Images of Dementia in Dogs

This video and the photos of my dog with canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) have prompted thanks from hundreds of dog owners who thought something was little “off” with their dog but didn’t know about the disease.

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, you should take him or her to the vet right away. CCD is treatable, but there are also other diseases that can cause similar symptoms. You need to know what you and your dog are dealing with.

Video: What Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Can Look Like

This video shows different behaviors that are typical of canine cognitive dysfunction. They include the dog getting stuck behind things; forgetting what she is doing and (poignantly) repeatedly greeting her human after she forgets where she was; getting confused about the door; and circling.

Video Transcript: What Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Can Look Like

The following behaviors of 16 year old Cricket are probably a result of canine cognitive dysfunction (Doggie Dementia)

Number 1. Getting stuck. Cricket gets stuck behind some furniture and needs help to get out.

Number 2. Forgetting what she is doing. Cricket has always kept track of my location through all our years together. Now she keeps forgetting where I am, and re-finding me. Finding me
“Hi there!”
Forgetting where I am. Looking for me again. Looking for me in the kitchen, when she just left me in the hall.
“Yay, hi there baby!”
Finding and greeting me again.

Number 3. Getting confused about the door. Cricket has been going to my office with me for years. She always waits by the door when I go to another room. One of her first signs of dementia was that she shifted to the “hinge” side of the door and waited there instead. Nowadays she drifts away and seems to forget what she was doing.

Number 4. Circling. Here she is walking in circles.

Cricket is still quite capable and has plenty of pleasure in her life. Suppertime!

Thanks for watching!

Photos: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Gallery

My little Cricket lived for a long time with dog dementia. Besides the classic standing in corners and staring at walls, she often just stopped in strange positions and zoned out. She especially couldn’t get in dog beds correctly and would stop and rest in very strange positions sometimes.

If your senior dog has started doing some of the things shown in these images, see your veterinarian right away. You can fill out this checklist to take to your vet.

Copyright 2013 Eileen Anderson


  1. Jonathon Lively says:

    So you have recognised the signs, what do you do after its hard to see my loved pet like that.

    • Eileen says:

      Talk to your vet about treatment. Set up your house to keep things safe for her. My book has a lot of recommendations, and there are hints in the comments here as well. I know it’s hard. Good luck.

  2. Irma Mittermeier says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful videos of Cricket, it has helped me tremendously, perhaps it can be related to people that are going through this that there are some Vets. That say to try Benadryl especially at night when their anxiety starts, it has really worked on our beloved 17 year old Westie (Frisky) and to be sure I looked it up under Benadryl for dogs and it was said this is safe and much less side affects and the site tells you exactly how much to administer every 8-12 hrs. Depending on the lbs. of a dog. Frisky would pace and pace, cry and moan for hours at night, started given him 25 mg. at night only for his 17.5 lbs., he gets in his bed after 20-30 min. Totally calmed, and relaxed, sleeps all night, up at 7-8 am for outside outing, his morning snacks and water. He is ok during day but not as active as I would like but he is calm but with all of Crikets symptoms. Again thanks so much for your kindness and videos, Irma Mittermeier.

    • Eileen says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I hope things go well with Frisky. Just a reminder to all reading: be sure you check with your vet before giving your dog any supplement or over-the-counter drug.

  3. Steven Jeffrey says:

    Hi there my dog Jake is 16 years old jack russel/terrier he sleeps during the day then walks round the table in my living room nearly constantly he looks bewildered at times and sometimes wets on the floor at nght from around 6pm until 10pm he needs to wee its like a habit every day please could you tell me what this could be and if it can be treated.

    Thank You

  4. Claudia says:

    This may have been addressed here but I am going to ask again. Do you think it is possible that a “thunder jacket” or something like it might be helpful for my little schnoodle that has dementia? She is also nearly blind. I have heard that it can bring a sense of security to animals. Thoughts?

    • Eileen says:

      There have been some studies and it hasn’t been proven to work. It does seem to help for some dogs, but if you try it you need to know your dog’s body language. You need to be able to tell the difference between a dog who is relaxed and one who has shut down because the garment is uncomfortable. Good luck with your schnoodle.

  5. Tammy Baylor says:

    My year-and-a-half all of the sudden she just looks up in the air on both sides constantly like something is after her she’s never done it before until the other day what could it possibly be she is a fila

    • Eileen says:

      There are so many things that could be that we probably shouldn’t speculate over the internet. I hope you can take her to your vet. Good luck and I hope you get an answer.

  6. Melissa Gordon says:

    My dog is only 3 yrs old. She is playful and happy but sometimes when your not playing with her she will drop her head and look at the wall but not all the time.

  7. Maria Ward says:

    O my!!! One picture is worth a thousand words! My little chihuahua has been doing this for months. He doesn’t react to someone at the door. He wanders through my legs when I am walking. At least now I understand why his behavior is like it is! Thank you for a great explanation.

  8. Robyn Talbott says:

    My Frenchie whom I rescued at age 4 (vet approximated for the rescue agency-was from a puppy mill around here in Northern Ohio. She is almost 9 now) has been seemingly “a little off” for a few weeks. She has always loved her many beds and has always scratched at them, or as I call it “fluffing” her bed. Now she does not seem to like ot lay on them much, and prefers to lie in the mat below my feet in the kitchen. She used to love for me to sit with her on her bed after dinner in the kitchen on the floor, but now as I sit there, she will not come over ot join me ever. I feel as though she doesn’t want me to even caress her much of the time and I f feel so lost. She appears to look lost wand vacant in her eyes when she looks at me. She also stares off into space at times as well. I am crying as I type this, but I guess we’ll be off to the vet on Monday to find out what I can [possibly do. Thanks for all you have herein.

    • Eileen says:

      So glad you have a vet appointment and I hope it is something transitory and treatable. I am not a vet but there are a lot of conditions that can send a dog a little “off.” I hope all goes well.

  9. Patti C says:

    Our Sasha is the sweetest girl, a petite German Short haired pointer that is 17, has her 18th Birthday in Sept. has always been in great health up until the last 6 months. Have tried acupuncture, shots, lazor treatments (we wanted to give every possible treatment to our girl) She just stays up all Niigata walks aimlessly , I have to stay up with her She gets

    caught under furniture, I am constantly following her worried she is going to hurt herself. No more tail wagging or recognizing myself or my husband, no hugs or cuddling She will get herself jammed against a closet and cry out. I will immediately run and comfort her I guess she is scared. We can’t leave her alone I can’t bring myself to put her down. She still has an appitite She has been a wonderful girl and the sweetest dog I have ever known We rescued her from a family that was relocating over seas. Tears are flowing as I write this. What to do about this Heartbroken Patti
    No medication seems to help she is on 4 different pills. Am I being selfish keeping her in this world

    • Eileen says:

      I’m so sorry, Patti. Have you looked at the Quality of Life index? I have it linked on the “When to Say Goodbye” page. I know that sounds kind of cold and clinical, but it can be helpful to see a vet’s idea of how to look at a pet’s quality of life. My heart goes out to you. A lot of us here are familiar with what you are going through. Take care.

  10. kendra h. says:

    Your website is so very helpful to us right now. We have a 14 year old Brittany rescue mix who is showing signs of dementia. We have taken her to the vet twice in the past few months for intestinal issues and an ear infection and both times were so traumatic (muzzled and very aggressive to tech and vet) that we have decided not to put her through it again. She was always a sweet girl who loved everyone. She now sleeps about 22 hours per day, is anxious and startles easily, digs a lot on her bed, not very interested in food, occasionally stumbles, and moans quite a bit while sleeping. The best part of her day is waking up to a walk where she seems her old self for a brief period of time. As a former hospice social worker, I firmly believe in one’s quality of life, however it seems to be such a difficult decision to make for our girl, Sushi. Thank you again for your insightful comments.

    • Eileen says:

      Hi Kendra,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m so sorry things are hard for Sushi and you are having to look at that hard decision. Since you are a social worker I want to make sure that you saw this document, which is a quality of life assessment for animals. Perhaps it can help. Quality of Life Scale.

      Please know that I am familiar with the kind of pain you have, and so are a lot of other people who have commented here. Take care.

  11. Georgene larossa says:

    My Jenny Lyn is 11 1/2 lab. Last February her brother passed and health and mental health has drastically gone down hill. First health wise, no interest in food or water, then sleepy all the time. That got better after few months now she is acting weird. She sleeps a lot but wakes up staring at nothing and barks very loud, she was never a barker. She can’t see well so can’t tell if water is in bowl. The last few weeks she lies under the dining table, she never did that before. It is sad to see her like this.

    • Eileen says:

      I’m so sorry about Jenny Lyn, Georgene. Have you talked to your vet about her changes? There are medications that possibly could help. I know how sad it is to see a beloved dog failing. Hugs to you.

  12. Barbara says:

    My little mini doxie, Zoey, is only 4 yrs old, and within the last year has had 3 episodes having some of the symptoms shown in the video, and spoken about in comments posted. All of a sudden she’ Go to this one spot in the apartment, sit down and not move. She stares off into space. When I approached her to try and find out what was wrong she just looked at me as if she was scared and started backing away from me. She wouldn’t come to me, didn’t want her treat(which is never an issue!) I took her outside to see if she would walk with me, but immediately she ran back into the house, back to the same spot, laid down, and stared off again. This lasted for several hours, then all of a sudden she was up and moving acting as if nothing happened. I have caught her sitting in the hallway just staring. Like I said it has only been within the last year, and it’s months between each episode. We are going to take her to the vet, but they want us to capture the next episode on video for them first. In your research, and communication with others, have you ever heard of younger dogs getting dementia? Thanks for hosting such a great site! Very informative and you show such kindness and support to those who post.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Sorry for the delay–I have been sick. I have not run across any research about younger dogs getting dementia, but a few people have mentioned it here and in personal messages to me. I certainly don’t think it’s impossible. But there are other conditions that can also cause some of these symptoms. I’m glad you are taking Zoey to the vet. Let us know what you find out if you’d like. I hope things go well for you.

  13. Sheila Moorcroft says:

    Hi Barbara
    It’s half past midnight and my 12 year old dog, Harry, jumped off my bed where he sleeps, some hours ago and has just been standing and staring out into the hallway. I’ve tried to just go to sleep and let him do what he wants to do but I can’t. He has done this in the past but not for some years now. So I’ve been looking on my IPad and came across your site.
    It is really bad weather outside – thick snow and freezing – so I haven’t taken him out for 2 days. Do you think this could affect him? He is a Parson Russell who lives his walks.
    He has always been a very anxious dog and I have tried so many things and spoken to behavioural experts but nobody has ever suggested dementia. Do vets do a blood test for it?
    Bit desperate and want to sleep!

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Sheila,

      I’m so sorry for my delay in answering. There is as of yet no blood test for dementia that I know of. Vets do what is known as a “diagnosis of exclusion.” In other words, they consider all the symptoms and rule out other things that could cause those symptoms. For instance, some of the symptoms of dementia are the same as for vestibular disease, liver problems, brain tumors, and even tickborne illnesses. So perhaps you could make a list of any symptoms that are out of the ordinary and take them to your vet? Here’s a link to my own list of symptoms here on the site.

      Good luck. I know how distressing it is when there is something off with your dear dog and you can’t fix it or even figure out what it is.

      Take care,


  14. Delanie R. says:

    I am so happy to have found your site. We have a 15 year old Shiba Inu, named Sadie. She was diagnosed with CCD one year ago and we are currently struggling with the reality that it may be time to say goodbye. The information, videos and photos you provided are, strangely enough, a comfort to me right now. I have been feeling guilty for even considering ending her life as she still “functions.” But, reading your article about euthanizing Cricket, really helped me understand that, while Sadie may seem to be functioning, her quality of life is poor. Thank you for sharing your journey with your little fur baby.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Delanie,
      I’m so glad the site was helpful. I understand how just a bit of support from others going through this can help. Hugs to you.


  15. Lisa says:

    Brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing this! My 13 year old “Schnug” ( schnauzer/pug) is going through this and I didn’t know what was going on until I saw this video. He is doing exactly the same things that Miss Cricket is doing. I am relieved that it is just age related! He’s old, I’m old, and I guess we just have to look out for one another.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Lisa,
      Yes, we aging folks of all species need to look out for one another! Do check with your vet about your Schnug, since there are a few other conditions that can cause these behaviors. Like you, though, I do hope it’s age-related. It can get to be a challenge to deal with, but it’s better than the other options. Take care.


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