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Spotting signs of dementia in dogs


Dogs can develop age-related illnesses just like us. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction – or CCD – resembles the human form of dementia, and it causes a decline in the dogs’ cognitive functions.

In this blog, we’re discussing the signs of dementia in dogs, and looking at how to keep your canine best friend as comfortable and calm as possible if you start to notice changes.

Boxer dog sitting on bed

Signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

The signs of CCD can be subtle and their onset gradual, so it’s a condition that can often go unnoticed for a while. Here are some things to look out for…

  • Confusion. Is your pup looking lost or disoriented? Is he or she pacing back and forth or in circles? Or perhaps getting ‘stuck’ in places with clear exit points?
  • Aggression. Dogs with CCD may lack patience and display signs of aggression.
  • If your dog seems withdrawn, anxious, or depressed this could be a sign that something’s wrong.
  • Memory loss. Your canine companion may appear to have forgotten certain commands, where food and water bowls are kept, and may stop responding to his or her name.
  • Sleeping more and eating less. Extra-long naps aren’t a cause for concern, but if your dog’s suddenly sleeping a lot more than usual, this could be a sign of CCD. The same goes for loss of appetite.
  • Increase in night-time activity. Your dog's sleep-wake cycle may be disrupted, causing them to wake up more or vocalise during the night.
  • House soiling. As well as forgetting some familiar commands, your pup's toilet training might regress, meaning they toilet inside the house.

 Labrador looking sad sleeping in bed

Treatment for CCD

Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for CCD. However, your vet will be able to prescribe certain medications that can improve your dog’s quality of life. They can also provide helpful advice on adjustments you should make at home – such as changes to your dog’s diet, or behaviour management techniques. The important thing is to make sure your pup is as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Here are some other important considerations…

  • Make sure to keep exercising your dog regularly. Mental and physical stimulation can be helpful for slowing progression
  • Avoid changing furniture around, as this can cause confusion
  • Stick to a consistent routine, especially when it comes to eating, walks and bedtime
  • Establish a calm home environment (with lots of cuddles, of course)
  • Introduce suitable enrichment toys that will help to keep your dog mentally engaged

Above all, show as much patience, love and understanding as possible. CCD is a complex and distressing condition, but there are ways to make things more bearable – both for your canine companion and yourself. Reach out to your vet for more information.

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