You provide your cherished furry friend with the highest care as a pet owner.

Your unwavering affection compels you to ensure their happiness and overall well-being.

Unfortunately, as dogs grow older, they may encounter certain health problems, such as dementia in dogs at night, which can be especially disheartening during those hours.

Dog dementia at night, or canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) as it's also known, is a condition that impacts their cognitive abilities, even while the sun is down.

As if dementia alone wasn't challenging enough, it can also lead to sundown syndrome in dogs, which causes restlessness and confusion during the evening and night hours.

Dogs with dementia at night can experience severe anxiety and become agitated, leading to a difficult time for both the dog and the owner.

This article will discuss the symptoms, causes, and tips for calming a dog with dementia at night.

dog dementia euthanasia

Dementia in Dogs at Night Vs. Sundown Syndrome

Dog dementia at night, also known as nighttime dementia, is a prevalent issue affecting dogs as they grow older.

It is estimated that 14-22% of dogs over eight years old experience CCD, a progressive disease that can deteriorate and result in reduced cognitive function.

This decline includes memory loss, disorientation, and confusion in dogs.

Sundown syndrome in dogs, commonly referred to as sundowners or dementia in dogs at night, is a specific type of dementia that occurs during the evening and nighttime.

Dogs with sundown syndrome can become bewildered, restless, and anxious. This condition makes it difficult for them to settle down and get a good night's sleep.

Signs of Nighttime Dementia in Dogs

Dogs with dementia may experience various symptoms, including changes in sleep patterns. They may become restless at night and have difficulty settling down to sleep.

Some dogs may pace or wander around the house or yard. Others may vocalize more than usual, which includes whining, barking, or howling.

Some signs of nighttime dementia in dogs are similar to those seen in people with the condition.

Dogs, for instance, may experience confusion and disorientation and struggle to identify familiar faces and surroundings. They might also experience delusions and hallucinations.

Dogs with dementia may have altered sleep habits that cause them to be more active at night and less active during the day.

Owners trying to get some sleep may find this confusing and disruptive.

It's important to discuss any changes to your dog's sleeping schedule to determine whether dementia is a contributing factor, along with your veterinarian.

Also, dog dementia at night can sometimes lead to aggression and destructive behavior, posing challenges in providing the necessary care for dogs with nighttime dementia.

ALSO READ: Aggression In Dogs With Dementia

Causes of Sundown Syndrome in Dogs

The precise origin of sundown syndrome in dogs remains a mystery, but it's thought to be connected to alterations in the canine's internal clock as they age.

As dogs age, their circadian rhythm changes, resulting in disorientation and agitation during nighttime.

These shifts in the circadian rhythm may lead to increased activity at night, causing your dogs to be restless or busy and sleep less.


How to Diagnose Dog Dementia and Sundown Syndrome

Suppose you suspect that your dog may have dementia or sundown syndrome.

In that case, scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian is essential.

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam and may also recommend blood work and other diagnostic tests to rule out other underlying health conditions.

Tips for Calming a Dog with Dementia at Night

Have you ever noticed your furry friend acting confused or disoriented at night? As dogs age, they can develop dementia just like humans do.

This condition can cause restlessness, anxiety, and even aggression in our beloved pets.

But worry not! There are simple yet effective ways to help calm your dog with dementia at night and ensure both of you get a good night's sleep.

These are some pointers and strategies for making a soothing environment for your dog and easing their nighttime anxieties.

Let's get started!

Late-Night Walking

While medication can help to calm a dog with dementia at night, it is still important to give them some exercise.

Walking will reduce their anxiety and agitation. Keep them on a leash in a secure area where they won't get lost.

Allow them to smell and explore as much as they want. Going out may be the only time of day when they feel lucid, so allow them to enjoy it.

Play and Train for a While

Dementia can cause your dogs to become anxious and confused, especially at night. However, you can divert their focus with a short playtime.

To help calm your dog with dementia at night:

  • Keep their play and training sessions short and simple.
  • Stick to basic commands they are already familiar with and avoid anything new or confusing.
  • If your dog becomes agitated at night, try to soothe them with a soft voice and gentle petting. You may also want to use calming music or white noise to help them relax.

Keep Your Environment Consistent

A dog's environment can greatly impact its overall health and well-being.

When a dog is diagnosed with dementia, keeping the environment as consistent as possible is important to help your dog feel safe and comfortable.

Here are some tips for maintaining a consistent environment for a dog with dementia:

  • Keep their sleeping area in the same place and ensure it is comfortable and familiar.
  • Try feeding them on a regular feeding schedule.
  • Avoid changing their daily routine or taking them on new adventures. Stick to familiar places and activities that they enjoy.
  • Make sure their chew toys are easily accessible and keep them in the same place so they can find them easily.
  • If you need to leave them alone during the day, crate training can be beneficial as it provides a safe and secure space for them to stay in.

Provide Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys are an excellent way to calm a dog with dementia at night.

These toys help to stimulate the brain and provide a sense of calmness and relaxation.

Puzzle toys come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

When choosing a puzzle toy, selecting one appropriate for your dog's size, age, and abilities is important.

Puzzle toys can help to keep your dog's mind active and engaged. They can also help to reduce anxiety and stress levels.

Lessen Anxiety

Dementia can be a challenging diagnosis for you and your dog. While there is no cure, there are ways to manage the condition and help your furry friend feel more comfortable.

One way to do this is by reducing anxiety at night.

You can help your dog sleep better at night by doing a few things. First, create a calm environment in their sleeping area.

Keeping the space quiet and free from any stimulations that might cause them stress.

Consider using a calming diffuser or spray in their room to help them relax.

Another helpful tip is to establish a bedtime routine with your dog.

Bedtime routine could include giving your dog a short massage before your dog sleep or reading your dog a story.

Doing these things will signal your dog that it's time to wind down for the evening and hopefully make it easier for them to fall asleep.

If your dog is still having difficulty sleeping, some natural supplements can help promote relaxation.

CBD oil is one option that has shown promise in reducing anxiety in dogs. You can also give them chamomile tea or add lavender oil to their bedding.

With a little trial and error, you should find something that helps your dog sleep soundly through the night.

Check Out Natural Supplements

Some supplements on the market claim to help with calming dogs with dementia.

However, speaking with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any supplement is important.

Some may interact with your dog's medications or have other side effects.

Here are a few natural options to consider:

Valerian Root

People have used this herb for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep.

It is available in capsules, tinctures, or tea, and pet owners should administer 0.5-1mg per pound of the dog's body weight.


Chamomile is another herb with calming properties. 

Serve it to your dog in tea form, but steep for only 5 minutes to avoid a bitter flavor. The recommended dosage for dogs is 1-2 cups per day.


This amino acid is found naturally in green tea and has relaxing effects.

It is available in capsule form, and the recommended dose for dogs is 25-50mg daily.

Discuss Medication With your Veterinarian

If your dog has dementia, you may wonder if a medication can help. The answer is that the particular dog and the severity of the symptoms determine it.

Suppose your dog is having difficulty sleeping at night. In that case, your vet may recommend a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them relax.

Suppose your dog is experiencing other symptoms like disorientation, aggression, or pacing. In that case, some medicines can help with those as well.

Again, it depends on the individual dog and what is best for them. Your veterinarian will tell you whether or not the medication is appropriate for your pet.

Stick To a Routine

As your dog ages, it may develop cognitive impairment, which can cause various issues, including changes in sleep patterns.

Sticking to a routine, such as waking up and going to bed every day and taking them out for walks and meals.

After all, a routine will make your dog feel safer and less confused.

Medications and Supplements for Sundown Syndrome in Dogs

Several drugs and supplements are available to help manage the symptoms of dementia and sundown syndrome in dogs.

Medications, such as selegiline, can help improve cognitive function. Supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can help reduce inflammation in the brain.

It's essential to discuss any medications or supplements with your veterinarian before administering them to your dog.

dog dementia breeds that need exercise and dog walk

Alternative Treatment for Dogs with Dementia and Sundown Syndrome

In addition to traditional treatments, several therapies may help manage the symptoms of dementia and sundown syndrome in dogs.

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Aromatherapy

How to Prevent Dementia and Sundown Syndrome in Dogs

While dementia and sundown syndrome are common in older dogs, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of your dog developing these conditions.

  • Provide plenty of mental stimulation
  • Regular exercise
  • Provide a healthy diet

Dementia in Dogs at Night: Conclusion

Dealing with dog dementia at night and sundown syndrome in dogs can pose difficulties for both the pet and its owner.

However, through proper care and management, dogs experiencing dementia in dogs at night or nighttime dementia can continue to live happily and comfortably.

If you believe your dog might have this condition, arranging an appointment with your veterinarian is crucial.

They have the expertise to diagnose the issue and suggest suitable treatments along with management strategies.

Dog sundown syndrome is not something to be taken lightly by pet owners.

The best thing you can do for your Fido is to make their living conditions as safe and happy as possible.

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