How to Care for Senior Dogs with Dementia

That day you bring home your little puppy is filled with so much excitement that you probably never imagined the day they would become seniors and develop health issues.

Oct 24, 2023By Jordan Donahue
how to care for senior dogs with dementia

As a fellow once naive dog owner myself, I picture my own dog being young, healthy, and full of energy forever. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As our dogs grow from puppies to adults to seniors, they can encounter health problems that need special care, just like humans. In this article, we are going to cover how to properly care for your senior dog with Dementia. This can be scary to any pet parent, but we are here each step of the way to provide advice in the best interest of your furry companion.

Canine Dementia

happy dog

Dog or Canine Dementia may also be referred to as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CDD) by your veterinarian. To explain, it is a cognitive disorder that can have similar effects as Alzheimer’s has in humans. This condition happens to dogs who are aging; therefore, their brains are aging as well.

Additionally, just as with humans, there is no cure for this condition in canines. A few side effects of this disorder can be changes in behavior, confusion, and loss of memory and comprehension. This condition often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms can be subtle or slow to form.

Tips on Caring for a Dog with CDD

senior dog happy

As we mentioned earlier, there is no cure for this condition. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take extra steps to make sure that your dog is living in the best possible way for the rest of their life. Dealing with this condition can be stressful not only for you but your pup as well. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your dog’s life a little easier.

Show Patience and Compassion

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction can manifest itself in many ways. For example, your dog may forget something they have done every day for the past 10 years, such as where to go to the bathroom, how to play with their favorite toy, or even where their water bowl is. As frustrating as this may be for you, think of how frustrating it is for your dog. As they transition into this disorder, it is important to have patience and compassion for what your dog is going through. Most dogs are people pleasers, meaning they would never want to do anything to upset you. Showing them that it is okay to make a mistake or get confused will help put their mind at ease. Remembering this tip will make both of you much happier.

Notify Everyone in the Household

It’s not only important for you as their owner to know about this condition but for everyone who enters your home as well. Telling your family members and guests about this condition is recommended so that they can be on the lookout for any strange behaviors your dog may exhibit that they never have before. Dogs with CDD can be more irritable, and unresponsive to their name or commands, so it is important for everyone around your dog to treat them with care and possibly adjust to how they have interacted with them in the past.

Brain Training and Physical Exercise

senior golden retriever dog

Just like humans, dogs can play games that stimulate their brains. This can keep the brain active and possibly slow the onset of Canine Dementia and its symptoms. Examples of these types of enrichment games are using puzzle treats or even playing “hide and seek with treats hidden around the room for your pup to find. It is important to note that this play time should be kept short, as being mentally stimulated for long periods of time can cause your dog stress. If you notice your dog becoming frustrated, simply end the game or switch to something new.

It is important to exercise not only your dog’s brain but their bodies as well. Physical exercise is linked to overall health and well-being. Going on a walk allows your dog to get their blood flowing, smelling new scents allows them to use and stimulate their brain. All these elements combine to promote mental health in your dog.

Keep a Routine

senior dog sleeping

As we learned earlier, Canine Dementia can lead to confusion in your dog. Keeping a routine is important to eliminate any extra confusion they may encounter. For example, if you change their dinner time each day, your dog may be confused and forget that they have already eaten, which will leave them to be anxious or bark. To help reduce your pet’s anxiety, it is best to keep a consistent routine for walks, feedings, and bedtime. Understandably, this isn’t always easy, but it is important.

Jordan Donahue
By Jordan Donahue

Jordan loves all dogs and has one furry friend of her own - a French Bulldog named Philly, the love of her life. Writing is one of Jordan's passions; she has been writing content for pet-related blogs for the past year. She enjoys working out, traveling to new places, and painting in her spare time.