I never thought about a dog having dementia;until after a good friend of mine lost her dog to dementia that was almost 18 years. It never occurred to me that a senior dog dementia even existed. Now that I know about it, I want to make others are aware of it as well.
This also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). This is similar to Alzheimer in people. There is a physical and chemical change in the brain. This time in your dog’s life can be very hard on you and your pet.
Senior dog dementia usually start in dogs older than ten years of age. That puts chihuahuas and a lot of other smaller breeds in the category of dogs that can get the condition.
Most of my dogs are over ten years old now. So, I have started paying closer attention to their behavior. Up to 50% of dogs over the age of 11 and about 68% of dogs by the age 15 starts showing some signs of dementia.
What are the Symptoms
- Becomes lost in familiar places; such as around the home or backyard
- Becomes trapped behind familiar furniture or in room corners
- Has trouble finding or using doors and negotiates using stairs
- Does not respond to his/her name or familiar commands
- Becomes withdrawn and unwilling to play, go for walks, or even go outside
- Gets to the point of not recognize or is startled by family members or toys
- Frequently trembles or shakes, either while standing or lying down
- Paces or wanders aimlessly throughout the house or in the yard
- Frequently has accidents in the house, regardless of the frequency he/she goes outside
- Sleeps more during the day and less at the night
- Stares at walls or out into space
- Is startled by interior lighting, or the TV
- Seeks less and less of your attention, praise, and play
- He/she is hesitant to take treats, drink fresh water, or eat fresh food
Your pet will not show all of these signs. There may just be a couple of the signs that shows up. The dog will get where he/she is scared of the people that he/she has lived with all of their life.
Other Conditions That It Could Be
- Advanced arthritis could cause decreased activity and hesitation going down stairs
- Hearing loss can inattentiveness
- Vision loss can cause confusion and getting lost or trapped in a familiar surrounding
- Incontinence could cause frequent accidents in the house. There is several other medical problems that can cause incontinence.
How You Can Help
I also found in my research that you can get your dog a supplement to help with cognitive issues. I put together a list of things that you can do around the house that may help with the dog’s confusion.
- Try not to change, rearrange your furniture
- Eliminate clutter and create wider pathways through your house
- Consider purchasing or building a ramp to help with stairs
- Learn your dog’s limits when introducing new toys, food, people, or other animals
- If you do not have a routine already; develop a routine feeding, watering, and walking schedule
- Keep commands short, simple, and be compassionate; your dog may not remember or understand what you are wanting them to do.
- Encourage gentle and involved, short play sessions
A Serious Condition
Dog dementia is a serious condition. As your pet gets older try to be more aware of your dog’s behavior. There are several different reasons why your pet has a behavior change. Sometimes it could just be that he/she is getting older or it could be several different conditions; including dementia. If your dog seems to be having some of these symptoms take him/her to the vet for an evaluation.
This can be very hard on the owner as well as the dog. When you have had a pet for over 10 years they are part of the family. Your children may have grown up with this dog.
I could not imagine waking up one morning and not remembering where I am at or who I am with. This can happen, your pet. He/she will be scared and not understand what is happening to them.
I hope you and your pet never have to experience dog dementia, but if you do I hope I have given you enough information that you will be able recognize what is happening and get you pet the help he/she needs.
If you have any comments or questions please leave them below.