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Canine dementia

(32 Posts)
StewPots Wed 29-Mar-17 15:15:53

Hi all,

My Stafford will be 12 this year, almost perfect health all of these years (haematoma in ear last year, removed with no further issues, an vet picked up arthritis is his hips & back legs, which wasn't advanced & is apparently common in older dogs).

However, the last six months or so we've noticed a change in him. He's still soppy, still gets excitable and tries to race round like a pup, but he has become increasingly restless in the evenings & has started doing his business in the house.

He also sleeps a lot during the day. I know he's getting to be an old chap now, and struggles when he gets up in morning or when he's been laid for a while (don't we all?) but I can't help thinking that this is the start of canine dementia.

He is let out to the toilet at regular intervals, from early in the morning to very late at night (always someone around pretty much every day to ensure he gets let out), walks round the block (not very far - he struggles to get back some days).

He is well fed, but as soon as you feed him and let him out he's very restless, crying a "hunger cry" constantly for hours on end (we give him more than enough for his weight and breed, plus he gets scraps too!) then he paces the house until about 11-12 when he finally settles.

I work with dementia patients and to me, it's like classic sundownings. He sleeps a lot then come dinner time the upset starts l, he just won't lie down and settle, even on our laps. Just cries, gets up and down, paces between the same rooms.

I just wondered if anyone else has this, I'm thinking of getting him into the vet because it seems to be getting worse. Poor old boy sad

StewPots Wed 29-Mar-17 15:20:11

I should add that physically he's in good shape apart from the arthritis, good eyes, ears clear, lost a little muscle tone but vet said that's ok because of his age and also he's a small staff (runt of the litter bless him) .

It's very much a mental thing rather than physical. He has lots of fuss and attention off us all and also plenty of places to go for peace and quiet too - he's quite spoilt for choice with the sofa, DD's bed and his own bed plus in the window to soak up any sun we have. So all in all well looked after and generally happy - just some sort of decline in his faculties.

Lucisky Wed 29-Mar-17 15:24:49

I don't know if it's dementia, but our old Yorkie was similar. In the evenings she would wander round constantly, and then just stand and stare at you for ages. She became so unreliable loo wise we also had to restrict access to all areas at night and if we went out, when she could previously go where she wanted in the house. Sadly she died of unrelated causes not long after this started, but she just seemed unhappy and confused a lot of the time. She was 14. Hope you get to the bottom of it.

StewPots Wed 29-Mar-17 15:31:40

Lucisky yes he appears to be like this in the evenings...mornings and daytime when he's awake he's happy as Larry (or should that be Lassie)... we try and get him to sit with us, stroke him etc but it doesn't work he sits then gets down 5 mins later.

I know he's old now and I'm starting to think about when it will be that time but he's so good during the day I'm sure he has a while yet : )

LilCamper Wed 29-Mar-17 15:46:52

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a thing. This is a recently published book on it. Might be worth a read.

StewPots Wed 29-Mar-17 15:51:52

LilCamper Yes, I've been googling it the last few weeks because the pattern appears familiar to me somehow, though I care for human patients with dementia...
I will certainly invest in the book because if he is diagnosed it would be good to see if the approaches we use are similar to the ones used with dogs. Thank you.

Isitjustmeorisiteveryoneelse Wed 29-Mar-17 21:34:16

Hi, a lot and f what you say sounds familiar re my 12 1/2 year old Labrador and how she progressed and what we thought and our vet thought was wrong. Before I go into details I'll ask is he on meds for the arthritis and if so how much?

StewPots Thu 30-Mar-17 07:39:17

justme He's not on any meds at this stage, the vet said his arthritis was at the early stages, he did recommend a cod liver oil capsule 3 times a week which DDog has.

MaynJune Thu 30-Mar-17 09:54:12

I went through this with my lurcher. Mornings were fine but all afternoon and evening he would bark at me for food, having never barked in his life. I had to give him small amounts at regular intervals.
He got medication which helped a bit to start with. Luckily he slept through the night, though I had to move him into my room for him to settle. A friend's dog paced all night which was extremely difficult.
I felt that as long as he enjoyed his little walks and slept at night he wasn't suffering, but to be honest it was almost a relief when he became unwell and was found to have tumours and had to be put to sleep. It made the very sad decision for me.

Soubriquet Thu 30-Mar-17 09:58:00

My JRT was put to sleep 4 years ago with dementia. He used to stare at walls, howl in the night and seemed unable to find where his food and water bowl were. Despite being in the same place they always were.

We booked the appointment to have him pts and the day before had a special day with him where he got to eat chicken and chocolate and all the naughty things dogs can't have a lot of. He then went the next day. I miss him so much but I know it was the right decision

Sugarpiehoneyeye Thu 30-Mar-17 10:14:39

Take him along to see the Vet, there are medications which could help.

StewPots Thu 30-Mar-17 11:04:01

Thanks for your replies all...Yes vet soon I think, he isn't at a bad stage yet but I'm thinking it's the start of it and I couldn't bare to see him suffer.. poor old man that he is.

He's so puppy like still though when he sees people and plays with us but then you start to see a change past dinner time... I will try giving small amounts at intervals too that sounds like a good idea.

Isitjustmeorisiteveryoneelse Thu 30-Mar-17 12:58:38

The reason I ask is because my Labrador girl, 12 1/2, with known arthritis and on a very small daily dose of Yumove, started behaving very much in the way you describe about six months ago. After googling all the symptoms we back to our vet and I explained everything she was doing. For example she would sometimes push her dinner bowl around the floor and it would get stuck in a corner, we witnessed her on more than one occasion just stand there staring at the wall when the food was gone. We thought she was having blank moments and couldn't work out how to back up or turn around. She would also go out for her night time wee before bed and disappear down the end of the garden (huge garden, can't see end of it from the house as it's in trees), usually after a couple of calls she would amble back in but she started to not come back. More than once we had to go down to the end of the garden with a torch to retrieve her, upon us being there beside her she would haul herself up and slowly follow us. We thought she was 'forgetting' how to get back to the house. Lots of other examples. So the vet agreed it sound like possible dementia and prescribed melds for her. Unfortunately, the meds made her violently and immediately sick so we had to stop them, no choice, we were worried but resigned. Round about the same time the vet mentioned on the off chance maybe it was time to up the Yumove and try a daily dose of Metacam as she wasn't getting any younger and the arthritis wasn't going to get better obviously. She was out on six Yumove and a high dose of Metacam daily. The difference in her was immense and immediate. She has always been a happy dog but it was like she was a puppy again. All of the 'symptoms' disappeared. She didn't have dementia, she'd just been in pain. We were terribly upset we hadn't realised but we're obviously pleased it's something that we can help her with rather than dementia which would have been much harder to deal with.

StewPots Fri 31-Mar-17 09:39:15

Justme that's really interesting because I do wonder if he's in pain but he doesn't yelp, eats well and is generally happy when he's awake so it's hard to tell.

I think I will take him to the vet and see how far the arthritis has progressed, go through about how he is at night and go from there. Perhaps the meds you mentioned may be worth getting for DDog.

I'm glad your DDog was happier, it's awful seeing them not themselves.

Veterinari Fri 31-Mar-17 09:45:52

It sounds like classic senile cognitive dysfunction - unfortunately vets are usually poorly trained in behaviour so your bet may not pick up on it.

A medication called Selgian can have remarkable effects and help to reverse a number of the behaviour changes you're seeing

Veterinari Fri 31-Mar-17 09:47:27

It's also worth ruling out chronic pain - this can affect the nerves in the hindlimb and affect both behaviour and toileting - it's true that arthritis is common in older dogs. But that doesn't make it less painful

MaidenMotherCrone Fri 31-Mar-17 10:11:17

My little JR girl is 11 and going through this, she gets so anxious, it's as if she doesn't know what she's supposed to be doing. Her little personality has slowly disappeared over the last 12 months.
We are trying Vivitonin every 12 hrs ( the vet said it increases blood flow to the brain) but apart from that I don't know what else we can do, she is physically very fit and healthy.

StewPots Fri 31-Mar-17 10:16:34

vet Yes I've heard its incredibly hard to diagnose, but from what's coming across it's quite possible it's the arthritis causing the issue... I am going to get him to our vet and see how far it's progressed.

He's generally a happy chappy it's just this restlessness in the evenings where I'm noticing the change.

isupposeitsverynice Fri 31-Mar-17 10:18:12

This happened to our aging GSD a few years ago. It was heartbreaking. This was my first thread and this is the second

They put him on Selgian, but to be honest, it didn't make much difference to him. Also we thought he was in mint physical condition for his age but he turned out to have quite bad arthritis in his back end (no surprise in a gsd really) which no doubt contributed to his unhappiness. Unfortunately the metacam didn't help any more than the Selgian did. We had another year or two of his company but in all honesty I think we dragged it out far too long. DP was really in denial about the whole thing and I think the dog suffered far more than he needed to.

I hope you're able to find something that works for your dog. Good luck flowers

StewPots Fri 31-Mar-17 10:18:14

maiden Oh poor little girlie sad it's so awful to see them so anxious and upset, my DDog is so bad in the evening. He's 12 in August which is a fair age for a staffie but he's still got lots of living to do I'm sure of it.

StewPots Fri 31-Mar-17 10:22:43

verynice Oh that's so sad sad poor doggie, it's so sad to see the decline.

I know it sounds stupid but because I'm a HCP who works a lot with dementia patients, it's like my senses are almost heightened to what's ahead for my DDog. I just don't want to see him suffer.

I will get an opinion from the vet and go from there. There's no way he's ready to be PTS yet as he's pretty happy most of the time and overall his health is good, but it's certainly something I'm facing in the near future.


isupposeitsverynice Fri 31-Mar-17 16:15:12

Your dog is a lucky boy to have such an observant owner, and one who's willing to face up to the hard truth for him. My husband seems to work on the basis that if he doesn't acknowledge the dogs mortality then they're somehow immune to it. It's difficult. Hopefully the vets can make some suggestions to make his evenings easier and whatever time you have left together can be lovely for you both flowers

Isitjustmeorisiteveryoneelse Fri 31-Mar-17 22:56:40

Hi sorry to not come back sooner but ironically my old girl has had a weird couple of days and we're all totally focused on her right now. But did mean to say re toileting inside even though he has been out often enough. Exactly this happened to our girl even though she had access outside whenever she wanted. Turned out it was simply because she was in too much pain to squat long enough to get it all out. For a boy might be can't lift his leg long enough to get it all out. Our poor girl now has mast cell tumour too and though she's still the worlds happiest waggiest dog, I'm paranoid about leaving it too long as pp said. I do hope your boy is ok x

StewPots Sat 01-Apr-17 10:12:13

verynice Thank you... it is hard facing up to what will come but yes for now we are enjoying everything we can with him smile

StewPots Sat 01-Apr-17 10:15:44

justme oh poor little girlie, it must be so awful for you. flowers

You mat be right re squatting, he can manage not to pee with a leg up as he's not always don't that anyway, even as a pup, but absolutely for the other, that's a distinct possibility.

Aww..wishing your DDog the very best sad

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