Can Dogs Get Dementia?

Updated: September 21, 2022

Many pet parents with aging furbabies will find themselves wondering if dementia in dogs is possible and what the signs of dementia in dogs are. So, can dogs get dementia? Yes, just like humans, our dogs can get dementia. As they older, some dogs may begin to develop cognitive decline and are more susceptible to health problems.

"So, can dogs get dementia? Yes, just like humans, our dogs can get dementia."

What Is Dog Dementia?

Dog dementia, as explained by Science Alert, is a brain disease that worsens over time and causes behavioral, cognitive, and other problems. Although it can happen in dogs as young as six years old, it is typically found in dogs over the age of eight years.

Dogs with dementia may experience behavioral changes. However, these changes may be dismissed by pet parents if they are thought to be an inevitable aspect of aging. So, there may be more dogs that suffer from dog dementia than we are aware of.

can dogs get dementia

The majority of vets also find it difficult to diagnose. No reliable, non-invasive test exists for dog dementia and senior dogs are more likely to have a variety of additional health conditions, which can make diagnosis more difficult. Veterinarians generally use the abbreviation DISHA to formally diagnose dog dementia after ruling out other possible medical grounds for their disorientation.

Any breed of dog can get dog dementia. The behavior of older dogs who are gradually developing dog dementia gradually changes. This includes forgetting commands, sleeping more during the day, and becoming restless and loud at night.

The Signs of Dementia in Dogs


One of the easiest to recognize symptoms of dog dementia is disorientation. Your furbaby can appear lost or approach the wrong door in an attempt to go outside. Other symptoms of dog disorientation include blankly staring at a specific thing like the ground, walls, or the sky. You might notice that your furbaby is losing coordination or not recognizing familiar faces as signs of dementia.

Accidents & Memory Loss

Your dog’s house training may begin to fail where they stop letting you know when they need to potty. They might also start to slobber and have accidents inside the house. Dogs with dementia will affect their memory, so it is common for training to be lost. Additionally, dogs suffering from dementia may no longer obey commands or perform tricks. You may find it more challenging to get their attention.

dog dementia symptoms and signs

Sleep Cycle Changes

The sleep/wake cycle caused by dementia in your dog is among the most uncomfortable. Your dog may have difficulties sleeping through the night and may wind up pacing the house while barking or howling. So, if your dog is suddenly awake at night, it can be one of the dog dementia symptoms. Additionally, due to their lack of sleep at night, your dog may end up resting a lot more during the day.

Changes in Interactions

One of the signs of dementia in dogs is a change in interactions. Your dog may appear to be far less interested in interacting with other people or items in their environment. A dog may begin to cling more or may try to withdraw from people. They might cease seeking out your attention and opt to be left alone. Some dogs with dog dementia may also eventually become extra needy and fearsome. Each dog may react differently when displaying this dog dementia symptom.

Changes in Activity Levels

One of the clearer signs of dementia in dogs is a change in activity levels. Observing your dog become less active is another indication that dog dementia may be present. They may lose interest in their surroundings. Your dog may also show slow responses to external stimuli. Decreased interest in grooming, a lack of hunger, increased restlessness, and separation anxiety can also be indicators of reduced activity levels.

Managing Dog Dementia

Can dogs get dementia? Yes. But, there are steps you can take as the pet parent to help prevent dog dementia and manage dementia. If your dog is diagnosed with dementia, Animal Medical Care Center & Cat Hospital states that your vet may make a few suggestions that could help your dog.

Change your dog's diet. According to Today's Veterinary Practice, a diet high in antioxidants may slow cognitive deterioration in dogs with dementia. Additionally, you can give your dog supplements that could help ease the symptoms of dementia in dogs. Older dogs may benefit from a diet that is high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, like Skin & Coat SoftSupps® as well as consistent behavioral enrichment techniques like quick training sessions and socialization.

Take your dog to the vet. Examinations to determine the proper diagnosis will greatly help your dog if you suspect dog dementia. When a proper diagnosis is identified, your vet will be able to provide your furbaby with some medicines that will help control some of the dog dementia symptoms. Medications for depression or anxiety may also be provided to dogs suffering from dementia.

Give supplements. Fortify your furbaby’s diet by providing them nutritional supplements. Supplements like Pet Parents® Multivitamin SoftSupps® will provide your furbaby with beneficial ingredients that help promote powerful daily health support. Pet Parents® Turmeric & Curcumin SoftSupps® can help to support bone joint function along with cognitive function. These supplements contain whole and active ingredients and are safe for all ages. So, they are a great addition to a healthy diet to help keep your dog’s brain and body strong.

Maintain a regular routine. For furbabies with dementia, changes are very confusing. Your dog may feel safer if you stick to a daily schedule. The anxiety that senior dogs with dementia oftentimes suffer can be reduced by maintaining a routine. Other actions you can take to aid your dog may include avoiding any sudden routine changes and taking them on walks that stimulate them to smell.

Schedule regular potty breaks. A quick strategy to decrease accidents during house training is to take your furbaby outside more often. You may avoid accidents by setting a timer to go outside, rather than waiting for your dog to notify you.

Provide mental enrichment. Mental stimulation is essential to keeping your dog’s brain healthy and sharp. Using dog enrichment toys like snuffle mats can be beneficial for keeping your dog mentally sharp. Brain games, like adding food to a Forager™ Mat and allowing your dog to use their senses to discover rewards is a simple daily activity that can help prevent or slow dog dementia.

Maintain regular exercise. Exercise is important for your furbaby because mental and physical stimulation are very crucial for dogs with dementia. A large new study of 15,019 dogs enlisted in the Dog Aging Project, an ongoing investigation into dog illness and aging, posted in the journal Scientific Reports, recognizes the leading aspects associated with a dog’s risk of acquiring dementia. A fundamental finding: Exercise may play a powerful preventive role. The odds of a cognitive dysfunction diagnosis were 6.47 times more heightened in dogs reported as not active likened to those reported to be active.

Can dogs get dementia? Yes, they can. Before having dogs diagnosed with dog dementia, many pet parents mistake the dog dementia symptoms for "poor dog behavior." The first thing to do is to consult your vet as soon as you notice the DISHA symptoms. Your vet will guide your further in your journey to managing dementia in your furbaby while still being able to provide them with a good quality of life.

"Using dog enrichment toys like the Forager™ Mat can be beneficial for keeping your dog mentally sharp. "