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Canine dementia: spotting the signs of dementia in dogs reading-time-icon 2 min read

Is your dog reaching their mature years?

Are they not as sharp or active as they used to be?

It could be a sign of dementia.

What is canine dementia?

Canine dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), is a condition where a dog’s brain does not function as well as it used to.

Dementia is diagnosed according to behaviour rather than clinical tests, although certain tests may be performed in order to rule out other potential causes of symptoms.

Canine dementia is common as dogs grow older, and the condition is manageable. If you’re concerned, contact your vet right away.

Signs of dementia in dogs

Dog dementia symptoms include:

  • General disorientation
  • Failure to recognise family members or familiar places
  • Forgetting commands and behaviours
  • Going to the toilet inside
  • Becoming withdrawn from owners
  • Restlessness, pacing or excessive whining/barking
  • Failing to respond when called
  • Reluctance to move

These symptoms are not exclusive to dementia. If your dog displays some (but not all of them), it could just be a sign of old age.

If your dog is no longer able to recognise you, or your voice when you call their name, it could be a problem with their vision or their hearing. If they’re reluctant to move, they could be suffering from arthritis.

As an owner, the most important thing to do is to keep an eye on your pet. If something doesn’t look right, contact your vet right away.

Treatment for canine dementia

Dementia cannot be ‘cured’, but there are definitely actions you can take to improve your dog’s quality of life.

When you visit the vet, they’ll perform a series of tests, including a blood test, to rule out other potential causes of your dog’s symptoms. Once they’ve diagnosed Cognitive Dysfunction, they’ll draw up a treatment plan. This may include medication, along with a change in diet. Ingredients such as Omega 3 fatty acids are known to support brain and mental function.

How can the owner help?

At home, you can help your dog by keeping them as enriched as possible. Try getting them a few new toys and patiently practising the basic commands. Interacting with your dog will help to keep them on their toes.

Try to keep their home environment as stress-free as possible too. This will help them to feel relaxed and to get some sleep.

Need more info?

For more help and advice on canine dementia, helping your dog through their elderly years or any aspect of their health and wellbeing, have a chat with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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