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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
So I have 2 dogs; an 11 year old cocker spaniel and a 1 year old poo.
I was wondering if you all could help me with my cocker spaniel.
He has taken to circling in tight corners of the house. He has had vestibular disease before but this doesn’t look like that. He has cataracts, though he has most of his vision still. He has taken to very oddly dropping down into the snow in -5F degrees and just laying there. He’s active and laying down in the snow I have never seen unless he was playing.
He is eating, drinking and using the restroom. He is willing to go for a walk but at a snails pace.
We do have a vet and that’s going to be my next step if he continues this weird behavior.
Has anyone ever had a dog with senior cognitive issues? Has anyone seen arthritis present this way?
 

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That sounds very distressing, especially in a comparatively young dog. There is a very helpful information on recognising and coping with canine dementia here: Dog Dementia: Help and Support
 

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It sounds like you're describing our late greatly-loved Aussie Terrier, Fred.

Arthritis, blindness, followed by vestibular disease. Medications helped a bit. The formerly social Freddie took to sleeping alone in a guest room for much of his time and required a pee pad on the back porch because he could no longer navigate the back stairs.

We discussed outcomes with his vet so that when the morning came that he seemed truly miserable and was unable to move much at all, we let him go.

I'm afraid that vestibular disease is often the beginning of the end. Freddie had his 'doggy stroke' (as the vet described it) in March and died the following Thanksgiving.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
That sounds very distressing, especially in a comparatively young dog. There is a very helpful information on recognising and coping with canine dementia here: Dog Dementia: Help and Support
Oh no, he is old, he’s 11. I also have a 1 year old but she’s healthy! ETA: 14 is typically what I’ve heard for cocker spaniel life span. So reasonably he should have 3 more years
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It sounds like you're describing our late greatly-loved Aussie Terrier, Fred.

Arthritis, blindness, followed by vestibular disease. Medications helped a bit. The formerly social Freddie took to sleeping alone in a guest room for much of his time and required a pee pad on the back porch because he could no longer navigate the back stairs.

We discussed outcomes with his vet so that when the morning came that he seemed truly miserable and was unable to move much at all, we let him go.

I'm afraid that vestibular disease is often the beginning of the end. Freddie had his 'doggy stroke' (as the vet described it) in March and died the following Thanksgiving.

Good luck.
Yeah, it seems like he’s on a decline. My husband doesn’t think it’s anything at all, just aging. But my dog is trying to tell me that he’s not doing well. He’s been a very active dog his entire life, he’s a great bird flusher and used to be excellent at retrieving and nose work so to see him crawling on his belly to me to be held.... :(
He’s got numerous other issues: Lipomas, tummy issues, developing cataracts and he used to have seizures.
 

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11 seems quite young to me, with my household of ageing cats (18 this year) and dogs (11 and 12)!
 
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Discussion Starter #7
11 seems quite young to me, with my household of ageing cats (18 this year) and dogs (11 and 12)!
Gotcha! And who knows, he might have plenty more left in him, something is just off with him. He’s my first dog so very dearly loved. I just have to figure out what the issue is.
18! Goodness that’s amazing (even for a cat!)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That sounds very distressing, especially in a comparatively young dog. There is a very helpful information on recognising and coping with canine dementia here: Dog Dementia: Help and Support
I read the symptoms and it does sound like what he’s experiencing: confusion, the looking for tight spaces, struggling to get up on a low couch, etc
 

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A vet check seems to be to in order
Not to alarm you but my old girl Flower had a small stroke, one of the visible symptoms was circling for a short period, found out her blood pressure was sky high.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
A vet check seems to be to in order
Not to alarm you but my old girl Flower had a small stroke, one of the visible symptoms was circling for a short period, found out her blood pressure was sky high.
It’s so odd where he’s circling, he’s searching out very tight spots he’s never been interested in. That and the snow thing, who lays down in negative degrees in the snow?
Did your Flower do anything odd other than the circling?
 

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I witnessed a similar decline in my girl Gracie. Around 11 she dramatically slowed down, but after having a bunch of teeth pulled, it was like we magically turned back the clock! So don’t be too quick to assume it’s just normal ageing stuff.

At 13 the cognitive issues began in earnest. It’s a hard thing to watch. :( Because she was borderline Cushing’s at the time, our vet put her on Anipryl, which was intended to potentially help with both.

I definitely recommend a full blood panel and maybe even x-rays if possible. They can tell you a lot (or at the very least give you a baseline).

I was always very conservative about taking Gracie to the vet, but from 11 or so on, regular physicals became extremely important to preserve the quality of her life.

About a month before she died, she wanted to spend most of her time laying down on her side. It was likely heart failure, which we possibly could have managed if we’d caught it before it became an emergency. So don’t delay with that vet check.
 

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At 11 your dog can be "old". Diet, the environment, and genetics play key roles. Unless you know that his parents lived to 14, don't expect him to. Right now his body may not be absorbing all of the nutrients from his food. Ask your vet about a supplement or doggie vitamin. My vet once recommended a pancreas supplement for my dog in order to give him enzymes for better digestion. I didn't buy the supplement, I just butchered a sheep and gave the pancreas to my dog (size of one paw portions). I later added vitamin C to his food to help with arthritis and maintain bone.
 

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My family dog growing up suffered severe dementia her last year or so. She would have been around 13 when it got severe. She paced in circles around the house all night and had trouble settling. Was randomly destructive so had to be constantly watched. I didn't live at home by then. I wish I had been able to convince my mother to euthanize. Instead she could not bring herself to and I swear she didn't get more than an hour of good sleep for at least 6 months due to constantly watching the dog at night. There was a slow decline prior to that severity. It started as thunder anxiety and slowly got worse and worse. It's a terrible thing to go through.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
At 11 your dog can be "old". Diet, the environment, and genetics play key roles. Unless you know that his parents lived to 14, don't expect him to. Right now his body may not be absorbing all of the nutrients from his food. Ask your vet about a supplement or doggie vitamin. My vet once recommended a pancreas supplement for my dog in order to give him enzymes for better digestion. I didn't buy the supplement, I just butchered a sheep and gave the pancreas to my dog (size of one paw portions). I later added vitamin C to his food to help with arthritis and maintain bone.
He came from a terrible environment. He was a puppy mill rescue and an incredibly sick pup when I got him. He weighed 6 pounds when he was supposed to weigh 12. I ended up feeding him calorie replacement supplements at night. The vet was skeptical he could survive, but he proved her wrong 🙂 I need to take him back to visit her so she can learn a thing or two about hope!
So for him, he’s come a long way.
Vitamins are a great idea!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I witnessed a similar decline in my girl Gracie. Around 11 she dramatically slowed down, but after having a bunch of teeth pulled, it was like we magically turned back the clock! So don’t be too quick to assume it’s just normal ageing stuff.

At 13 the cognitive issues began in earnest. It’s a hard thing to watch. :( Because she was borderline Cushing’s at the time, our vet put her on Anipryl, which was intended to potentially help with both.

I definitely recommend a full blood panel and maybe even x-rays if possible. They can tell you a lot (or at the very least give you a baseline).

I was always very conservative about taking Gracie to the vet, but from 11 or so on, regular physicals became extremely important to preserve the quality of her life.

About a month before she died, she wanted to spend most of her time laying down on her side. It was likely heart failure, which we possibly could have managed if we’d caught it before it became an emergency. So don’t delay with that vet check.
It’s hard for sure to see the decline 😔
I’m thinking blood work and a check up for sure!
 

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I'd ask the vet to help you plot out long-term care. So that you understand what you're facing and can make plans. For us, as I said, it meant using a pee-pad instead of trips outside. Little things like that can make a big difference.
 

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It does sound like dog dementia to me. My late Chihuahua had it. She would get stuck in corners and just stand there, looking into the wall. She wasn’t suffering and with my help, she got by.
 

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From his history, we will assume that he was not bred for health. When dogs are born in dire circumstances without enough proper nutrition, it will affect them their entire life. This includes a shorter life. I would assume that your dog is loosing his sight and his hearing. Some of his difficulty is from loosing key ways to navigate and understand because of the loss of sight and sound. He likely also has aches and pains. Vitamin C will help with aches and pains because it is anti-inflammatory and helps the body to heal. If your vet cannot help you with this you may be able to find a book or website with information.
 

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I‘ve had 3 dogs with cognitive disfunction and it can be hard.

I would definitely recommend a good workup with lab work and xrays to rule out any other health issues. Circling could be CCD, but it could also be due to pain.

I have an almost 17 yr old Jack Russell and she was doing a lot of pacing Which can be a sign of CCD too. One day she paced for hours before finally laying down. I was so stressed watching her and nothing I did helped. At first I thought it was cognitive dysfunction, but other than the pacing and some housebreaking issues, she seemed so much different than my other dogs who had in that she was so aware of everything going on around her and seeking me out for attention.

A workup didn’t show any issues beyond some elevated liver values and biliary sludge on her xrays. Because she was also having some GI issues I switched her diet to something bland. I also switched her glucosamine supplement and added some vitamins, probiotics. Since then her pacing has decreased significantly as have her housebreaking issues.

She’s also had issues with snow this year (it’s the snowiest we’ve had it in years) that would look like CCD at first glance. She gets circling and gets further and further away from the house so I have to go get her(it’s a fenced in yard so she is safe). BUT she is only like this during the day. When the sun gets low in the sky or at night she makes her way to the door no problem.

My theory is that with her diminished eyesight and the glare from the snow during the day (even when it is not sunny, it is still bright and there is a glare), she get disoriented in all the white and can’t see far enough away to pick up landmarks. Once the sun starts setting, the glare is gone and she can find her way.

Just wanted to share my experience with issues not being CCD.

I hope you are able to figure out what is going on with your boy.
 

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I don't consider 11 old for a dog at all! Your dog is definitely giving distress signals. I do hope you have already taken it to the vet.
 
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