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Signs of dementia in dogs and how you can help!

Old Chihuahua laying in bed on a sunny day

Have you ever noticed that your older dog no longer knows where they are? They may be wandering around the house like they are lost or get stuck in a room and cannot figure out how to get out. These are all signs of dog dementia which can be an anxiety-driven time. Many things can be done to help a dog suffering from dementia. If you notice these signs in your pet consult with your veterinarian to find the best course of treatment for your dog.

What is dog dementia?

Dog dementia is also called canine cognitive dysfunction and is very similar to Alzheimer's in people.

What are the signs of dementia in dogs?

Old Brown Dog with graying hair on its face

There are many not so specific signs that lead you to think that your dog has dementia. Many of these signs can also be due to another disease.


One of the classic signs of a dog with dementia is that they are now disoriented. They usually get lost in their own house or cannot figure out how to get back in the house from being outside. If you notice this in your dog, it is best to get them the vet's office to get them checked out.

Unusual interactions with others

If your dog does not recognize someone or another animal that they have always known is a common sign of dementia. They may now bark when a family member or friend comes over. With the cat that they have lived with their whole life, they may act as they do not know them which is very commonly seen in dogs with dementia.

Making a mess in the house

Dogs that are potty trained are now making a mess in your home. This can be a sign of dementia but could also be due to urinary tract infection or some other disease. If your dog is now having accidents, your veterinarian can help you rule out other conditions.

Different sleep pattern

Old Great Dane with a grey face laying on a pillow

A dog who used to sleep through the night that is now getting up and pacing around the house. Dogs with cognitive dysfunction may now be staying awake all night and sleeping all day. These signs are typical of a dog with cognitive dysfunction.

Lower energy

Dogs with dementia will now have a lower energy level and not want to play like they use to. Many people think this is just due to their dogs getting older and slowing down, but there may be underlying medical reasons that their dog is no longer playing, or they may have dementia.


Dogs suffering from dementia will bark at things that are not there. They may bark at people they know or wake up in the middle of the night to just sit and bark. While these barking episodes may be hard to deal with, there may be a medication that your pet can take to help with their dementia.

Going to the wrong side of the door

Old pug with wrinkly skin laying on the ground

Dogs with dementia will have trouble remembering things. They may go to the wrong door in the house to go outside, or they may go to the other side of the door than they are supposed to. All these signs are usually seen in a dog with dementia.


A dog with dementia may even be aggressive when they were usually very friendly and laid back. This aggression may just be towards a few people but may also be towards the people they like the most.


A dog with dementia will pace around the house and act like they are lost. They will usually never settle down and sometimes barely sleep. This is a common sign seen in dogs who suffer from dementia.

What are the first steps to take?

Old brindle dog laying on a dog bed

If your dog shows any of these signs do not panic and make an appointment with your veterinarian. They will be able to help determine the exact cause of these signs and help you figure out what needs to be done to make your pet healthy and happy.

Vet visit to discuss options

Your veterinarian will discuss the different signs of dementia and the various treatment options that can be done. They will also run blood work to make sure that there is not another medication condition causes these signs.

Treatments for dementia in dogs

There are many different ways to treat dementia in dogs. Some medications can be prescribed to your dog to help decrease the signs. There is a supplement that can be given. Now there are even diets that are targeted to improve brain function.

Hard to reverse dementia but some things can help now

While it is tough to reverse dementia, certain things can be done to help lessen the severity of the signs.

Omega 3s

Omega 3s are very good for brain health and function. This is an excellent supplement not only for the brain but also for the skin and joints. This supplement is an excellent addition to any senior pet's daily food.

Natural Doggie Omega 3-6-9 Chews Ultimate Skin and Allergy Formula

Natural Doggie Omega 3-6-9 Chews Ultimate Skin and Allergy Formula

From $24.99

CBD oil for cognitive function

CBD products are great to help with brain function. CBD has been shown to help protect the brain. CBD cannot reverse dementia, but it can help decrease the stress and anxiety that your pet may be feeling from the disease.

Natural Doggie CBD Infused Bacon Flavor Soft Chews

Natural Doggie CBD Infused Bacon Flavor Soft Chews


Care and patience

As with any neurologic disease, treatment requires care and patients. You have to understand that your dog will never get better, but there are many things that you can do to help ease the symptoms. With care and patience, your dog can still live a healthy and happy life.

Dog dementia can be sad at first but realize that this is the new normal. Your dog will now depend on you for their daily needs. Keeping your pet on CBD products or other supplements, your dog can go on to live a healthy and happy life.

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dr. sara ochoa dvm author at sitstay.com

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM
Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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