What You Need To Know About Dementia In Dogs And When To Euthanize

Last Updated on January 17, 2022 by Fabiola L.

Few conditions are as disastrous and painful to deal with as dementia. Here, we’ll go over what you need to know about dementia in dogs and when to euthanize. While the condition can’t be cured, it can be treated, slowed down, and your dog’s life can be made much easier and better.

Symptoms Of Dementia In Dogs and When To Euthanize

The various symptoms of this condition can be divided into two sections – early and late. Understanding those is key to figuring out when to euthanize.

What Are The Early Symptoms Of Canine Dementia?

Early symptoms can sometimes be difficult to discern if your dog has other health problems. Careful observation and a consultation with a vet are always advisable. This is what you should watch out for:

  • Anxiousness and pacing – dogs with dementia will often forget what they were doing and will just wander aimlessly from one place to another.
  • Disorientation – your dog may seem unsure where it is and what’s happening around it.
  • Withdrawing – if your dog has lost interest in receiving pets and attention, that’s a major sign of a problem.
  • Peeing and pooping indoors – your dog may start forgetting to way for its walk outside before doing its business on the carpet.
  • Staring – if your dog spends more and more time looking aimlessly at white walls on other empty spaces, that’s likely a cognitive problem.
  • Unprompted barking – the dog may be confused to a point of barking out of frustration. It may also stop recognizing people and bark at them too.
  • Hearing issues – if your dog has no hearing problems but doesn’t respond to voice commands or noises, this is a major symptom.
  • Sleeping pattern changes – your dog may stop sleeping, may start sleeping more, or it may reverse its sleeping patterns.
  • Appetite changes – either a lack of appetite or a sudden insatiable appetite.

The problem with many of these issues is that they can be caused by other conditions and/or be temporary. However, each of them is notable enough to warrant a vet visit.

Later-Stage Symptoms Of Dementia

If you ignore the above symptoms for long enough you’ll eventually see each of them get worse and worse. For example, minor appetite changes or a light tendency for staring isn’t that major. However, if your dog starts refusing to eat or does nothing but stare at a wall all day, that’s very significant.

All in all, if any of these symptoms has progressed to such a final stage, it may be time to consider a final solution. This becomes especially apparent when your dog:

  • Becomes almost completely unresponsive.
  • Loses “the light” in its eyes.
  • Starts just “existing” and isn’t really living anymore.
  • Loses its sense of identity.
  • Dog dementia – when to put down?

If you’ve reached the above symptoms of dog dementia, the time to put it to sleep has come. It’s a tragic thing to experience and it’s normal to want to delay or avoid It. However, if your dog’s condition is so advanced, then dog dementia euthanasia becomes the only sensible option.

What Is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Euthanasia?

To euthanize for a cognitive dysfunction is no different than euthanasia for any other reason. It’s done through a chemical injection after sedating the dog. The vet can perform the procedure both in the clinic or at your home, wherever you prefer.

The medication most vets use is pentobarbital – a seizure medication that renders the dog unconscious very quickly. It then shuts down the dog’s heart and brain within a minute or two. The process is painless, especially thanks to the sedatives used.

 dog dementia when to put down

How To Ease Your Dog’s Life As The Condition Progresses?

If you’re determined that your dog is indeed suffering from dementia, there are quite a few things you can do to slow down and ease the process. The condition can’t be cured as of today, unfortunately, but experts know enough about it to slow it down. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Give your dog Omega-3 fatty acid and other antioxidant supplements. These improve the alertness and overall brain function of the dog.
  • Get CBD oil as well. It’s great for anxiety and is also good against epilepsy.
  • Talk with your vet about Anipryl or Selgian. These medications are known to improve the memory and thinking process.
  • Be physically present in your dog’s day-to-day life as much as possible.
  • Engage your dog with as much playtime as possible – keep its mind active.
  • Give your dog a lot of external stimuli – walks, rides with the car, dog playdates, and more. In short – keep your dog mentally engaged.

How Common Is Dementia In Dogs?

It’s difficult to given an exact percentage because a lot of dogs never get diagnosed despite having dementia. A lot of them would often die of a different cause while still in the early stages of the condition.

Studies estimate that about 68% of dogs develop dementia by the age of 15 (or earlier if they are a larger breed with a shorter lifespan). Similarly, about 50% of dogs are believed to have early symptoms of dementia by their 11th birthday (again, or sooner for breeds with not that long of a lifespan). These numbers seem quite on-point for breeds with more longevity such as the dachshund.


Can You Avoid Dementia In Dogs and The Need To Euthanize Them?

Unfortunately, as dementia is incurable, the only thing you can do is delay its progression. This isn’t nothing, however – you give your dog years of cognitive presence with the right diet, supplements, and care. In many cases, this is enough for the dog to pass away of a different cause rather than waste away with dementia and need euthanization.

In Conclusion – Dementia In Dogs and When To Euthanize

Dementia is a slow but unrelenting disease. If you spot its symptoms early and start helping your dog to stay healthy and active, you can slow it down a bit. Eventually, however, you may need to consider euthanization if your dog hasn’t passed away from a different illness and the dementia has kept progressing.

Learn more about: What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Miniature Dachshund?

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