Symptoms of Dementia in Dogs

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
Sleep disorders
Loss of house training
Changes in activity level
Memory loss
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)
  • Terrier with dementia standing with head under chairGetting 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)
  • Startling easily
  • Getting less enthusiastic about toys or stopping playing altogether
  • Performing repetitive behaviors
  • Having trouble with eating or drinking (finding the bowls, aiming the mouth, keeping food in mouth)
  • Losing appetitePhoto shows 4 different dog dementia symptoms: the dog standing with her head in the corner, wedged in a tight space, and two photos where she is perched sitting in odd places
  • 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  • Seeking attention less; getting withdrawn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 at this website.  

Sources of the information on this page can be found on this symptoms reference list.


  1. 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

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      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.

      • Kathy says:

        I have two dogs going through this atm, one is 18 and other is 15. Hate seeing them like this. My Springer Teal has adjusted well. My wee jrt Tobys is more recent and he seems a lot worse. It’s Heart breaking. Wish I could take it away from them. Toby seems to be really struggling with it all, whereas Teal just sleeps a lot x

        • Eileen Anderson says:

          I’m sorry you are going through this with your two seniors. I sure know what you mean about making it all go away. It’s so unfair. Take care of yourself–I know you are taking great care of your dogs.


  2. Donna says:

    Eileen, I’m selfish. I can’t let her go. I’m up all night with her, so she doesn’t wake the rest of the house. I hand feed her and bring her to the water bowl. I hold her for hours, trying to keep her calm. (sometimes it works) My room mate & I have had many discussions with the vet. She is a little over 20 years old, blind, deaf and has kidney disease. She is a mini dachshund. Her last bloodwork in April, showed all her numbers stable. She has had CCD for over 2 years now. She doesn’t appear to be in pain. I’m noticing, the last day or 2 she is only sleeping 1 to 2 hours at a time, whereas she would sleep 4 to 6 hours at a time. How much worse will it get? Do I kill my little girl because she is an inconvenience?

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