Can Dogs Get Dementia?

Can dogs get dementia? Sadly, yes, they can.

The worst part of owning a pet is knowing they won’t live nearly long enough. As our pets age, they can develop many of the same age-related conditions as humans.

Watching your dog age is challenging. You may notice the fur around your dog’s eyes and muzzle turning gray.

Your dog has likely started to slow down, and I’m sure you’ve noticed signs that your pet’s senses aren’t as sharp as they used to be.

If your dog seems to be losing his ability to perform regular tasks, getting confused in familiar environments, or can’t seem to recognize people and animals that he should, it is time to consult your veterinarian.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a condition similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. This disorder causes behavior changes and can negatively impact your dog’s memory and comprehension.

After age 15, your dog’s risk of getting dimension increases by 50% each year.

The cause of dementia in dogs is unknown. Experts do know that brain injuries, tumors, and genetics all play a part in your dog’s likelihood of contracting this disease.

Can Dogs Get Dementia?

Dementia in Dogs

What to watch for

Veterinarians have devised a handy acronym that all pet owners should remember when looking for signs of dementia in dogs: DISHA.

  • Disorientation
  • Interaction changes
  • Sleep cycle disruptions
  • House soiling
  • Activity level changes

If your dog seems lost or confused by his surroundings, he is likely disoriented. One common behavior seen in dogs with dementia is getting stuck in corners without finding a way out.

Other signs of disorientation in dogs include staring at walls, not recognizing familiar people or pets, and having trouble navigating their environment.

Interaction changes are changes in your dog’s mood. If your dog is usually easygoing, snuggly, and social, and now he’s beginning to get irritated easily and act antisocial, it’s a good sign that something is wrong.

Sleep cycle disruptions are pretty self-explanatory. If you notice your pet’s regular sleeping routine has changed, keep a close eye on him.

If your dog used to sleep soundly at night but now paces the floor more than he sleeps, something is wrong.

Sometimes, dogs with dementia will swap their regular sleeping schedule. Instead of sleeping through the night, he’ll be awake more at night and sleep throughout the day.

Again, house soiling is self-explanatory. You may notice your dog stops letting you know when he needs to go out and starts using the bathroom inside.

Another sign of dementia is that your dog goes to the bathroom in strange places around your house, like closets, corners, or furniture.

A change in activity level could be an indicator that your dog is suffering from dementia.

Your pet may seem less interested in the activities that he used to enjoy, other pets or people, or even less interested in unusual sights or sounds.

MORE: Dog Dementia Diet – Nutrition for Dogs with Dementia

dementia in dogs

Many of these symptoms are associated with the aging process, making it difficult to spot the early signs of canine dementia.

These symptoms can also be caused by other health conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease, or liver disease.

For this reason, if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for testing.

Treatment for canine dementia

While there is no cure, there are some things you can do to make your pet's life easier when it has dementia.

There are medications available that may slow the progression of canine dementia. Your veterinarian may also recommend a change in diet or adding supplements to your pet’s current diet.

Establishing and maintaining a regular routine can also help your pet cope with this condition.

Increasing your pet’s exercise and providing more mental stimulation can also help slow the progression of canine dementia.

The prognosis for a dog with dementia is different for every dog. This is a disease that progresses differently in every case.

Make no mistake; it is a degenerative disease, which means it will get worse. For some dogs, this happens more quickly than for others.

Working closely with your veterinarian is the best way to ensure your dog stays healthy and happy for as long as possible.

READ NEXT: Dog Dementia Breeds – Are Some Breeds Prone to Dementia?

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.