Tag Archives: senior dog

Senior Dogs and Cognitive Changes- Is It Time To Let Go?

When a dog reaches the age of 12 and older, many things change in terms of their physical and mental status. Senior dogs who were once loving, playful and docile animals may begin to display agressive behaviors. A senior dog who’s hearing or vision is failing may exhibit growling or snapping behaviors as they do not hear or see when people approach them and are startled. As a dog ages, there are many mental and physical changes that affect its stress level.  Arthritic joints and restricted movement do not allow your pet to move as easily, causing him to feel trapped in an annoying situation. A well-intended affectionate rub may be causing your canine friend irritation to sore joints without you knowing it. He may snap at you when you try to pick him up for the same reason. Changes in routines, new family members, moving, loud noises, or the fast movement of children can startle the dog into an aggressive action.

It is important to have your pet checked by a veterinarian.  If biting is a reaction to pain, this can possible be alleviated by medication, acupuncture or other holistic therapies. Brain tumors are another possibility that can cause behavioral changes. The vet would do a CT scan or MRI to determine the type of tumor and prognosis for treatment.

In the long run, the toughest decision we all must make with our senior pets is when is it time to let go? We love them as a member of our family and do not want the burden of making that decision. But it is part of the responsibility we take on when we decide to bring a pet into our lives. We wish they could talk and tell us it is okay.  ‘I’m uncomfortable, my body is tired and sore and I don’t like snapping at the people I love!’  It requires soul-searching, sacrifice and courage. Don’t let others judge you. Move ahead with resolve and know it is right for you, your family and your beloved pet.

Is There Such Thing As Doggie Dementia?

As our pets age, they can develop a kind of dementia that is also referred to as CCD, or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. If your once friendly and cuddly pooch seems to be getting more distant with you and even tends not to recognize you at first when you walk in the door, these may be signs that your dog is having the effects of cognitive dysfunction or dementia. Other signs include the following:



– You notice your pet seems lost in familiar places around your home or yard

-He doesn’t respond to your commands or even to his name

-He seems startled when you approach him

-Your pet seems to have trouble sleeping and often paces around the house

-There are frequent accidents around the house, no matter how often he is walked

-Can be hesitant to take treats or seems less hungry, almost as if forgetting to eat

-Seems to stare into space and is startled by noises

-Your pet makes frequent noises, growls or barks for no apparent reason
So what can a loving pet owner do to make the last golden years comfortable? There are drugs available that will help many dogs. These work on the amount of dopamine in your dog’s brain. Apoequorin and Anipryl are two such drugs. They may help your dog to think more clearly and help with their memory. They can enhance your dog’s enjoyment of life. Other things you can do are to keep their environment as consistent as possible. Rearranging a room can create much confusion to your pet, so try to keep things in the order your dog is used to. Older pets should have stable floors to walk on and if you have wood or tile, you might want to invest in runner rugs throughout the areas they tend to walk. Stick to routines like feeding times and walking schedules. Keep your playtimes relaxed and gentle. The best thing that you can do is show your dog that you are patient and loving and that you respect the changes he is going through. Enjoy your senior companion and make the end of life’s journey a happy and comfortable one!