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  • Seeking attention less; getting withdrawn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. Liz says:

    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

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      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.

  2. Kelly says:

    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.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      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.

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