I have put together a checklist that will help with diagnosing dementia in dogs.
Many of the signs we attribute to “my dog is getting older and it’s normal” can actually be indicators that your dog is beginning to experience, or is already in an advanced state of, Canine Cognitive Disorder (CCD). It’s the medical term for doggie dementia.
Keep in mind, some of the signs you will see on the checklist would also be present in other illnesses. This checklist is a great help in diagnosing CCD, as it is by a process of elimination that its’ presence is confirmed.
You may have felt something has been “off” with your dog lately, but seeing this list of symptoms in black and white, may help clarify things for you.
Okay, let’s begin by ticking off each symptom that applies. If you see tick marks, even one, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. The earlier something is diagnosed, the quicker it can be treated.
I have divided the symptoms into categories
Sleep and awake patterns
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Sleeps more during the day, less at night
- Wanders or cries at night
- Keeps family up at night
- Performing the same behaviours over and over
- Having trouble eating or drinking i.e. finding the bowls, keeping food in her mouth
- Doesn’t respond to her name
- Doesn’t respond to cues/commands
- Wanders aimlessly/paces
- Seems lost or confused in familiar surroundings like the house or yard
- Gets stuck in corners or other tight spaces and just stands there
- Has trouble with stairs
- Stares into space or at walls
- Difficulty finding the door
- Stands on hinge side of the door
- Doesn’t get out of the way when the door is opening
- Stands at wrong door to go out
- Doesn’t recognize family or friends
- Gets stuck under or behind furniture
- Has difficulty learning new things
- Walks in circles, usually in one direction – WATCH THE VIDEO TO SEE WHAT I MEAN!!
- May not remember the signal to go outside
- Goes outside and just wanders, then pees and poops in the house
- Doesn’t let you know she has to go out like she used to
- A perfectly housebroken dog seems to have forgotten her training
Interaction with family and others in your household
- Doesn’t greet anyone, or if she does she’s less enthusiastic than usual
- Doesn’t look for attention like she used to
- Walks away when petted
- Withdrawn from family
- Seems fearful and/or anxious
- Easily startled
- Barks for no apparent reason
- Aggressive but never was before
- Trembles for no apparent reason
- Afraid of people she knows
- Less enthusiastic about her toys
- Plays less or not at all
Diagnosing dementia in dogs – conclusion
I urge you to take note of your dog’s behaviour, and use the downloadable checklist to keep track of the signs you’re observing. It’s also a good idea to take a video and document what you’re seeing. Take both to your vet, and see what he has to say.
In my case, for instance, my vet has never seen any signs of dementia in Red, because she seems perfectly fine during the few minutes we’re with him.
If you’d like to know more about what’s been happening with us, this article called “How I Care For Red Who Has Dog Dementia” will catch you up.
I hope you have found this checklist helpful, and the sooner you have a diagnosis of dementia in dogs, or any other issue, the sooner treatment can begin.
Add a comment if your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms on this list. Has he been diagnosed with dementia, or was it something else?