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Readers Respond: Living with a dog or cat that has senior dementia

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From the article: Senior Dementia in Dogs
Have you noticed odd behaviors in your senior dog or cat that you can't explain? Pets, like people, can suffer from dementia as they age. The hallmark of clinical signs is confusion; they may greet their humans differently than before, forget about house-training and other learned behaviors, and easily get "lost" in their familiar home or yard.

It is very see your veterinarian first to rule out a medical problem first, as many diseases can have these same signs.

What were the first signs you noticed in your senior pet? What have you done to help make life easier for him/her? Share your story

17 year old female Jack Russell Terrier

I found this blog while I am searching my heart as if I need to put my best friend down...we were up all night...me crying and her pacing, throwing up a small amount of yellow bile, she is going to the bathroom in the house, again she does not seem to know where she is at...I am heart broken and don't know what to do. right now she is in her bed but won't lay down sort of crouches like she forgets, when I pet her she seems to calm down, she used to always sleep with me until the past year and would suddenly jump up and fall out of bed so she is in her bed on the floor next to me...last night I put her in bed with me to snuggle...which she did for a while but she does not like to do anymore....I know what I need to do because her quality of life is zero at this point. heartbroken...
—Guest Chris

My Charles

My amazing 21yr old ginger Tom cat is I think become very confused?! You may think well that's not surprising at his age but until a few weeks ago was content with sleep & the finest foods!! I've been prepared for years that he will go soon but keeps beating the odds!! Unfortunately his behaviour has now changed & refuses to use his tray, going to the toilet in dark places & has even tried to eat his own mess & litter. will only eat if I take him to his food & cries at night. I know this is his age & dimentia has probably caught up with him but apart from the above seems happy!! Advice if any one has it, is it kinder for me to let him go? What a great life he's had!! Thanks
—Guest Charles the 21yr old ginger Tom cat!!

Tajia the Tortie

My cat is 13 & She has bn staying on top the fridge for 2 mos. But she kept falling off & scaring herself. Then she started staying on top my white wardrobe in the kitchen & kept falling off of that. Now, she stays in the kitchen window seal looking outside and keeps trying to run outside even though she has been an indoor cat her whole life, scared to death of the outside world, & never tries to run outside. I almost lost her yesterday! She snuck outside & I did'nt find her till today. The next day. I was heart broken because I thought she ran off to die. I don't know what to do or what is wrong w/ her!
—Guest Nicole T.

17 year old cockerspaniel

I rescued a 14 year old cocker spaniel on my birthday three years ago. I was working at a dog boarding facility, and this poor, homely looking rag of a dog came to stay with us while his elderly owner was in the hospital. When this dog's family found out that his owner wasn't going to survive, they made the decision to have him euthanized. I had been caring for the dog, Shylo, for two weeks, and the day they had planned to put him down was my birthday. I made an impulsive decision to take the dog home, I figured that since it was my birthday, I could grant him life as well. He was grumpy, aggressive, unruly, scared, and obese. I took him home and I haven't looked back. He has been my best friend, and has done a 360 in personality. Now i am watching him revert back to puppy hood. He is blind and deaf now, suffering from dimensia. He's not sure what is going on most of the time. Though it is hard to watch him deteriorate, I know he is still happy. He will runs and walks. He deserves life
—Guest Talia

My pups got old...

My family got Max, our soft coated wheaten terrier as a puppy. After two years, I thought, let's get him a playmate. Along came Holly. Same breed, same mom-different dads. Ended up being two very different dogs. Max the quiet affectionate one & Holly the ready for anything dog. Max is 14 1/2 and Holly is 12 1/2. Their health has changed over the past few months. Holly with kidney issues and both with recurrent pancreatitis. It's been constant trips to the vets to get them examined, blood work and medications. Unfortunately dementia is in the mix too. These dogs have hiked all their lives until about a month ago. The walks are also very short. Love them dearly and we get so sad to see them with these conditions. As soon as they are showing pain or become really unsettled, as hard as it will be, it will be only be with love and sadness that we let them go. They do become such a part of your existence! Such joy to receive them as puppies, it will be such sadness to say bye.
—Guest Louise

16 years 4 months Muffy

We had our Wheaton, Muffy for most of our adult children's lives and 2/3s of mine and my husband's marriage. She was always such an angel. A year ago, she stopped climbing the stairs in our house, & was no longer able to hop on the sofas or beds, which she loved to do for cuddles. She started making messes in the house. we all took turns cleaning them since we knew they were only accidents. In march, we started using doggie diapers, so she could have the run of the main floor, but she would get stuck in corners, and under tables and chairs and bumped into walls during her nightly marches around & around the house. 2 weeks ago, she could no longer wear the diapers as she developed an abscess on the side of her tail where the diaper met. We ended up confining her to the family room, with puppy pads on the floor, but she started waking up in her messes, then wildly pacing and panting, and bumping into wall units, it was So sad. We made the hardest decision yesterday, we r all still so sa
—Guest Cindy

My little Peanut

I have had my Peanut since she was as big as my palm. She was abandoned at the park at the end of the hill. She was so small her ears looked like a bat, but she grew into a beautiful tortie with a wonderfully expressive face and eyes. That was 15 years ago and Peanut has now become a shadow of herself. At night she paces my bed, stepping on my hair and head. I try to calm her, but she will be still for a little while and then start again. The most recent change is not using her litter box, but my bed instead. At first I was furious, but I have begun to understand it is not her fault. My mother passed from Parkinsons and she developed dementia along the way. I feel Peanut is going the same route dementia wise. I don't know what to do; should I have her medicated, will that help? All I know is that she doesn't understand what is happening. She won't leave the bedroom anymore. I have 3 cats total and the other two seemed to know what I do too. My poor baby, she is fading before my eyes.
—Oolana35

My Best Friend, Dukie

My old Boy is 17 and a half, with me since he was 3 mths old. He has dementia , all the symptoms as written by all...heartbreaking it is to see but the love he has had for me and vice versa, the terrible thought to say the final Goodbye keeps stopping me from that final decision..but reading all of this has made me realise that it is time now. I work with abandoned dogs,so many needing homes.I have already chosen the one who will take his space, never his place...to join our 4 other rescue family members, I believe that if you have love for dogs then you should give a home to another as soon as you can, heartbreaking it is to lose your friend but a salvation of part of your soul to give your love again to another one who needs it so much. My Dukie, such a special boy, my friend and my first ever dog in my life.Who taught me the love of dogs for us humans. I realise now I must let you go over the bridge to run free again , to see again, to join your little sister Dini. Thankyou Dukie
—Guest Debbie

Prissy my Baby

My Prissy will be 18 on Feb 9, 2014...She has been blind and deaf for over year....Shes waking up in middle of night barking and unsettled. I guess its dementia....She is also on heart medicine morn. & nite....Liquid childrens benedryl helped her some..not much..She's my baby and I will always look out for her no matter what...My wife and I love her so much....We just got a female Yorkie/Poodle and I think that has been good for her. I wish we had got her when Prissy could see and hear....
—Guest Gene Hudson

so sad

Five days ago my naughty, cantankerous 19year old cat was put to sleep at home. She had been medicated for hyperthyroidism for more than two years. For about the same length of time she had been making a terrible racket which could be heard from far away. The hello call, the shouting, the angry yell. Luckily for me, she confined this to the daytime. Gradually she slept more and more. She was sick most days, just bile usually, but she still used her tray. Her coat looked clumpy, and clumps were falling out. She still purred and seemed to need more and more affection. Then she seemed to be unable to eat or drink properly. She became very frail. I did used to notice her staring into space. Her legal got weaker. Poor little love - the last days she was so frail and confused. Wandering off outside, coming back in, going off again. I had to make that call to the vet and I had to hold her as she was sedated then euthanized. It wasn't hard for her -just the injection. The vet said she was read
—Guest Bereaved

16 year old Bichon

My 16 year old Bichon has started peeing in the house. She also does the night wondering, can barely see and hear, and is very achy. The Thunder Shirt seems to calm her but the indoor puddles really seems like significant mental decline.
—Guest Rosie's mom

So horrible to go through

In retrospect, this was slowly building over months. My 13yr old black lab mix kept waking me up at night to go to the bathroom, but once outside, often didn't go much. By the time it was full blown, he was up panting like crazy almost all night long, and toward the end it was like every night was the worst thunderstorm he'd ever been through. Then he would get intensely anxious at the signs I was leaving for work, and kept trying to escape the house with me (he'd never done that before). He started to spend his days in the bathtub! (He used to be afraid of it), and I noticed he'd get acutely anxious at arbitrary sounds (like the ice cream truck). The anti anxiety drugs didn't work, neither did the herbal treatments the holistic vet offers (a diagnosis of 'kidney yin disorder'. I became so sleep deprived that my boss, who knew nothing, referred to me as looking like 'the walking dead.' I had no choice. I miss my buddy so much! I hope this is useful to someone out there. So sad...
—Guest Asm

cazy

my boy pepsie is a 17 year old yorkie who is suffering with dementia and has done for the past 2 years like other story's I have read I often wonder if it would be best to let him go but he seems happy in himself most of the time eats drinks goes out to do his business most times and sleeps a lot during the day and paces most of the night I to hope and prey that when its time for him to leave me that he does so in his sleep as I don't want to be the one to make that awful decision to end his life I love him to bits and it will break my heart when he goes but I know he cant live forever and every Christmas birthday holiday I wonder if it will be his last I love him so much and it is killing me to watch him like this but I will be here for him as long as he needs me and I don't feel so alone now knowing that there are others in the same boat as me thank you to all of you on here for sharing your stories at as really helped me
—Guest caz

My best friend

My dog, is a 14 year old 10 pound yorkie/poo, the best dog i've ever owned. Sweet, loving and gentle. He is deaf now and can't jump on the bed anymore. His bottom teeth have fallen out. He still eats drinks and goes potty outside. I will have him here with me till he passes. I hope to have a few more years with my best friend, God willing.. I love him so much. :)
—Guest Stella Bella

16 yr.old cat wandered off

My cat Mistigri, got lost for 2 weeks. I thought she'd died but she came home very thin.Our vet said she was senile.
—Guest Barb

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Living with a dog or cat that has senior dementia

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