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Hello everyone,
I would like to learn more about how dementia affects pets. I will of course google and read but I’m curious about personal experiences. For the longest time my spoo Belle has shown some of the most odd behaviors. Most notably the way she will seemingly become frightened by something and find a place in the yard to sit upright starring at nothing, hiding. I’m not sure frightened accurately describes it but it is odd behavior that seems unprovoked. I feel for her and have always just tried to comfort her. Of late this behavior has taken on a new dimension, yipping for no apparent reason during the night, as if she is afraid. And she will get up and come sit by my bed or by the front door and just be still. When I reach out to touch her she burrows into me like she can’t get close enough. It’s very distressing. My vet seemed to think it was epilepsy, a diagnosis I’ve never quite agreed with. Recently, in reading through some of this forums posts I’ve begun to think perhaps dementia is a more accurate possibility. She is such a sweet girl. So I reach out to you to learn more and perhaps figure out a way forward.
My best to this wonderful caring group
 

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We recently lost an 18-year-old tabby who was suffering from dementia. He had many of the same symptoms.
His age, the blank stares and incessant crying were the ones that our vet used to diagnose dementia.

He had happy moments in his last years but the quality of his life was not good. I wish that the vet had given an earlier diagnosis.

I wish that I could be more upbeat, but this is a difficult situation. We're here to listen and sympathize.
 

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This reminds me of my grandmother, who had Alzheimer's. She spent her last few years alone and afraid, and my mother suffered right along with her.
 

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Make a video of it, it always helps. You can show your vet and see progression, if any.

I hope it’s not dementia. Did the vet see her for the pain you were talking about in your other post ?
 

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I've got more experience with dementia in people than in animals. A common thread is losing the understanding of what is going on in the world around them. The reactions I've seen range from fear and distress to anger and aggression. I expect animals experience the same confusion and have the same range of reactions.

Ive seen different strategies help bring comfort to the sufferers. One is to try to keep the routine as consistent as possible, and give the person small tasks they would have performed when they were still functional. For example, one woman I knew had been a successful restaurant owner. She found it comforting to sort a jar of coins and bundle them up into coin rolls. Counting up the nightly receipts and preparing the bank deposit had been important when she ran the restaurant, so this small money sorting task was something she found meaningful even as her mind eroded.

Perhaps you can find a doggie equivalent to coin sorting, some task or trick she still remembers and finds rewarding. It might help her feel a little more in control of her confusion.
 

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Our toy poodle who passed away earlier this year suffered from dog dementia and had some of the same symptoms you're describing. Mostly, he had trouble settling at night and would wake up in the middle of the night crying like he didn't know where he was. He also would come to the wrong side of the sliding glass door to come inside, or walk off the patio in places that didn't make sense.

In coordination with our vet, we put him on a nightly dose of gabapentin which seemed to help. It has some mild sedative qualities that helped him stay asleep but it also has some neurological effects that I think helped. We also put a small night light near his bed so he could see easier when he did wake up (while he wasn't blind, he did suffer from some loss of his night vision).

So I would recommend talking through possible dementia with your vet (or seek a second opinion) and seeing what support they can recommend :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Make a video of it, it always help. You can show your vet and see progression, if any.

I hope it’s not dementia. Did the vet see her for the pain you were talking about in your other post ?
Hello Liz,
Yes the vet did see her and seemed certain that she was not in pain. I didn’t discuss the possibility of dementia with him at the time. Honestly, I hadn’t considered it till yesterday. I need to learn more and find a vet that shows real concern. A daunting task where I live.
Our toy poodle who passed away earlier this year suffered from dog dementia and had some of the same symptoms you're describing. Mostly, he had trouble settling at night and would wake up in the middle of the night crying like he didn't know where he was. He also would come to the wrong side of the sliding glass door to come inside, or walk off the patio in places that didn't make sense.

In coordination with our vet, we put him on a nightly dose of gabapentin which seemed to help. It has some mild sedative qualities that helped him stay asleep but it also has some neurological effects that I think helped. We also put a small night light near his bed so he could see easier when he did wake up (while he wasn't blind, he did suffer from some loss of his night vision).

So I would recommend talking through possible dementia with your vet (or seek a second opinion) and seeing what support they can recommend :)
thank you so much!
She does have a night light which I hadn’t considered helpful till now. She is much more restless at night. Of late she gets up and moves from one spot to another a few times a night. And then I have to quiet her to calm her. She will go back to sleep fairly quickly though. I notice too she sometimes just lays there with her eyes open. At first I thought she was in pain but a recent vet visit has ruled that out. One curious thing about all this is I believe this has been going on to a lesser degree for several years. Even at 5 years old she used to disappear into the farthest reaches of the backyard and just be sitting stiffly upright staring, almost frozen. And I’d have to go get her. She would not respond to my calls. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience
 

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Her symptoms have taken an odd turn. This morning she had diarrhea and blood in her stool. I talked to her vet and he seemed most concerned that she was eating and drinking normally which she has. At this point she is to be seen again in the morning. I don’t like being put off when there’s blood in her stool. Likely the vet will do a full blood panel. My poor girl
 

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Her symptoms have taken an odd turn. This morning she had diarrhea and blood in her stool. I talked to her vet and he seemed most concerned that she was eating and drinking normally which she has. At this point she is to be seen again in the morning. I don’t like being put off when there’s blood in her stool. Likely the vet will do a full blood panel. My poor girl
When we moved, Fluffy had stress colitis resulting in blood dripping when he pooped (freaking us all out in the process). Perhaps it could be due to the stress? Poor girl. :(
 

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I'm sorry it's such a struggle with your vet. :( You know your girl best.

I'm glad they're going to do bloodwork. I'd still push for x-rays.

My last girl declined cognitively in her last year. The most obvious behaviour change was peeing and pooping in the house. Sometimes a poop would just drop from her bum and startle her. That was stressful for her and us, too.

Since she was a puppy, she always lay next to the bathtub while I soaked (sometimes a couple of hours a day). This was a safe, comforting routine for her, and as she declined further, I would find her in the bathroom, laying next to the tub. I was always very gentle about it, but it would nevertheless startle her when I entered the bathroom, as she seemed to think I was in the bath.

This is all very hard to type. It was not easy to watch, but I did everything I could to maintain her routine and provide as much comfort as possible. We finally put her on Anipryl, though I'm not sure it made much of a difference.

She did not do any yelping as you and others have described. More than anything, it seemed she was retreating further within herself.

Sending love to Belle. Good luck at the vet.
 

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When we moved, Fluffy had stress colitis resulting in blood dripping when he pooped (freaking us all out in the process). Perhaps it could be due to the stress? Poor girl. :(
I’ve wondered the same thing. She has always been a very sensitive little girl. Yesterday she seemed completely normal. It’s so frustrating to figure this out. So scary to see bloody stool. She has not pooped again since yesterday afternoon. When I get home from work I’ll take her out and see, if she poops how it looks. If there’s no blood I’m inclined to wait on more tests.
 

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I’ve wondered the same thing. She has always been a very sensitive little girl. Yesterday she seemed completely normal. It’s so frustrating to figure this out. So scary to see bloody stool. She has not pooped again since yesterday afternoon. When I get home from work I’ll take her out and see, if she poops how it looks. If there’s no blood I’m inclined to wait on more tests.
I should also mention I stopped giving the prednisone. I looked at possible side effects of which increased appetite and thirst were the most common. She has demonstrated both and at the same time her energy level has definitely increased. Which I’ve seen from her , while taking prednisone each time she has been given the steroid. So that seems normal. She did sleep through the night so that is also a good sign. I can’t thank this group enough for helping me and my girls through these difficult situations
 

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This reminds me of my grandmother, who had Alzheimer's. She spent her last few years alone and afraid, and my mother suffered right along with her.
So sorry to read that. I care for an elderly gentleman who has dementia and it is so very disheartening to see his decline. It gives me perspective on this fragile life. I hope you are safe and in these very troubling times
 

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My poor girl Belle has been struggling to rest all evening. She lays on her bed and just stares, a blank look on her face. Then up to sit by the front door or off down the hall. She sits with her back to the wall panting. Unable to settle.
 

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Im sorry, jcris. Can the vet give her something to help her sleep? Perhaps for the night you could give her a benadryl, just make sure its an appropriate dose.
 

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Panting indicates pain. Did you ever get a diagnosis ? Are you planning to see the vet ?
 

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Good morning,
I thought about Benadryl but didn’t use it. I’ll see what my vet has to say. I’m going to use the morning to see what else I can figure out. Both my girls are having issues and I’m having trouble dealing with it. Sorry to say
Thank you
 

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I’m not sure at this point how advanced this may be. In the last week though she has been much more unsettled. I’m going to get her in to see the vet soon. I don’t want her to be in pain.
 

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It sounds like pain or discomfort to me - the sort of don't-know-what-to-do-with-myself state Poppy was in back in January. Did she have blood tests as well as an examination? It is so difficult if you don't feel you can completely trust your vet; perhaps it's time to seek a second opinion.
 
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