Living with Doggie Dementia
Dementia is the name for a set of symptoms that affect memory and cognition and is most commonly associated with Alzheimer’s. However, it can also be a natural part of the aging process, brain injuries, or stroke. Unfortunately, dementia is relatively common in canines as well and nearly 30% of dogs show signs of dementia by the time they’re 10 or 11 years old. In this post, we cover some signs to watch for and ways to support your fur baby if they’re struggling with doggie dementia.
Photo by Pauline Loroy
What Does Dog Dementia Look Like?
Signs of dementia in dogs typically fall under these four categories:
- Energy and activity levels: Dementia can reduce activity levels in even the most hyper pups. They may sleep more during the day or no longer be interested in playing. Conversely, they may be more restless during sundown or exhibit excessive vocalization at night.
- Spatial and temporal disorientation: This is one of the most visible signs of dementia and can take many shapes. Dogs may pace, get “stuck” in a corner or behind furniture, appear lost, or behave during the night as if it is daytime.
- Changes in interactions: Dogs with dementia may appear to have less interest in interacting with other members of the family or become less driven to seek attention.
- Disturbances in potty patterns: Dogs may suddenly have accidents even if they’re potty trained. Unlike incontinence, dementia related accidents are more about disorientation or not remembering to indicate a need to “go”.
How Can You Help Your Dog with Dementia?
Though dementia is progressive and there is no cure, there are ways you can help your dog navigate the challenges of dementia.
- Foods with holistic ingredients: Potassium-rich ingredients like banana and peanut butter can provide natural, holistic cognitive support. Supplement your dog’s diet with treats that include these yummy but helpful ingredients.
- Extra necessities: Two major components of dementia are memory loss and disorientation. Extra pee pads around the house prevent accidents by offering additional bathroom areas in case they become “lost” or forget they have to use the potty. Having a real bark wee wee pad for instance, can serve as a natural reminder for your pup and prompt them to use the bathroom.
- Routine: It’s important to maintain and/or adjust your dog’s routine as they begin to develop changes in their patterns and behaviors. This can be tricky, as canines are creatures of habit. Work with your vet to figure out which routines should be adjusted and which should be maintained in order to keep your fur baby feeling safe and comfortable as they deal with dementia-related changes.
- Proper identification: Dementia results in both memory loss and disorientation. Make sure your dog has proper identification at all times, but especially if they are frequently outside during sunset, which can be a particularly challenging time of day for those suffering from dementia.