Canine Cognitive Dysfunction – Saturday 13th November 2022

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Those of you who have read the diary for a while will remember that towards the end of his long life Alfie suffered from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (doggy Alzheimer’s), sadly it is looking as though Shadow has gone the same way. With Alfie the condition came on slowly over quite some time and did start relatively young. First one symptom appeared and then after a while another and so on. With Shadow everything seems to have been more rapid. It’s either that or she has suddenly started to behave oddly for no reason at all, just to keep us on our toes.

Sleeping in the bathroom

About three days ago when we all went to bed, she got up and wandered around the bedroom for a while and then went to sleep on the shower mat. Mum has also found her in there just staring at the wall.

Yesterday as the front door was open, Mum had to shut Shadow in her office briefly. Poor Shadow got so distressed she started launching herself against the door.

Then there’s going to the toilet

I’ve already said that poor old Shadow has some problems with continence. Thankfully the medication she’s on for the urinary incontinence seems to be working very well. However, she’s forgotten the whole going to the toilet routine. Normally we go out at the same sorts of times of day. We do what we need to do and then come in. If Mum needs to go out she takes us outside and asks us to go then so we’ll be comfortable for a while.

Now, when Shadow goes outside she just wanders around totally oblivious to what she needs to do. Mum is having to be very alert and keep walking around with her and taking her to the places we’ve just been, so she can smell that and it can help remind her to go. If Mum doesn’t do that Shadow can just go when she gets back indoors or even as she’s walking along the path to the house. Mum says it’s like looking after a puppy again.


It’s her distress that’s the worst. She gets very confused very easily and needs to be able to see Mum at all times. Even then she can stand staring at the wall and panting for no reason at all. The rest of the time she seems happy in her own little world, so Mum still thinks on balance she has quality of life but it’s getting quite hard for all the rest of us.



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  1. Sorry to hear about Shadow’s condition… This is tough on her and tough on the family, and I empathise with you guys! What I had noticed with my Tickle in his senior years was that he had developed a form of confusion and panic at certain times of the day (especially anything involving a slight change to his routine) and also I could hear him get up at night and pace around, panting and vocalising in order to wake me up and get my attention. I would have to get up at crazy hours and take him to the kitchen with me, so as not to wake up the whole household.

    In my view, although I am not ruling out he was having a mild form of canine cognitive dysfunction, his failing eyesight was what caused him the most distress. Thus I am wondering whether this would also be the case with Shadow? As for Shadow staring at the wall, so did Tickle and, as you already know, this is a sign of disorientation pointing at the cognitive dysfunction. I found that talking to him with a calm monotone voice while petting him did help calm his anxiety a little. Herbal medicine prescribed by the vet helped curb it a tiny bit. At the end of the day, as you already know, the best for our senior pups is a quiet environment and sticking to a routine.

    As my great-grandad Louis used to say, “With the passing of years, the young will eventually realise that getting old is no fun, it is bloody hard work!”

    • Thank you, that’s very helpful. Mum tries to calm Shadow by stroking her and holding her, but as she’s deaf sadly speaking to her is less help. We hadn’t thought of herbal calmer. I’ve got some I use when travelling, I’ll get it out and see if Mum wants to try it for Shadow.
      Love from Wilma

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