How To Treat Dementia In A Dog Naturally

How to treat dementia in a dog naturally

I know a lot of senior dog parents living with pups who have canine cognitive dysfunction, and a large majority are looking for a natural dog dementia treatment option. I totally get the interest in all natural pet products, especially when it seems our dogs are overloaded with drugs. Having said that, I have absolutely no problem treating my dogs with medication if that’s what they need. I would never deprive them while searching for a natural alternative, but I like to include them whenever possible…and beneficial.

**There are affiliate links in this post, so if you make a purchase I may receive a commission. This has no effect on the price for you.**

When I first realised my sweet girl Red had dementia, (yes it was me, my vet never mentioned the possibility), I was given a prescription only drug called Selgian (UK), and told there was nothing else to treat her with. The active ingredient is selegeline and can be found in Anipryl in the U.S. and Canada. She was already taking a few different medications, but with what I believed to be my only option, and desperate for something to help her because I was at my wits end, I got the drugs and home we went.

Within just a few days I saw a massive difference and never looked back. Typically we’re told it could take a few weeks so imagine how happy I was when I finally found some peace for both of us.

How to treat dementia in a dog naturally

My search for more ways to help

Over time I started researching other ways to help with Red’s symptoms of dog dementia, and I couldn’t believe the amount of information about this disease I knew nothing about. Dog dementia supplements I had never heard of or been told about were actually helping alleviate some of the symptoms, and dogs and their parents could finally get some rest. Each time I found something of interest I ran it by my vet. He may not stock alternatives but he is always open to hearing about them and commenting when he can.

I wish our vets were a bigger help and support 

This is not vet bashing, I am the first one to sing the praises of my wonderful caregiver, and I do just that. This is me wishing they knew more about dementia in a dog, and at least told everyone about the medication which too many don’t even bother to mention. I know many vets will not mention anything based on anectodal evidence alone, and if there is no scientific proof it works, it basically is not an option.

I was up close and personal with this cruel disease, and like all of you experiencing the same, you need guidance, hope and help. If a lot of people are signing the praises, as long as it’s not dangerous I want the option of knowing about it and trying it based on the experiences of others.

A routine and a schedule are crucial

I am a firm believer in the importance of a routine and schedule in a dog’s life, no matter how old they are. From the day a new old dog walks into my home they are on a schedule, and in the case of a dog with dementia, it’s particularly helpful. I’m not saying that every morning your dog has to eat at 7:00am and if it’s 7:20 life as we know it is over, I mean they know roughly what time things happen when. It’s always worked really well over the years for us.

In the confusion that comes with dementia, I noticed it was particularly important for Red. She was knew exactly what time she was eating (believe me she would let me know if I was late) and going for walks. Of course sometimes things came up and her schedule had to be adjusted slightly, and she was always fine with that…until she got dementia. She didn’t handle changes well, most noticeably first thing in the morning. If she started her day unsettled, she would be more anxious.

Natural calming remedies for dogs

Don’t get discouraged

I know the feeling of helplessness, watching your dog wander, unable to sleep or rest and you at the end of your rope. I have been there and was there for about a year and a half. You are going to hear that XYZ is the best product ever and you must buy it. That may be true, but it’s important to realise not every product will work well for every dog. My dog did extremely well on Selgian, but many dogs don’t. Be encouraged by the number of natural options out there, try one at a time and see how it goes. The one that everyone is raving about may not do it for your pup, but something else hopefully will.

I know you want natural but dementia is nasty so don’t shut the door to other options as well. You may find a combination of both will be THE answer.

A quick word of caution

First of all, natural doesn’t mean harmless so I recommend you always speak to your vet before trying one of the options you find below. If your vet isn’t a fan of alternative or natural therapies, or doesn’t know enough to offer you the advice you need, consider finding a holistic or integrative vet trained in alternative therapies. You don’t have to give up your current vet if you’re happy with him, you can work with both. If you do go that route it is your responsibility to ensure both of them know exactly what’s going on and are kept up to date with treatments etc…

Disclaimer

I’m not a vet, and aside from the products I’ve personally given my dog Red, the others I have listed are based on research and the experiences of other senior dog parents.

Some on the list are the herbs or single ingredient, others are “finished” products that contain them.

How do I know how much to give?

Remedies, supplements, herbs and any other kind of medication should only be used under the instruction of a qualified holistic vet, or vet with training and experience in alternative protocols.

You can certainly find recommended doses on the internet, but it’s safer not to.

Where dosages are listed I would consult a vet to determine whether it is a suitable product for your dog, and the dose is appropriate.

Patience please!

We like “quick fixes.” Have a headache, pop a pill, instant relief. Herbs and supplements typically work much more slowly than Western medicines, and a significant amount of time is usually needed before improvements can be seen or measured in human or animal. To contradict myself a little, it is possible you will see results quickly.

Natural treatment options

CBD oil for dogs with dementia

I want to start off this list with cbd oil because the number of people who swear by it is staggering. It has helped with everything from the anxiety associated with dementia, to seizures, pain relief and a host of other issues. I know it can all be a bit confusing with people wondering if they’re giving their dogs marijuana and if they can get high. Here is what Dogs Naturally Magazine has to say – “CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found in cannabis and hemp. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can also be found in cannabis. It’s this compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. Most CBD oils are just that … the beneficial CBD without the THC. And they typically come from hemp, not marijuana. In short, your dog won’t get “high” from CBD oil … he’ll get the relaxation without the intoxication.”

It’s important to know that not all CBD oil is created equal, and there are massive differences in quality. One brand that so many senior dog parents I know use and love is called NuLeaf. I did a podcast with a company rep, which is a bit lengthy but worth having a listen to. I know I learned a lot from it!

When I was looking into CBD oil I was told to start my dog off with just one drop and see how it goes. I took a quick poll of some of my FB group members to see how much they give their dogs, and generally speaking most gave between 1-4 drops once or twice a day. Of course it depends on the weight of the dog, quality of the product and strength.

Senilife 


Senilife is another popular dog dementia treatment option worth looking into. Here is the description of the product from the company website – “Senilife is a supplement containing a unique blend of antioxidants — phosphatidylserine, pyridoxine, ginko biloba extract, resveratrol and d-alpha-tocopherol — which work together to help reduce brain-aging behaviors in as little as 7 days.”

It’s usually when our dog is affected by a condition do we start looking for help, but the makers of Senilife recommend starting your dog on this supplement once he reaches senior status. Their graph of when to start shows the following:

Dog weighing 0-21lbs – 8 years old

Dog weighing 22-49 lbs – 7 years old

Dog weighing 50+ lbs – 6 years old

I know in the best of times it can be challenging giving your dog pills, so if he won’t take the capsule you can just open it up and sprinkle onto his food.

UK readers – To purchase Senilife please use this link 

Melatonin for dogs with dementia


Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the pineal gland at the base of the brain, is often recommended for treating sundowners syndrome in dogs. Sundowning, also referred to as “late day confusion” in human sufferers, refers to symptoms worsening in the late afternoon and afternoon. This disruption in the sleep/wake cycle is why many dogs with dementia will be sleeping most of the day, yet wander and unable to settle at night. A melatonin supplement can help restore that imbalance.

There are claims it works within just a few minutes of taking it and can last for about 8 hours, but of course whether that’s the case with your dog can depend on how advanced his dementia is, and whether or not it is one of those supplements that will work for your pup.

There are many different brands of melatonin, yes you can use human grade you find in health food shops, each with different mgs and even other added ingredients. Speak to your vet about what he recommends and the best dose to start off with. I know some vets feel human supplements can be safer than those made specifically for pets, whether that is true or not I can’t say. Please make sure the product does not contain Xylitol as it can be deadly.

Some of the brands recommended by senior dog parents (please check mgs with your vet

NaturVet Quiet Moments Plus Melatonin (US)

NaturVet Quiet Moments Plus Melatonin (UK)

Zesty Paws Calming Bites

K9 Select Melatonin for Dogs

Source Naturals Sleep Science Melatonin

Bioacoustically designed classical music

 


One of the best days of my life was the day I discovered a cd called Through a Dog’s Ear. Created by a psychoacoustic expert and veterinary neurologist, studies have shown it reduced anxiety behaviour and induced calmness in 70% of dogs in shelters or kennels, and 85% of dogs in households. If you’re interested in reading about the study and its results –  
BIOACOUSTIC RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT (BARD) – CANINE RESEARCH SUMMARY

Before I diagnosed Red with dementia she would wander for hours, and nothing I did would settle her. I don’t recall how I found it, maybe it was simply a search on YouTube for dog calming music, but who cares. What’s important is that I found it and it was amazing. I started off playing the 13 minute sampler, and when I saw how well it worked I splurged and bought the cd.

No matter how anxious and how many hours she would pace, once I turned on Through a Dog’s Ear she would be resting, and many times even sleeping in less than one minute. On the rare occasion it would take two.

I can never say enough good things about it, but what I can say it saved my sanity on the days when I didn’t think I could cope another minute.

UK readers: To purchase this CD, please click this link

Solliquin

It’s best for you to have a read through the company website to learn all about this product. If you would like to purchase Solliquin, you can do so by clicking on this link

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo is an herbal remedy made from the leaf of the ginkgo tree, Ginkgo biloba and is used ito treat dementia in humans. To learn more about its use in dogs, this article called “Ginkgo” has some helpful information. To read about very encouraging results of a clinical trial, this abstract  Reduction of behavioural disturbances in elderly dogs supplemented with a standardised Ginkgo leaf extract” is definitely worth reading.

Adaptil Plug In

This is how the company describes how this product works. “Mother dogs communicate with their puppies using natural “comforting messages” released from the mammary zone.  These “comforting messages“ are scientifically called Dog Appeasing Pheromones. They are odourless and are only perceived by dogs. These “comforting messages” provide a strong signal of comfort and security to the puppies but also have the same effect on dogs of all ages.

It is available as a plug in, collar or spray, it is definitely worth a try. My neighbour has a 10 year old dog who has become very anxious lately, to the point he was howling when they were out, something he had never done before. I recommended the Adaptil plug in and she told me she noticed a massive difference with just 2 days. Even better news, 3 weeks later it’s still helping!! He is so much calmer, and the neighbours are happier too!!

UK readers: To purchase Adaptil, please click this link

Turmeric golden paste 

There’s more and more talk about the wonderous benefits of turmeric both for ourselves and our dogs, helping with a variety of conditions.The most beneficial way to administer turmeric is in a paste, and there have been incredible success stories when it comes to treating the symptoms of dementia. As I’ve already mentioned, there are no guarantees but with your vet’s approval it is definitely worth trying.

This recipe I am including is from the Turmeric User Group on FB, and it is reprinted with permission. I highly recommend you join this group to learn more about the many ways turmeric can help both you and your dog.

Recipe and directions

“For adults and older children, start with 1/4 tsp twice daily in, or at least with, food.Most dogs can start with the same amount. Small dogs and cats should start with no more than 1/8 tsp. For everyone, after 4-5 days you can increase the amount and/or the frequency. Wait 4-5 days in between each increase. If you experience gas, bloating, loose stools or other digestive upsets, reduce the amount and/or frequency.There is no specific maximum, but we recommend no more than about 3 teaspoons per day. Turmeric is metabolized fairly quickly even when consumed with pepper, so it’s better to have small amounts often.Some dogs and a few horses may develop a ‘cat pee’ odor after starting turmeric or golden paste. If this happens, you can add a tablespoon of Ceylon cinnamon to a batch of golden paste. This will eliminate, or at least reduce, the odor.If you are using any prescription medication, it would be a good idea to consult your doctor before adding any biologically active foods like turmeric to your diet. You can check our file on interactions as well, but don’t assume that something is not a problem just because you don’t find it there. We can’t cover everything. As mentioned above, we will help with medication interactions if we can. But your doctor should be the final judge of whether golden paste is appropriate for you.

TO PREPARE GOLDEN PASTE:

1/2 cup (65-70g, or about 2.6 oz dry weight) turmeric powder
1-2 cups (250-500ml) water (use half the total amount to begin with and have the other half ready if needed)
1/3 cup (70ml) unrefined coconut, virgin olive or linseed oil (you can use salmon oil for dogs, if you prefer, but please see the note below)
3 tsp (about 7g) freshly ground black pepper

Please note: a few turmeric vendors have begun supplying it as “raw” turmeric powder. Turmeric is normally cooked in the process of making it into powder. The vendors supplying it raw have skipped this step. Because of that, if you’re using one of those product, the turmeric/water mixture needs to be cooked for at least 30 minutes, not the 7-10 minutes mentioned below. You may need to add more water as the longer simmering period will result in more evaporation.If you’re not sure whether your turmeric is raw, that fact will be mentioned in the vendor’s advertising and on the packaging. If you don’t see any mention of “Raw” on the packaging or on the vendor’s website, then it is not raw, but processed in the traditional way. There is no preference for one or the other as long as you make sure that any raw turmeric is fully cooked before consuming it.

Combine the turmeric and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to keep the mixture at a simmer, and cook for 7-10 minutes. Stir frequently to keep from sticking, and add more water as needed to keep it to a paste consistency. The exact thickness isn’t important–you can adjust that to your preference.Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool until the pan is just warm to the touch. Add the oil and pepper and stir thoroughly until they are completely mixed in. Store in a clean jar (you can sterilize it if you like) in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It should keep for about two weeks. If you see any sign of mold, or notice an ‘off’ flavor, discard and make a new batch.If you know you won’t use all of it within two weeks, you can freeze half for later us. NOTE: all fish oils become rancid very quickly after being opened. We recommend either freezing the golden paste if you make it with salmon or another fish oil, or adding the oil when you feed the paste. The paste will keep only a few days in the fridge if you make it with fish oil.”

For more information (as if you don’t have enough already!!), this article “Turmeric Used on Animals/Humans” was written by Dr Doug English, the veterinarian who started the Turmeric User Group I mentioned above.

Omega 3s


Omega 3s are critical for cognitive health, and Krill Oil and Flaxseed Oil are both excellent sources. A quick note about Krill – because it is such an excellent source, krill fishing has increased while habitats have been disappearing)

SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine)

A veterinarian will typically prescribe a supplement that contains SAMe if a dog is suffering from some kind of liver issues. It can be used in the short term to heal a liver problem, or long term for dogs with chronic liver issues. My dog took a supplement called Samylin which contained SAMe for quite some time because of her liver problems.

According to an article “What Can SAM-e Do for Dogs?” on the petmd website, it has been used to augment the effects of antidepressents in people who suffer from depression. As a result it is now being recommended by vets for dementia in dogs. I recommend you read the article, lots of great information there.

This abstract written in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has some great information as well, just scroll through to find the section “Neurologic Disorders.”

Lavender essential oil

Lavender is known for its calming properties, and is often used to help dogs suffering with anxiety, a common symptom of dementia. Not all essential oil is created equal so do your research to find a quality brand and reputable company. I bought a bottle at my local health food store to see if it would help Red. I diffused it using this easy and cheap method I found in this article “DIY Scented Votive Candles With Essential Oils.” 

Gotu Kola

An herb that grows in the wetlands of Asia, Gotu Kola improves the flow of oxygen to the brain, helping memory and improving mental awareness. The article “Gotu Kola May Help Boost Memory & Mood + More Benefits” will give you a lot of helpful information about this herb, and this extract is worth a read as well.

nutracalm

Manufactured in the UK to calm anxious dogs, cats and horses, it helps reduce unwanted behaviours such as the anxiety associated with dementia. Red took one in the morning and one in the evening, and it was as easy as opening the capsule and sprinkling it on her food with a little water mixed in.

Here is the ingredient list –

L-Tryptophan – is a natural amino acid found in many proteins which is involved in the production of the hormone Serotonin and has been shown to help support aggression and stress.

GABA – is an important neurotransmitter in the brain and is responsible for relaxing the nervous system. Maintaining GABA can help support anxiety and phobias.

L-Theanine – is an amino acid component of Green Tea and is involved in Dopamine neurotransmitter function. It has been shown to have a calming effect in dogs and cats.

Passiflora Incarnata – Commonly known as passion flower this extract has long been known for its ability to relax and reduce tension. Biochemical studies show that natural flavonoids are a key active ingredient and that Passiflora aids the effectiveness of GABA brain receptors which promote relaxation.

B Vitamins – helps to optimise the integrity and function of neurotransmitters within the brain.

nutramind

Made by the same company as nutracalm, nutramind is a high strength support for brain and mental function, consisting of Omega 3s, gingko biloba, fish oils and B vitamins. I gave Red one nutramind capsule a day, I just pricked it with a pin and squeezed the oil onto her breakfast.

Coconut Oil


Here is a quote from Dr Karen Becker’s article “Dementia a Very Serious Problem For Our Beloved Pets – And How to Prevent It” – “Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older pets. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. I recommend 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for basic MCT support.”

That’s fantastic but…please be aware it is very high in saturated fats and can cause diarrhea, pancreatitis and gastrointestinal problems. I gave a tiny amount to Red, much less than the recommended amount, and it didn’t take long for a touch of pancreatitis to rear its ugly head, and that’s too dangerous to risk so I immediately stopped.

UK readers: To buy organic coconut oil, please click this link

B vitamins

Can B vitamins help with dementia symptoms? I wasn’t able to come up with anything concrete, specifically as it relates to dementia. My vet recommended B complex for Red, but I never saw much difference. I did come across this interesting video by Dr Karen Becker where she talks about the importance of B vitamins for our pets. It’s definitely worth taking a couple of minutes to watch it!

Valerian root

Valerian root is an herbal supplement with mild sedative qualities that humans have traditionally used to alleviate insomnia, stress, and anxiety. Integrative veterinarians also recommend it for their anxious canine patients. My vet recommends Valerian with scullcap as he feels it works better with skullcap added.

“Researchers aren’t precisely sure how valerian works, but they think it may increase the amount of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. “Valerian root is believed to work via the receptors of the GABA, which blocks nervetransmissions between neurons that stimulate activity. Therefore GABA has a calming effect,” explains Wynn, who is board certified in veterinary nutrition.” (petmd.com)

If you want to buy a human grade brand, what I always do is take a picture of the label that includes the strength and ingredient list, then speak to my vet before I buy. I want to make sure he approves it and is able to calculate the correct dose.

UK readers: To buy DORWEST HERBS Valerian please click this link 

UK readers: To buy DORWEST HERBS Valerian with Scullcap, click this link


Choline

This is a quote of the use of choline to treat the symptoms of dementia in a dog – “Although research studies suggest it is only moderately effective, clinical experience suggests that when used in older pets, it may actually prevent clinical signs of cognitive disorder. Choline may help some pets with urinary incontinence, especially if the incontinence is part of the cognitive disorder syndrome.”

For more information on what choline is, its uses including for dementia relief, you will find this article “Choline” very informative.

Bacopa

An Ayurvedic herb “Bacopa monniera (also known as brahmi which, in Sanskrit, means Creator) is a small creeping herb commonly growing in marshy areas throughout India up to 2,000 feet above sea level. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is considered astringent, bitter, cooling, and is well-known as a brain tonic that improves the intellect. It has also been used for the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as other diseases such as epilepsy, seizure disorders, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction.” This excerpt was taken from the article “Ayurveda For Companion Animals.”

Alpha Lipoic Acid

A naturally occurring antioxidant, it attacks free radicals that damage cells providing protection to all cells and organs, inluding the brain. Can this supplement improve cognitive decline? Read more in this article “Could This Be a Fountain of Your For Your Aging Pet?”

Vitamin C

Supplementing your dog’s diet with Vitamin C may help manage a variety of illnesses associated with free radical damage, with dementia being one of them. However it may not be right for every dog, read more in this article “Vitamin C and Calcium Oxalate Stones.”

Animal Essentials Heart Health


One of the members of my Facebook group, Senior Dog Care Club, recommended  a product called Heart Health which she has found very helpful in managing dementia symptoms. Perhaps because it contains Ginkgo Biloba.

UK readers: To purchase Heart Health, please click this link

Herbsmith Senior Dog Wisdom

The members of my group are so great, lots of recommendations and this is another one I was just told about. The woman told me Herbsmith Senior Dog Wisdom worked wonders for her 16 year old dog, so you may want to do some research into it. 

Lemon Balm

A perennial herb from the mint family, the leaves are used to make remedies for many issues, with many people believing lemon balm has a calming affect so is used for anxiety, restlessness and Alzheimer’s. There are so many benefits for dogs,  this article “Ways to Use Lemon Balm on Dogs” is a must read.

Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Remedies)


A system of 38 different flower remedies, Rescue Remedy is the one most commonly used for helping anxious pets. I know many senior dog parents who have found great success with this product, and others who haven’t. Again it’s that whole “trial and error thing.” If you’re interested in learning more about them, I have included a link to their website.

UK readers: To purchase Rescue Remedy, please click this link

Acupuncture

Treating dementia in dogs using acupuncture

Studies have shown acupuncture and acupressure have helped humans with dementia, “Acupuncture Rejuvenates Alzheimer’s Disease Patients” and has been known to slow the progression of canine dementia, supporting brain function and cognitive responses. Not to mention how beneficial it is to your dog’s overall well being.

I took Red for twice weekly treatments for 3 months. I didn’t notice a difference at the time, but when I stopped I noticed a decline in her overall wellness. Acupuncture definitely was very beneficial for her.

Leave a light on

Several members of my FB group have seen a big improvement in their dog’s ability to settle by leaving a light on overnight.

Remember Me?: Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction


While not a “treatment” per se, I’ve lost count of the number of positive and glowing reviews I have heard of this book. Written by Eileen Anderson it has helped countless senior dog parents feel so much less alone, and gave them hope and a better understanding of what they were all facing. As someone who lived with a dog with dementia for 2 1/2 years, I know we can all use as much help, advice and support we can get. To read a preview and to order please click here.

UK readers: To purchase Remember Me? please click this link

Fruits and vegetables

Antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties found in certain fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of cognitive decline i.e. spinach, blueberries, raspberries, carrots, tomatoes. Consult with your vet before adding them in case there are restrictions on certain foods due to health issues.

Dog food 

“Hill’s Prescription Diet b/d Canine is the only diet tested in both laboratory and clinical trials. The diet is a sodium and phosphorus restricted senior diet with added alpha-lipoic acid and L-carnitine, which help mitochondria function more efficiently. It is also supplemented with antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, flavonoids, carotenoids, and omega-3 fatty acids. This diet was tested in a laboratory for more than two years. From that study, the researchers learned that a combination of brain enrichment and this fortified diet is the most effective in improving learning and memory.” (dvm360)

Purina Bright Mind

This article, Nutrition and Your Senior Dog will tell you more about Bright Mind and how it may help.

To read the results of a clinical trial about the benefits of a diet for dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction, this article “Efficacy of a Therapeutic Diet on Dogs With Signs of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome” will be of interest.

Mental stimulation and environmental enrichment

This is not a supplement or a drug, but it can be just as effective a treatment.

  • Stick to a routine for feeding, walking, training…
  • Daily exercise – the length, intensity and frequency will depend on the fitness of your dog. Even 5-10 minutes 2 or 3 times a day will help.
  • Mini training sessions – you taught him to sit and give you his paw years ago, but he may have forgotten. Hide a treat and get him to find it.
  • Go out – take a drive, visit a friend who has pets, walk in a new neighbourhood
  • Interactive toys and games – play tug of war, stuff a treat toy with a favourite food
  • Don’t re-arrange the furniture – it may confuse him
  • Get clutter off the floor – he may trip
  • Spend time together – let him know he’s not alone

UK readers: For a selection of interactive toys and games, please click this link

How to treat dementia in a dog naturally – conclusion

If you share your life with a dog with dementia and you haven’t yet started him on a treatment, I do hope you find something very soon. While nothing can cure this disease, there are drugs and supplements that may slow down its progression, or at least help manage the symptoms. The more advanced it is, the harder it is to help.

 

Get your FREE report – Tell Tail Signs Your Dog May Have Dementia

What natural treatment for dog dementia have you been using, and what improvements have you seen? Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below.

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

51 Comments

  1. James W D

    This is so great to see! I have never been a fan of Western “medicine” and have often found that a more natural approach can be just as effective. Now finding that the same works for animals is really cool. Sometimes that Instant gratification of popping a pill, is not always the best long term solution!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi James, I agree! I prefer taking a more natural approach for myself, why not for my pets as well! The problem with pills is they are often just band aids, curing the symptom without understanding why the problem occurred in the first place, and that’s what alternative medicine does. There are some really great outcomes using alternative medicine on pets, I just wish I had access to a holistic vet where I live.

      Reply
      1. Alfonso Martinez

        Hi Hindy Peaeson ,

        You were given a “prescription only drug called Selgian.”

        Has this drug helped your dog?
        If not, what have you given your dog that help?

        I am aware what may work for your dog may not work for mine, I just need a base line to work from.

        Your help will be greatly appreciated.

        Respectfully,
        Alfonso Martinez

        Reply
        1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

          Hello Alfonso, yes I was and it did help. It has the active ingredient selegeline which in the US is found in a drug called Anipryl. CBD oil has been very helpful for so many dogs as well, but you’re right what works for one does not work for all, it’s often a case of trial and error. If your dog is a senior, which I assume he or she is, why not join my FB group Senior Dog Care Club. You can ask whatever you like and get tons of helpful advice.

          Reply
  2. Olive

    Hi Hindy

    I have to say that I found this article very interesting. I don’t have a dog but I do have a cat and you very kindly gave me some great advice on how to stop my little monster from ruining my furniture.

    It’s funny, when my dad was ill I researched a lot of alternative medicine for him so I came across a lot of the things mentioned in your article.

    How do you know if a dog is showing signs of dementia?

    Olive

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Olive, thanks I’m so glad you found this post interesting! Cats can get dementia as well, although I haven’t experienced it with any of my senior cats. I find it interesting how much crossover there is between human and animal therapies. Signs of dementia are things like pacing, staring at the wall, getting stuck under or behind furniture, not seeming to recognise people he knows, forgetting his housetraining, not moving out of the way when a door is opening… Hope this helps!!

      Reply
      1. Olive

        Hi Hindy

        It helps a lot thanks. Fortunately, my cat is only a young one at the moment but I will know the signs for later in life, should it happen.

        Olive

        Reply
        1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

          No problem. Let’s hope you never need to know them.

          Reply
  3. Steph

    This is a really great resource for people who are struggling with dementia in their dogs. Giving people a list that they can take to their vet to discuss possible treatments is just a brilliant idea. The emphasis on stimulation and routine is really important too, all in all, a really fantastic post that will be super helpful to anyone who’s dog is suffering from dementia.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Steph, thanks very much. I think a lot of dementia cases go undiagnosed because people attribute many behaviour changes to old age. Having a list for people to tick off, and even bringing along a video of their dog behaving “strangely” will help the vet. The sooner we know it’s canine cognitive disorder, the sooner we can get dogs started on a treatment plan to help.

      Reply
  4. Hannah

    I’m really glad to see you are promoting the use of alternative medicine in senior dogs. I typically don’t trust western medicine – too many side effects and usually it doesn’t so much cure the problem, just covers up the symptoms.

    You really seem to know your herbal supplements and what each of them can help with. I can imagine that if done correctly, this would be a lot safer for the dog than giving them any kind of modern medicine.

    Very interesting read. Keep up the good work – I have much respect for you and your site!

    Hannah.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Hannah, First of all thank you for your very kind words, and for your comment. I agree – it’s all about curing the symptom without any desire to understand the reason for the problem in the first place. I liked being viewed as a whole person (mind, body, spirit) not just a sore arm, or a stomach ache. Treating our pets with supplements, strengthening their immune systems and keeping things in balance may very well prevent problems that may otherwise have arisen.

      Reply
  5. LED Massive

    I am actually staring at my screen jaw-dropped on reading “canine dementia”. As per the internets definition of dementia: “a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

    Soooooo instinct (canine) is affected too?

    I assume it would take a truly experienced and trained person to diagnose a canine as having dementia in its old age as to have a lifetime of never regulated bad habits growing up.

    Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I encourage holistic treatment of all conditions, yet now can’t stop thinking that maybe the reason that the honey bees are disappearing is due to apiary dementia.

    Pet ownership is a tremendous responsibility. Just as an average un-supervised human will pick a Big Mac sandwich over a whole wheat healthy wrap, a dog will pick the unhealthiest nasty smelling food over what is good for it. There lies the “bond” of the human and the canine. Their behavior on well-being and lifestyle choices is almost human. They (pets) are like babies that need our help throughout its lifespan. The responsible thing to do at the time of feeding our pets and treating disease should be first holistic and as natural order as possible.

    unfortunately, we have stopped caring. thanks for keeping the flame going.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi and thank you for such an in depth thoughtful comment. Diagnosing canine dementia is a process of elimination, and it takes pet parents who really know their pets to realise that something other than the natural ageing process is occurring. Yes, caring for others is a big responsibility, and it’s up to us to do all we can to ensure our pets are healthy, and their physical and emotional needs are met. I do think there is a lot to be said for taking a holistic approach to our own health, and our pets.

      Reply
  6. Dinh

    Hi Hindy,
    thanks for the informative article on using a holistic approach for the treatment of dementia in senior dogs.
    I like the idea of a holistic approach but know little about it and would not trust giving that to my pet. Have they done studies to prove the effectiveness of certain holistic remedies and dementia in dogs?
    I like your suggestion of stimulating your pet through physical exercises and mental stimulation such a walking or playing games. I am a big advocate of spending quality time with your dog by interacting with them.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Dinh, Glad you found the post useful. These remedies and supplements should never be given to your dog, except under the supervision of a qualified holistic vet or one with experience in alternative treatments. As with alternative therapies for humans, those in the field believe strongly in them, and people taking them who have positive experiences with proven results think it’s wonderful, and of course you have naysayers who think it’s a load of nonsense. The same is true for dogs. I have spoken to holistic vets who believe it’s the best way to treat our pets, and read lots of testimonials from people who wouldn’t treat their pets using any other approach. On the flip side, I’ve read many disparaging remarks from vets who don’t believe in any of it. I don’t really understand people who have pets, and then ignore them. We all need love, attention, exercise and something to keep our brains active.

      Reply
  7. CannaGary

    Hindy,

    Thanks so much for this wonderful Senior Dog website you have, I really love it.
    While my wife and I are now pet less we both recently concluded caring for our older dogs and it was very difficult.
    I love and greatly appreciate your holistic approach to an older dogs health, I am not a fan of the Big Pharma and their greed and manipulation!
    I was wondering however if you have done any reading or research into another holistic approach using CBD oil (cannabidiol).
    It turns out that despite all the lies forced upon us over the last 40+ years about Cannabis it is good medicine for the EndoCannabanoid System in all mammals and some non-vertebrates.
    That means that humans as well as almost all our pets can benefit from a 100% safe holistic & beneficial medicine.
    cbdfarm with a dot org is a great site as is healthyhempoil and a dot com.
    I hope you can check them out, all my best,

    CannaGary

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Gary, I’m so happy when I hear people are enjoying my site. I’m doing my best to present as much helpful information as I can. I know what you mean – it can be very difficult, and emotionally draining, but that’s part of what we signed up for isn’t it? Although I’ve been interested in alternative therapies in my own life for quite some time, I haven’t done anything about it as far as my pets were concerned for various reasons. What really sparked my interest was my concern about what’s been going on with Red, and the amount of medication she’s taking. No I haven’t heard of CBD oil, but thanks for leaving me the websites, I will have a look when I get the chance. Perhaps there’s another post in there somewhere!!

      Reply
      1. Peggy Wallace

        Hi! I’m wondering if the drug you give to Red is Selegeline, just spelled incorrectly? The name it is sold by is “Anipryl”. Selegeline is the generic name.

        It has been a life changer for my Shih Tzu, Sweet Pea. I get it through our drug store, prescribed by the Vet.

        Reply
        1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

          Thanks Peggy but I didn’t spell anything incorrectly. The drug is called Selgian here in the UK and Anipryl in the States and Canada.

          Reply
  8. Lorraine Kuno

    I my Jack Russell is 15 and is showing signs of Alzheimer’s and he just seems lost how is the best way to use rosemary as I have it growing and I have organic coconut oil and turmeric powder can I give this to him as a paste with black pepper ?

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Lorraine, I’m very sorry to hear that and happy you wrote in. Are you sure it’s dementia? Could it be he’s not feeling well or perhaps losing his sight? I mentioned natural treatments that vets and others have used as possible treatments for dementia. They aren’t things I recommend personally or have used, nor would I ever try anything without consulting my vet first. For example you have to be careful with coconut oil because it can cause pancreatitis. The best advice I can give you is to see your vet and have him do a thorough check up. Dementia does not have a test but rather it is a process of elimination. If it is dementia, ask about Selgian or Anipryl (depending on where you live) and see what he says. Red has been taking it for about 1 1/2 years (4mg once a day) and it has been very helpful. If you see a holistic vet they may be able to offer you some natural support as well. My holistic vet has not found anything natural he can recommend. In addition to Selgian, a CD called Through a Dog’s Ear has helped Red settle down when she’s been anxious. You can find it on youtube and give it a try. Good luck and let me know what happens.

      Reply
  9. Alex palmer

    This has been a helpful read. My 12yr jack Russell is already blind, having had glaucoma in both and having them removed a few years now. She is now showing these signs too, Increased sleeping, deafness Ike symptoms and disoriented, however, she has an increased appetite as it seems she forgets she’s had mealtime! I thought I would try coconut oil to help but having read your comments you seem to think vet medication is the main assistance?

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Alex, apologies for the delay in replying. I’m so sorry to hear about what’s been going on with your dog. I can only speak to my experience. My vet here in the UK only has Selgian to recommend (Anipryl in the U.S.). He doesn’t practice, or offer, holistic alternatives, so in his experience this is the only treatment available. I must admit it has done a really good job helping Red. I did try coconut oil because I read it was supposed to help. My vet believed it would be something to give very early on, not at the stage Red was at. I did find a holistic vet in Spain recently, and I spoke with him about some of the natural ingredients I read were supposed to help. He was not familiar with them, and he did not have a natural supplement to offer. The drug they sell in Spain that is recommended for dementia is not one he believes does any good. I’ve been happy with Selgian, and a product called Nutracalm only available at the vet. I don’t think I would bother with coconut oil, and you have to be careful about pancreatitis. Have you been to the vet? Are you sure it’s dementia? Although there’s no test for it, it is diagnosed by a process of elimination. Let me know what your vet says/has said and take care.

      Reply
  10. Lori Hilliard

    Thanks, Hindy, for another great article on canine dementia. I’ve been using your research as the foundation for my own quest for relief and support for my senior dog, Soldier. I’ve never found anyone who does such extensive and non-biased research into treatments and support techniques for canine dementia.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      You’re too kind Lori, and I am truly happy you find my posts so helpful. I try and be as thorough as I can, and prefer a non-biased approach when possible. If it’s something I believe strongly in, or a treatment or product I’ve used on my own dogs that have made a difference, then I give my opinion. Otherwise I prefer my readers to make the decisions that they feel are right for them. I hope you’re finding some relief for Soldier.

      Reply
  11. Amy

    Hi I just requested to join your facebook group. I am feeling to overwhelmed and looking for help. About a year ago my 17.5 year old cocker spaniel was diagnosed with Sundowners (which is believe is a form of dementia) – nighttime pacing. At that time we did a very high dose anti-anxiety med, which actually reset his system and was perfect (well off a few nights here and there but nothing horrible). That was until about a week ago when I took him to an emergency hospital. I won’t go into the details here, but due their care, his anxiety went through the roof. He also as a muscle pull on a front leg. Right now my vet has put him on Xanax and Rimdyl (for the injury) and we are seeing a very senior neurologist this weekend.

    His currently behavior includes: constant pacing, panting, staring into corners, slow head bobbing, inability to settle, etc. Currently aside from what’s above he’s only on Glucosamine (by injection ) and an Omega’s pill.

    I wanted advice before seeing the neurologist on what I should ask about in terms of:
    1) Medicines
    2) Home/natural treatements
    3) Anything else that can be done to help control his stress.

    I read the list of natural and frankly I was overwhelmed as to what to even start with, what to ask about, etc. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my dog and money really isn’t an issue.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Amy,

      First of all let me say I’m very happy you’ve joined my group, you’ll find lots of helpful advice there. It certainly sounds like your dog has dementia. Let me first say that many vets will either tell you there’s nothing you can do other than giving anti anxiety medications, or they may recommend Selegiline which is the one ingredient in a drug called Anipryl (US) or Selgian if you’re in the UK. Unless you’re seeing a holistic vet many won’t believe in or be comfortable recommending alternatives they don’t think work or have no experience with. Personally I highly recommend the drug solely based on my own experience. It made a huge difference for my dog Red in just a few days. Ask your vet about it, and if he says it doesn’t work (which some do) ask him if he’ll give you a prescription anyway unless there’s a reason he feels it will be a danger. As with so many things, it’s a case of trial and error because what works for some dogs won’t work for others. Melatonin helps with the sleep/wake cycle and CBD oil has been very successful for so many people in not only treating dementia symptoms but pain as well. I believe melatonin is 1 ml per 10lbs of dog but I would look that up, and my vet recommended 1 drop of cbd oil per day to start and see how it goes but my dog weighs only 8 or 9 lbs. Turmeric golden paste has also been incredible in helping people with dogs who are in pain from arthritis. I know how overwhelming it all seems but I would start with these. The most immediate option you can try is going to youtube and finding “Through a Dog’s Ear.” It’s a yellow cover and a 13 minute snippet is available. Within seconds of my dog hearing it she relaxes so you can try that right away. We talk about this a lot in the group so when you have some time have a scroll through and see what others are doing and of course ask for help. I hope this gives you a starting point and remember we’re always here for you.

      Reply
  12. VeggieNut

    I have a 14 year old husky mix with CCD. What works for her is Citicholine (20 mg/twice a day) and a B vitamin complex. Although it took some time and patience, she is now back to her normal self!!! I can only hope that she can stay at this level for the rest of her life. Although I was doubtful that this would happen, I’ve got my doggy back!
    I also give her some other supplements for her joints that may also have contributed to improving her CCD, but the key supplement that was the major turning point for her improvement was Citicholine with which I eventually added a B-vit complex.

    Reply
    1. Jeri

      SO happy to hear you have your fur baby back !
      We are going down the same road with our 17 year old pekingese … could you possibly recommend a brand name of the supplements you’re giving and where you purchased ? Going to give them a try, fingers crossed !!!

      Reply
  13. Rose Martinez

    I’m so happy I found your article. My 16 year old dog has lost most of his sight, but he still bounds across the backyard. About a month ago, he started turning in circles before he would walk toward me. I plan to look for a holistic vet and maybe try some of the supplements that have been mentioned.
    I’ll let you know how they work

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      He could be circling because he lost more of his sight. Why do you think your dog has dementia?

      Reply
  14. Robin

    I never realized that Red had dementia. I’m so sorry to hear that. It is really interesting that there was a specific music that helped to relax her. As a human with anxiety, I use music to relax all of the time too. It is interesting that dogs also find it soothing.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Yes unfortunately Red had dementia for about 2 1/2 years. Studies have shown this particular cd calms shelter dogs and it was amazing for for both of us. It really relaxed me, and I would never typically turn to music for stress relief. I’m glad it helps you!

      Reply
  15. Ruth Epstein

    WOW what a fantastic post and I read it twice as Layla is nearly 12 years old. While reading I said to myself phew as she gets Hemp Oil every morning which is mixed with cod liver oil, in her food she gets a Krill supplement and Turmeric supplement so I feel I am in the right direction. As I cook for her she gets a balanced diet as I make her a green smoothie which is mixed in her food with the veggies you mentioned above plus others.

    I pray daily that I am going in the right direction but my vet says she is really healthy for her age.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      It sounds like you’re doing amazingly well with the homecooked diet and all those great supplements. Layla being so healthy is all the proof you need to show you’re such a great dog mom.

      Reply
      1. Ruth Epstein

        thank you

        Reply
  16. Kamira G

    This is a fantastic resource for pet parents. I’ll be sharing with my readers. It’s interesting that both CBD oil and Coconut oil has similar impact on humans. I just read somewhere recently that coconut oil and vitamin D positively impacts slowing if not reducing dementia in humans. I think it’s fascinating that the same can also help dogs with dementia. Although I don’t have a dog, I did have a cat named Dusty and she suffered from Cancer. I do remember trying turmeric in additional to other natural supplements to fight the big C. Although she earned her wings, I was grateful to have a veterinarian who welcomed the idea of integrating traditional and natural medicine together. You are so right! We do want a quick fix. Natural remedies do take time but can work well and give an ill pet quality of life.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks and thanks for sharing. I have also read coconut oil can help with dementia. You were fortunate to have a vet who was willing to look at various types of treatments, since there are many natural options that can help so much, it’s just many pet parents aren’t aware they exist.

      Reply
  17. The Dash Kitten Crew

    I have heard a lot about Termeric and its properties. Even humans can benefit, I was amazed but I will look for Anipryl here in NZ.

    There is so much helpful information here that I know dog owners cannot fail to find something that works for their pup!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      It’s incredible the number of amazing things I hear about turmeric golden paste for both humans and dogs. I tried it but no matter how I tried to mask the taste I couldn’t do it. Dementia is so nasty but I find it encouraging to know there are options.

      Reply
  18. Sweet Purrfections

    I know many people sing the praises of natural medicine and many say it works. I’m happy to hear that you still support reaching out and receiving veterinary support.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I absolutely do. While I love the idea of incorporating natural options into a treatment plan when possible, if my animals need drugs they’re getting drugs!!

      Reply
  19. Beth

    What a thorough list of options! My 3 dogs are all technically seniors, so I’m afraid I may be dealing with canine dementia at some point. This is a great reference list if that time comes.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Beth, hopefully you won’t have to deal with this nasty disease but it’s good to know there are treatment options available.

      Reply
  20. Jana Rade

    Wow, amazing, that is a long list of options, some of which I was not aware of. Cool.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      As someone who knows what it’s like to share their life with a dog with dementia, I felt it was important to share how many options there are. I had one vet say there was nothing I could do, and another only recommended selegeline. Like anything it’s a case of trial and error, but it will bring a lot of hope to a lot of people.

      Reply
  21. Dorothy "FiveSibesMom"

    Hindy, such excellent information. I am such an advocate of holistic care and it is great to hear there are things that could help dementia. I’ve heard so many great things about the tumeric paste for a multitude of ailments, never realized for dementia, also. I am also a huge fan of CBD/full-spectrum hemp infused oils/treats. Having had a dog who had dementia back 15 years ago when not much was even known about dementia in dogs, I wish we had some of these options to help her. Pinning to share!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I’m also encouraged by how many possibilities there are. Unfortunately from my experience and stories I hear from other senior dog parents, their vets either tell them it’s old age, there’s nothing they can do or just give them selegeline. That worked wonders for Red, but there are lots of other things to try I hope this helps spread the word!

      Reply
  22. ken chapman

    my vet just prescibed melatonin twice a day for senility..gonna try it..

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Sounds good. Did he mention Anipryl as well? If not I would speak to him about it.

      Reply

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