the pain to end for him. Tomorrow we will be looking around here, and every corner for him, Good bye my friend.
Chris i feel your pain. I am sitting watching my best friend walking into everything. I is braking my hart. The tears are rolling down my face. Everyone is telling me you will know when the time is right but i just dont.
you are not alone. this is the second time in about two years, and i still don’t know …
Thank you all for posting. My baby girl is 15. Went from a sweet cuddle bug to a sweet cranky old lady. Sleeping all day and then wandering around the house at night. She won’t let anyone touch her including me. I couldn’t leave a room without her following me. She has been deaf for several years due to chronic ear infections. She won’t even let me trim her nails anymore. She wanders around the house getting stuck behind things and in corners. She is getting more cranky witn her sisters…my heart is breaking knowing i have to make a decision to send her to my husband who died 6 years ago (makes me feel better thinking that i will see her again) or keep her here suffering…
It’s such a hard decision. Many of us here have had to make it. Your dog is so lucky to have your love and care.
I feel the same. I keep telling myself ill know when the time comes but as I watch my 18 year old Chihuahua spend her days circling and confused I am so confused on what to do. She still eats, goes to the bathroom normally (although she goes wherever she pleases) she does still have control of her bowels but I feel. She has gone blind and deaf, back legs arthritic. She doesn’t seem.to be in pain and I give her meds and supplements but a lot of the time I like I may be selfish by keeping her here. I get mixed thoughts from friends and family on what to do. Some say let her live, others say let her go. I don’t think she is suffering but I also don’t think she is happy. It’s so confusing when it’s dementia and not deadly health issues.
Thankyou for confirming I did the right thing by my Maltese Vito.
The hardest decision I ever had to make.
16 years of unconditional love and great memories.
I always said Vito had more heart or determination to fight to live then anyone I’ve ever known.
I miss him every day rest in peace Vito.
Chris, thank you so much! I have been dealing with this and for the last few months, deep down I know it’s time for him to go, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Today I called the vet and set up the appointment for next week. It’s so awful. It’s marked on a page in my calendar. Harold does everything on the list above and a lot more. He doesn’t bark, but he was chewing a metal pole a few nights ago. This is so bizarre for him.
Hi our Doberman Called Ace is only 9 and he is really suffering from this I think especially the walking in circles and keeps barking for no reason and won’t sit down anywhere downstairs as he gets starteled so to make him comfortable I’ve been taking him upstairs as he loves lying on the bed under the covers with just his head out it breaks my heart to see him distressed so I just try and make him happy we live him so much
I’m so sorry you are going through this with Ace, and so early too. I can tell how much you love him. Hugs.
My precious dog pippin is 16 and a wonderful companion to me.During the last 6 months she has been diagnosed with dementia.She has always been well behaved and a joy but now she barks all night and seems disorientated and bumps into everything. She is still eating but shows no interest in her toys.At what point do Isay enough is enough? She seems depressed and sleeps all day.She also has mammary camcer but the vet assures me she is not in pain.I dont know what to do for the best I love her but apart grom eating she has little quality og life how will I know when the time is right I dont know what to do
Kim, that is so hard. I don’t know. Here is a checklist, but I don’t know if it will help. You laid it out pretty well already.
Have you asked your vet about medication? It can help a bit sometimes. It might widen her enjoyment of life a little bit.
I’m sorry I can’t be more help. My heart is with you, though. Pippin is lucky to have you, and your great love and consideration for her really show.
hi my dog is 15,a month ago I took her to the vets and she also has mammary cancer, I was told she also had dementia,they said she wasen t in pain,last week the cancer spread to her lungs so we had to have the option of putting her to sleep,I miss her so much xx
I’m so sorry, Julie. Thanks for telling about her.
My 11 yr old Golden Retriever has early dementia,lately he seems somewhat aggressive with some people he does not know but mostly with other dogs and.he does stare into mid air and sometimes if i call his name, no response. other than that he is fine.
I lost my daughter 9 months ago to cancer, she was 48 and has a 6 yr old daughter, I lost her, I pray he live a content long life,comments welcome
My Herbie is a 16.5 yr old dachshund. He spends most of time lost in the house. When I take him outside he just stands in the yard and stares. He still tries to follow my foot steps through out the house. I carry him to puppy pads when ever he will let me because he really does not being held to much anymore. However every night when we go to bed he lays his head on me and falls asleep. When we wake up he likes to be rubbed and massaged. Once we are up he once begins seem lost. Today he did not notice when I put his food dish down. He still has a hearty appetite, drinks water. Last year I adopted 2 female dachshunds that he pretty much ignores and rarely inter-acts with but has never been aggressive with. I give him his own personal space from them as well as supervised time with them. He is on Sentile and Neutrics that I got from the vet. At first these seemed to help but this week has been bad. He is also on holistic formula calming trmt and aggression trmt. He scored 48 on the quality of life scale. I can not imagine life without him but also want him to have some quality of life. Right now that is minimal.
It sounds like he still knows you, which I think is one of the most important things. You’ve described some good pleasures in his life. Even at his age, he can have a bad week, then things may pick up. Best wishes to you and Herbie.
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Your website has been the most helpful that I have come across. It is so helpful being able to communicate with someone who understands
And thank you for your kind words about the site. I do have some experience with how tough it can be.
I found your website while researching dementia in dogs. I have an almost 15 years old toy rat terrier, his name is Jimmy. He always had little quirks that came with spending his early years in an abusive situation. I noticed some changes in him over the past months but kept putting it off, thinking “he is an old dog. He is just getting old.”
He is waiting for me at the vet right now. I can only imagine my fears are going to be confirmed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t imagine life without him.
Imelda, you didn’t say how bad his symptoms are, but his life may not be over, not for a long shot. Cricket stayed with me and had a good life for almost two years after I realized what was happening.
Fingers crossed for you and Jimmy.
Jimmy was pad trained – he forgot to use his pads. He will wake up howling every morning. I carried him to his pad and he will get so confused that he ran away and made his way back to his bed, where he will then use the bathroom. He couldn’t find his way to his bowl – I had to carry him to his bowl and then he would eat. He was very disoriented and withdrawn. He would run away from me and get very scared of familiar situations. It was very heartbreaking.
His vet put him on Anypril 2 mg and he has improved big time. He is more social, he runs to me to be pet and seeks attention all the time. He has his moments of confusion, but overall he seems a little more stable.
Thank you for your kind words!
I’m delighted to hear an Anipryl success story, and even more happy for you and Jimmy. I hope you have some more good time together!
My Mae, a nineteen year old Jack Russell Terrier, has nearly all of the dementia symptoms that are listed in the article. Because she has lost bladder and bowel movement control, she wears diapers that are regularly changed. She has a huge appetite – low salt chicken stock with her dry and wet food, chicken breasts with her medications, and diced apples for her treat.
Sometimes, I have to travel, and I found a wonderful kennel, Anderson Acres whose staff does an excellent job providing the loving care for my precious girl, Mae.
My Junior, who was a Jack Russell Terrier and Mae’s companion, died four years ago. Junior was seventeen when he died with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Mae experienced severe separation anxiety with the loss of Junior. Junior and Mae were with me since they were six weeks old; I miss Junior.
Caring for dogs with dementia requires compassion, patience and understanding dementia. As Junior and Mae’s caregiver, I provide them with a clean, loving, healthy environment so they live their final days with dignity and grace.
Thank you so much for sharing about both your dogs with dementia. It sounds like you have done and are doing a wonderful job caring for them. How lucky that there is a kennel that can care for her well. I didn’t travel for Cricket’s last 18 months because it just would have been too hard for her. She had always stayed at my home with in-home care, but she lost her ability to feel safe with anybody but me. Thanks again for your comment, which may give some others hope.
I had my dog at a Vet. more than six months, I suspected my dog had dementia but all she said was maybe he has it. I had blood work done(383 dollars) and had a hard time even getting the results. Every time I called the Dr. was busy. I even e-mailed her and never got an answer.
After one month I went into that office and another Dr. showed me the results. I was very dissatisfied with that. They wanted me to have exrays but I told them I was going to take care of my dog the best I could since it took me so long to get the results, I n the past few weeks my dog is really showing signs of dementia, he’s walking all night,doesn’t want to walk anymore, and after reading about Cricket, I got to thinking he’s afraid at night when it’s dark. Right now it is 9 AM and he’s sound asleep by me and real still, I think walking all night he’s so tired.
That sounds hard, Dorothy. To my knowledge they don’t diagnoses dementia with bloodwork (or X-rays) but those tests can rule other things out I guess. Maybe another vet could help? The medication they have for dementia can be helpful for some dogs. Best of luck, and sorry you are having a hard time.
My dog Taylor has been with me for three years. I adopted him as an older dog who had been removed from his previous home by animal control. He came to me deaf and blind in one eye, but quickly adapted to his new home of five cats. In retrospect, many of the signs of dementia were there but I didn’t recognize them not knowing his history . I also thought some of his behaviors were due to his deafness or lack of sight.
Within the. Past two weeks he started exhibiting almost all the signs of CDS. My vet put him on anipryl and Valium but I haven’t seen much improvement. Finding your site is giving me hope that I will still have more time with this beautiful little guy. He has brought such joy to my life in such a short period of time . Thank you.
Joanmarie, bless you for adopting an older dog. Aren’t they wonderful? I understand about attributing things to his sensory problems. I sure did that with Cricket for a while. I just had no idea about dementia in dogs. I really hope you can have some more good time with him. Feel free to send in a picture of him if you like for the gallery. Best wishes.
Thank you to all who have left your story to encourage those of us caring for our beloved dogs. Our doggie is a male Maltese Todd who just turned 17 in November 2014. He started bumping into walls in November and we thought it was bad eyesight. When he started turning circles until he just was exhausted we took him to our vet. Our vet described everything he was doing… Whining , crying, barking, talking constantly and we couldn’t figure out what he wanted. Appetite was very decreased.. Had lost weight. Our vet explained that the medicine might have dramatic positive effect, no effect or a little effect. He is on anipryl . During the first week we noticed dramatic change. Appetite increased, he didn’t walk in circles, didn’t bump into things as much, he could walk to the door to go outside to go potty some of the time. We don’t have our baby back completely but we do see glimpses of our precious doggie. He still gets up to greet us when we come home and tries to wag his tail:) he doesn’t cry and whine constantly. We are learning when he whines he needs water, to go potty or just picked up and held… Just like a baby.
Dr has put him on a sedative at night so I can get a little sleep.. We are looking in to herbal forms to help calm him at night. To all of you reading this, treatment is worth it .
We love our babies… They are part of our family . It is difficult to be a caregiver.. This website has helped me so much. I have been so drained and exhausted because the nights are so bad. But it does help to know others are going through the same thing. As I write this our doggie has been talking to my mom who lives with us. He has been her constant companion since she came to live with us. She is 85.. She has dementia too. My dad had Parkinson’s dementia. I am thankful for the medicine the vet has prescribed and thankful for the extra time we have with our little Toddy.
Debbie, thank you SO much for sharing your story about Todd. What a gift that he has more quality time to spend with you. When Cricket started Anipryl the changes were not dramatic, but the fact that she lived for almost two more years after that may well attest to the helpfulness of the medicine in her case as well.
My mother had dementia too. You get quite a perspective when you have both human and doggie family members with these conditions.
Thanks again for posting.
Our girl Megan is on segiline and the change was amazing at 1st. She had been up all night pacing and moaning. It has been 10 months and she is much better. The main thing is that she has to be walked every day then given her medicine at the same time every day. It was not a miracle drug but she seems more settled.
Thanks for commenting, Sue. I’m glad to hear another success story with selegiline. You are right, it’s not a miracle drug. We can hope for a moderate improvement for some dogs and it sounds like that’s what you got. Actually it sounds like more than moderate; I’m sure it was hard on everyone when she was up all night. I’m so glad things are better!
Hello fellow dog lovers. Our 13 year old dog started showing signs about 5 months ago, maybe even prior. He has severe foot allergies and we are not able to give him any medications that would alleviate symptoms due to complications. We did try Valerian root extract in very small doses, and vit E – both of which had severe consequences. His incontinence just exacerbates any attempts made in this area.
He has many of the symptoms listed, and we are wondering like many owners at what point it’s time to let him go. This site is very helpful, especially the checklist. I know nobody can tell us when he should go, but we’re navigating as best we can and would love additional perspective. We don’t think he’s ready yet, but believe it will be soon. Whatever that means.
The toughest part is that physically he seems very fit, he is still quite enthusiastic about mealtimes, and at least once a day he likes a walk (we used to take him on 2 which he loved but he no longer has the stamina).
Any ideas about progression? He paces frequently, eats snow outside for 30 min at a time, is up multiple times at night, is disoriented, has trouble walking, licks his pee or eats poop if he’s gone in the house.
It’s so hard when they are physically fit. I used the quality of life assessment lists, checking with them often. But with my little Cricket, it was the event of her having a seizure that I took as the “landmark.” I just wasn’t going to let that happen again, combined wit her other frailties. It was still so hard.
Hope some others can chime in here. I think it helps to hear how others decide, even if the circumstances are different.
Finding this site and reading all of your comments has made me cry, but also given me hope for my senior baby. Henry is a 16 year old miniature schnauzer. He’s always been super healthy, very active and fit. About a year ago he started going to the bathroom in the house of out nowhere. Then I noticed that he was eating and drinking his feces & urine. I took him to the vet to rule out any infections or others issues….all clear. During that same time, I also realized that he’s losing his sight, confirmed by our vet. As things have progressed (falling off steps & curbs, staring at walls/space, having trouble moving around in general), I assumed it was eye sight related. Well, today I found him in a very snug, dark corner between our bed and wall….just sitting there. That was a light bulb moment! After reading the list of symptoms, it’s very clear to me that he’s experiencing some level of dimentia. I’ll be taking him to the vet asap, so THANK YOU all so much for sharing your experiences and I’m so sorry for those of you who have lost your precious companions!
Hi…it’s all so difficult. I finally had to make the decision to allow my little Taylor to pass over the rainbow bridge. The Vet decreased his prednisone, which I agreed with, but increased his Valium dosage. It didn’t help. After two sleepless nights, and a month of circling, which became more intense, I knew it wasn’t fair to him to have him live that way. It wasn’t a life, he wasn’t happy. You will know, your instinct will tell you.
When our dementia pup passes how long would you recommend keeping his body around for our other dog, and cat who both adore him? My husband and daughter are a little worried about this idea, because they are afraid of how they’ll feel having him in the house – but we also believe our cat and dog need some time with him to understand he’s gone. And we’ll watch them both to see how they’re doing with it – so maybe that’s the biggest clue. If you have any thoughts or experience here, I’d appreciate it.
Here are some links from Dr. Patricia McConnell about that. I think you are right to take your cues from the dogs. Also, remember how much better their noses are than ours. They will know the smell of death, and, sorry to be so graphic, but they will smell as the decay progresses. I mean immediately, MUCH earlier than we will. I suspect the dogs will know and “get it” pretty fast. I do like the idea of giving them space to grieve, though.
Everybody has different experiences about this, and I think the dogs do, too.
Here are the links. I’m glad you brought up the questions. I’m going to add the links to the website.
Thank you so much for your very informative forum! I never knew of CDS in dogs prior to reading your posts just today. I have a 16 year old rescue Chihuahua mix named Otis. Otis is truly the love of my life. I attributed his odd behavioral issues to old age, but it seems as if in the last week, Otis has turned a very bad corner with the disease. He has yet to be evaluated by his vet because I thought that this was perhaps “the natural end of life” for him and wanted him to be at peace at home, seeing that he does not seem to be in any sort of pain. Ive anguished over the possibility of having to perhaps put him to sleep, until a friend mentioned to me, just tonight about CDS. Your website has given me renewed hope that perhaps with a little medical intervention and plenty of love, caring, and patience, we can ride this thing out with grace and dignity.
Hello Michele, I’m sorry in the delay in responding. I hope little Otis is still with you, or that he has gone in peace if that was what was to be. Thank you for writing. I can tell how much you love him.
Alright folks, here’s some interesting news. Our 13 year old dog has almost completely recovered. After 4+ mos of diarrhea we put him on an all rice diet. Turns out there is a correlation between diarrhea and dementia due to vitamin B1 being leached. Rice is fortified with B1, and after roughly 3-4 weeks he’s back to his old self – we’re not sure he has ANY residual affects of dementia.
Please post info about the connection of B1 to diarrhea and dementia (I wish I had known). Btw, we were at our wits end since his extreme food sensitivities prevented any other sort of food tolerance, including his hypo-allergenic food he’s been on for 12 years – hence the rice.
Why are you assuming that the dog is a female (“…her”/”…she”)? I have a Puerto Rican street dog (a mutt). I got him when I was 9 so, about 13 years ago. We don’t know how old he is, because the shelter/kennel didn’t know when he was born. For about half a year or so, he has been aimlessly walking outside his territory, not noticing that he’s walking out side the yard. He also sometimes barks without any reason, too.
Sometimes I assume he, sometimes she. On this website I use she. It seems only fair to mix it up a little, since English doesn’t have a gender-neutral pronoun. Good luck with your street dog.
I rescued an older Jack Russell girl of about 10 years of age, over 3 years ago, history unknown, called Gypsy. I had a boy Jack Russell, 12, Jack & they were good pals. She soon showed signs of deafness & also signs I didn’t recognize that are dementia.They included waiting at the hinge side of doors, not wanting too much petting from strangers, vague stare occasionally & stiff gait. My vet advised Vivitinon, half tab twice daily which had an immediate effect on her energy levels! My boy Jack had congestive heart failure & we had the tough decision about 2 years ago. She missed him & against my friends advice as I’m a stroke survivor & disabled myself, I took on another older Jack Russell called Nugett, 12yrs! He’s a great dog & they’ve developed a strong friendship! Gypsy is worse but still likes walking but shorter, eats like a horse (or would, if let her), knows her mum & others, hates her new harness being put on but she can back out of old one (not so demented? ) & tires me out chasing her like a game to get it on! She might also have Cushings Disease but not confirmed & I don’t want to put her through the stress of a full day at the vets & more meds to find out? She seems happy in herself but does bark for no reason that I can see? Sleeps a lot through day & wakes up early evening, asking for food. I’ve developed a strategy & give her less at main meals then the remainder in eve! She’s a labour of love & I wouldn’t be without her until she’s not having a good life anymore, a day I’m dreading! Thank you, Julie.
Oh Julie, thanks for writing about your lovely Jack Russells. Also, kudos for adopting a senior dog! How lucky you, Gypsy, and Nugett both are. I don’t think Vivitonin is available in the U.S. yet, but it has been clinically studied in Europe and is prescribed in several countries, so I’m glad you mentioned it. (The active ingredient is Propentofylline.) You are doing such a good job figuring out ways to keep Gypsy health and happy. Thanks again for writing!
Hello, I am very new. Our 11year old mini dapple doxie Blitz was just diagnosed blind and with dementia, double whammy. Any information or experiences sure could help. Thank you Nancy
I’m so sorry your doxie got the double whammy. I don’t know of any resources specifically for a dog who is both blind and has dementia, but there is a great site for blind dogs, and the owner has a blind dachshund! Here is a link to her blog, with some specific posts linked on how to help a blind dog. I hope some others will chime in here with their experiences.
Thank you for this site. Our Austrailian Shepard Cody is almost 15. He has most of the symptoms on the list, aside from eating & drinking. This started all of a sudden about 10 – 12 months ago. First we thought he was going blind because he was bumping into everything in the house. Then, very quickly he lost about 15 pounds. We had to change from hard food to canned dog food and he is eating well now. This is a difficult time for our family because we know his life on earth is coming to an end. Until that time, we continue to provide love and support and hope that his remaining time is peaceful and without pain.
Thanks for writing, Glen. I can tell your dog is being lovingly cared for. I hope that he still has many days with his loving family.
Thank you for this site. The love and compassion in the posts is very comforting. I adopted a 10 year old “special needs” dog 3 years ago. Gigi is the first dog I have ever owned that has a sense of humor. We bonded immediately and I love her so much! She came to me with severe cataracts, deafness, horrible teeth, heart worms, and mammary cysts that needed to be removed. She needed to be neutered and had had too many litters. (BTW, she was chipped and when the pound called the owners to let them know she had been found, they didn’t want her.!) Two heart worm treatments, dental work, and a couple of surgeries later, she was good to go. Six months ago, her back right leg gave out and she started acting very strange and disoriented. She was diagnosed as having had a stroke, and within a few weeks she was almost 100 percent — even resuming using her back leg. A few months later she had another episode, and again recovered within a few weeks. About a month ago, she started going downhill fast. She is now blind, still can’t hear, she collapses on her rear right leg although she sometimes walks on it, she cannot aim her mouth for eating and drinking, she dumps her food and water dishes constantly and she pees in my bed almost every night. She can’t find her way around the house, she gets herself stuck in every nook and cranny…need I go on? I have restricted her to a 10 x 5 room because she is at risk of getting hurt and I watch her on a camera when I am not home so I can rescue her if she gets in trouble. All that being said, when I hold her she loves me, nudges for pets, wags her tail, eats and drinks like a big dog (she is a 10 lb mixed breed mutt). She has started falling asleep with her head on my shoulder even though she never liked to be touched at night before, so that’s a plus. I have been able to handle everything so far but one thing: since her back right leg doesn’t work, she paces all day but basically sits on her bottom and turns in a circle. She is wearing sores into her leg, butt, and tail. Sometimes she pees and then turns in that all day so her skin is very irritated. Any ideas on how to stop the circling? We tried meclazine ( no change) and started the alzheimers meds a week ago. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
Hi Julie, how wonderful that you are still able to care for Gigi and she has such a good quality of life. Your story is so touching. What a lucky dog she is that you found her?
I’m sorry that I do not have any ideas about the circling. I so hope the dementia meds help. Perhaps another reader has a bright idea for you. I, too, confined little Cricket to a smaller space for the last few months of her life and used a webcam to check on her. (She would poop and walk around in it.)
Take care and let me know how things go.
My daughter is a registered nurse and she has a 12 year old Boston terrier which we all love so much . She has been a big part of our family since I bought her from a Boston terrier rescue group for my daughters nursing school graduation
She is showing signs of dementia , for several months now but lately she has started being aggressive toward her other dog , barking at night , starring into space at nothing and at times acts like she does not know my daughter , she also roams the house at night and that is so unlike her ,
Is there any kind of medication she can take for this ?
Hi Tina, thanks for writing about your dog. Check out the treatment page. The drug that I believe has the most positive research behind it is selegiline (Anipryl is the brand name in the U.S.). Good luck.
I believe our 14 year old corgi is in the early stages of dementia. In the early stages do some of these symptoms come and go? The reason I ask is because sometimes I see him exhibit symptoms and other times I don’t. Some of the things I’ve seen over the past 6 months are waiting at the hinge side of the door, refusing to bark, staring at walls, pacing, and no interest in any of his favorite toys. I haven’t had him evaluated by our vet but will be taking him in soon to rule out any other medical conditions.
Yes Theresea, they can come and go. There are good and bad days, and even good and bad times of days. Some people even notice the “sundowning” effect, as it is been named for human patients with Alzheimers. Things can just tend to fall apart at the end of the day. Those sound like typical symptoms. I’m glad you are going to see your vet.
We have had a number of geriatric girls through the years but this is the first time I think we may dealing with doggy dementia. For the past 2 years, our Harley Mae has had some of the symptoms. We moved about a year ago and her symptoms stayed the same but in the past month , they have exponentially increased. She will sit and bark at walls, shakes uncontrollably if someone she loves and has known comes to visits or there is a high tone pitched noise such as on Apple Iphone; She will have a blank stare back at you at times and other times she seems partially engaged. I am not sure what to do with her. She goes to the vet often as of late trying to figure what is going on. All of her monthly labs are normal, her ultrasounds of her abdomen are normal. Wondering if we should do a brain CT?? He thinks it is anxiety. He started her on Prozac and its too early to tell if it is working. She has 4 other canine sisters that she still likes particularly one that can usually comfort her when we humans cannot, It seems odd to me that she has these symptoms so young at 11 human years. I work with humans with dementia and I think I a m seeing it in our Harley Mae. I also read that her breed is more susceptible to neurological disorders as she is an Aussie Shepherd mix. Any thoughts or ideas are welcomed
Hi Kathy, thanks for writing about Harley Mae. So sorry that she is showing these signs so early. Since you work with humans with dementia you probably know that a brain tumor can cause a lot of the same problems; is that why you are considering a brain CT? Has your vet discussed selegiline with you (Anipryl in the US)? It has shown promise in ameliorating dementia and also is prescribed for anxiety (off-label for that in the US). I hope at least you can get a certain diagnosis. Perhaps some others can chime in here with ideas. Take care.
My daughter has a 12 year old Boston terrier showing symptoms of dementia , she did some research and saw something about feeding them raw meat . She found a recipe and ordered raw rabbit , duck and sheep and started making Roxy’s food . Within a couple of weeks she has started acting like herself and has so much enegery and her symptoms has completely stopped . No longer barking at night , wondering the house all night long and just staring into space and getting lost in the house
So much difference in her , now if it will last I have no clue but she sure has made a drastic change .
She orders her food from http://www.haretoday.com
Thank you for this website. I first noticed it because of a photo of your dog, Cricket. She looked exactly like my dog, Prickette, who now is in her second year with the symptoms of dementia described in your links. It’s comforting and it’s sad knowing that others are going through the same thing as I am. She eats, etc, but she is not really there any longer and I don’t know how long I can go on like this. Everyday, especially after a hard night, I think I should put her down and then I look at her and tears come to my eyes and I continue. And she continues. The sadness for me is ever present. I can only imagine what it is like for her.
I’m so sorry, Rick. I understand about that sadness. I do believe that it is usually harder on us than it is on them, unless they are terribly anxious or in pain, and it sounds like your dear dog is not. Take care.
I feel your pain. My little 14 year old terrier mix had been showing signs of dementia for a few months. Wandering and whining at night, not eating, and licking his paws excessively. Last week he started to become aggressive towards the family. Yesterday I had to make the decision to put him down. I got him some fries from McDonald’s and a cold beer. (His two favorite things) before we went to the vet. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s been 24 hours and I’m still crying. Just remember that when we take on a furry roommate, it is our duty to do what is best for them. I know that if I where in pain, losing my senses and my mind, I’d want to move on to the next life. You just have to focus on all the love and joy they brought to your life and know you will see them on the other side. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who are dealing with this.
I didn’t know dogs could get dementia. I noticed my dog Jack ,13 years old was drinking excessive amounts of water then having to go outside to go potty. Took him to our vet, we were told his kidneys are failing and he has the start of dementia. I didn’t think anything of the dementia, i was concerned about his kidneys. I just thought the thing i noticed was do to old age. 2 months later on Oct 8th 2017, he seemed a bit confused that morning, as the day went on things got worse.He paced constantly, didn’t comprehend the stairs etc. I decided to find out more about dementia when i came across your page. I cried first when i saw Cricket because my Jack, a rat terrier looked just like her. I read and knew what was wrong. Things went bad to worse, he was exhausted from pacing, had no control of bodily functions, slept very little and the worst part was he no longer knew who i was. That night was awful! All i could do was cry as i watched my best friend lost, scared and exhausted. I slept only the couple hours he slept. If i tried to be by him, he would get down and start pacing. I just wanted to comfort him. I knew in my heart, it was time to say goodbye.I called my vet the next morning and made the appointment. It was scheduled for 5 pm, part of me was glad to have him for the day but it was painful to watch him. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing i ever had to do.I miss him every day. My heart is broken…Thank you for telling your story of Cricket, it helped me in my time of need.
I am so, so sorry. Your Jack was so lucky to have you. Your love for him shines through. I wish I could heal all of our wounds about this, but I can’t. I’m glad you found Cricket’s story helpful. Thanks for sharing about Jack.
Thank you so much for having a big heart for animals and being so loyal and good to your do in her final days. Thank you even more for sharing what you have learned to give the rest of us some kind of path to navigate.
I have two Papillons myself the daughter and grand daughter of my parents two dogs. My parents recently passed two weeks apart from each other like a story out of the notebook. I promised to care for their dogs but had no idea of the challenge I would face. I lived just a few doors away and saw my parents every day for at least an hour and took mine as I went so her dogs know me well. Im sure this is harder for them because it has been exacerbated by moving them to my home that they are not familiar with AND the Lucky has lost his eyesight, completely blind, Ricky who has always been very nearsighted (can’t see far) is totally deaf and now beginning to lose her sight as well so the hand signals I taught her are useless. On top of all of that they are grieving. I think I misssed some earlier signs because I was so occupied with caring for my parents and then passed them off as grief. Ricky would stand under my mothers clothes for an hour, that were hanging in the laundry room and I thought it was because she smelled my mother on them.But I now think it was the beginning of the standing behavior. There is a cheap bookshelf in the area where I keep them that used to house homework stuff when my son was little and I still keep paper or pens on it. They will pull anything on that shelf into the floor, tear it up and then crawl on the shelf to sleep in the corner of the book shelf. Obviously I stopped putting anything there. Of course all behaviors get worse at night just when I need to sleep. They bark, cry, stare at the walls or at the ceiling lights, which freaks some people out, you can imagine the theories that come from that since my parents just passed. It is also hard to tell what is fear and insecurity over the lack of vision and what is dementia. One thing for sure, because it has been a little embarrassing, is both dogs who use to like me, now act like they are frightened of me, but they act frightened of everything.
One thing that also made it hard to think they had dementia is if they managage to get out the door (like when Im carrying in groceries) ; and I swear it seems strategic, they can navigate back to mom’s house! Well, they could until about 3 weeks ago. Now they just navigate to the road. Fortunately for me, I live in the country and about 900 feet off the road and usually have time to put down whatever Im doing and chase after them.
I do not want to put them down for multiple reasons. I think it would be terrifying for them to go to a vet and smell the smells when they cant see or hear or be comforted. They cant hear my voice, see my face and now they ; especially Ricky seems fearful of my touch though I try to pet her and love her. I also don’t want any doubt (in my own mind) that it was for convenience or that it just got too hard. some days it is so clear like when she walks into the house hard enough to hurt and other days they seem to be playing and trotting like puppies and seem really happy. It also feels like the last thing I can do for my parents. Having said that, it is so tough. They make me late for work almost every morning no matter what routines I try to implement.
The most time consuming is cleaning up after them. I can take them out and they will come in the house to go to the bathroom. Puppy pads dont work, they wad them up as a blanket. Blankets have to be washed daily because those, they DO go on. ughhhh.
Has anyone found out of the box tricks to help with these issues. I really am at my wits end between the guilt of even thinking about putting them down and the reality of keeping them safe and living with the the work they create. Thanks for listening. I apologize for the length, I could actually make this a small book but hopefully this paints a picture.
First, I’m so sorry about the loss of your parents. I can’t even imagine how hard that was, and then to be followed by becoming the caregiver of their dogs.
The “coming in to use the bathroom” is one of the classic symptoms of dementia, you probably know that, and a very frustrating one. If they will go on blankets–this is gross but if they are doing it anyway can you arrange some sort of surface like that for them on the floor? Baby blankets? Towels? (My Cricket wadded up pee pads too, just from walking on them.) Also, have you looked into doggie diapers? They come in sizes all the way down to tiny.
I understand the horror of thinking of the dogs’ last moments being fearful in the vet’s office. Have you discussed the possibility of an oral sedative (something like valium) you can give them beforehand? For when the time does come. (Don’t agree to the drug acepromazine, which some vets still use. Here’s why.) You might want to talk to the vet in general about medications. There is absolutely no shame in that. If they dogs have dementia, it is a disease of the brain. Your vet may be able to suggest a medications to help.
I hope some others chime in here with suggestions for you. You are being an angel for your parents, and for their dogs.
I am wondering if the use of this drug depends on the amount and the reason for using. Our vet just gave us a very small dose for our senile old poodle (18 years old!) who was waking up every night, howling for hours, etc. Just 1/2 of a 10 MG tablet, as we read, a very small dose for an 18 lb. dog, and it did get him through the night, although he was very groggy all morning. The article made it sound like a poor choice for phobias, but maybe not bad for our situation?
Because of how WordPress works, I can’t tell what comment you are replying to until I publish this but I am guessing it’s about Acepromazine. Please understand that I am not a vet, but I have read that it is still used to induce a kind of immobility in dogs, for instance, a very active dog after surgery who isn’t supposed to do too much. So although I can’t judge your situation, that might be the rationale for the drug.
I have a dog that is 16 years old he has Dementia and he is blind so that makes it heard on him and us we are doing are best to keep him comfortable and give him a lot of love. He is on my lap now he loves to sit on my lap, my daughters when he gets tried of me he gots to my husband then to my daughter for some loven then back to Mommy. I give him tea to help him relax it helps a little he still gets up at night going round looking for someone. We love him and will keep doing what we can do to keep him comfortable and give all the love he need. Thank you for this website. Ginny
My thoughts are with you.
As Eileen mentioned, I think it’s definately worth asking your vet if an anti-anxiety is an option.
As for the vet, I am in Australia but we have vets here that will come to the house. We even have vets that do only at-home ‘farewells’ and nothing else. May be worth ringing around to see if a vet can come to you when it gets to that time. Another alternative if you can’t get a vet to come to you is that they might be happy to prescribe a sedative to give before you take them to the clinic so they will be relaxed for travel and hopefully asleep when they get there.
Hope this helps somewhat.
I have a 13 yo 65 lb mixed breed dog who is in remission from lymphosarcoma. He’s been pretty busy all his life, so I’ve been using food toys with him since he was 1 yo. He still eats his kibble through them every day. I’ve had a feeling his hearing is going, but I’m not sure. The past month or so, he’ll get spooked (like when he hears thunder or fireworks), but there are no noises (at least that I can hear). He starts to stress pant heavily and wants to be put in the car. I have been taking him for a short drive and coming home where he’s usually ok after that. He even shakes sometimes. It’s so sad as I don’t know what’s wrong or how to help him. I don’t want him to be scared. Could this be part of dementia or something? He’s always been a pretty sharp dog and is also so eager to train (very food motivated!).
I’m so glad I saw this post on your Facebook page. I follow your regular blog, but will follow this one too! Thanks!
Hi Carla, it sounds like you have taken great care of your fellow all his life! Startling for no apparent reason and trembling for no apparent reason are both on the possible symptom list for canine cognitive dysfunction, but may be symptoms of other conditions too. Sounds like a trip to the vet might be in order.
Thank you for following this blog and I hope you get some useful info here. I hope you have a lot more good time with your dog.
Thank you Eileen! We go to the vet every three weeks to check his white blood cell count so it’s definitely on my list of questions for next week’s scheduled visit. I have looked at every page on this blog and plan on reading more of the linked articles. Thank you! I love my boy! We have two Nina Ottoson puzzles. This video is a couple of years old, but he still likes to use the puzzle! https://youtu.be/dCtmJRdCgck?list=PLOPnqmjb4Ii-_b3UegfgXcurEfV4EQNqc
That’s a great video! I’m really falling for Amos!
I rarely post on websites. But I have to tell you that I think you have done a tremendous job with this website. I am so moved by these stories and your responses. I am a 26 year old nurse and routinely interact with dementia patients. So in a way, I can relate to the experiences of these owners. My 13 year old Rigatoni has started displaying some of these symptoms, and that is how I happened across this website. She is a happy old mutt that gives our two year old cat a run for his money. Thank you so much for your time and compassion.
Thank you so very much, Anthony. My mom had Alzheimer’s, and I’ve noticed commonalities too. I hope Rigatoni (great name!) keeps going strong for a long time to come.
Thank you for a very informative website. Your little Cricket seems a sweetie.
I’ve had a girl I rescued at 4 months. She’s 10 now; a bit young for CD. We don’t have an official diagnosis of anything other than extreme anxiety, but I wonder if this is where we are heading. She showed some anxiety issues early on and since I knew she had suffered some trauma as a pup in a shelter, I attribute it to that. At 2 YO, she developed EPI, which I manage with enzymes and B12 shots.
She has been fairly active, playing frisbee and chuck it daily in addition to neighborhood or park walks. She becomes unglued with storms (even just wind) or fireworks. This last month has been unbearable: up all night, moving from room to room, on my bed, off my bed – can’t settle till around dawn. Plus the shaking. Nothing I do calms her except taking her for car rides. Our home (just hubby & I) is quiet and calm – we are not loud people.
She has had episodes of this behavior over the years and usually snaps out of it. She doesn’t seem to be in pain and all blood work is normal.
We have tried the following: Rescue Remedy, flower essences, Thundershirt, Composure, melatonin, calming music, more exercise. Nothing has made much of a difference. The vet has now given her prozac as of last weekend. I feel like a total failure. She looks at me so sadly, like “Mom, what have you done to me?” I know there is an adjustment period, but I’m not sure I’LL make it. She’s not eating normally, sleeping more through the day and looking sad and anxious. Also having separation anxiety, which she never had before. She has destroyed three rugs and two blankets in the last six months – never destroyed anything before.
In a month, we’ve only had 2 nights of uninterrupted sleep. Not functioning well at all. Sorry this is so long – just venting because I’m so upset.
What a rough road you have had with your dear dog. I’m saying this as a lay person, but from what I’ve read, anxiety and dementia can go hand in hand, at least in the earlier stages. Good for you for helping your dog try Prozac. And even though you must be tired of “trying” stuff and are worrying about the effects on her, remember that, just as with humans, sometimes it can take a while to get the dosage right.
You might want to check into the Fearful Dogs Facebook group. It is wonderful and they are very responsible about recommending only things that have been shown to work.
I really hope you can get your dog–and you and your husband–some relief.
Should have added, too, that her anxiousness seems a bit like “sundowning” since it happens at nightfall. Most of the summer, she would not go out into the yard in the dark, even with porch lights. She would go to the bathroom in the mulch up against the house.
Maybe a silly question, but does she have vision problems? In that case it could still be hard for her to see at night, even with some lights on.
Not a silly question. No vision problems. She just had a full exam with blood work done last week.
Thanks for the FB recommendation; I’ll check them out.
Glad about the exam. I hope the Prozac helps her.
Thank you for your wonderful advice. You are very kind and informative. I have a 13 yr old website named Dino. He is the first dog I ever owned and now his mental state is slowly deteriorating. He pants constantly, walks aimlessly, growls even at me, and generally has a rather unkempt, sad look about him. I am so glad I checked your site because tomorrow he has a vet appt and I will ask about Valium or other calming medicines for him. Bless you for helping us “senior dog owners.”
Thank you for your kind words, Natalie, and I hope it goes well for you and Dino.
My Dave is now 9 nearly 10 years old, his a happy dog and very much a mummys boy. I adopted him and his sister (same age), 4 years ago! My husbands ex wife had put his dogs in the rehoming centre and not told him. So they have known my husband since being puppies.
We use to laugh about how much dave wanted to be near me and I even called him my shadow, I can’t tell you the amount of times I have tripped over him. They have had their own bedroom since they came to live with us, they did have a cage in there but the door was never closed, it was to make them feel secure more than anything because it was what they we’re use to.
In the past few months dave hasn’t wanted to go in their bedroom on a night time, just stands on his hind legs and shakes in front of us. So we took the cage apart (we thought maybe he didn’t have enough room when sleeping) and put lots more dogs beds down in the room so they had more places to sleep, this didn’t work. So then I put my son’s old night light in their room and it seamed to do the trick, in the past few days however it has started again. He won’t go in there he won’t even come and sit with me just wants to be with my husband all the time. He has even started to fall coming down the stairs (now I carry him on days). He is shaking all the time as well unless his sleeping or on my husbands knee.
Do you think his could be early dementia?
I’m so glad you found out about the dogs in the rehoming center and got them! Dave does sound very attached to you.
As you have guessed, when a dog starts behaving differently, being scared of something or avoiding it, that’s something to pay attention to. The things you described could be dementia, or there could be a different physical or mental problem. I hope you can get Dave to the vet to discuss these things. Bless you for taking such good care of both dogs.
Great site. I simply typed in dog dementia and have enjoyed reading all the post. Just loss my husband after ten nightmarish yrs. with LBD, never realizing a dog could come down with dementia as well. We have five dogs and the one who worked with him everyday, I assumed was grieving, well after taking him to the vet, it is confirmed canine dementia. And as some one else mentioned the meds. they gave me, seemed to make him worse. However, knowing he has severe arthritis in his rear right leg I researched mobic, which I take and give him half late in the afternoon…wow, I can now sleep at night with him curled up next to me. After dealing with this with my husband for so many years, I’m sure it is individual signs with animals
as well as with humans, in other words there is no one size for all. I’m still hoping the grieving process has thrown Buddy into this, and hoping to see good results with the raw food diet, along with more time for him to get over his grieving. I look forward to reading and learning from others experiences on your site, thanks!
Hi Val, and thanks for your comment. Lewy Body Dementia is tough; I’m so sorry about the loss of your husband and the difficult time you both must have had. I’m really glad the painkiller is giving your guy some relief at night. And if your dog does turn out to have dementia, remember to get back to your vet about other medication options.
Thanks for coming here and reading the stories! We all feel better when we can share these things, I think.
My family and I learned about dog dementia too late. Our dog, Daisy, would seemingly find herself out on the front lawn time and time again not truly knowing how she got there. We had just thought it was a phase of hers, until we heard about dog dementia after she was caught in the middle of the street. Life sucks, we lost a friend yesterday afternoon.
Nicholas, I’m so very sorry.
Hi everyone, I’m so glad I found this site, I have a 12 year old staffy called Buster, he started doing the toilet in the house 3 months ago and started refusing walks, he licks the wall for hours every day, and doesn’t play anymore, he sits in the other side of the house away from everyone, he doesn’t get excited about much, but he does have some good days where he is excited to see me, he still eats, is not in any pain although he has lost the use of his back right leg and the left leg is what holds him up, I have 2 young kids, a 2 years old and a 8 month old who just started crawling this week, he has poo’d on the babies mat, and on top of his toys, and I have had to throw a lot of stuff out, we came to the decision today that it was time to get him put down, we just don’t think he has any quality of life anymore, and I can’t have him pooing 2-3 times a day on the floor the baby crawls on, I just feel so sad and lost, my husband is devasted, its his first pet and his best Friend and our first baby really, I have cried all night, I feel like I am letting him down and that I am murdering him by getting him put down, we tried the tablets for dimentia and it made him worst he started peeing everywhere and pooing more and stopped eating so we stopped after 10 days, he tends to come right in front of me to poo, is this a normal thing for dimentia or could he have something else all together? Sorry for the long rambling post, I just don’t know what is for the best, I miss my old friend and am sad my boys won’t get to grow up with the fun happy dog we all loved
I’m so sorry, Gemma. I can tell how much you love your dog. Yes, it is pretty common for dogs with dementia to eliminate right in front of their owners; it’s even in some of the symptom lists. Sometimes they will even come in from outside and do it. I supposed by now you may have made your decision. Please don’t feel badly. Your Buster is so lucky to have someone who loves him so much that they would care for him so well.
He was put to sleep on Thurs, he was terrified of fireworks, so guy Fawkes night and weekend after is always very upsetting for him so we decided to do it before all the fireworks started, I feel soo sad, I feel like I killed him and that I have up too soon, I miss him dearly, and would give anything for another cuddle
Gemma, Buster was lucky to have you and you clearly gave him a great life. I think it was very thoughtful to save him from the fireworks. I hope you can feel better about your decision in time. Hugs to you.
I fear my 11.5 year old Basset Hound is on the road to dementia. Over the past 2 months, he has been constantly barking. Several months ago my vet found a solid mass on Noah’s chest. I elected not to put him thru the surgery and probably chemo that would have been involved. I don’t know if this is causing the barking, or if he is just getting old. He appears to be slightly deaf but still seems to see well. We have a vet appt tomorrow so hopefully he can give Noah something to calm his nerves a bit. All I know is that I’ve had my best friend since he was 8 weeks old and I can’t stand the thought of losing him.
I hope the vet appointment went well. It sounds like Noah is going through a pretty hard time, and you too. He’s a very lucky guy to have you. Let us know with an update if you’d like. Take care.
Thank you so much for this website! I have a 13 year old wire haired terrier, Buster, who has always been wired wrong; leash aggression, separation anxiety, and sleep aggression. I would chalk it up to the terrier breed, but I had a sweet little JRT who was the complete antithesis of him. He developed arthritis symptoms about two years ago as well, and has a tumor on his liver.
Lately he has been exhibiting odd behavior, or should I say more odd behavior than he has exhibited his entire life. I thought this was due to the fact that his arthritis causes him pain, or maybe his liver, and that maybe he is losing his eyesight. After reading the symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction, I’m rethinking my thinking.
* Pacing back and forth — yep. He goes from one part of the house to the other, over and over and over again.
* Staring into space or walls — does the oven door count?
* Walking into corners or other tight spaces and staying there — all the time
Appearing lost or confused
* Waiting at the “hinge” side of the door to go out — not to go out. To come in! He’s been going out that sliding glass door for 11 years!
* Failing to get out of the way when someone opens a door — I thought this was due to arthritis
* Failing to remember routines, or starting them and gets only partway through — we have a doggy door out to our garage where he eats. He goes out, he comes back in, he goes out, he comes back in. Second verse same as the first.
* Barking for no apparent reason and/or for long periods — all the time!
* Forgetting cues and trained behaviors she once knew — like um, “Come on Buddy. Let’s go outside.” He turns and goes the other direction. I thought he was being obstinate in his old age.
* Exhibiting motor difficulties like difficulty backing up (aside from physical problems) — Maybe be the arthritis. I don’t know.
* Startling easily — Much, much worse than it used to be.
* Getting less enthusiastic about toys or stopping playing altogether — none what soever.
* Performing repetitive behaviors — going in and out of the doggy door over and over and over again.
*Losing appetite — definitely not eating as much
* Having difficulty getting all the way into bed — I attributed this to the arthritis as well.
* Getting trapped under or behind furniture — Again I blamed it on his eyesight and arthritis.
* Sleeping more during the day and less at night — YES
* Forgetting house training — so far no accidents in the house but now he is tinkling on the patio rather than going out into the grass.
* Seeking attention less; getting withdrawn — I’m about the only person in the family he’ll come to for petting.
* Having trouble with stairs — He has one stepped down out the back door to the patio. He is constantly falling flat on his face, or tripping when he comes back in.
* Getting generally more fearful and anxious — And this is key! He has always been high strung and anxious, but his behavior lately has been off the charts.
I’m going to make an appointment with my vet. I don’t like to self diagnose my dog, but he has the classic symptoms! I honestly thought he was just being weird because of the arthritis and possibly having dimmer site. What dog gets stuck behind furniture and can’t figure how to get out?
Here is my problem. From all I’ve read this morning, putting a dog on selegiline when they are at this advanced stage is almost useless. I don’t think he is at the stage where he is ready to be put to sleep. He can still get up and around, he can be frisky at times, he likes to take walks for short periods, he interacts with other dogs in the household. He’s just addle brained. This is so frustrating!
Christin, I’m really glad you are going to see your vet. You have certainly checked a lot of boxes that might be dementia, but only a vet can tell you for sure. And like you say, most of them can be something else. It seems awfully unfair that a dog who has had a lot of other problems should get dementia as well. I’m so sorry, whatever it turns out to be. I hope you’ll let me know what happens.
This may help someone else at some time.
Prozac was a disaster. We tried it for 16 days. She became more anxious, still did not sleep and lost 2.5 lbs. – she’s only a 32 lbs dog. Stopped that. The vet recommended clonicalm, which I have ordered. I am wary because the pharmacist told me that anorexia is a side effect of this med, too.
So in the meantime, I asked the vet if we could try trazadone and a fast acting benzo. That seems to be helping her without changing her personality. I am very pleased in the change, but it’s only been a few days.
Since she has quite a few of the classic symptoms of CCD, I asked the vet about it and all she could offer was, “Maybe.” I’m suspecting it may be early signs, but we are working toward easing the anxiety and that’s about all we can do.
I continue to take her to different parks throughout the week and she seems to enjoy that. She even started walking in our neighborhood again, which really is a big deal.
She seems calms throughout the day, but at night, she starts getting a little more anxious. Last night around 8 PM, she just stood and stared at me. She had eaten, had a walk, a car ride and play time. I’m suspicious that she wanted me to give her the meds to help her. And then I start worrying, “OMG, what have we created!!” I do feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein.
Speak to your vet about Alprazolam. We tried Valium to start with and it worked to settle her anxiety but her ‘Canine Medicine Specialist’ changed her to Alprazolam as it has a longer lasting effect and we were able to get a longer sleep during the night.
I think the traz is working. She is not shaking, so playful again and wants two walks per day. This is a remarkable change. Sleep overnight is better, but not uninterrupted. Unfortunately she started having diarrhea a few days ago. I’m hoping it’s not the traz causing it. She has EPI and changes can set it off.
I had asked about valium at one of her vet visits, but the vet said she doesn’t like to use it. I don’t remember why. Honestly, I don’t think she has a lot of experience with these behaviors. That’s not a criticism, just an observation.
I emailed a vet behaviorist with my dog’s history and she replied that it sounded like there are brain changes.
My heart goes out to all on here that are experiencing these issues. It’s heart-breaking (and exhausting) not to be able to fix our companions. This has seriously mucked with my own well-being – I look like I’ve been through the wringer 🙂 Thanks for having a space to vent.
Thank you for this website…it not only put my mind at ease, but also helps me not go into denial that our female 11 year old dachshund chi mix (Phoebe) started with the ODD behaviors 4 days ago…like a faucet was turned on. I called a couple of vets and they wanted me to take her in. I’m an essential oil gal, and use essential oils on my doggies. Tonight is the 2nd evening in a row that I’ve put a drop (of Frankincense) on Phoebe’s head, and she has calmed to the point of resting peacefully. But this morning, I awoke to her ON my chest, fearful and looking around the room. Poor babygirl, it breaks my heart. I know that some of the posts talk about a raw diet, and some folks even talked about getting their dog on a rice diet. I’m concerned, and I will do whatever it takes to make her comfortable and LESS anxiety filled. She only exhibits 6 signs of ‘something is different’. I believe in HOLISTIC treatment for both me and my pets, so I wonder if you have any links to reputable holistic vets in the North Dallas (Texas) area?
I wish you best of luck with Phoebe. Sounds like things are a little rough right now. I don’t know a holistic vet in that area; I hope you find someone you can work with for Phoebe. I hear you that you probably would prefer alternatives, but most of the people I know who have tried prescription drugs for their dogs with anxiety wish they had done it a lot sooner. It is worth it to see their dog feeling so much better. Perhaps you can find someone with a complementary approach? Good luck in any case. Keep us posted here if you like.
I just found this site and it looks so helpful and informative. I have three dogs at the moment, one of whom we have had 11 years or so, he is maybe 13 years old, a crossbreed. Over the last 6 months or so I’ve noticed he is going to the toilet in the kitchen, both poo and pee. Sometimes we will take him out to the garden for his toilet, he will come back in and within 5 minutes he’ll have ‘gone’ in the kitchen. I’ve not really taken it seriously other than to be annoyed and think that it’s our fault for forgetting to take him out in time. And another thing, which is very odd, sometimes we will just be chilling at home watching TV or whatever, and he will randomly sit in the middle of the room and start to whine, and hwe will just keep doing it, and we can’t work out why. When he does that, we get him to come over to one of us and we give him a fuss, or I get him to sit up on the sofa with me and pet him till he dozes off. I’ve lost one dog to dementia a few years ago, and tonight it’s just twigged that this may possibly be the start of dementia for him (his name is Tetley by the way). Apart from those two behaviours, I can’t think he has any other new ‘quirks’, but I decided to come online and get some info, hence I ended up on this site. Any comments or thoughts would be very welcome.
Well it sounds like it could be dementia, but just about any symptom can also be a symptom of a different medical problem. Can you take him to the vet? I’m glad you can comfort him when he gets upset.
P.S. to my previous post….I just realised something else – sometimes when we are all sitting in the front room relaxing, he will get and and go over to the front door and lie down there and just look at me. I assumed it was cos he was too hot by the fire, but I’m not so sure now. He’s also got quite grumpy and has been known to snap at people who move too quickly round him or go to pet him, and he NEVER used to be like that. He also can get grumpy with us if we go to hug him too much, he sometimes growls and occasionally will have a slight snap. I assumed it was just old age but, again, in the light of the other behaviours, that could also be connected with dementia.
Yes, age itself isn’t a disease, but dementia is. Behavior changes can also mean a dog is in pain. I hope you can get Tetley to the vet. Take care.
A wonderful website to read about other ‘real life’ and current dementia stories, it’s both comforting and sad to hear – well done, and thank you, Eileen.
My best friend is a 15 y.o. Maltese with Grade 4 heart murmur which has been stable for 4 years, recently tested positive to Cushing’s (we have been testing for a couple of years as she has clinically presented for some time) and chronic arthritis. Recent attempts to control Cushing’s with Trilostane have failed (despite doubling the dose) and due to her sudden decreased appetite and associated weight loss, we are not able to increase her Trilostane and thus, cannot commence NSAID’s for her arthritis as her cortisol levels are still too high.
She has now presented with most symptoms of dementia – panting and trembling for most of her ‘awake’ hours, pacing and wandering aimlessly, sleepless nights (Alprazolam helps tremendously for those who would like to speak to their vet about it – she is rested without any panting or trembling and her respiratory rate returns to normal – under 30 breaths a minute for her), increased thirst, appetite loss (may be due to Cushing’s treatment) and stumbling.
The other, and main, heartbreaking symptom she has is severe HEAD PRESSING and this is something that nobody has mentioned in this forum. I would be very appreciative to know if anybody has experienced this symptom with dementia or if this can be put down only to her Pituitary dependent Tumor (Cushing’s) that is more than likely increasing in size and pushing on her fore-brain.
We are in the final days and my world (like many others have unfortunately experienced) is about to collapse and I don’t know just yet how I am going to get through it – she is my complete life. I’m not sure if having a go with Anipryl treatment is worth it as a response (if she has one) may take 3-4 weeks (how long have others experienced?) and if her symptoms are caused by this horrible tumor, I might just be prolonging the inevitable. From the moment she wakes from a very peaceful sleep, she starts head pressing, panting and shaking and alprazolam is the only thing that calms her… but this is because it sedates her back to sleep.
I would be very appreciative if anyone could comment on experiences with HEAD PRESSING. The one thing I notice in this forum is that nobody tends to reply to one another, except for you Eileen. I think it would be of great benefit to all of us caring for our pooches experiencing this horrid disease if we could also start to make comment on others situations and try and be of help by commenting on what works and what doesn’t for them. I’ll start by commenting on a few others comments and I really hope that others will follow suit.
Thanks for encouraging others to reply, Tam. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself, had to reply.) When I first opened this site I had a forum page, but I finally took it down because nobody seemed interested. I might try it again; it’s a better format to actually get people talking.
I know this is an old post but down the page Is another dog that sounds almost the same . HERES THE POST Darren on November 25, 2015 at 10:34 am said: I am fee ling confused and guilty and sad about my Belgian Shepherd, Cassie. I got her as a rescue dog when she was five, 7 years ago this approaching February, shortly after my GSD, Jezzi, died in my arms.
For at least two months now, Cassie has been acting strange. The most noticable and difficult behavior happens at night, when we’re in the full size bed we share.
It begins with her forcefully putting her head on my chest, much like dominant behavior with another dog. After petting and reassuring only made this worse, I began verbally chastising her and told her to leave the room.
She would then go to her next favorite sleeping spot, the bath tub. But instead of curling up for sleep, she would restlessly rustle around, scraping her claws and making a ton of noise.
Once or twice I’ve had to “exile” her to the extra room where her doggie bed is and keep her there at night by putting a chair in the door way.
I’ve spent many sleepless nights now with this new behavior. Tonight was the worst. At bedtime, she started the head-on-chest routine. I sent her to the bathtub, where she made a racket. She came back and tried pawing me, then tried to crawl into space she couldn’t possibly fit in.
I took her outside and peed about a half cup, but once inside
We have a 9 year old black lab, Bogey. He has terrible fear of loud noises and thunder storms… We have been giving him prescribed by our Vet Acepromazine over the years.
Living in Florida in the fall/winter and Wisconsin during the summer we have been in lots of storms, of course hunting noises and fireworks.
My question is can the Acepromazine cause dementia? He has only a couple of signs that we have picked up on…. Standing and Starring off in to space, walking around at night and sleeping quite a bit during the day.
Thank you for your help, Sue
Hi Sue, I haven’t personally heard anything about a connection between Ace and dementia. But there’s something else you might want to know about Ace. Please understand that I’m not a vet and am not making any recommendation about your dog’s treatment. But you might want to read about why many vets don’t use Ace for fear anymore. http://www.drmartybecker.com/fear-free/2-things-pets-firework-fears/
There’s a free webinar available on canine cognitive dysfunction here: http://vetvine.com/list/index/profile/listing_id/574/cognitive-dysfunction
In it, Dr. Christensen says that dogs as young as 6-8 years old can show signs of aging. Take care and my best wishes for Bogey.
Thanks for this Web Site and for Everyone who is Posting. We Feel So Comforted after coming to the point of find the list and realizing our Greyhound/Collie , Hazel, who is 15 is Very Ill With MANY of the Symptoms. we also have Toby who is , now we know, far gone with the Dementia, but he has had so many health issues and is a very frail Skipperkie/Lab. He no longer goes outside, he can’t handle the terrain and we think one of his legs may be broken vs strained. we are planning to take both to the vet this coming week for a Final Visit. It have been a LONG 2 Year Fight and we Know it is Time. We have so Much Love and Compassion for everyone on this path.
kat, I can only imagine how difficult this will be for you. Just know we hear your heart. Peace to you.
WE have been unable to take that final trip to the Vet. We are taking best care of Everyone as we can and just hoping that they can die peaceful at home. Will Keep You All Posted. <3 Much Love Hugs and Cheers from ME and My Fur Children to You and All Yours.
I am feeling confused and guilty and sad about my Belgian Shepherd, Cassie. I got her as a rescue dog when she was five, 7 years ago this approaching February, shortly after my GSD, Jezzi, died in my arms.
For at least two months now, Cassie has been acting strange. The most noticable and difficult behavior happens at night, when we’re in the full size bed we share.
It begins with her forcefully putting her head on my chest, much like dominant behavior with another dog. After petting and reassuring only made this worse, I began verbally chastising her and told her to leave the room.
She would then go to her next favorite sleeping spot, the bath tub. But instead of curling up for sleep, she would restlessly rustle around, scraping her claws and making a ton of noise.
Once or twice I’ve had to “exile” her to the extra room where her doggie bed is and keep her there at night by putting a chair in the door way.
I’ve spent many sleepless nights now with this new behavior. Tonight was the worst. At bedtime, she started the head-on-chest routine. I sent her to the bathtub, where she made a racket. She came back and tried pawing me, then tried to crawl into space she couldn’t possibly fit in.
I took her outside and peed about a half cup, but once inside she was still restless and whiny.
I don’t know how to help my best friend, and I feel guilty and depressed about it. And I work two jobs and this sleep deprivation makes me an impatient Zombie.
This was part of our girl’s behavior, also (among other things). She never lays on us, but started laying her head on my husband’s chest while in bed, draping herself over him sometimes. But it didn’t calm her. She just continually moved her position. Then she’d jump off the bed and try to get behind it, dragging herself into this ridiculously small space with her claws. We sometimes put her in the family room so we could get some sleep.
She has done this before, but maybe only for one night or so. This episode started in September and never let up till we found the right meds.
In early November the vet gave her trazadone. It has given us back our dog. She is sleeping at night again, playful and willing to do training routines/tricks. All the weird behaviors have stopped.
Trazadone is an older tricyclic antidepressant that can be useful for anxiety. I’m so glad we tried this and it is working.
This past weekend we traveled to visit family and stayed in an upscale hotel. She was absolutely perfect, even tolerant around the small children.
I should say, too, I tried everything natural that I could. Nothing gave her relief. Medication was a last resort, but I wish I would have tried it sooner.
Maybe this could help Cassie?
P.S. The vet said her behavior could be early dementia, but there was no way of knowing. She really doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis, other than nighttime anxiety.
I have a 17 year old Chihuahua that was diagnosed with dementia yesterday. We only found it because we thought some of her behaviours were connected to her allergies. The vet we saw just happened to have a dog of his own with dementia as well. His Jack Russell was at the office so her brought her out to meet us.
My dog, Tetra, is also almost completely blind and is fully deaf. The vet assured me she’s not in any physical pain and her physical health is great for her age but I feel just terrible that I might be making her live through a personal hell. She is my baby so I feel like if I put her to sleep I’ll basically be murdering her.
Thank you for this site. The vet explained some of these behaviors but there are so many more behaviours she does that I didn’t know were part of the dementia.
Hello! Thank you for this very comprehensive list of symptoms. I recently (about a month ago) adopted a 12 year old Jack Russell mix from a shelter, so I don’t have a baseline for her behavior and can’t really tell if this is just her, or if this is her brain aging. She was supposedly a stray. She’s incontinent (estrogen pills are helping), hard of hearing, has fatty tumors around her chest, and has an enlarged heart/grade 4 heart murmur (we’re seeing a cardiologist at the end of the month) and a chronically dislocated shoulder (vet says it doesn’t cause her pain), but she gets along pretty well despite all of this. Now that she’s settled in (and boy do I have a completely different dog now from the one I adopted!), I’ve noticed she’s displaying quite a few of these symptoms.
The first couple of weeks were pretty easy, but she pottied in the house right after a long walk last week, almost as if she just didn’t know any better (she didn’t try to let me know she needed to go, either – just picked a spot and went). The past few days, I’ve noticed her pacing a lot more, especially at night. I started getting her used to a crate shortly after bringing her home because she was pacing around my room at night and keeping me up. Now that she’s confined, she seems more comfortable (she’s even started to like it and now goes in voluntarily for a treat!), but I still hear her throughout the night – she’ll get up, dig around her blankets, lick obsessively, shake and rattle the crate, etc every couple of hours, like she’s just passing the time until we get up and she can sleep through the day. She’ll only eat between 7 and 9 at night and only about half a cup (she’s supposed to be eating a cup a day, but she just won’t). When we’re watching TV and she’s on her slumber ball next to my sofa, she’ll sleep for a few minutes, then sit up straight and look around like she doesn’t know where she is. I have to say “I’m still here” before she’ll settle again and if I don’t she gets up and starts pacing.
Last night was the worst so far. She spent two hours pacing between the living room and the kitchen, stopping occasionally to stare at me or the TV. She kept trying to get under my sofa for no reason I could discern (there’s nothing under there but some dust bunnies). She does a lot of staring – at me, at the TV, at my parents, at nothing in particular. At first it was a funny quirk, almost like Eddie from Frasier, but now it’s just odd and a little concerning.
She’s starting to get startled by things we’ve been walking by for weeks, like a flower pot next to our back door. Walks are more like drags – she stops every few steps to stare behind her like something’s there, but there’s nothing there. She doesn’t seem to understand doors and will stand directly behind them when I try to open them. I’ve bonked her by accident (I’ve never had a dog who didn’t know doors, so I just kept assuming she’d move!) and she looks at me like I’ve betrayed her. She’s hesitant to go through doors and needs a gentle nudge. She knows the “Sit” command but doesn’t always respond. Sometimes she’ll do it right away, and other times she’ll look at me like she has no idea what I want from her (and it’s not just stubbornness – I’m familiar with that look! – it’s like she truly doesn’t know). She gets caught up in grooming herself. I know that licking tends to be self-soothing behavior, so I thought all the licking was just her comforting herself while she adjusted. But it’s gotten worse, and she was so intense this morning that I literally had to haul her out from under the table because all of my gentle attempts at getting her attention and luring her out went completely unnoticed.
It’s just very odd, and it occurred to me last night as I was trying desperately to stay patient and not get irritated with her (I tend to be a very impatient and somewhat short-fused person – Daisy is really forcing me to work on that, which is healthy, but it’s hard!) that it’s entirely possible she has doggy dementia. Your list of symptoms has only confirmed my suspicions!
I am not sure what to do and could really use some feedback/support. I have a seventeen year old greyhound with bowel cancer. I moved us back to an island he had once loved because I thought he would be more happy to spend his remaining time here. Recently, he has began walking large circles around the property, gazing off into the wind or rain and no longer seems to be cold when outside (or notice that he is). As far as his physical symptoms go, he needs help sometimes rising and getting settled, and he does seem to be up at night quite frequently which has made it difficult to get good sleep. Basically, we are in a hospice like situation. His appetite is great.. he enjoys chewing a bone… going on a short walk, being pet, being cozy under his blanket. I don’t know how to make the call about his quality of life. I don’t know that he is in distress, necessarily, but he will occasionally wake up panting. He has been my constant companion for the last twelve years and saying goodbye will no doubt be painful and hard. Where we are at now, I am not leaving him alone and caring for him 24/7. Does anyone have thoughts? His vets have all just said that he is “exceptional” but haven’t been able to necessarily advise about when I should consider helping him transition. My main concern is that he not suffer and that he go peacefully on.
Thanks for any thoughts you’d be willing to share!
My heart is breaking….my 16 year old doggie ozzy was diagnosed with dementia a few weeks ago. In those two weeks his walking has changed from slow cautious… to his back legs walking like they are stick legs and slowly… and now his front legs are walking like in double time where he takes little tiny steps but alot of them all while his back legs are slow and stick like. Ozzy does walk circles but not small circles more like back and forth where he stops and seems to forget and then continues on walking aimlessly. Ozzy would give me kisses on command whenever I wanted them but now he doesn’t do it very much if at all. He does have accidents all the time but we have a diaper for him and we just pick up the other…it doesn’t bother me to take care of him at all or pick up after him as he has been the best dog in the world and now that he needs me I will do what I can to make the remainder of his life as comfortable as possible. Ozzy is going blind and his hearing is not good due to his dementia…he still eats with help and at times on his own and he drinks water if you put it in front of him. He shivers and acts scared at times but he will lay on my lap if I gently lift him and pet him. We have a night light set up by his bed and I generally sleep by him every night in case he needs me. I don’t know when his time will come but I will be there for him…ozzy is my best friend, my little furry son and he had my heart from the day we said hello. I have read a lot of the other stories on here and it pains me to see so many with like stories. I don’t have all the answers I want so I just take each day as it comes and give him as much love and help as I can…this disease will get worse, there is no cure and I have to come to grips with that…there is no food or medication on this earth that will change the outcome of this disease at this point. Ozzy is on some meds but so far he has gotten worse…The best thing for dogs with dementia is love and patience.
There’s a Facebook group called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction with over 500 members. Lots iof shared info on treating symptons and coping. My dog is 17 and I’m trying several non-prescription supplements. I started senilife a couple of weeks ago. Seems to have begun helping a bit.
I’m so glad to chance upon this helpful website – thanks so much for having this platform for pet owners with similar experiences to share their stories. I definitely feel less lost and helpless after reading the stories, knowing that I am not alone. It can get really depressing at times and I would ask myself if I am doing the right thing for my dog.
My darling Twister JRT is turning 16 next Valentine’s Day. We’ve had her since she was two months old. Feisty and energetic, the name Twister is simply a match to her personality! Things started to change when we lost Baby JRT to cancer in 2014. Baby has been her close companion for the last 12 years and Baby is her daughter. They have shared too many moments together and Baby would always play and tease Twister all the time!
Twister started to get less active since Baby left. Slept a lot more and a year prior, she was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. Thankfully the med works and her condition was under control and the quarterly reviews will help to keep checks on her condition. Because of this, we have changed her diet to homecooked food recommended by the vet – sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflowers, fish and frog meat. Her excess weight also started to shed and she is now at 5.4kg. Pretty average for a JRT. Then she had Cruciate Ligament rupture on both her hind legs – one in 2013 and one in 2014. One leg underwent operation while the other was kinda recovered with bandage support. Now she is walking fine, albeit a bit of stiffness but she still does her brisk pacing everyday! I must say that Twister is really a fighter!
But it was obvious that something was not right (progressively) – she was not expressive as before. I hardly see her tail wagging anymore even though she would walk up to me when I get home. Since last year, more and more of the dementia symptoms started to show up – waking up at 4 or 5am, pee/poo everywhere and sometimes eating and stepping on them, sleeping a lot more in the day, getting lost or stuck at corners, pacing in circles sometimes for hours and the list goes on. She has been on Selegiline since then and also been wearing diapers. Recently, she has been diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease, a heart condition that causes her to pant more lately. It is not severe so she is taking Med to keep it under control. Other than the number of Med that she has to take everyday, she is actually doing quite well, I hope (at least a check on the quality of life list, she has less than 10 Yeses.) I hope this is a good sign for us to keep her with us.
To all the pet owners going through this, I know exactly how tiring this is – mentally, physically and also financially. Nevertheless, let us keep the strength and love for our faithful companion to fight this unfortunate and hateful disease. I’m sure that no matter how lost or confused they are, they do know us and is simply unable to express as before. Be there for them through the good times and bad times. After all, this is a geriatric problem which means that our times left with them is limited, so let’s make them count and create more memorable moments to keep. I can’t imagine losing Twister but when the day comes, I will be there for her.
Thank you for posting all about your experience, and all those great sources of information and advises. My soon-to-be 14-year old dog, Meca (Teddy in Serbian) is experiencing many of aforementioned symptoms. Until couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t even aware of CCD, but he started experiencing anxiety, confusion and odd behavior after the anesthesia. I only now realize that anesthesia could have worsened his state, and I feel so guilty for putting him through it, although he really needed it, in order to have a minor surgery and also some tests done. I’ve had some really hard times in my life, and my dog was my best friend and sometimes only companion through all that, and I want to be all that to him as well. He has heart problems (enlarged heart, if that’s the right expression), and also severe stomach problems, which makes it hard to apply any medications orally. And while he was always completely OK with injections, he became very irritated by them lately, and I just don’t want to put him through that kind of stress, at least not regularly. I’ve also recently moved away from home, to live with my boyfriend, and my dog has stayed with my mom, because she can dedicate fully to him, while I work two jobs, and I visit him daily, yet I feel guilty about that as well. All that said, my dog is also often happy, although arthritis stops him from being as active as he once was. But he loves cuddling, and he gives me a lot of kisses every time he sees me. I really want to be fair to him, and don’t let him suffer, but I don’t think he is in too much pain, and he still enjoys food and all the love he gets.
Thanks again for your stories, and to all other who posted their stories, it is heart-breaking, but at the same time it is comforting to know how many people cherish their dogs so much that they are ready to dedicate them so much time and care.
Another helpful resource is the Facebook group named Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) Support Group. Our dog Maeve has had a very good response to the herbals Animal Apawthecary Hawthorn Plus and Herb Pharm bacopa, both available on Amazon. No more pacing, panting, sleepless nights. A miracle.
My 13 year old Siberian husky is sleeping most of the day than walking around continuously in circles as if he wants to lay down but cant. I don’t know what the right thing to do is..He is getting some of the symptoms of this ‘dementia’ but we think its cause he is just ‘getting old’. He is also starting to pee inside and walk into sliding doors even when they are open. Thank you so much for posting this and please reply.
I hope you can take your guy to the vet to ask about these behaviors. Keep in mind–dementia is a disease, and it’s different from normal aging. Sometimes the vet will have some medications that help. The vet also needs to rule out pain from what you say. Good luck, and thank you for posting.
Hi Everyone! I am hurting so bad right now and crying. My 15 1/2 yr. old Dalmatian mix started pacing last night and roamed my tiny cabin all night. He is panting still. He won’t eat or drink water since last night. I’m going to take him to the vet today but I’m worried. He has arthritis and nerve damage in his back leg. Seems both back legs are failing now. When he was young he was hit by a car and his pelvic was broke in 3 places. I didn’t find him until 7 days later when he stumbled home and cried all night long. I rushed him to the vet first thing the next morning to find out about his pelvic, but it had already started healing so we let it heal naturally. He did great until his older age now. The arthritis came on strong when he was 14. But I’m worried because he does seem to have dementia or what the vet called doggie Alzheimer. Today he looks sad and confused. I was up all night with him. Barely slept. He tries to get up and has a hard time. I have to help him get up. He is falling down a lot. He cannot hold his urine and feces anymore. So I am calling the vet as soon as they open. I took off work today. I hope he is ok. I know he is very old. He is also trembling but seems to be because of pain in his legs? or too weak from not eating or drinking? I know he needed water after pacing all night but he wont’ take it. I even brought his water dish to him where he was standing. He is not himself at all. It tears my heart out. He has been through a lot with me and has a strong will to live. But he is not the same right now. I will see what the vet says. Thank you for this forum. I don’t think I will ever get another doggie again. This breaks my heart toooo much. I will give lots of love to all doggies but to own one and go through this pain again is too much. It may sound selfish but I love my fur baby so much and it kills me inside to see him go through this I can’t bear to do it again. He is my best friend, my side kick, my love.
I just found out it is something else. His kidneys are failing and he has a bacterial infection the vet believes is in his brain from the way he paces and stares out blankly. He is now in the vet hospital and getting fluids as well as antibiotics. Hoping he makes it through the night but the vet was not sure he will. He’s trying and hoping he pulls through.
I have a 14 year old 2.8 pound love of my life female chihuahua that just 7 days ago started acting like a stranger. She has been a warrior in the sense that she is the last of the four chihuahuas I had since 2002. She underwent a major emergency hysterectomy surgery 3 years ago for pyametra, she was on life support for three days and went totally blind from the trauma of the surgery. On Top Of The Dry Eye Condition in her left eye, she has severe glaucoma in the right making her totally blind. They also removed the last of her bad teeth leaving her toothless. Up until now she has been happy and playful, full off spunk and energy, no change in diet or water consumption. Now, she squeals like she’s in immense pain when I try to pick her up, doesn’t want to leave her bed and has no reaction to command or my interest in my voice, which is so unlike her. I took her to the vet and had her anal glads emptied and still ho change. What I want to know is is their any way to aid my sweet without chemicals, and if I must put her on this Anipryl I’ve been reading about what is the most least and successful dose for her size???
Thank you so much in advance!
Distressed fur mama
I’m so sorry things are going roughly with your dear little dog. Can you get a more extensive vet checkup? Did you tell him or her about her personality change or acting like she hurts? Only your vet can help you with this. Likewise with medicine, supplements, and dosage. I’m sorry to disappoint but I’m not a vet so can’t discuss that. Diagnosing dementia is a diagnosis of exclusion; several other things have to be ruled out first. So sorry you are going through this. Good luck.
Squealing with pain is certainly significant. This alone could explain all the other symptoms. Get her to the vet to figure out the source of the pain. Get that diagnosed and under control first. Hopefully the pain will be from something easy like arthritis. If so, then you’ll be able to deal with the cognitive decline separately after the pain is under control.
My old (17 years old next month) female Chihuahua has started to sway back and forth while sitting on the couch. Sometimes she just seems to be staring off into space. She can’t see very well or hear very well anymore. She’s old! Not sure if it’s anything to worry about-or if it’s just due to her old age. I think her age is catching up to her… She mostly just sleeps on the couch or in her bed. My daughter-who I bought the dog for-thinks I should have her put down-but I don’t think she’s in pain. Any thoughts?
Quality of life is hard to assess over the Internet, but there is nothing alarming to me personally in what you describe. IF your chi still has some enjoyments in life it sounds OK to me. Hope some others chime in.
My 10 year old St. Bernard is showing some of these signs.
-She has a lot of trouble aiming her mouth.
-She has trouble keeping food in her mouth.
-And many more.
The other day she forgot who I was and refused to let me into my house. My other dog managed to convince her I was trustworthy.
Hello, I have just been researching canine dementia and came upon your very helpful website. I have a 14 year old lemon and white beagle called Holly who is starting to exhibit symptoms of what I fear may be dementia. She tends to pace around at night but sleeps all day. She has always been a very quiet dog, her sister Alice being the noisy one, but she has started barking at nothing whilst sitting in one of the baskets. She seems easily startled, I thought it was because she was going deaf, but from reading the information on this website, perhaps not. When I get the other dogs on their leads ready to walk, she goes and hides under the stairs in the basket there, but if I go and find her and put her collar and lead on, she will usually come along and seems to enjoy her walk. She does have arthritis but is on long-term medication for this, so I don’t think it is pain. I am going to make her an appointment at our vet to have a check up, but I wanted to do a bit of research first, so I’d know the right questions to ask. I’m wondering how effective the medication currently available is and if a fairly early diagnosis helps.
Thank you for providing us with a lovely site to talk about these issues.
Hi Danieal, how great that you are doing your research! Earlier intervention has been found to help in several studies. The medications’ effectivity really vary from dog to dog, but your vet can tell you more about that. Stick around–in a couple of days I’m going to publish a blog post that includes a wonderful movie, professionally made for a friend of mine, that shows enrichment for a dog with CCD. Good luck with Holly.
My 11 and a half Boston Terrier Petey has just begain peeing in the house. He has been going to the hinge side of doors and getting stuck places. I had attributed thus to his blindness (due to cataracts ) (at 6000 we just can’t afford to have them taken off. ) now he turns in circles clockwise and then pees then tries to lick it up. We’re not sure whats going on. Our vet put him on cholodin to see if it helps. Our other Boston Terrier Buster had similar symptoms but also had seizures, then he ended up with cancer. We only got 2 years with him (he was 5 when we adopted him from the shelter as a stray ) Petey we got a s a rescue at about 1yr , he was heartworm positive at that time.
Hi Danielle, I hope you can get a firm diagnosis for Petey. That sounds hard on everyone! You might want to fill out the symptom list on the site and take it to your vet. Best of luck; sorry it’s going so hard with Petey.
Hi ,my 17 dog bonny showed nearly all the signs listed for dementia for 2 years but we loved her so much we adapted to her – she was blind deaf and lame as well and a wonderful gentle dog who loved everybody in the family .Lately she had had more bad days than good so yesterday I made the appointment for today to say goodbye . She was having a good day today and the sun was shining I took treats with me and gave them to her in the vets and she was very relaxed and I stroked and loved her while the vet injected her and she passed away very gently .i am so glad I made that decision and it was so lovely to see her go on a good day.Dont be afraid
Hi there. My 5 year old lab/rot mix has been experiencing all the symptoms you posted. I think he has it, but isn’t he a bit young to be having dementia? I did all sorts of blood work on him and all came back negative. Thank you.
Hi – I have a staffie who is nearly 10 and is showing a lot of symptoms on your list – after reading all of the posts I too felt that she seems too young but am now beginning to think this what it could be? I have taken her to the vets for blood tests & scan for diabetes etc as it started with excessive drinking which were negative. Her behaviour has now changed weeing & pooing indoors & getting in corners just standing there, walking up & down. Are there any tests that could be done for a diagnosis or will I be wasting money for the vet to tell me what I think we could already know?
Sharon, the diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction is one of exclusion. That is, the vets have to rule other things out. But since those other things can be very serious (brain tumors, liver problems for example), it’s very important to see a vet so they know about **all** your dog’s symptoms. Good luck. Sorry things are getting hard for your dog.
Hi Eileen – Thanks for taking the time to put this site together and continue responding after all this time. My Lily is a 13 year old shih tzu. The 1st time I noticed anything odd was 3 years ago following a dental. She walked into the shower in our bathroom and just sat there seeming confused. I chalked it up to after effects of anesthesia. Which still may have been the case. Although I’m wondering if it was the beginning of this CDD journey. (?)
She has some early stage cataracts so is hesitant with stairs if the light is too dim. Especially going DOWN. (She is more comfortable going UP.)
She started sleeping more and more during day/evening – and sleeping a lot HARDER. It takes a lot more to wake her up now. More recently she has started barking at us for food – which she hasn’t done for years and years. She also acts like she wants to play – then gets us to the treat table (kitchen island) for a snack. I chalked this up to just learning new tricks to get her way.
Then she started barking at me in the middle of the night – wanting to go to the bathroom. Plus a couple of mornings when she would be going down the (Well lit) stairs with the other dogs – but turning left to pee on the pee – pads in the penned foyer instead of turning right to head to the patio door.
She has a history of food allergies and had to come off of an antihistamine/prednisone combo due to ALKP levels raising. (BTW… found it interesting that so many CDD folks on this page mentioned food allergies.)
ALKP isn’t fully resolved but is coming down and vet does not believe she has Cushing or Cancer. But does she think she is exhibiting “early stage doggy dementia”. She offered “Vetriscience Canine Plus Senior” supplement. I told her a friend had told me about good results with a product called Senilife. She said to compare ingredients and check reviews and try the one I felt best about. (She is holistic and knows I will follow up with her…4 dogs and 1 cat means I get frequent flyer miles at the vet clinic!)
So, we started Senilife 2 weeks ago. Already I think we are seeing some improvements. She is sleeping soundly through the night again. No signs of urgency to urinate. She even wanted to play with toys the other night, which truthfully she hasn’t done for a couple of years now. I will be seeing the vet tomorrow with one of our other dogs and will be bringing her this info along with the box Senilife came in so she can see the ingredients.
What I didn’t realize was a possible CDD symptom until reading through this whole page was shaking/tremors. I assumed shivers from the cold outside – or possibly pain. But now wonder if it could be dementia related. (Will ask about this tomorrow too.)
I have been praying since she was a puppy that she would live to be 18 years old. Silly right? But I had met a neighbor when she was a pup – who had just lost their shih tzu after 18 years – and thought that it would be wonderful to have her with me that long.
But like others on this thread – I also have a parent (Dad) with dementia. While he still scores well cognitively and shows more mental health symptoms than dementia – it is what it is; and he is in a care center. (Specifically in a Memory Care unit – where there are a lot of folks with more advanced ahltzeimers /dementia.) When I see the advanced stage folks I hope my Dad doesn’t get to that point…and now I don’t want Lily to either.
Anyway – if you have heard of Senilife or any testimonials – I would love to know. The ingredients are:
– 25 mg Pheosphatidylserine
– 10 mg Ginkgo Bulova Extract
– 20.5 mg Vitamin B6
– 33.5 mg Vitamin E
– 5 mg Reserveratrol (Grape Extract)
Thanks again for your efforts here!
I’m glad Senilife is helping your dog. Supposedly it’s the Phosphatidylserine in Senilife that helps, but there haven’t been that many studies. Interestingly, in some of the most recent human studies Ginkgo Bilova has been not been shown to help, when formerly it was thought that it did. Good thing the research is ongoing.
That’s interesting that Lily does better going upstairs. I think actually that was true for Cricket too, but I started carrying her early on (I have a long flight off my back porch that was just too dangerous).
I hope Lily continues to do well. I’m glad you like the site and I’m glad it helped. Keep me posted!
Oops. I only just now came across your “Treatment” page which I had opened in another tab while scrolling this “Symptoms” page. So, I see you are already familiar with Senilife. 🙂
Thank you for this very valuable website and your dedication to helping others! My dog is older, best guess around 12 or so. He is extremely healthy with no medical issues. However, in February he began peeing in the house during the night. I also noticed he would go up and down the stairs during the night and seemed like he couldn’t get comfortable in one place. One night I took him out twice during the wee hours and even so he peed in the house that night afterward. He only pees in one spot, near the back door. The vet tested his urine and blood and everything is normal. He is not overly thirsty. He can stay in all day by himself, so there does not seem to be any urinary urgency. I realized he was only doing this at night, and thought maybe it is doggie dementia.
He has no other symptoms at all, is very energetic and playful and good with commands and on his walks, etc. I started him on Cholodin and after the first night, he had no accidents for 5 days and slept through the night, so I decided it must be the dementia. Then on Day 6, I went out for dinner, and when I came home I saw that he had peed in the house, even though he had just been out before I left. I am wondering if this sounds like dementia to you? I also have a bottle of Senilife I hadn’t tried yet, but I can add that.
My best option might be to install some type of doggie door since he seems to know he wants to go out the back door. It is just a bit complicated with the type of sliding doors I have so I haven’t done it yet.
Thank you for any insight you can share.
Just about any symptom that can be dementia can also be something else with an older dog so really it takes a vet visit to know for sure. Even they have to do it by ruling other things out. There isn’t strong evidence yet for Cholodin that I can find, although it is one of those supplements that seems like it ought to help with brain health. (No real studies with dogs yet.) There is some evidence for the main ingredient in Senilife.
If your dog is starting to have cognitive problems, a doggie door might work for a while, but eventually he may not have the sense of purpose to go out to eliminate. But if your yard is safe, it could give him a little independence for a time.
Good luck and let us know how it goes.
Thank you! This is helpful. He has been on Senilife for a few days but still peeing at night. I will finish up the bottle anyway, and call the vet.
Since some of the symptoms cause be caused by other issues, it is good to take time to evaluate and talk to your vet. Dogs may not want to go up or down stair because of pain or they are losing their sight. Problems with eating may be caused by dental issues. If they are going deaf they may not hear you or may not bark as they used to at sounds.
With my older dogs I see that the loss of sight and hearing can mimic some of these symptoms, especially if you move furniture or change rugs. There may be some confusion on their part until they figure out what you have done.
It is a lot about knowing your dog and having an honest understanding of their physical issues, such as arthritis and loss of sight or hearing and going from there. At least that is how I am handling it.
You are absolutely correct that some (most) of the symptoms that are typical of dementia can be caused by other issues. Not only because of sensory deficits, but also by other serious illnesses such as liver conditions, tick borne diseases, or even strokes or brain tumors. That’s why it’s important to see the vet if our dogs are exhibiting any of these symptoms.
I have a question. I have two dogs and one has dementia. Will my dog with dementia act different to the other dog? If so, what should I be looking for?
Along with the other things they forget, dogs with dementia can forget their social skills with each other. So you will want to look for situations in which the dog with dementia unintentionally annoys the other dog. For instance, my little Cricket used to walk up to a bed that another dog was lying in and walk over them as if they weren’t even there. If your other dog has any kind of temper or aggressive tendencies, you need to be extra careful. It’s as if the dog with dementia loses his “manners” and is just rude all the time. Some housemate dogs are fine with that, but many aren’t. Perhaps some other folks will chime in here, but that is what I observed. I had four dogs at the time I had Cricket and I kept two of them completely away from her for that reason.
Thank you. That was very helpful
my dear old boy Whiskey is nearly 16 and has started showing most of the symptoms described here. I knew of doggie dementia, but i wasn’t aware of the symptoms until i watched your video of little Cricket. I cried as I realised what it was. He has become obsessed with food, and as he also has Cushings disease he is always hungry.
I look at his lovely old face and remember all of the young years when we would walk for miles and his happy greeting when i was home from work.
As I also fostered for the Greyhound Rescue there was always foster dogs around my home and he was such a lovely calm boy and helped settle them down quickly.
We are blessed to have them with us for so long and I am honoured to be able to care for him now he is in his last part of his life.
Thank you for your site and sharing Crickets journey.
Thank you for sharing about your dear Whiskey. He sounds wonderful in every way, and so does your bond with him. I just posted his picture on the photo gallery. Take care.
I have another question.. I had two dogs and ones as dementia my other dog has recently passed away. Will my dog remember my other one that passed any? How do I know if she knows that she has gone?
Paige, I would be wondering that too, but I don’t know if there is a way to know.
There is a nice post by a famous dog trainer where she talks about helping a dog through a loss–but that is when there is clear grief involved. Helping a Dog Through a Loss
I guess if it were me I would do the same in either case–just comfort the dog in any ways that seem to help. She may appreciate it whether or not she remembers, or is missing the other dog.
Sorry about this difficult situation.
When whiskey’s long time companion had to be put to sleep I took whiskey to the vet with us. He was in the room when sasha died and he went to her and licked her face once she had passed away.
We stayed with her for 10 minutes before walking home with broken hearts.
I feel it made a big difference as dogs do understand death.
I think if he hadn’t been with us he would have kept looking for her and fretting.
I hope this helps.
My lovely old girl Missy is 12 1/2 yr old staffy and showing signs of doggy dementia. She’s also recently been diagnosed with cushings disease. I just wondered if one of the signs of dementia is that they stop wagging their tails ? My lovely Missy doesn’t wag hers anymore. She does still seem to know who I am sometimes as she’ll come over for a cuddle but I find her in corners and trying to walk under chairs that she’s too big to get under. She’s started taling vetroyl every other day over a month ago and I have seen some improvement as she doesn’t drink constantly anymore and less accidents indoors. I’ve also started her on Cushex drops and looking into a non-grain diet. Your website has really helped and i feel for everyone who’s posted. My mum had dementia and I’m being tested for cushings myself. When Missy was first ill o kept thinking I was going to wake up one morning and find her dead but now I’m just enjoying what little time she has left. She one of a kimd and can let me know what she wants with her eyes. She got me very well trained.
I thought it was to do with the Cushings but not too sure.
What a wonderful girl Missy sounds like. I haven’t read that stopping wagging the tail is exactly a symptom of dementia, but as the brain deteriorates (sorry to say it that way but that is what happens), their little personalities seem to flatten out some. I always knew my Cricket was in there– I saw little glimpses–but she wasn’t all of what she used to be. Take care. I hope you and Missy still have some good time together.
Thank you for your helpful website! My 8 yr old spaniel started exhibiting odd behavior 5 months ago. He started by growling at dogs that he was already friendly with. Then I had trouble at night-instead of coming in the house when called, he would hide under the porch, or run away from me!! He was not affectionate anymore, started soiling the house, and many times he would just cower, shaking in a corner of a room.
I went to the vet, and although most of his lab work was normal, he did test positive for Lyme’s, and was treated for 4 weeks. He still was not better, so was treated another 10 days with doxy. Also started on Prozac, which did no good at all-he just stopped eating and drinking altogether. Went for a second opinion with another vet, who tested his ammonia levels-which were normal. Finally, because he is so young, I went to a neurologist. I spent an obscene amount of $ for x-rays, blood gases, spinal tap and MRI, all of which were negative. So the diagnosis by exclusion was cognitive dysfunction disorder.
My dog was started on Gabapentin, which has some sedating effects, and has worked really great for him. He is pleasantly confused now instead of being chronically distraught!! The neurologist also mentioned using melatonin and trazadone, but I’ll wait since this medication seems to be working well enough.
I no longer give him the run of the house while at work, or let him in the yard at night. We go on leashed walks, with lots of positive reinforcement when he “wheedles” outside. Its like I have a 15 week old puppy again. So its been really helpful to me to read of others who have had young dogs with CDS, and what drugs or therapy have worked for them.
Hi Stephanie, I’m sorry for the delay in answering. It is really good of you to share your story of getting your dog diagnosed. Sorry it took a while, and it sounds like plenty of money too, but you did everything right. I’m so glad the Gapapentin is helping. Finding a drug that can help is priceless. I hope he is still doing well.
My dog has almost all of these symptoms. When is it okay to say enough is enough? Will the vet put her to sleep or just think I’m being selfish and don’t want the inconvenience of dealing with her? I love her and it’s so hard to see her scared everyday and all night. She’s miserable and I feel the humane thing to food let her go– to be at peace.
I have been told that vets are taught that only owners know when they have had enough and to support their decisions. I can’t speak to your specific vet but I suspect that your anguish at making this difficult decision will be obvious to them and they will see what a caring and loving thing you are doing.
I also know that medication helped my Cleo so if you can afford them you might want to try. Over the 2 years that we have been dealing with the problem the medications have changed a lot and she’s done well with them. There are more options than there used to be. Some websites are way out of date.
Good luck to you. I am so sorry you are dealing with this.
I understand why you are asking because I asked those same questions six months ago. I only realized then why my 17 yr chi was acting the way he was. Just enjoy each day and appreciate what time you have. There were days I prayed that God would end it because of the clean up I had to do, but the day came…he stopped eating and drinking. He let know when it became too much and then I took him to the vet to make it easier. My vet was very sympathetic. He doesn’t like to put any animal down for needless reasons. He saw my pain and told me I did the right thing. Hope this helps you. I was wondering myself how it would all play out. You just let nature take its course but when its painful, you have the best course of helping the process along painlessly.
Well said! My 17 year old Chi has been acting odd for a while… She just sits and stares at nothing. She can’t hear or see much any more. Mostly sleeps a lot. But she still loves her treats–and me. I don’t think she’s in pain.
My daughter-who I got the dog for-says I should put her down. I don’t think so. I think I will know when it’s time.
Cookie, you’ve already gotten some good advice. I just wanted to remind you of the Villalobos Quality of Life scale. It can be helpful, in case you haven’t made a decision yet. Hugs to you.
Hello ~ So glad I found this site. I have a 14 year old mini-poodle who has been acting weird the past few weeks. Lately she has been scrounging for food excessively and has had a few accidents in the house. I have a doggy door and she always has access to her dog food as she and my other dog are free fed. Its like she doesn’t remember eating and keeps looking for more food. She has been pulling the table cloth off of my dining room table to get to food even if there isn’t any food on the table. Friday night she pulled the table cloth off to get an orange peel. She has peed at least 5 times in the house the last 2 weeks when she would never have an accident in the past. Its weird and like she is being driven by a motor to look for food.
Allison, I hope you’ve been able to take your dog to the vet. Any behavior changes like that can be indicative of several different physical problems. Good luck and take care.
I have 17 yr old rat terrier that has a Meriad of health issues (CHF, collapsed trachea) we are treating but now she’s getting very aggressive with me, bitten me twice but not bad. She constantly licks the bed or carpet, has dug the carpet down to pad, is urinating when and wherever, barks at nothing, it goes on. However, she’s excited when we get home, if she hears us. Many times I have to touch her to wake her up. She’s on Tussigon every night to stop the obsessive licking. when do you know enough is enough? How long do I make her endure this? Is she afraid? Nervous?
I’m so glad it’s so hard with your rat terrier now. You are asking the hardest question of all. It is very very hard to consider helping a dog pass on if she still has some physical health and the problems are mostly behavioral. If it helps to know, I euthanized my dear Cricket while she could still walk, eat, and growl at the vet. But she was frail, and her quality of life had taken a turn for the worse. I knew it was the right thing, but it hurt terribly. Hugs to you. I hope you get some clarity about what to do and whether to intervene, now or later.
Hi-Thank you for this article. We got Niko, our 15 year old Chihuahua at 6 weeks old. He will be 16 in Jan. He has always had a seizure disorder, heart murmur, and is allergic to his yearly shots. I have seen him go from unable to jump up onto our bed and in the last few months, he has a hard time jumping up onto the couch. He will not use steps. Recently, he cant hear too well anymore, and recently, when I come into the house, when he notices me, he gets scared and puts his tail between his legs and shakes, until I go over and let him smell me. He will try over and over again to jump onto the couch, but will not let you help him. If you try to help him, he runs away. Once he DOES actually make it up there, he jumps right back down. He walks toward the hallway, stands there, then walks back…stands there, walks towards the hallway again like he forgot where he was, or where he was going. He sleeps a lot, and yesterday when he woke up, he slid off of the couch onto his doggie bed (which he will not use) with his legs flailing, I helped him up, and he could not stand on his own legs. His right legs were giving out, and he kept trying to catch himself and hit his head on the wall. He walks into walls now, and he seems to almost drown himself in his water bowl like he cant tell how much water is in there. I don’t want to think that his time is coming, but I know that is it. My husband is in denial and keeps a heating pad on the couch for him to sleep on. I am not sure if he is suffering from dementia, and I don’t know if he is living a quality life. He doesn’t enjoy walks anymore, he used to bark at anyone and anything, he no longer barks at all.
I’m sorry things are going roughly for Niko. Have you talked to your vet? Lots of the symptoms of dementia are also possible symptoms of other ailments for older dogs. About quality of life, you might want to fill out the Villalobos scale (it’s linked on this page). Most people don’t want to go strictly by numbers to make that decision, but it can give you an idea of things to consider. Also, just read the stories here. People have shared their stories very generously.
Found reading this information reassuring – our 12 y.o. Springer, Alfie, diagnosed today by bet, most of behaviours listed. So sad, not severe yet but enough that we have all noticed. Will read above posts/responses to gain more info – thank you for sharing this valuable information resource .
Even though dementia is a sad diagnosis, I think it’s much better to know than not to know. I try not to plug my book too often in the comments, but it is full of tips for living with a dog with dementia. I’m glad the stories here are helpful as well. We are starting to be a little community. Good luck with Alfie.
Hi, what an amazing page, I have been crying so much at all these stories. I had 5 Maltese, mum n dad n 3 daughters in which i lost dad at 11 to a brain tumor & a daughter with leaukemia & another with systemic lupus, & the last girl to kidney failure leaving mum being Tessi left, by this time Tessi was 16, she went through hell losing her whole family, then after 33 years my marriage broke up leaving Tessi & I along with larger dogs at the farm, I did not cope too well, at first I was okay with leaving Tessi & her last daughter alone while I went daily cos they had each other, but then lost Mitsy n Tess was alone for 6 months, I noticed her turning in circles n now n then a high pitch bark in which i had to settle her but I know theres no forgiving myself as i did get cranky that she was in this condition i guess n at times push her away with my foot, one day she made me cry as she walked to me n rested her head at my legs to stand straight i think, i nursed her n sat her on the lounge with me but because of me pushing her away lots she snapped her teeth at me etc & i dont blame her at all. She lived till she was 17 and I loved my mumma tess so much, she was so devoted and i let her down and now i have to live with it, she was always the pampered proud pooch who deserved a better last 6 months of her life, I hope she will forgive me
When we know better, we do better. Dementia is really hard to recognize as a medical condition. I bet most of us here have lost patience at times, even if we knew what was happening with our dogs. I’m sorry you have regrets with Tess, but I’m sure she knew how much you treasured her.
Thank you for posting Dog dementia symptoms. Perhaps you can give us greater insight into WInston’s condition. Our Black Lab and German Short Hair Pointer mix is 14 years old. He has been a dear and gentle dog in his youth and continues to one in his senior years, with some disturbing traits. Two years ago he ceased to want to leave the house for a walk, he became so highly anxious of thunderstorms and back-firing cars. To keep him fit we would drove our sons out several blocks, then they all willingly got out and walked him home. He seemed to enjoy his walks and was always eager to come home. Now we can’t get him in the car without a lot of coaxing and once we get him inside he will not leave!
We’ve had him x-rayed and checked by the vet who has said he has the bones and joints of a much younger dog, not showing signs of disease . She gave us Alprazolam to calm him before storms but his increased ‘stubborn’ behavior is puzzling. We have to yet to see any elimination accidents. It sounds like he is hyper-sensative to noise and suffering from dementia. What can we do?
It sounds like there is a lot going on with your dog. It is not uncommon for dogs to develop anxieties and noise phobias as they grow older. They could be separate or a part of the dementia. I would consult a veterinary behaviorist. Board certified veterinary behaviorists are like the “psychiatrists” of the vet world. They deal with animals with cognitive and behavioral problems. They have full veterinary training, then several years of extra study after that. If you are in the US you can check this list. Many work long distance (through your local vet) in case there isn’t one close by. That’s what I would try with your dog. I hope you can get some answers.
Hi, i have a 16 and 1/2 year old male chihuahua. He has been the best pet ever. My son came home from the war and the only one who could get near to him was this little chihuahua named Samson. Samson cannot hear or see but he knows his way around because he has lived here so long. He stopped barking about five or six months ago. He gets stuck in corners, facing the walls etc. He started pacing around and around the island about a week ago. about 95percent of the time he seems to just not be there anymore. We hand feed him little tiny bites and feel successful if we get any food in him. today we got about two tablespoons of tiny pieces of a pork chop in him. he has lost so much weight. he still goes in and outside through the doggie door which is about the only thing left that he really does. He will get stuck by the sprinkler and get all wet and he isn’t aware at all. another dog can bark at him and where he use to lunge at any dog getting close to him – now he isn’t even aware. we are afraid to take him to the vet because we know the outcome wont be good. we are torn. if we saw any sign that he was in pain of any kind we would bring him in. but he doesn’t appear to be in pain but he is shrinking and that is very upsetting. we don’t want to give up on him. but don’t know what to do. in so many ways he has saved our sons life. how can we give up on him. but are we harming him?
You are facing the hardest decision of all, and I think it’s twice as hard with dogs who have dementia. It is so very hard for us to assess the quality of their lives. Have you looked at the “When to Say Goodbye?” page? There are some links that can help make a decision. (It may be hard even to look at them right now. I understand.)
For me, deciding that my dog’s life isn’t happy anymore is not necessarily giving up. But I believe a gentle goodbye is not a bad thing. But we all have to make decisions we can feel right about, and they may all be different. I hope you can talk to your vet, much as you dread it. Sending best thoughts your way.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you met my dog Mika and wrote this about her! She’s about 16 or 17 years old (I don’t know how old she was when my dad brought her home, but I’m guessing she was a year or two old) and to say she’s a handful would be a generous understatement. The getting lost in corners thing isn’t a big deal, and various spots in the house have been barricaded to prevent her from getting stuck behind/under/between them (but she still manages to find a way to get stuck anyway).
The crappy thing is that Mika developed mobility problems soon after she started showing signs of doggy dementia. She usually has problems getting up off the floor on her own as well as problems staying standing. This means that she has to be held up to her bowls to eat and drink, has to be spoon-fed non-kibble meals and she’ll bark nonstop at night if she can’t get herself up until someone picks her up (and she usually falls right back down). It’s incredibly frustrating having to get up ten times a night to pick Mika up, letting her bark herself into exhaustion, or having to sit with her for 1-2 hours a night because it’s easier that climbing out of bed every two minutes. She’s got doggy socks to help her stand on the linoleum too; before that, she’d constantly fall down trying to walk in the kitchen.
She’s on some kind of dementia pill (Selegiline, I think) and also some sort of canine cognitive support pill, but I personally don’t think either one is doing any good. The vet refuses to prescribe sleeping pills so she’ll sleep through the night. Mika will sleep for most of the day and I’ve tried just waking her up every chance I got in the daytime, but she still finds the energy to whine and howl at 3am. She’s not in pain – her legs just don’t do what she wants them to do (weakness, loss of muscle mass maybe, not sure) and she responds the only way she knows how. Before she developed her mobility issues, she’d get herself right up and walk in circles for two hours. I’d fall asleep to the sound of her nails clicking on the kitchen floor.
I try very hard not to lose my patience with her, but I live with my father and he is far less patient with Mika and he hits her pretty much every single day when she refuses to stop barking/whining (to be fair, most of the time, she does stop barking once she gets a smack, but there has to be a better way).
Mika is annoying to say the least, but I don’t think she’s got the capacity anymore to understand that she’s being bad or why she’s being punished. Is there anything I can do to make her knock off her nightly barking fits? I don’t think a citronella collar will work because I’m pretty sure Mika won’t “get” what’s happening to her when it does its thing, and I don’t think muzzling her all night will work because she won’t be able to pant and she could overheat (she’s long-haired).
Is there anything I can do to quiet her down? My work quality at my job has been suffering a lot because I’m no longer sleeping at night, and the same goes for my dad. Maybe one night a week, Mika will sleep most of the night, but the rest of the time, she’s barking. Some nights, she’ll start as early as midnight and keep right on yelping until after 4am. Sometimes she continues to howl even after several smacks from my father. I hate knowing my dad hits her when she genuinely doesn’t know any better. Any advice? The vets are no help.
I’m so sorry you and Mika are having such a hard time and I agree with you, it’s not fair for your dad to hit her.
My little Cricket had that rear end weakness too. That whole thing is very familiar to me!
My suggestions are 1) look for a different vet; or 2) see if your vet would be willing to consult a specialist (vet behaviorist). I imagine not if they are not helpful. But lots of vets will help you work with medications for your dog so she can get some rest and you can too. It’s affecting your whole family and I’m so sorry.
Thanks for writing and I hope you and Mika can get some rest.
Hi There, thank you for sharing this with us.
My beautiful springer spaniel Charlie is around 10 years old (we rescued him 7 years ago and he was thought to be around 3 yrs old.)
Over the last year he has been getting more and more nervous at the smallest of noises etc and will often knock things over in the house while in such a panic when we’ve been out for a few hours. We barely leave him on his own now as we hate the thought of him getting so scared.
We thought that he might have been going deaf so was getting confused but the last few weeks he hasn’t recognised me occasionally. Today we were in the garden and he went for me, barking and snapped at me (which he has NEVER done before) it was as if he’d never seen me before and thought I was a threat. He is also terrified of rain and especially the sound it makes on the conservatory roof and he will desperately try to hide away.
I don’t think he is suffering from all of the symptoms on your checklist but do you think this could be an early onset of doggy dementia?
I’m so worried for him, he is our whole world!
I’m so sorry this is happening with Charlie. I hope you can talk to your vet. Some of those symptoms could be dog dementia. There are also other true mental illnesses in dogs that can be treated, including noise phobias and anxiety. I’m not a vet and nobody can diagnose your dog over the internet. I’m glad the site has helped you consider these problems in a new light though. Please keep us posted about your dear Charlie.
PS If this turns out to be a mental/neurological problem and your vet is not comfortable with treating that kind of thing, you might want to consult a vet behaviorist. If you need information on that later, let me know.
Hi. My dog’s name is Bella. She has been diagnosed with dementia. She has many, many of the signs. She was already a geriatric dog when we rescued her from the pound.
However, just within the past couple months she has went from eating a little bit to eating tons. It seems to be the only thing that makes her content. She is blind and will bark and bark until I feed her and it is now excessive.
That doesn’t seem to be one of the symptoms of this disease and I have no idea why her appetite has changed and even so drastically. She has gained a ton of weight…
That’s very interesting, Bekka. Thanks for sharing it here. I have never heard of that before. Good luck with Bella. And bless you for adopting a senior dog.
This is very informative. I have a Shih Tzu named Lucy. She is a rescue dog and they guessed her to be 4 when I got her 4.5 years ago. So she is going on 9 years. All of a sudden this past Saturday she started to behave differently. She started this high pitched bark, which she never did before. It appeared she was in pain, but she doesn’t act like she is in pain. She has that dazed look. She walks in circles and she sits in tight hidden places. There were no early signs. I took her in for an emergency vet visit on Saturday because that bark made me think she was in pain and I was scared. The vet assessed her and gave me some pain meds for 3 days. She still had the bark. I took her in this past Monday and the other vet who usually treats her thought it might be her anal glands as one was bigger. So we had that taken care of. She continues to have the same behaviors and she has the high pitched bark and I’ve been wondering if its pain or if its a behavioral thing. I took her in again on Wednesday (yesterday). They observed her all day. They didn’t hear her with the high pitched bark. They did sedate her and looked at her teeth and cleaned them. She is stubborn. The vet noticed her canine was loose and took it out and gave me antibiotics. She is on day 1 of antibiotics. I thought maybe she has a UTI, which has created the behavior change. She had bladders stones before I rescued her. They did lab and that was normal, but didn’t do a urinalysis. My hope has been if there is an infection the antibiotics will help and I should see a change. I”m wondering if it is dementia. She wakes up around 3am and she has that high pitched bark and she circles around and she then hides under my bed. This has been her new behavior, which she never did. She always jumped to sleep with me. She acts scared of me. She is not herself. I’m having a hard time accepting it would happen so quick, no warning. She always has walked in the yards on walks instead of the sidewalks and I always thought that was because she is a little diva. This is my new situation with my dog.
Tonya, I’m so sorry this is happening with Lucy. I’m late in replying, so maybe by now you have more information. But if you are still not getting a diagnosis, you might consider asking your vet if he or she would work with a vet behaviorist. Things like you describe are their speciality. There aren’t that many of them, but some do video and phone consults. You can find a list here:
I have consulted with Dr. E’Lise Christensen Bell, who is on that list. She was great to work with (through my own vet) and super helpful in my situation. Good luck!
I’m not certain if my 16 year old is at the beginning, middle or.completing stages of dementia, however, for the past couple of weeks he has be barking uncontrollably prominently at night. Originally we thought the barking was triggered by him being wet but that only brought him a short lived comfort. Now it seems like not much calms his barking and he’ll essentially stop when he’s.done. I understand that this barking can be associated to his dementia but what can I do to help him with it????
You can talk to your vet about medications. There are meds that directly affect the dementia (they don’t work for all dogs, but for some), and also sedatives, one of which could be safe for your dog. That could help you and your dog get some rest. I hope things go better fo you!
I have a 13 year old male Miniature Schnauzer that has been exhibiting some symptoms of CCD for the last few months. He tends to woof at nothing, and this morning he was in his bed howling for no apparent reason. We have a 2nd Schnauzer (female) as well who is 5 years younger than he. He now eats soft food. He does tend to get day and night mixed up. Like others I’m unsure when the right time is for him to go, and luckily we haven’t had any bladder/bowel issues. If we choose to take him to the vet to be euthanized, is it appropriate for us to bring him home for the other dog to grieve? I hadn’t even thought of this until reading your blog.
I’m sorry you are having to consider these things for your male schnauzer. I talk in my book a little about how to handle things for other dogs at the end. It seems to really vary how much they respond and how much they seem to understand. If your dogs are close and it is just the two of them, I would consider bringing him home. We really have no idea what dogs understand about this, but they do understand “gone,” and it is possible that the reality of death could allay some kind of confusion. Again, I’m just speculating, but many people report that their dogs react quite strongly to the death of one of their companions. Here is a blog post about it from a respected dog expert:
Helping a Dog Through a Loss
I noticed my 14.5 year old Chi was having trouble using the steps to the bed and she would sometimes circle under the covers for a few minutes before laying down.
She never did that before because she always laid up against my side and backed into my arm pit at night to sleep. I did not think anything of it at the time but now understand what was happening.
A month later… it was like a light switch was flipped over night. She did not eat any treats I put out and she no longer barked when I got home. In fact, she never made a sound except a yelp one time when I picked her up.
When the sun went down…. she paced the bedroom clockwise for 7 straight hours taking the same path. She would get tangled in the cords and run into the furniture.
She did not respond to her name being called or clapping of hands like she once did. She acted like I was not even in the room as she would stop and stare into space.
She would walk to the water dish and hold her face over the bowl for a few minutes but never drink. Her butt would shake violently as she was walking followed by her falling over to one side or the other.
She was having trouble squatting to potty where her back legs seemed weak. She was also was arching her back but she was not in any pain.
During the day she would be on bed and stare into the distance. I could put my hand in front of her face close to her eyes and there was no reaction. She did not even blink.
I could see in her face that she seemed really confused. It was like my dog was a zombie.
The morning I took her to her vet appointment… I woke her up and she recognized me as she wagged her tail. I dropped her off at the vet and was later given a couple of options. She has mammary cancer and it had spread internally and up to her chest.
I was given several options and offered possible medications but little guarantee it would change a thing. She is also an older dog with cancer so there was no telling what the cancer was going to do to her.
I looked at her quality of life and just did not see how she could enjoy life with all the confusion and knowing the symptoms would continue and get worse. I did not want to keep her around just for me as that is rather selfish.
I made that awful decision to let her go that has haunted me for the past 6 months. She went to sleep peacefully in my arms having seen my face one last time. But she is always on my mind and I miss her so much!
Even our last moment photos together…. she did not really look at the camera as she once did. I know many on here are searching for guidance on what to do. Let your dog go? or try something to see what happens.
Just be sure your decision is for the well being of the dog and not for your own delayed personal loss.
I am sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a wonderful caregiver you have been for your Chi. I hope you can gain some emotional peace. It sounds like you were loving and unselfish in making your decision.
I have a 13 year old dog called Quinn. She displays a few symptoms.. I’m finding it really difficult to deal with and it is causing me to lose sleep at night.
Can you tell me if it is possible she is forgetting she’s eaten? I feed her and she will remain right by me, seemingly just waiting for more. Every time I enter the kitchen she will
Hop up and stand there/whine. I have increased her diet as felt bad but I actually feel this has made it worse, She never seems content.
The second issue is sleeping at night. It doesn’t matter where she is in the house. She will walk up and down –
Pushing open doors. Back out again, up and down.. Her claws tapping on the wooden floors. If the door is shut she will scratch and bite at it and whine very loudly. It wakes me several times. Is there anything I can do to help her? I love her dearly but she’s driving me insane.
Thanks for reading..
For the nighttime stuff, have you talked to your vet? There are some gentle sedatives that might help.
Since dogs are scavengers and tend to be ready to eat anytime, it wouldn’t surprise me if your dog forgets she has eaten sometimes. I wonder if you could stretch out her food and feed her more often or whether that would make the problem worse?
In the last parts of my dogs’ lives I don’t worry too much about their weight. I think it’s great you have upped her food. If your vet says it’s OK, I might feed her even more. Keep us posted.
I’m sorry you are going through this with Quinn.
I recently adopted an 11 year old Mini Schnauzer. Right away, she had the staring-at-the-floor-thing. I call it her “commercial breaks.” She eventually comes out of it by herself, or I can interrupt the “breaks” myself. She is a delight, however. So I don’t think, if this is dementia, that it is advanced at all. My other dog, a Shihtzu mix, is 13 and exhibits more symptoms, although, again, I believe if it is dementia, it is mild. My heart breaks for family members of dogs with dementia. To me it is worse than a human family member with dementia. But that is just me….My occupation for many years was RN on a dementia floor in a hospital, and I guess I saw the worst come out in people. Dogs, not so much, because they are not intentional like us humans. I have read many comments here and realize that I am seeing mild cases in my dogs. It is a really helpless feeling nonetheless to observe this in any creature. Squabbling about cause is kind of wasted energy at this point in a dog’s life (by that, I mean, diet, medication, trauma, etc,) because regardless of the cause, it still has to be compassionately dealt with by those of us who have dogs with symptoms. I consider my dogs primary family members and my relationships with them are the main ones I have. I have children, friends, etc. But on a daily basis, they are my life, as they are yours who are reading this. God bless us all, because my dogs have broken my heart and healed it into a bigger space to hold more and more love for them, and for humankind. Life is sometimes very painful. This pain is exquisite, though. It comes from a deep, mysterious, and wonderful place in all of us. Peace.
Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts about dementia, Susan. My mother had Alzheimer’s so I experienced it from both sides, as well. Bless you for working with dementia patients. I hope your dogs have lots of good time left. Love your phrase, “commercial breaks.” Take care.
We have an almost 13 yr old Lhasa poo named Otto. He was a very healthy boy (or so we thought) up until about a year ago when he “fainted”, which it was then determined he had CHF. I really though we were going to lose him, but he responded quite well to the two meds he is on for it. He has always been a nervous type of dog (didn’t like the car at first, loud noises, vacuums, etc.), but over the last year or so he has shown extreme signs of storm phobia (rain, wind, etc.). More recently we have realized he has probably been showing signs of dementia that we were attributing to “old age”. Besides for the extreme reaction to storms, heavy rain or strong wind he also has started scratching at doors (both closed & open), door jams & other furniture/objects. He also can tremble when he gets into one of those episodes and often looks confused like he doesn’t know what he wants. The last two days he has frantically tried to come with me as I left for work (breaks my heart to leave him like that). I am now waiting for a call back from our vet to find out if we can try him on Anipryl or Selegiline with the other meds he is on for the CHF. He still knows his name, recognizes us, loves to eat, plays with toys and will take short walks (on his terms) so really hope that we can find something to help him since our vet said the added stress is probably not good with his CHF.
Crossing my fingers. I know it’s tricky when they have another serious condition. Does it look like he will be able to add the Anipryl? Take care.
I have a 14 year old Westie that I adopted 5 years ago. He was the sweetest dog I have ever owned. He began becoming aggressive with our neighbors dog and then with me. He has cronic back pain so it’s hard to tell of his aggression is form pain or demintia. He cries to get up in the chair with me, but if I move he lunges for me and will bite. He has bitten me , my husband, and my brother. He is on tramadol, trazodon even,and metacan. We have tried essential oils, calming music, and Chinese herbs. It is so confusing. When I take him outside as my friend says he frolics. Jumps and plays like a puppy. We are scheduled to go on a cruise and my neighbor says she will keep him, but I am afraid he will bite her. I know he will be miserable without me. How do I know when it is time to say goodbye?
Have you looked at my page about that? The Villalobos scale can be helpful. The biting makes it more complicated. Have you talked to your vet about the possible dementia? Take care.
Hi, our Storm is a 9 yr old Vizsla. In the last couple of months she has started to have anxiety attacks in her kennel, only at night. She sleeps a lot during the day. Her anxiety attacks have caused her to chew her way out a vari kennel and two wire crates. She has chewed and bent the wires on the crates. She pants and sometimes it takes me almost twenty minutes to calm her down. We tried having her sleep on our bed and she is very restless. At times she seems like she is settling down and then all of a sudden her head is up as if she heard something but the house is very quiet.
I have a 10 year old Chinese crested girl who I have had from a pup. She was crate trained from a pup and has always been very happy going to bed usually taking herself when she was ready. For the last week she has been anxious and panting when I close the door… nothing has changed or happened and I am wondering if it is the start of dementia. She has always slept a lot during the day but can’t say she exhibits any other of the symptoms.
Any advise would be welcome
My 16 yr old dachshund Scooter has had CCD for about a year. He gets stuck around the house constantly and will bark or howl after being stuck for a while until he gets rescued. He doesn’t respond to his name or any commands, and doesn’t seem to recognize anyone anymore. He has a very difficult time settling down at night and will only settle when I put him in his bed and pet him to sleep. I have been giving him Anipryl for CCD and Rymidol for pain each morning and also Acepromazine and melatonin at night to help him relax/sleep. He was becoming very irritable and aggressive before the meds. Now he never growls, nips, or barks (unless stuck). The meds (not sure which or if all) help. His tail is always between his legs, does not play, go on walks, has difficulty seeing and hearing, seems stiff when walking, and has worn bare spots on his protruding spine and his tail from constantly getting stuck under furniture, etc. This morning he couldn’t stand on his own and fell over and pooped on the floor. My wife has thought it’s time for some time now and was glaring at me this morning. In my head I know it’s only gonna get worse but still I keep finding excuses to delay the inevitable… it doesn’t help when my 4 year old hugs him each morning when she gets up! I could use some solid advice here…thanks
My dog a nicer is 10 yrs old. Along with some of the symtoms listed.She will set and state at us paw at us like she wants something, and we try everything to satisfy her to no avail. Would that be a symptom ? That’s her worse symtom.
Hi! I have a five year old Jack Russell Terrier that is showing a lot of the CCD signs. I know she is young, way to young for how severe her symptoms are. She is constantly staring at the wall and we have moved her bed many times and she stares at whatever wall she is closest too, she used to eat almost all the food she shares with her best friend ,who is a Rhodesian ridge back, and now she barley touches her food. she has a lot more symptoms too, like she doesn’t come when we call, as if she cant hear us. When someone would come into the door she would be super excited and now she seems like she doesn’t even notice. I worried for her bec she is so young. I want to say I don’t get frustrated but I do I hate to see my puppy literally lose her mind. We are feeling like the only option is too put her down, but I will only go to that as the last resort.
My pitbull cries everytime he jumps up. He’s 6 years old. What’s wrong?
Christina, it sounds like you need to talk to your vet. It could be so many things, but you need to rule out a physical problem. So sorry this is happening, and good luck.
Boomer has nearly every symptom you mentioned, except the barking not recognizing people. He is 13 and also has hind quarter weakness. My vet has already told me he has mild dementia. I would like to read your book. Is it available for the Kindle? I couldn’t find a kindle version on Amazon..
Yes Heather, here is the link. Thank you for your interest! I hope the book is helpful to you.
I have a 16 year old Maltese who definitely suffers from dementia. He is on medication which has helped some. His vet and I suspected it earlier but when he started going “to bed” by going outside and laying next to my house (next to bedroom). I have read your articles and various others, as well as, numerous books on the subjects to help know how to best help him. However, the one behavior that is occurring and I am not sure how to handle is that he barks at me nonstop when I eat. Only me. Any ideas on how to deal with this odd behavior?
This is my dog all over he is a blue staff is there a treatment for him be is already in the vets waiting to go for a scan but I would like to know if there is anything they can do if if turns out to be this problem he is only 3 years old I fear for my boy Iv only just lost my other dog 4 months ago I cart lose both off my only true best friends ?. ? ? even text me 07444 426920
Hi. I have a 7 year old English bulldog i noticed some changes in her behavior. she will sit in the hallway and bark into the kitchen when nobody is in there. she scratches at the wrong door to go out she has problems with going down stairs. She has accidents in the house i have considered putting depends on her. She lays down and growls and barks at nothing other then that her appetite is normal. anyone else going through this?
I have a Spitz/border collie mixed and she exhibits all of the symptoms you are describing. She still eats and drinks but has been so confused and agitated. I have had her since she was 6 weeks old and she is now 15. It just breaks my heart because I don’t know what to do for her except to love her and keep her comfortable.
I found. This website after my 11-year old German Shepherd started exhibiting signs of CCD. Thank you for helping me understand more about what to expect. I love my girl, and it is so ahead to see her like this. She tends to lick herself all the time, and now she’s staring at walls and gets stuck in the corner. She’s slowing down a good bit, but sometimes all the cylinders fire, and she’s back to her old self again. We haven’t decided on adding medication for the cognitive issues yet. They don’t seem to be at the point where she is bothered by it. The licking is probably the worst part. Do you have any advice about that?
I have a 14 year old American Eskimo, Raven. After reading so many posts and the symptoms, i am sure my boy has dementia. He does have arthritis in his shoulder/front leg so he is on anti imflamatories. I have noticed he does not want to be touched sometimes and at times he even goes to nip me when i go to pet him..I know his hearing is basically gone and his sight is as good as it can be for a senior dog. I don’t walk him since his leg has been getting worse, he goes out in the yard. Has anyone else had issues of their senior not wanting to be pet. He has always been a high strung dog but not like this.
That could be a pain response or he simply may not enjoy it anymore. It does happen. Have you talked to your vet about these symptoms? There could be some help.–Eileen
When you say failing to get into bed, would that be the same as spinning a bit too much on her pillow to find the correct position and eventually her hind quarters plopping down outside the pillow area?
My dog is roughly 13 years old. The first diagnosis was DM. However, the fact that she occasionally runs around the yard and leaps like a Gazelle makes me skeptical. Of course, when coming to the door she invariably leaps into the wall, and if she is excited, we almost have to tackle her to let us carry her in the house.
She poops without warning. She can control her urine much better but occasionally has accidents. She spins intensely to the left unless interrupted. If we are not paying direct attention to her she spins. She doesn’t relax in our lap as much as she used to, sometimes it appears preferring to get up and spin (to the left).
When grabbing a treat, she has to take it to the side of her mouth and seems to have trouble bringing it in. Sometimes she seems preoccupied by how her bite fits together and grinds or shifts a bit. Her tail is almost always between her legs despite the fact she is alpha with one other dog in our house and is a healthy minded alpha when it comes to appropriate level of posturing/preaggression to demonstrate who is boss. But her tail is between her legs – weird.
Thanks for any advice. We have scheduled to put her down on March 2nd but I’m wavering. I’m not sure what to do. Keep in mind, part of this equation is losing time with my son and daughter this coming Spring 8/9, who are in more and more need of daddy time as they get older.
I’m sorry that I only saw your message now, so I don’t know if you have said goodbye to your dog or not. Feel free to write again; again, I’m sorry I didn’t see your message.
My 11 yr. old shih-tzu has had her symptoms for almost a year now but both of the vets; as well as myself have narrowed her condition as either doggie dementia or brain cancer we think. What I’m wondering is will she experience seizures with either symptom? She has had several of them & just had a bad 1 today to where we thought we had lost her when fluid came out of her while crying as she was lying on the kitchen floor. She turns round & round but noticed she mainly did that while up north in colder weather. We live in FL and since she’s been back home she doesn’t do that as much. Hope you might give me some insight on the best way to proceed with her treatment(s)? Thanks for your time.
I’m so sorry this is happening with your dear dog. Only your vet can advise you about her treatments. The treatments are different for the two conditions. I believe CCD and a brain tumor can both cause seizures. I hope she continues to do better in the warmer weather. Take care.–Eileen
My 16 year old lurcher is doing every thing I’ve read from above 5 weeks ago vet said she had a stroke it’s very sad looking at her been like this
I’m sorry. It’s hard to see our beloved pets like this. Do you feel confident in the vet’s diagnosis? Did the symptoms come on all at once? Please note: I’m not a vet. But if you are unsure about a diagnosis, be sure and ask questions.
I have actually cried my eyes out after reading the symptoms list as I’ve been on long term sick with stress and my 13 year old lab collie cross has been driving me mad whining and barking but now it all makes sense as to what is wrong with him and I feel terrible what can I do to make his time better? X
Be sure and talk to your vet, Jane. There are meds that can slow the progress of dementia (if that’s what he has) and also that can help with anxiety and restlessness on his part. Go over your house and make sure it’s safe for him. Just take care of him the way you always have with a special view to his needs and likes, which are probably changing. There are some helpful comments here and my book has a lot of tips as well (it’s available on Amazon UK). Take care.
Hi, I have a yorkie name Harley he is 13 years old and after reading this page I believe he has CCD everything on the checklist he has, back in November 2017 he was bleeding when he peed so we took him to the Vet and he had kidney stones so they did surgery after that the next month he change he was walking in circles like he was lost in the house not sleeping at night up every 2 hours crying but Harley sleeps all day he just wants to eat at night he can’t fine his water no more so I give him water from a cup but his water is out right next to his food. He is always licking my husband and my self all the time he never stops. I can be sitting on the couch or standing right next to him and he don’t know I’m there, it’s like he has a blank stare on his face he has been shaking a lot barking a lot pacing back-and-forth he has been falling down the steps so most of the time I’ve been carrying him everywhere. I have been trying to stay up till at least 2 o’clock in the morning because my husband can get some sleep to go to work but when we go to bed at two he’s back up at four crying ,so I took him to the Vet to see what’s wrong and the doctor puts him on Hydroxyzine 25 mg for licking and Composure for being up at night but nothing is working. My husband and I love this boy so much but we don’t know what to do this medicine is not working and I’m not ready to put him down yet. I just would like to Thank you for this list and this page now I have something to take to the doctors.Thanks Donna
I hope you can get some help for Harley. I’m glad the page was helpful. Hugs.
My dog had alot of these issues she was only 8 I had taken her to the vets alot saying she was weeing and pooing indoors lost intreaat in most things getting stuck in places and unable to back out having me up alot at night but sleeping during day
Thwy treated her for a urine infection then which they was not sure she had then had blood test which showed nothing gas emissions hwr calming tablets but all these done was stop he shaking for about a hour she would pace round and round in same spot
Was told could give hwr pain killers I asked why if you r saying nothing wrong with her
On Friday 7th April we decide to have her put to sleep as felt it was kinder for her
Then I read about dog dementia which as I say was all the signs of my dog I am angry and upset to think my dog had suffered for 6 months and having her put down when that might have been avoided
I’m so sorry, Lynne. I don’t know what else to say. That’s tragic.
Thanks to everyone for sharing! It’s comforting to know that we are not alone. Our Shepard mix Lottie is 16 years old and we joked about her possibly having canine dementia then we discovered that it’s is a real thing. We lost our 15 year old Lab right after Christmas and it was so hard. She was in sudden pain and it was very clear that we had to help her. With Lottie that horrible decision is not easy at all. I really don’t think she can recognize pain if there is any so that is good in a way. She has become so thin, she eats more than she did before we lost our Lab but I guess due to her age the nutrition is just not staying with her. We do spoil her much more so than we did before and she was rotten before. Hahaha!!! It’s just my hubby, my daughter and myself now so when I cook I make sure to fix extra chicken, steak, bacon, etc for her. Having 2 senior dogs so close together has taught me so much about love for our furry friends who normally are shunned. I guess having a grandmother pass from Alzheimer’s and my hubby’s grandmother just passed from the same really resonates with our sweet Lottie. Thank you again to everyone going though this same journey. Love and blessings to you all!!!
Hugs back to you, Jennifer. Lottie is lucky to have such a wonderful family. (My mom had Alzheimer’s too, so I can relate.)
I need some help. One of my dogs has doggy dementia his brother however hasn’t. They are both 13.
Jack (the one without) has taken to growling and snapping at A.J (the one with dementia. I don’t know what to do to help jack. A.J is constantly pacing around the coffee table and this behaviour is stressing jack out.
Any ideas as to help me with this situation because all my research has come up with nothing.
Have you been to the vet for a diagnosis? You can ask about medication as well. I had to separate my dogs a lot of the time when one got dementia but we worked out a pretty good system. Good luck. Sorry you are going through this.
my 17 year old eskimo has severe dementia. he is also blind. about a year ago i noticed his behavior was starting to get weird. it was hard to distinguish at first because of his blindness. then when things got really bad i thought i was going to have to say goodbye. instead i put him on a bunch of herbal and food supplements, as well as raw food. your sweet video of you and cricket was helpful and tender for me at that time. he stabilized, and melatonin helped him sleep through most of the night. but he still gets into trouble. my kitchen, where he lives when unsupervised, is practically not functional for me the way i have it blocked off everywhere. one night i was away for an hour and when i got back i couldn’t find him. he had somehow gotten into the super small space behind the stove and the wall, was upside down and taking a nap. but he had lost a toenail in the process. i don’t know how he did it. he seemed oblivious to everything. although the herbs have really helped with the anxiety of his condition, that is what he seems to be all the time: oblivious. he wears a diaper because he can’t go for walks (he doesn’t remember what to do), and can’t hold it for long periods anymore. he still eats with great gusto, though, and seems to really want to be alive. but i miss my dog. when i go to cuddle with him he’s either very still and sleepy or thrashing around to get loose and go get stuck somewhere new. he doesn’t push his head into my hand when i pet him anymore. it’s like petting a stuffed animal. i wanted to let him die naturally, because he isn’t in any pain and wants to live. i think he still has some joy, in eating and in bumbling around in circles in his little stomping yard… the thought of euthanasia make me feel immense guilt. but i am taking care of an animal i don’t know and can’t relate to. i feel like i am just waiting for his body to die.
i don’t even know that i am asking for advice, i just wanted my feelings to be heard, maybe someone can relate to what i am going through. i haven’t made any decisions.
Oh my goodness, my Cricket got caught behind the toilet once, but to be stuck behind the stove and the wall…upside down…and being OK with that! Wow! Glad he was OK except for the toenail. respect how you are considering your dear dog’s life. I’m sure whatever you decide will be right for him.
thank you for your kind reply. i admire your diligence and compassion, keeping up on everyone’s comments for so many years!
Thank you for that! I try. –Eileen
My boyfriend’s dog is 13 year’s old.
He has a few of the symptoms listed, I hadn’t realised that there was actually a dog’s dementia when I mentioned it to him.
His dog seems to be repeating certain actions, like he is stuck on that thing at the time.
He cleans his paws until they become sore.
He has started drinking his water and doesn’t stop until his tongue touches the bottom of the bowl. As though he can’t remember to stop.
Is this common?
Do other dogs get this?
Or is this not part of dementia in dog’s?
Sounds like a visit to the vet would be a good idea. There are other mental illnesses dogs can get. Sometimes it’s hard to tell one from another and it takes a professional. My dog forgot how to drink. Maybe forgetting to stop drinking could also be from dementia. But there are other possibilities. I hope you can get to the bottom of it.
Thank you for sharing. Our little yorkie exhibited all of these symptoms in his 12th year.
We watched him around the clock, doing everything we could to protect him and keep him comfortable. I believe that we were hoping he would get better however, it was also for us. Until we could come to terms with the inevitable, I think we had to go through this.Our little yorkie was worse at night. Here is a list of some things you can do before saying good bye.
Baricade the basement steps if you have an open concept house without a door. (I used the ironing board)
Carry him/her out to potty and wait.
Ask your vet for a mild sedative for anxiety, especially at night.
If your pet has been crate trained as a puppy, start using it again at night.
Play soft music or sing to him/her.
Keep him/her engaged by talking in a very positive tone. Constantly reassuring love.
Also rides in the car. You may want to use his/her tote to feel more secure.
I hope this helps all of you pet parents out there.
Teddy passed away 6 days ago, he could no longer go on.
Jean, I’m sorry for your loss. You are very generous to offer these good tips. Hugs to you and your family.
What a wonderful mother you were to sweet sounding Teddy. The most difficult thing to do in our lives, I believe, sending our unconditional love to the Rainbow Bridge.
It’s so nice to read about wonderful furry baby parents who love their furballs.
My sweet Jack is about 16 or 17. He ran across my yard toward a busy street and I was able to catch him. This was about 15 years ago.
He has something wrong with his teeth and my vet told me that the cheap place I took him to have his teeth cleaned, may have brushed them. They also extracted a tooth. Should have known when his breath could still knock me.over. It is difficult to tell if he has dementia as he also has arthritis of the spine and becomes a barking maniac when he is picked up. He is difficult to wake up as the other dogs will go outside and I see Jack in his bed still sleeping. There are other problems, but my biggest is his lack of appetite…….well, he’s hungry and follows me around checking out what I have in my hands. I’ve had him so long I can tell what he wants. He is very sad about it. Food falls out of his mouth, but surprisingly he can eat a Greenie and dry biscuits.
He also has a corneal ulcer and I’m sure it hurts him. I can’t afford to get more Galliprant, it’s so expensive. I can’t afford to take him back to the vet to have his eye checked.
So basically, he ‘may’ have a touch of dementia, eye is hurting and most likely disturbs his sight and his teeth hurt (especially on one side as he seems to chew on the right side only, when he chews.) I am not going to let my dog starve to death. I have tried so many things, chicken, beef, Merrick canned, Fromm canned, Little Ceaser (recommended by someone who dog wouldn’t eat, but ate this stuff). I wont’ give an exhaustive list of what I’ve tried. Oh he inhaled ham baby food, which makes me gag.;-0 Once again, no money for food at the moment, I am so upset. Does anyone have any suggestions? Sometimes he will eat canned food out of my hand, walk around, come back, eat another small amount from me and continue his routine. Sigh
I’m sorry you are having such a hard time with your beloved dog. It’s just the worst when they have problems eating. I don’t know if he could learn this method, but have you ever tried making purees and feeding out of a tube? I have a blog post about that and I’ll link it here. (The blog is about using it for training treats, not an actual diet, but a lot of puree style canned foods are complete foods.) Just a thought. He has so many things going on and I’m so sorry. Hugs.
My vet diagnosed our 13 yr. old Brittany with dementia and prescribed Trazodone 100 mg. twice daily. What do you know of this drug? Not on your list of treatments. I’m not sure if it is working or making his anxiety worse. Thinking I should try something different. Your thoughts please. Thank you.
I can’t really answer about your dog, as I am not a vet. Trazodone is used to treat anxiety and depression. These can certainly be aspects of dementia. It doesn’t treat the other parts of dementia that I have heard of.
Can you talk to your vet about the results you are seeing? I would probably keep a simple log. Each day write down if it was basically a good day or a bad day, and some notes. If there are certain troubling behaviors your dog performs, try to track their frequency. Dementia is very hard to deal with in this way since it has its own ups and downs. It can be hard to tell what helps. Good luck and I hope your vet can work with you about this.
My 13 year old Bernese Mountain Dog is exhibiting a couple of the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction. However, he is also almost blind from corneal endothelial dystrophy. He does not walk into things, but has trouble finding items on the floor, etc. How do I determine whether the blindness or the ccd is the cause?
Because CCD is what they call a “diagnosis of exclusion,” only a vet can diagnose it. He or she needs to rule out other possible causes, including the blindness but also several more. Make sure you download the symptoms list I provide or go to this site to take a scored test about your dog’s behavior. Then you can take the results to your vet. Good luck!
I have a 17 year old Chihuahua that’s been in our family all his life. He has advanced dementia, is deaf, blind in one eye but can see shadows in the other we’re told. He has CHF, liver disease, degenerative disc disease and falls at times. I could check off everything on the dementia list, except he eats well. We keep cameras on in the house if we need to make a quick run to the store. He usually figures out at some point we are not there and he begins to making a pensive mooing sound. My husband and I try to make sure he is not left alone except for the rare quick trip to the store together. Otherwise, one of us stays while the other goes out. He can no longer go on walks. He still goes out the dog door sometimes but just wanders around. We have to retrieve him often because he will either forget how to return or will fall and can’t get up. I would say the only cognitive functioning he has left is following me when I am home. But he doesn’t respond to being petted and it frightens him even. Evenings are tough and he sundowns till he’s exhausted with constant whimpers. He is no longer himself. It breaks my heart and I am having a very hard time accepting his time is near. He has always been “the world’s most perfect dog” and still is to me. I always thought his CHF was the most concerning, but the dementia is far worse. I am struggling with knowing what is the right thing to do. Am I being selfish with wanting to keep him alive as long as he has a beating heart and appetite? Or is it more merciful to give him relief from his declining physical and mental condition? I watch him come up to one side of my chair and whine as if he’s trying to ask for something. I think he knows I’m in the chair but he just can’t figure out how to get to me. We also have an 11 year old yorkie that he doesn’t respond to. I really need some thoughts and perspective on how to make the decision to either let nature take its course or not. I’ve had to put down two other elderly dogs over the years, but one had cancer and I knew when the time had come and the other was in heart failure with no relief in her last few days. But this time, I’m struggling.
Katie, I’m so sorry you are going through this. It’s really really hard when they have dementia. IF it helps to know, I euthanized my dear dog when she could still eat, walk, and growl at the vet. I had a long time to think about it, and I wanted to err on the side of too soon rather than too late, if I had to err. For her, she had started to have seizures. But I was also just plain worried that she would forget me. I don’t mean that in a self centered way. But she still knew me, and I felt like she would just be lost if she lost that connection.
Here is a link to a quality of life rating scale. Even if you don’t want to add up numbers, it does give some good considerations.
I also tell three stories in my book–my own complete story of when I chose to euthanize Cricket, and that of two other people who were kind enough to share their philosophies. They wrote about how they made the decisions. There are a lot of stories in the comments on this website as well.
This situation hits at our most deeply held convictions and our love for our pets. One thing I do know is that your boy has the best possible loving care anyone could give him. You wouldn’t be wrestling with these questions if you didn’t love him so very much.
Take care and good luck. Hugs.
I’m so sorry but I just put my 17 yr old shitzu down thatchad every symptom and was diagnosed with dementia. It was the saddest thing I ever watched. It sounds like it’s his time. Don’t feel quilty my shitzu still ate and went on walks but he was so exhausted and so frieghtened. My vet told me it was time. I’m not sure he still knew me and started to let out cries. I wish u Luck and feel your pain but I cry all the time, but I know I did the right thing.
My dog was just diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. He is 7 yrs old. I feel guilty because some symptoms have been there for a while, but I didn’t realize something was wrong till he started to pant and drink excessively. We always just thought he was strange and just a different personality type than our other dogs and would joke about it. He has never backed up, he plows through our legs when we are sitting on sofa. But it wasn’t until he began these other symptoms (panting, drinking, and peeing a lot) Ithat I brought him to vet. He just started meds for Cushing’s disease. My other concerns is that he acts really weird. He wants to just stand outside in the rain looking off into space and odd things like that. He will also sometimes stand facing the wall..I feel so bad for him. He is only 7. Could these be signs of dementia as well as Cushing’s??? I’m wondering if he is miserable and don’t know what to do.
I wish I could tell you, but I sure don’t know. It’s one thing when a symptom can be dementia, but quite another to diagnose the dog. Can you ask your vet about his symptoms? I hope you can get it sorted out.
Thank you for your response. We have gone back to vet for more tests to make sure my dog is on the proper amount of medication and he is. I forgot to ask about dementia. I just realized after watching him standing facing wall again. I will let you know what the vet says. Thank you
Please do let me know.
Very glad I found this website. Been reading down the list of stories and finding comfort in my own situation. I have a beagle, Amos, who will be 15 in March. He was a stray I found 12 years ago. I don’t even know when the symptoms first came on they just started appearing gradually and kind of potentially masking themselves as other things. I would take him to the vet and nothing would be wrong. My husband says I am a hypochondriac but at his age every lump, bump and abnormal anything has to be tested. Amos is fine physically but has been diagnosed with CCD. His symptoms right now are standing/sitting and staring, pacing (the worst one and usually around 5pm it starts), random bouts of terror/shaking/trembling (I was blowdrying him like we do every week/other week after I bathe him and he started screaming and launched himself off the table), repetitive behaviors (drinking until he pukes, digging his beds/area rug incessantly until one of us goes over to tap him and break the behavior, licking the same spot while trying to groom himself), recognizes only me (which devastates my mom), gets lost in our house and in the backyard at my parents (one of us has to go down in the yard and rescue him). He is terrified of my husband now which is hard because sometimes when I am not home he has to take care of Amos and his sister and he runs from him with his tail tucked if he just as much talks to him, which in turn frustrates my husband and it’s just a vicious cycle. I now bring Amos to work with me when I work evenings so my husband doesn’t have to deal with it (I work at a dog bakery/supply store), which he seems to enjoy, or at the least he doesn’t hate it. He will go to the hinge side of our walk thru gate but not at doors at home. Understanding his dementia has helped me learn more patience with him. He’s also been epileptic for 9ish years but the seizures were not frequent enough for meds. His life is pretty good right now but I am just struggling with the guilt of when it becomes time. Like many others who still have healthy dogs, it’s hard for me to make a decision to euthanize for a mental condition and people who don’t live with him think he’s completely fine and Why would you consider putting him down? Is he in PAIN? etc. He still tests well on the quality of life scale. He eats, drinks, doesn’t get stuck anywhere (our floor plan is very open and no furniture or corners that don’t have things in them), hasn’t begun circling and doesn’t potty in the house. I think that will be my main deciding factor since even if we spill water on the floor he runs and hides and shakes. I don’t think his previous owner was very nice when they potty trained him. The only accidents he’s ever had were when he seized and lost bladder control and when he comes to he is mortified and tries to escape even though he’s not fully recovered. It is very stressful for him despite the fact no one in my family has ever even raised their voice to him for that. My husband and I have been discussing getting a puppy but I feel it will only confuse and terrify Amos. The guilt over that (feeling like I’m replacing him) is almost unbearable but I feel his sister would benefit from having a dog she can run around with again. Amos has not played with her in over a year but he likes to lay by her. I have so many emotions but it’s nice to get them out and have support from other people going thru the same thing. What a wonderful group of people. It’s clear everyone here loves their dogs so much.. otherwise we wouldn’t be here pouring our hearts out and agonizing over our beloved pets.
I’m so sorry it is so hard with Amos. You are right–there are people here who understand. I always say this the nicest group of people in the world. You won’t find anyone who cares more about their dogs than the people who are caring for dogs with cognitive dysfunction. And nobody will judge. I hope you will feel OK when the time comes to make the hard decision. Amos is a very lucky guy to have you looking out for him. Take care!
I just read your post (Heather) and I ‘m sorry for what your going through. I’m going through a similar situation and my dog and I can relate. My dog with Cushing’s disease freaks out for no apparent reason,shakes, stares at walls, circles, gets stuck and lost under the table, etc. After being diagnosed with Cushing’s this fall and on the proper amount of meds now, I thought his strange behaviors would decrease after 3 months, but they aren’t. He is only 7 1/2. The meds are so expensive and technically are working to make his labs normal, but he is still having a hard time. I always feel guilty!!! THEN In December his brother (same litter) suddenly became very ill. After a lot of X-rays and blood test we found that we found out he had advanced stage cancer. He was absolutely great until he stopped eating that day and he never did again. The biggest thing I learned is that some Dogs don’t show pain. I also want to get a puppy to cheer myself and my dogs too-to have something good going on so we can forget our pain. But I feel like I can’t because I never know how much Money I will have to spend on more emergencies and meds- I feel it would be financially irresponsible to have more pets. I don’t know how I will get over this. I haven’t stopped crying yet. My (my Cushing’s dog)has ups and downs, so I know he is HAPPY sometimes and enjoying life, but when that stops, I will not let him suffer. More guilt. Don’t know if all this is making sense and is literate (enough), but it’s true; it helps to vent.
My dog Maisie is 11 years old and is now blind due to PRA. She is showing a lot of signs of CCD and I am growing more and more anxious about how much longer I have with her. She will spend majority of her time now just staring into space, going round in circles, off her food, not responding when you call her, she also seems to urinate in her bed most nights. She is fed a rotation of Applaws dry with Lilys Kitchen wet or Tails tailormade food dry with Tails wet food. She is also fed Yumove glucosamine tablets daily.
Can you reccomend anything to help her?
I’m so sorry about Maisie. What does your vet have to say? There are some medications that help with CCD and/or anxiety if that’s a component. That’s what I would be looking into. Good luck and I hope you still have some good time with her.
I am glad I found this site. My beloved Sweet Pea apparently has CCD. I read thru the symptoms and she definitely is showing all the signs. She also is now blind in one eye which doesnt help the situation. I am hoping that I have a couple more years with her but know that it will never be enough as she is my true doggie soul mate. She no longer eats her dry food so I buy her wet food and sit with her to make sure she eats it all. She seems otherwise healthy in every other facet just gets lost and doesnt seem to know where she is going. She sleeps most of the time now and only gets excited when I get home from work. Once I home she is by my side everywhere I go. I have started preventative measures like putting a childs gate at the top of my steps so she doesnt fall down the steps. Anyways just wanted to share a little about my baby. Thanks for letting me share.
It sounds like you are taking great care of Sweet Pea. I can tell how much you love her. I hope you and she still have many more good days together.
My 14 year old husky mix has CCD. What is working for her is Citicholine (20 mg, twice a day) and a B vitamin complex. I also give her fish oil, but the first two listed supplements seem to be what is most important. Although it took some time and patience, she is now back to her normal self. I can only hope that she can be maintained at her current level.
Thanks for your comment! That’s interesting about the citicoline. As far as I know, it has not been researched on dogs with dementia. However, in one study it was administered to younger dogs and appeared to enhance memory functions. I’m glad your dog is doing so well!
My 13 year old english creme retreiver is the kindest most loving baby. She eats like a trouper and barks at 5pm for dinner. She has the usual arthritis but her heart is strong. But tonight I noticed as she sat in her chair that she was staring as if someone else was in the room. Then like clockwork ever 15 seconds her head did 1 bob. It seemed like she was falling asleep, but not. I know shes getting up there in dog years, but she has been so healthy. I take her to the vet for all issues, but this just started tonight and its scaring the hell out of me. Love her more than life.
I’m so sorry, Joan. Have you been to the vet yet? I hope your retriever has a treatable condition. Let us know. Hugs.
All the stories brought tears to my eyes. My decision is impending. The darling of my life is a 17-year old fuzzy female Jack Russell named Tuki. Besides being completely deaf and almost completely blind, she now has all the classic CCD symptoms.
We keep her confined to the kitchen due to incontinence, but she seems happy enough and is eating and drinking. She does still recognize me, but recently has had more mobility and nausea issues. Her wobbly legs get her around, with a few knocks and bumps into the furniture.
Right now, we are monitoring the good vs. bad days …
I hope there is a doggie heaven. Thanks to all for sharing your stories. Blessings.
Here’s to more good days. Thanks for sharing about Tuki. Hugs.
I am not quite sure if my Yorkshire terror has this he is 10years old and started last week to keep waking up in the night he sleeps in with me and my husband and he goes over to the door and does a bark to wake us up and when we go to the door he jumps back on the bed this morning when we were still being woke up at 4.30 my husband picked him up and carried him downstairs to put him out the garden he then settled he has started wanting a drink through the night which he hasn’t done before and he is panting a bit he now sleeps more in the day me and my husband are so tired as we both work long hours this is why I thought I would check the Internet today to see if dogs can get dementia
Sounds like a good time to talk to your vet about it. I hope you can get him settled down and you can all get some rest. Not to mention some good times.
These stories are breaking my heart. My Khloe is my baby, a part of my body most of the time. She also has every symptom of CCD. I guess im just hoping its not that. Hers is much like sundowners same time of evening shes just not my baby anymore. Pacing, starring off into space, hiding under couch, not answering to her name and the most heartbreaking one is she wont give her momma kisses. Hers is 12 hrs on 12 hrs off. It started about 8 months ago, lasted a few weeks then she was fine, then a couple months ago same thing, then fine again til last night. Its breaking my heart, if she goes away and dont come back to me, it will be devastating. Any recommendations that can help before she stays in this horrible state? Thanks so much for letting me vent.
I’m so sorry this is going on. I think the hardest thing is if their relationship with you changes. It’s so not fair–to them or to you. Have you talked to your vet about it? There are meds that can help a bit. Take care.
This is happening with my dog. It is breaking my heart. I want to have him put to sleep. He is 16, but my partner thinks I am being evil. I hate to see any animal suffering especially one I love so much. Can anyone advise please
Christine, when dogs have dementia it is an actual physical impairment like diabetes or congestive heart failure. It’s real. You are in the best position to know if your dear dog is suffering. He is lucky to have you, who is thinking and caring about him so much. I put my little Cricket to sleep when she could still walk and eat. But her quality of life had gone way down, she was very frail, and we were just waiting for that day when she fell apart. It was very very hard, but I did it before she reached rock bottom. Because I saw it coming. Hugs to you.
Your story about your Cricket has helped me watch my 17year old cairn terrier who has been with me before my kids. This is terrible to watch my dog falling apart but we are having a hard time thinking about putting him to sleep. I read your story over and over to help.
I’m so sorry you are going through this with your cairn. I’m glad my story helped a bit. There are a lot of people here on this site who know what you are going through. Take care.
My little Jake is a 10 year old pug. H has started barking through the night. He sleeps with me and it’s breaking my heart. He forgets where his bowls are and stares at the wall. I love him so much but I am considering the best for him. I hope I’m not selfish
It’s a test for all of us. Jake is lucky to have such a loving person looking after him, though. Hugs. It’s hard.
We have 5 dogs,2 big girls and 3 small breeds. They all used to get along beautifully, with Rosie as the alpha female. Just recently ,for no reason that we can see, she is suddenly attacking her next in line, Suzie. Poor Suzie tries to defend herself but Rosie is heavier and much more powerful ,she bites ,snarls and bares her teeth whilst little dogs try desperately to stop it all. Up until now, Rosie has been the gentlest dog, adopting any waif ,no matter what it is–the cats all love her–she is their protector. But now ,suddenly she is a different dog. She is squeezing under chairs and barking at —something?! We all love her,as do the friends that have met her —how can we help her —please.
I hope you can talk to your vet, Pam. A lot of things can cause sudden aggression in dogs. I hope you can get this sorted out. I can only imagine how traumatic that is for all of you. Let us know what your vet says. Hugs.
My 17 year old dog has developed the following symptoms over the past 12 to 14 months;
*Doesn’t go for walks anymore (she will pace a few times in front of the house and wants to come in).
*Doesn’t play with toys anymore
*Does not bark or make any sound (used to bark)
*Sleeps a lot more during the day and night
*Paces aimlessly every day, up and down the hall
*Get stuck under patio furniture outside
*Doesn’t seem to recognize her name
*Doesn’t want to be held
*Doesn’t seek attention
*Gets extremely anxious during car rides (use to love them)
*Too anxious to be groomed
She still asks to go outside, but sometimes gets confused and goes on the floor inside (after I open the door). She also use to make it to the grass and now she goes on the concrete.
My dog doesn’t pace at night but it seems like she has all of the other signs.
I am sensing she is in the advanced stages of dementia. I am wondering what to expect from here, and when it is time to say goodbye.
Cheri, have you talked to your vet yet? Sometimes there are medications that can help with some symptoms. There are many of us here who have faced this terrible choice. Did you look at the resources on the page, “When to Say Goodbye“? Sometimes they can help. If she has dementia, remember, it is a real disease/condition that we need to take seriously for quality of life. You love your dog or you wouldn’t be here asking about this, so I am sure you will do right by her. It’s so hard though.
In my book, I have three stories (including my own) from people about how they made the decision. Also some suggestions about grief. I hope you are not to that point yet though, and still have some good times left with your dog.
Eileen… yes I did talk to my vet. He recommended changing her diet (Hills dog food for dementia). He doesn’t think the drugs are that effective. I have read many of these treatments work for some time but, like dementia in humans, the decline continues.
She also had an episode of Old Dog Vestibular disease last December. I went forward with an MRI to rule out a brain tumor. She didn’t have a brain tumor but the canine neurologist told me my dog had severe brain atrophy… possibly one of the worst case she has seen.
She told me it was very important to follow a strict routine with my dog, make sure there is no clutter on the floor etc.
I guess I am wondering, even with the food, what I might expect considering how much she has declined in a year.
She seems calm most of the time, except for the groomer and car rides but am wondering how much stress she might be feeling that I can’t see.
I tried a supplement called Cholodin but it made her anxious and sick.
Thank you for responding. I will read the sections you recommend.
Wow, that is a complicated situation. Kudos to you for doing the MRI. A lot of people don’t go that far, but with these kinds of symptoms, it’s good to rule out a brain tumor. 🙁 So sad about the brain atrophy.
It’s so hard to know about the timeline. My dog lived for two years after her “official” diagnosis. I chose to help her leave this world after she had a seizure–she had already forgotten how to eat and had gotten frail. She could still walk and eat though. It was my best guess for when things were really turning downhill. Good luck with your girl.
Hi i have a 10 year old toby malt x pom he generally is very sweet and a barker,just recently he wees snd poos in the house and not on th he paper in loungeroom we always had for him he walks around the backyard for ages he then stops still in the middle of the yard and i have to go get him,at night hes really bad he walks around the house for no reason continually he also has trouble resting at night he has 1 sedative at night but that still doesn’t do much he continues to be restless and howls dont know what else to do for him
Sounds like you’ve been to the vet already? Be sure and do that so he can get a diagnosis.
Where does he sleep? One person helped her dog by putting a night light close enough to his bed that he could find it again when he wandered.
Good luck. We know this is a tough situation. Hugs.
I just began fostering an 18 year old Pomeranian, owner surrender. When we first got him, he had the most amazing spunky loving personality. (Still does) He was perfect for everything—haircut, nails, shots, eye drops, medicine, anything that would set off a dog with a naturally grumpy demeanor. It wasn’t until the 2nd day we had him that we noticed something off. He began growling at me and it was like he couldn’t hear anything. He began shaking like he was terrified. I figured at first that it was bc we were new to him and maybe he just woke up and forgot where he was. Until the next two days he was perfect—wanting to be at my side the whole day, full of energy, kisses and tail wags. I was ecstatic we were making progress and he seemed to be accepting us as his new family.
Until after those two days where he didn’t even want to come out of his kennel. He mad it as far as under the bed and wouldn’t come out. He would growl at me and even bark. So I just left him be as to not cause more stress. I at least got him to eat and potty that day but otherwise he completely closed himself off.
This was the day my mind immediately thought—dementia. He showed other symptoms as well. Wondering, finding him sitting in a corner of another room just staring at the wall, sleeping all day long some days and unstoppable shaking. It breaks my heart.
Then the next day he was like himself again, the sweet spunky boy I met on the day I picked him up.
I thank you for this blog. A friend of mine shared it as I have never cared for a dog older than 13, much less a dog with possible dementia. Hasn’t been an official diagnosis but I can’t imagine what else would explain his inconsistent behaviors so I will be going to the vet for their input as well as ordering your book!!
This poor boy deserves his best final days!
Aww! Bless you for fostering an oldster and giving him the best possible days. I hope he can have more good ones!
I read the above emails with interest. My Pug is 14 and a few days ago he was panting abnormally. It went on for about 3 hours and we took him to the vet. Turns out he has an enlarged heart with it pressing against his trachea towards his spine. We addressed that, but since then, he has gone to the bathroom in the house twice. He never did this in his life. He goes into a room and seems confused as to why he is there. He doesn’t respond to commands. The vet said it could be dementia. I can’t believe it just happened over night. Unfortunately, if it continues I will have to put him down. It breaks my heart, but if his quality of life and ours is suffering, I believe it is time.
Susan, I’m sorry to hear about your pug. That must be shocking to have it happen so fast. I hope you get some clarity on the situation. Best thoughts to you and your little fellow.
I have a 14 year old doxie and he has become so anxious, panting and shaking. He hides behind the couch or under the work bench in the garage. He is worse at night. Barking, urinating in the house, not sleeping well. I used the calming chews and they worked for a couple months. Some nights he is so anxious that I have to give him a rimadyl to settle him down to sleep. He acts like he either can’t see me well or doesn’t recognize me until I get closer and speak to him. He is very jumpy. Sometimes when he is walking it seems like he loses his balance. In the mornings he seems better. He growled at me when I tried to keep him from going out our bedroom door. I think I scared him, but he usually does not growl at me. My fear is for my grandchildren that he might bite them. My husband wants to have him put down and I am not sure. I feel like I am playing God. But I also feel like he is very unhappy now.
I’m sorry you are having to go through this with your doxie. Have you talked to your vet about meds or supplements? Some can help a bit.
I understand so well what you mean about playing God. It’s a terrible decision to have to make. But I know you’ll consider all the factors, leading with your love for your dog. Hugs.
Hiya, my dog (jake) is 19 years old he’s deaf, nearly blind and has dementia with all the symptoms mentioned above, it breaks my heart everyday watching him and he has just started going off his back legs, I know the horrendous decision is coming to put him to sleep!! But I cannot bring myself to take him to the vets, as I can still see some happiness in him, but I think it’s mainly me being selfish. How do you know when it’s right, without feeling guilty, or letting him down??? Thanks.
I tried very hard to measure the good days against the bad. If my dog was getting only moments of pleasure from life but adrift or in pain the rest of the time, I would consider helping them out of this world. Just the fact that you ask the question in this way lets me know how much you love your dog. I’m sorry it’s so hard. Many of us here have been through the pain.
Sophie adopted us in 2011. She is a Lhasa Apsa mix . My first small doggie. She is about 14 years old. Four months ago she began waking at night and pacing, circling right for 1- 2 hours. She has accidents in the housr, both bowel and bladder. She gets stuck in places, not realizing using a different direction. I sleep with her to accomodate her special needs.
My veterinarian has suggested Senilife and
Melatonin. Everyday is a gift and I love her MORE! She has become MORE trusting these last four months. I have
asked my Vet for a support group. I am losing weight and sleep. I do walk her more and that has actually helped her to go a straight path instead if her circling.
Roberta, it sounds like you are helping Sophie make the most of her life. I wish there were support groups for this. There is a Facebook group that can be helpful–just search on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Many people don’t deal with the situation very long because their dogs get diagnosed at a late stage, so there would be a fair amount of turnover in any group. Please try to take care of yourself. I know how hard that can be, too. Hugs.
My dog Bobby has been acting odd. Recently he has been going into odd places like under the small coffee table, right into corners etc. He has hardly touched or seemed interested in food. Last night he was extremely stressed, panting massively, shaking and after he calmed down he was just strolling around, staring into a corner or just stood motionless. We put him on the bed with us and he wanted to get as far from us as he could and looked really scared. It seems to have happened really quick but after looking at the list above it seems to have been over a couple of months, I just never twigged his unusual behaviour. If he’s no better tomorrow we will go to the vet. It’s so sad to see
I’m so sorry this was happening with Bobby. I hope you got to see the vet and got some relief for him. Good luck.
Hi , I am worried about admitting this has you may Judge me but need to come clean has the guilt is eating at me. My heart dog Charlotte a gentle loving toy poodle had reached 14yrs when I made the choice to put her to sleep on Tuesday just gone she licked my face whilst waiting for the vet. Now I think I put her to sleep to soon, but I was not coping well, you see her tail had large cyst`s that kept breaking open, she could not have her tail docked has they were high up near her bottom and could have caused other problems if the tail was removed. Anyway I cleaned and changed dressings everyday the vet would put her on antibiotics they would dry up then break out again and they hurt her. We have 3 other dogs and we all love each other so much, but I was sooo tiered cleaning and the smell was not nice. Charlotte was getting confused and had a dry cough although her chest was clear but she had a slight heart murmur. She was sleeping a lot but still eating and drinking well, she cried to be with me all the time which is difficult with other commitments and the other dogs. Me and her were so close but I found myself getting cross with her a lot and it now breaks my heart that I did the deed without fully thinking it all through. Why did I get cross? I need to keep my sanity for the other 3 who we love so much and help them cope with their loss, my partner and I had been arguing a lot also before her passing, dogs pick up and I worry she was not happy. Please someone talk to me.
You sound like someone who loved your dog dearly and went above and beyond in caring for her. It doesn’t sound like she had a comfortable life there at the end. I don’t blame you for your choice. Many people decide to help their dog cross over while the dog still has a little quality of life. They don’t see the point in letting things reach rock bottom before intervening. I hope you can feel better about this. It’s so hard to grieve for our best friends. Please try not to feel guilty on top of that. Hugs, Eileen
Hi my Sammy is 13 he has started pacing at night unsettled and stands and stares into space we lost beaux beaux last August she was 17 to doggie dementia oh and Sammy sits and licks his paw continuously just like beauxbeaux did
Does this also sound like dementia to you please
I’m sorry this is happening with Sammy. Only a vet can tell you for sure about dementia, since there are other conditions that have the same symptoms. Can you get Sammy to the vet? Good luck.
My 16 & a half year old Daisy has most of the symptoms on your check list. Can dementia be slowed down with medication? She seems so much worse now we are away from home visiting relatives even though she’s stayed here a lot throughout her life.
It can be slowed down for some dogs. I hope you can talk to your vet about it. He or she can make sure of the diagnosis and talk to you about medication recommendations. Good luck.
Thank you for your reply. I took Daisy to a local vet and she started her on vivitonin. She also recommended Aktivit and things to stimulate her mind, like a feeder where Daisy needs to work out how to get the food. She said there’s a range of toys specially for senior dogs but don’t choose anything too complicated! Fingers & paws crossed.
Yes, fingers crossed! I have some simple toys listed on this website, and also here is a video about how to start a dog with a Kong toy (start out easy!). My book has a lot of ideas as well. Good luck with Daisy!
I think my 15 yr old Jack Russell has a lot of these symptoms which I have thought to be arthritis. he’s on meds for it. The last year he’s either starving or no interest in food. He has trouble with stairs, recent things misjudges jumping on the bed, just lately seems to be restless at night, is better running off lead but no longer follows us he seems to sniff at things and then go off in another direction when I call him he doesn’t look up or come, when we enter the house he goes the wrong way. Some days he greets me loudly others he doesn’t appear. Some days when I walk around the house he walks with me with his body against my leg. I’ve been thinking his sight and hearing is going.
It’s hard when several things are going wrong at once, as does happen with our oldsters. I hope things go as well as possible for your Jack Russell. My little Cricket used to stay very close to me as well.
Hello, I have a 15 yr old Jack Russell named Faith who is my heart ❤️.. Kathy what arthritis med do you have ur JR on. I am concerned my JR might be getting early stages of demita. I had no clue this is what it could.. My JR lost her hearing about a year so I contributed a lot of her issues to that. She has been hiding under bed sometimes about that long. She also misses sometimes when she jumps on couch. I got her dog stairs for the bench at end of my bed. She stares at it long time before trying them. I reward her with training treat. Started doing a circle around table wanting outside then circle on deck then wants back in. This is on going all morn. She lost her appetite so I switched to a petite wet food during day and dry at night. She barks for no apparent reason. Worse when I leave. But for long periods of time. New thing is she grinds her teeth’s. She has a lot of anxiety.. She started waking me up at 4am to roam downstairs. She had a vet ck 3 months ago they gave her a allergy shot since she was biting constantly her feet and checked for urinary track. Came back borderline but gave her meds for it and that did wonders for her eating. And energy again. However she does space out. Not sure if the grinding is anxiety or since we lost our cat a week ago as she just started it again. However since I found this info I’m going to make a vet appt and bring up these concerns.
This is rather bizarre. My Pappilon is 14 and has been a delightful, loving dog. Lately when I put his leash on or off, he goes into a rage. Tries to (and has) bite me. He snarls and is relentless to me putting on his leash. Other than that, he is OK. Yes, I had him checked about 3 months previous for any physical ailments and the vet states he is fine and in great shape.
Anyone else out there that has experienced this situation?
I’m not a medical person, but I would consider another vet check for pain. That’s a really common reason for behavior change in our oldsters. But there are so many other medical problems that can cause this kind of change. A good vet is your best resource for this and don’t be shy about going to another for a second opinion if you have to. Good luck.
My 11 year old Jack Russell is showing some signs of dementia, he sleeps a lot, toilets anywhere which is very unusual for him, not interested in going for walks and gets a bit aggressive. The vet put him on vivitonin but I haven’t noticed a lot of difference in him.
I hope he does get better, or at least has some good days. Is that the only medication your vet wants to try? Keep us posted.
I have a 16-1/2 year old Shih Tzu who is now exhibiting all the symptoms of dementia.
I’m sorry to hear that, Elizabeth. I hope things go smoothly for him and for you.
Our little dog, Fluffy (toy and miniature poodle mix), will be 16 in October. She has declined very quickly over the past year. She is now exhibiting all of the symptoms listed. She eats very well and is physically fine except for her back legs getting weak on her now and then. We’ve had to baby-proof the house because of her aimless wandering. She spends hours whining during the day. At night she barks and howls until about 4am. We don’t get much sleep anymore! We’ve tried melatonin, but it doesn’t do much. I don’t want her to be suffering. Is the whining, barking and howling the anxiety? Is that a sign that she is scared and frightened? Or does she just want to be heard or is she releasing stored up energy?
I don’t know if anyone can say why Fluffy is barking and howling at night, but I can tell you that it is a listed symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction. (And it can be a symptom of other conditions, too. Only a vet can diagnose your dog. Can you ask your vet about other meds? I’m sorry you are going through this. Sleep disturbances are the worst part of old dog problems in my opinion. Hang in there.
My dog is 15, and also has dementia, howls and barks only at night. He also seems to be extremely hungry. I feed him again until he feels satisfied and he will go back to sleep. Thankful he is not overweight getting fed 3 -4 times a day. Most of the time this works, but there have been times I’m up with him until about 4am.
My back Russell has dementia. My head breaks seeing him suffering the way he does, I’ve been told he will never get better, I love my little man so much it’s horrible to see. Should I have him put to sleep. Please help
I’m so sorry you are having to go through this heartbreaking decision. Does he still have pleasures in life? How many good days vs. bad days? Sometimes it helps to write things down.
I personally keep in mind that dementia is a disease. It’s not natural aging. And if a dog is suffering from any illness, we have to weigh how much it is affecting their life.
If it’s not to hard on you, here’s a post I wrote about how I made the decision for my little dog.
Our girl has an issue with ‘sundowner’ syndrome (barking sporadically, especially at night). We’ve found that giving her Benadryl helps to calm her down and stop much of the barking. Has anyone else had success dealing with this problem?
Barking can be hard to address. You could talk to your vet about something a little stronger to help her sleep at night. Also, make sure she gets exercise (appropriate to her condition) during the day. One person wrote that it helped their dog’s night wandering and barking to have a nightlight next to her bed. The dog was getting lost. Sorry you are having this difficulty. Good luck.
Our nine year old Maltese has started acting strangely; walking in circles backwards, very restless, wandering from room to room and growling. She was doing this just in the evening, but also did it in the morning today….
Lisa, I hope you can see your vet. Lots of dogs with dementia do strange things like you describe, but there can be other illness that cause those, too. I hope you can find out what is up with your Maltese. Take care.
My 15 y/o pit bull had many health issues, but she just stopped cleaning herself. This was a red flag since she suffered from severe allergies. She has since passed away but I wanted to add this since it isn’t on the list.
Thanks for this information. I had never heard that as a symptom, but it makes sense, and any big change in behavior is something to pay attention to. Thanks for sharing that. I’m sorry you lost your pit bull.
Emma my little dumpling is having a few behavior changes, one very serious one that is scaring me. I adopted Emma 6 years ago, we were told she was 12 then, my vet said he thought she may be a little younger, 8 or 10, we went with 10, in the middle. That would make Emma 16 or thereabouts. She has always been my dog, she picked me and I am her person, she wants to be with me ALWAYS, but in the last few months this has changed, she always lays next to me on the couch, but recently wants to lay on the bed across the room. Her appetite is not as good (Emma loves her food), and I know her eyes and hearing are getting worse.
She has separation anxiety and goes with me or if she can’t, hubby or my sister have to stay with her. I have taken her to the vet several times in fact just a few days ago to get xrays of her lungs and heart because for the last couple of weeks, she has had this soft cough and then does some mouthing. Xrays showed her heart is very slightly enlarged compared to one from about a year ago but vet said her lungs are clear, no fluid or tumors and he isn’t worried about her heart, no murmurs or anything like that. He did mention dementia. She does have cushings and has been on trilostane for the last 6 years, along with metachloprimide for tummy issues and meletonin for her fur loss.
How lucky Emma is to have you! And bless you for adopting a senior. I’m sorry things are hard right now. I do hope she doesn’t have dementia. Good luck and keep us posted. Hugs.
I found your site this morning after a particularly long night of being up with our 15-year-old dog Camden. He checks every box on the dementia list. My issue is knowing when it is severe enough to make the difficult decision. Right now he knows me MOST of the time and I would rather say good-bye when he knows who I am, not when he is completely gone. Your story has helped me but I am still unsure that I will know when the time is right. Last week at the vet he received a clean bill of health, sans dementia and a chronic heart issue he has had since birth.
I’m so sorry that you are having to face this. About Camden knowing you–that is a feeling I shared with you. I didn’t want my little Cricket to be cast adrift, not knowing anybody. Between that and some other things that happened, I made the decision earlier than probably some people would have. Her heart, lungs, liver and kidneys were still strong, but she was physically frail and had forgotten how to drink water. But it’s different for every dog, and every family situation. Here is wishing you peace in whatever and whenever you decide.
My dog is a diabetic, she also has dementia. She is also blind. Not sure if she even knows me. I carry her outside and carry her back. When she is outside she walks in really tight circles. She does not stop until I go to get her. I really don’t know what to do.
I’m sorry this is happening. That’s a really hard combination. Thinking of you.
My pekingese was a rescue and he must be at least 15 years old as we’ve had him for 14. He’s never been “high energy” – but he’s exhibiting all the symptoms. How long can a dog live with dementia? He is still very enthusiastic about eating but he seems to forget he already ate a lot of the time. I think his hearing and vision are also impaired but the behavior ticks all the boxes for dementia. He spends all his time in my husband’s home office but my husband is traveling and the dog seems more disoriented than usual. We just can’t figure out what sort of time we are looking at for his remaining days. He sleeps 90% of the time and it’s been that way for the past year or so.
It’s really hard to know about the time. I know that one of the studies says that dogs are generally considerably worse in a year, but that doesn’t mean the end. My Cricket lived a good life for two years after her diagnosis, and probably had dementia before she was diagnosed. Have you talked to the vet?Good luck with your little fellow.
My almost 16 year old English cocker is hearing impaired. She has ccd and has become a bit aggressive with giving her food and startling…i understand all that
She thinks I have food in my hand ALL the time…that is strange to me
I’ve never heard of that peculiarity before. But anything can happen when things start going wrong in the brain, I guess.. I hope you still have some good days with your cocker.
My jack Russell terrier is turning 11(maybe 13 or more? Cos he’s a rescue dog), deaf, has sleep wake reversal, eats and drinks A LOT, forgot the tricks we taught him, always anxious, accidents more often, and now, we discovered his behavior has changed a little too; he used to take his treats from our hands very gently and carefully, but now, he snatches.
My dog is pacing a lot, has been house trained for years and now goes in the house, what can I do to make it easier for him? Very limited hearing and does not see well either, hes about 16 yrs old, I just feel helpless on what to do.
Have you been to the vet about this, to make sure what is going on and to discuss any treatment options? Losing house training is a common symptom of dementia, but it can be connected to other things as well.
When my little dog lost her house training, I made her a room in the house where she couldn’t get stuck or run into things but which was also easy to clean up. Lots of little rugs, bathmats, and yoga mats, and a little cache of the cleaning supplies I needed most often. And I took her outside a lot. that didn’t guarantee she wouldn’t go inside as well, of course, but it helped with the quantities, I think. Good luck, Karen.
My 12 1/2 year old Pie Bald dachshund has taken to groaning &/or cooing (like a pigeon). He doesn’t seem to be in pain though; could it be dementia?
I really don’t know. Changes in barking habits are on the symptoms list, but I don’t know about other vocalizations. Have you checked with your vet on this? Sorry I don’t have a better answer.
Hi, I have a 14 year old rescue Jack Russel who has most of the symptoms. Unlike your dog he hasn’t forgotten to drink but seems to have forgotten to Stop drinking! As he has lost his house training this has become a real problem. Do you know of anyone experiencing a similar problem that has restricted the amount of water available?
I could see where that would be a real problem! Since that can be a symptom of other medical conditions, I would recommend a trip to the vet. If it turns out to be behavioral, that is, there is no underlying medical condition, ask your vet about whether it’s OK to restrict water and how to do so. It can be tricky and we don’t want your old fellow to get dehydrated. Good luck! In the meantime, you can experiment with a belly band or diapers, but they have to be changed often.
My soon to be 11 frescoes jrt can’t seem to stop drinking and eating too! I give him half a cup of water at a time and won’t give him more til 2-3hrs later. He’s always indoors and sleeping most of the time now
My dog 10 year old jack russell has suddenly started protecting his food, this happens mostly in the evening, he will stay in his bed and i can hear him growling or barking to himself. My son brings his younger Jack Russell up who eats husvgood. Wondering if there is a connection
Christine, I hope you can see your vet about that. Any kind of odd behavior change like that can happen from different kinds of medical conditions. This includes dementia but some others, too.
Good luck. That must be distressing.
We are dealing with this with our 15 1/2 year old JR/Yorkie mix and it is breaking my heart. He has his good days and his bad days. Tonight is one of his bad days. He is just walking aimlessly around the house and nothing we do for him helps on his evenings like this. In the last year his hearing has declined as well as his vision.
I’m so sorry you are going through this with your terrier. It sounds like you have been to the vet about this. I hope you still have some good times with your fellow. Take care,
I just put my 16 year old Westie to sleep. she had all the symptoms for the last 6 months of her life. what I found was a miracle worker for her pacing and anxiety was a DAP collar. (Adaptil) it gave us some much needed sleep during the last months which allowed me to make my decision and prepare my mind for the inevitable. she is at peace now. if you have any questions feel free.
I am heart broken to say that I had to say goodbye to my baby girl Rein January 30th 2019. After my childhood dog of 17 years passed away in May 2003 I was heart broken and had a very hard time with it. It was weird not having her sleep with me or feeding her first thin in the morning. I had seen this little black puppy running around with some neighbor kids a short time after that I usually went out to pet it and I was always so amazed how crazy small it was.
The young girl who first got it told him it was a boy and that his name was TJ. She wasn’t taking care of him so she gave him to a friend who also wasn’t taking care of him so she gave him to another friend and around October he turned up at my neighbors house. The kids called him “maggot” left him outside alone all day, no food or water and just hoping someone would take him or he would run away. After school one day I had gone inside and grabbed a nutty bar like usual and went to sit outside to enjoy the weather. I tried to pet it but it was so scared that it whimpered and ran away.
So I went to the sidewalk and sat down than tossed a piece of my snack. He sniffed, grabbed the little piece and ran off again. I felt so bad for this poor baby so I went to my neighbors that lived next to his owner and asked some questions. What I learned was that they were told he was a pitbull, they had been heard being very mean to it kicking it downstairs and such for having accidents in the house. They also had a very mean older dog that I assumed they wanted to fight him with but for some reason or another they tossed him out.
Which was the best thing for him I thought but I didn’t want to leave him in that situation. So I took it upon myself to go outside everyday after school and toss little bits of food to him. I talked sweet to him and slowly got him closer. It took me a week, roughly 2 or 3 hours during the week and about 6 hours on the weekend broken up to finally get him close enough to pet. When he crawled into my lap I was very surprised by the fact that he was not a he at all but a she.
I guess the “owners” were watching me at some point and the next day I was out with her a boy came over and asked if I wanted her. I didn’t even think about it I automatically said yes and he grabbed rope tied it around her neck and handed it to me. I took her home, took the rope off and than realized that I never asked my parents. I had my girl Eevon at home who was 2 years old and my sisters dalmatian who was 7 years old. I explained everything to my parents and they said as long as she was ok with our dalmatian than she could stay.
That first night I got into bed, Eevon curled up on the floor and the new little girl got into bed with me. She wiggled under the blanket, lifted my shirt and balled herself up to my back and that’s how we slept that first night. It took a few days to think of a good name for her but I settled on Rein. Eevon was happy to have a play mate and Rein was happy to have a home. They chased each other around the backyard and wrestled in the house.
Rein became my shadow, when I went to school she wouldn’t drink until I got home and she wouldn’t eat if I stayed the night anywhere. So it became easier to take her with me when I stayed with friends and I ended up usually swapping between the two girls because it was usually too hard to take both. When it snowed I gave her a big ice cream bucket to play with she would grab the handle run, fill it with snow and than dump the bucket over her head. I threw snowballs for them to catch and the snow would explode in their faces leaving them rather confused. Very early on she started to lay on her back for me and wanting belly rubs.
She would roll on her back and wiggle until I came over and rubbed her belly. She joined me and Eevon on our weekend animal planet binge and our movie snack nights. She was less than a year old when my dad passed away and so she didn’t know him all that well but she was a big source of comfort to me during that time. Moving to Texas was another huge adjustment for us but as long as I was there she was happy. She got to meet more of my family and became great friends with my niece and nephew.
We would run down the hill in the new backyard and race each other back up. I’d throw toys and she would tuck her tail between her legs and be off like a rocket zooming around the yard (usually leaving the toy.) When I would get up in the morning she woke me up with slobbery kisses and would pull on my pants leg all the way down the stairs knocking me on my butt more than once. She was a wonderful protector, she monitored everything out the window but if someone knocked on the door she would use her booming voice and let them know they were being watched. She taught my mom’s chihuahua how to roll in the dirt and curled up with my chihuahua in her big cuddle cup bed on cold days.
Time went by far too fast and before I knew it she was grey. When her sister Eevon passed in 2017, she immediately stopped wanting belly rubs and started sleeping more. We curled up together and missed her sister. She had teeth cleaning and tooth extractions in January 2018 which thankfully all went well with it. In April 2018 we moved again, she had carpet so she wouldn’t slip and we got her a big barker orthopedic bed that she absolutely loved. I covered it with a sheet so it wasn’t hot and she slept on it all the time.
She got another mouth infection in September and had to be on antibiotics. She was diagnosed with arthritis and given gabapentin which worked wonders for her. At the beginning of 2019 we were planning another dental cleaning because she kept getting infections but because of her age they wanted her to see a specialist. We made the appointment for February 11th for a consult and possibly for the procedure. The morning of January 30th I got up like usual gave her her pill pocket and gabapentin and antibiotic. Than about 30 minutes later I went to get her up to go outside and get a drink.
She couldn’t stand at all which wasn’t that uncommon first thing in the morning so i carried her outside and brought her in for her breakfast. She wouldn’t eat and I realized that she couldn’t sit up. I brought her chicken broth water and gave her a cookie. I kept a close eye on her the rest of the day hoping maybe she was just tired but by that evening we knew she needed to be seen. Her back legs had started to cross the last few weeks but once I uncrossed them she walked fine so I didn’t think much about it.
We were told that was a symptom of a neurological issue and that she could no longer feel her back legs. It could’ve been a slipped disc or a tumor on her spine but without an MRI they wouldn’t know and with her age that would cause her a lot of stress. Depending on what it was surgery would be an option but with her age the recovery might not have been possible. The other option was to take her home and do home care until I was ready but that seemed very cruel and I could tell she was suffering. For a girl as wonderful as her to love me and protect me for 15 years that would be selfish of me to make her stay in pain just so that I could have more time with her and so I told her I loved her, gave her kisses and that I’d see her again.
It’s hard to put into words what she was to me, my baby, my security, my best friend but still more than all of those things. For the second time in a little over a year I have a hole inside me but now it’s Rein shaped. I find myself fumbling for words to explain how losing her has felt but I don’t think there are any. That last day is haunting, it was so sudden and to come home without her tail thumping in greeting is a deafening silence. I’ll miss you forever my baby Rein.
I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so nice to hear from you again; I’m just sorry it had to be when you lost yet another dear companion.
Your tribute to Rein is beautiful. I wish all dogs were so well loved and cared for. Thank you for sharing her story with us.
To other readers: April wrote a lovely tribute to her other dog, Eevon, who had dementia, and allowed me to publish it here.
Take care, April. I’ll be thinking of you.
MY poodle almost 16 has the past week wanted to start eating in the morning, afternoon & evening. Usually he would eat around dinner & never finished his food. His hearing has been affected & he has cataracts but if you make loud noises he pays attention. He can see, only not too far. He runs, plays etc. We just can’t understand the extra food!
My 17 year old JRT (a rescue lo these many years ago) has several of the symptoms, and the most alarming new one is her complete disinterest in food. She hasn’t eaten or shown any interest in food in days, but will drink water. However, drinking is a problem because she vomits clear mucus and white foam. Took her to the vet’s on Saturday; blood work didn’t indicate any of the obvious serious health problems. He administered a bolus of fluid and an injection of anti-nausea drug. Sent us home with an antibiotic (because she did have a slightly elevated temp). Monday, she is still vomiting, so the vet prescribed an anti-nausea tablet (she vomited 30 minutes after I gave her the tablet). Tuesday, she is still vomiting and has absolutely no interest in food. When I put a splash of chicken broth in the empty water bowl, she turned up her nose until I put in a splash of water. I doubt there was more than a couple of tablespoons of liquid, an it came right up. So, she has been at the vet/animal hospital so they can see what’s going on. An ultrasound yesterday didn’t show any masses. The vet mentioned some other fairly invasive testing that could be done at a specialist vet about 90 miles away but, at her age, I really don’t want to subject her to anything like that. The vet had mentioned Sundowner Syndrome when I started mentioning some of the things going on. And that’s how I found this page. I’m thinking this is probably it and I have no idea how to interest her in eating or stop the vomiting. Sorry for the doom and gloom, it just felt like this is a place I could vent.
Our 10 year old English Springer has just been diagnosed with CCD dementia. I suspected it for a little while as the symptoms were the same as my Nan who had dementia! We have recently started using a baby monitor with him. As he needs to be in a small safe room at night so is in our kitchen. He just could not settle and was whining, banging the child gate and pacing. Now we have started using the baby monitor to firmly offer reassurance he is settling much better. We just use his name and speak in a low voice to tell him to settle. A couple of times and he then settles down until morning. It has beeen wonderful for me not to have to keep going downstairs as I have just had back surgery! Hopefully it will help him for some months to come.
Dear Cynthia, Paula, and Wendy,
I apologize that I have not been able to publish or respond to comments for several weeks. I hope all your dogs are OK, and if it’s not too much to hope, that some of the problems have been resolved.
Thinking of you. Feel free to comment again; I will be more active in responding now.
I never took into account the fact that dogs can get dementia. And it concerned me since some of the symptoms that you’ve said are present in my dog such as staying in corners and barking for a long time. With that in mind, I will take him to a vet and get checked if he is positive with this. This might be possible since he is already 15 years old.
Good luck, Millie. That’s great that you are taking him to the vet. I hope things go well for you and your dog.
I am so, so, so thankful that I found your site. We have a Border Collie mix, Lou, who is exhibiting many of the CCD signs. She is a rescue so we aren’t exactly sure of her age but our vet believes her to be 10+ years of age. She started exhibiting in September 2018, but we just chalked everything up to her being quirky and being overly attached to myself and my husband, we didn’t realize the road we were starting down. She also has hip dysplasia, a bone spur on her right hip, and a partially torn right rear ACL to add to her issues. There are times when her behaviors can be so frustrating but it is nice to know that we are not alone. I know that we are going to have to make a tough decision, probably in the near future, but I cannot thank you enough for all of the information on this site.
I’m so glad the site is helpful. I didn’t want anyone else to have to wait as long as I did to get their dog diagnosed. That’s difficult that Lou has so many health problems. She is so lucky to have you! Take care.
My 14 year old western has been diagnosed with dog dementia and just recently when in the garden has started walking into the plants chairs table or trees she seems very disoriented like she doesn’t know they are there. Her sight is OK she manages indoors only bumping in to corners. We now have to be with her constantly in the garden. It is frightening for us so it must be for her my poor baby
I’m so sorry, Lesley. She may adjust to it better than you think. But bless you for loving and caring for her so well.