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Westlakes Veterinary Hospital

Westlakes Veterinary Hospital


Is Your Dog Senile?

Do you have an older dog in the family who seems to be struggling more and more with day to day tasks and everyday living situations?

Read on to see the signs to look out for which could indicate 'Canine Senility' or 'Dogzheimers'.

1. Getting 'lost' in corners or on the wrong side of a door

This is a common complaint with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (dementia) in dogs. Some dogs may stand head-first in a corner or at the hinge side of a door, waiting for it to open or standing helplessly; unable to figure out the next step.

2. Pacing or anxiousness

The loss of 'purposeful activity', pacing and wandering around the house while anxious without needing to use their bowel or bladder.

3. Loss of Housetraining

Canine seniors with dementia may forget about going outside to go to the toilet as they always used to. A medical problem ie. UTI or gastrointestinal problems must be ruled out first by your veterinarian before assuming it is a behavioural problem.

Your dog may not be aware they are 'leaking' or may purposely seek out places to go in the house, unaware that this is not normal behaviour.

4. Doesn't Greet Family Members as Before

A dog with cognitive dysfunction often will not seek out human companionship, sometimes walking away whilst being petted. Also may not become excited or even react when family members arrive.

5. Barking for No Reason

This may be because they no longer recognise family members or because they are 'lost' in the yard or behind a door. There is an element of general confusion too, which could cause barking, especially at night.

6. Loss of Appetite

Senior dogs may 'forget' to eat and lose interest in food altogether. Senior animals usually do not have much weight to fall back onto so please get in touch if your pet is not eating, or not eating as much as they usually do.

7. Sleep Irregularities

A dog with cognotive dysfunction may sleep more than normal or have a reversed sleeping schedule; sleeping in the day and awake and seemingly daised and confused at night.

8. Doesn't Respond to Voice Commands as Before

The first thing to rule out here is hearing loss, which is quite common in senior dogs. In the case of cognitive dysfunction, the dog cannot process the command and act on it as before.

The dog may even seem confused about their name when called.

If these signs sound familiar:

  • Keep a log of the behaviours you have noticed
  • Note the timeframe over which the behaviours occured
  • Log how often you noticed the behaviours
  • Make an appointment with us to rule out any medical problems which may be affecting your dogs behaviour.

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