About a year or so ago I noticed that my dog Sassy had lost that spring in her step. She wasn’t as eager to go out for a walk, which had always been her favorite thing to do, preferring to nap and snore (loudly). Mike and I just attributed to her becoming lazy. The vet last year said since she’s an old girl (she’s 15) she was probably just slowing down, like people do.

I work from home and I spend practically all my time under the same roof as Sassy, so it was hard to notice when things really began to change. Also, she’s always been a very anxious, nervous dog, and that’s one of the symptoms of dementia, so it was hard to identify what’s normal for her and what’s not. Here are some unusual behaviors we noticed:

  • She needed help in finding her way out of her crate when the door was wide open
  • She pooped on the kitchen floor immediately after getting home from a walk
  • She’s easily startled
  • She seems to not recognize our regular walking route. She’s walking with less confidence and seems unsure as to where to go.
  • The big one: Pacing. She can pace the floors for hours, both day and night. (And the clicking of doggie nails on the wood floors and the clanging of her collar tags is enough to drive anyone mad!) This is what opened our eyes to the fact that something isn’t right with our pup.
Notes I jotted down about what we’d observed in Sassy.

I read about a medication created to treat canine cognitive disorder, selegiline (brand name Anipryl), so I made a vet appointment to ask about it.

I described her symptoms and the vet agreed that she seems to be showing signs of dementia. She said she could be a candidate for selegiline, but suggested first starting her on supplements to see if that would work. She sent us home with a big bottle of omega 3 liquid, which we squirt on her food once per day. The vet said to go on Amazon and buy a bottle of Cell Advance, an antioxidant meant to improve the immune system, and she gets one capsule per day.

She’s only been on these things for a few days and it could be our imagination, but she seems more on the ball and less confused and more active. Then again, she has good moments and bad moments, so it could just be that we’ve hit a string of good moments/days. Either way, I’ll take it! (As I’m typing this, she’s pacing, and pacing, and pacing… Spoke to soon?)

It’s so heart wrenching to watch my best buddy get old. I just want her to have a happy life and I’ll do my best to make sure she has one.

Here’s a really great video on what canine cognitive dysfunction looks like. Sassy isn’t quite this advanced yet, but watching it was helpful.

Have you gone through this before, or are you experiencing it now? I’d love to hear about it!

Waiting for the vet to come into the examination room