View Full Version : Farm Dog Dementia?

Dec. 6, 2009, 06:04 PM
My dog is 13 years old and, after we got through the puppy years, she's been a reliable farm dog. In the last year or so she's started to look her age. She has cataracts. She doesn't have the strength or endurance she used to. She's started losing weight. You get the picture.

In the past few months, she's started exhibiting strange behavior when I'm at work. I come home to find things rearranged. She tips things over, drags things through the house, pulls things out of bookshelves. She's eaten two brooms in the last two weeks. She dumped over the ashpan and tracked ashes all over the furniture. She ruined my knitting. Twice I've found couch cushions up against the woodstove.

I've had bloodwork and x-rays done. With the exception of a little extra protein in her urine and some hypothyroid symptoms, we haven't found anything. The vet put her on Enalapril to help with the protein loss. She also suggested an herbal remedy for the anxiety, so we're trying something called Composure Liquid.

I'm finding this very hard to live with. I never know what she'll have done to the house, and then there's the possibility that she'll cause a fire (I do move the couch cushions every day now). Although, I know one solution is to crate her while I'm gone, I hesitate to do that because she's so old and stiff. I'm afraid it would be painful for her to be so immobile.

So, any thoughts or suggestions?

Dec. 6, 2009, 06:19 PM
I assume you don't have a one room house. Why not clear the valuables out of some room where the wood stove isn't and lock her in there when you're not home? Use a kiddie gate if the room doesn't have heat.

Dec. 6, 2009, 06:19 PM
If you don't want to crate her, can you confine her to a smaller room while you are away? That way, you could dog proof it a bit so that she wouldn't be able to do damage.
Also, could you try having someone come in and let her out? A little bit of activity mid-day might break up her day.

Dec. 6, 2009, 06:28 PM
Aw, good old dogs are something special. I would be very worried too. I hope you can find a place for her to be safe.
Would she be happier with the TV on?

Dec. 6, 2009, 06:52 PM
Good suggestion, but it is pretty close to a one-room house. It's a hunting cabin built in the 30s heated only by the woodstove. It's one greatroom (with woodstove) and two bedrooms. The bedrooms can get pretty cold when I'm gone and the bathroom... well, there are bigger dog crates.

I can try the TV, but she's pretty deaf.

Ben and Me
Dec. 6, 2009, 07:19 PM
What about a heated dog bed in one of the bedrooms, blocked off from the rest of the house by a baby gate? And maybe a sweater (as long as you don't think she would eat it?) The bed doesn't even have to be one that you plug in -- one of those "Cozy Cave" type beds might work too.

You may want to talk to your vet about Anipryl.


Also, Hills makes a prescription diet for older dogs with cognitive disorders - B/D.


Dec. 6, 2009, 08:07 PM
Anipryl is a great thing to try, just an FYI about it, the generic(veterinary) form has been pulled, so the cost has gone up substantially. I believe the cost to the clinic for a 60ct bottle doubled, so it is now not quite as wallet friendly as it used to be.

If she's not already get her on some Omega fatty acid supplements, as they are good for cognitinve function and joint health as well.

There is also a new porduct called Senilife that is supposed to make a big difference in cognitive function for dogs as well. So far reviews from clients have been mixed.

I would talk to your vet about supplementing her thyroid. Thyroid disease is acutally harder to properly diagnose that you would think from doing bloodwork but the old adage holds pretty true here, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's porbably a duck. The risks to supplementing her thyroid at a low dose is almost nonexistant, as her body will recogonize the extra and won't produce more than is needed, so she won't become hyperthyriod. And you really will be suprised how much of a difference it can make in the way she feels. Low thyroid can cause an increase in the amount of joint pain she's feeling, as well as slowing her metabolism so she feels colder when she shouldn't be. Overall many dogs show an increased mentation and improvement in mood, many seem less 'depressed' per their owners.

Vet Tech

Dec. 6, 2009, 08:12 PM
Could you use an x pen or two, so she has one area of the house, but can't access others, where she can do damage?

That is what most dog breeders use to confine dogs and puppies not kept in crates.
You don't have to set them in a circle, you can make them any shape, add them to a corner of the room, use two together, etc.:


Dec. 6, 2009, 08:47 PM
Ditto the Anipryl and X-pens.

Google will pull up quite a bit on "canine cognitive dysfunction".

Dec. 7, 2009, 09:07 AM
I just started my 13 year old Malamute cross on Anapryl and the first two weeks I saw little change but now, he seems brighter, he recognizes things quicker and he is sleeping at night!! He doesn't roam as often, is more settled, its like my buddy is back and yes, he seems happier too.

Older dogs are like elderly people, they need some extra guidance and love, as think about how SHE feels before you say you can't live with this change. Do you think she enjoys feeling confused or lost? If your parent began exhibiting signs of old age, would you not begin to talk to the doctor and try to make things better? Please then, do this for your dog as well. They gave you many good years, now it is our turn to give them the best remaining years of their life as we can.

Dec. 7, 2009, 12:57 PM
If she is trying to eat things (brooms, etc), and she is hypothyroid, have her tested for Cushings. Thyroid problems often show up when there is Cushings disease present. A regular blood test doesn't detect Cushings. Some symtoms of Cushings are excessive appetite, drinking more water, peeing more, muscle loss, pot bellied appearance.
Cushings can affect the eyes/heart/immune system.

Having stuff in your house all disturbed may be because she is trying to find food.

Home Again Farm
Dec. 7, 2009, 04:34 PM
I'd try her in an x-pen or (if you have room) tow of them combined. Old dogs can be a challenge. Hugs...

Dec. 7, 2009, 06:24 PM
Thanks for all of these great suggestions.

It seems she was trying to tell us something. She had trouble getting up yesterday, then laid down around 6pm and never got up. I stayed with her in the kitchen all night and it was clear she was in a great deal of pain. My sister and I brought her to the vet's this morning and had her put down. It was probably kidney failure.

It's been especially tough since we bottle-raised this old dog 13 years ago. She literally opened her eyes and saw us instead of another dog when she was days old. Her mother was hit by a car and our Noo Noo was the only one of the litter to survive. She really did think she was human. I'm sure gonna miss her.

Dec. 7, 2009, 06:30 PM
Sorry she is gone.
Sounds like she had a long, happy life with your.:yes:

Ben and Me
Dec. 7, 2009, 06:54 PM
I'm so sorry.

Dec. 7, 2009, 07:54 PM
Well, dang it.
Sorry to read this update. HUgs to you and Godspeed to your girl.

Home Again Farm
Dec. 7, 2009, 07:55 PM
Oh, I am so very sorry. Soon after my dear old 13 yo Labradoress began having behavior changes and a bit of dementia in 2008, her check up showed that she was riddled with tumors through her lungs and abdomen. She deteriorated extremely quickly and I let her go rather than see her unable to breathe and in pain and confused. It was so hard, as she was a treasured old dog who had been a huge part of my life for so long. My most heartfelt condolences, hansiska. Console yourself with the knowledge that you did the right thing for her. Wishing you peace of mind and sending hugs.

RIP Noo Noo. :sadsmile:

Dec. 7, 2009, 07:55 PM
Oh man. I'm so sorry to hear that.

Dec. 7, 2009, 08:20 PM
Thanks so much everyone. It really means a lot to me. Here's a picture of Noo Noo with two of her furry friends. She's the one in the middle.

Dec. 7, 2009, 08:28 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about Noo Noo. That is a beautiful photo of her.

I had no idea about "doggie dementia" until last year when my 13 year old border collie x began wandering the house at night - barking to get outside then barking to get inside...over and over. It was like she had an appointment to get to but could not remember where it was.

Dec. 7, 2009, 11:12 PM
Oh, I am so sorry. My almost-thirteen yr old Lab is lying at my feet, and I too raised him from a bottle...I dread the day that I lose him. I'm very, very sorry for your loss. RIP, sweet Noo Noo.

Dec. 8, 2009, 03:12 PM
Godspeed Noo Noo she looked like a sweetie.


Dec. 11, 2009, 09:49 AM
RIP Noo Noo. We all know how hard it is to lose them. We have a 14 year old retriever who is not going to last too much longer. She is still mentally normal, but is partially deaf and very arthritic. At least Noo Noo did not suffer long and had a good passing.