Posted by: steph | 2011/06/01


I have a 15 year old wirehaired daxie who seems to be losing his marbles a little. He spends a lot of time standing and seemingly staring into the distance. He spends a lot of time obsessing about food, and will cry incessantly if he is not fed. I feed him his usual two meals a day, and snacks in between when appears to be distressed. I have tried to ignore him when he cries for food but it seems to do little in terms of him stopping. how do i deal with this?
he also seems to struggle to settle at night, he looks restless, but if i put him onto my bed with his blanket he seems to realise its bed time and settles down

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Hello Steph,

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
( Canine Dementia)

• Age related neurodegenerative disease that impairs memory and learning.
• Resembles forms of dementia seen in Alzheimer patients
• Due to an age accumulation of beta amyloid deposits which are neurotoxic and impair neurological function by decreasing neurotransmitter concentration.
• No breed or sex predisposition.
• Seen in older dogs – small breeds 10-12 yrs, large breeds 7-9 yrs.
• Progressive.

Clinical signs

o Disorientation - becomes unfamiliar with a familiar environment.
o Depression – looses interest in activities that the dog previously enjoyed.
o Loss of house training – house trained dogs will urinate and defecate inside the house.
o Changes in interaction – greeting is reduced and poor response to commands.
o Changes in sleeping/wake cycles – sleeps mostly during the day and is active at night.

Note that the changes observed will depend on the progression of the condition.

The clinical sign’s of CCDS can also be duplicated by other disease processes. It is important to visit you local veterinary surgeon to get a confirmed diagnosis.


o Environmental management – avoid changes, keep to a strict regime, create a secure bed area, use lead control in unfamiliar areas, encourage interaction, continue based training.
o Nutrition – Diets that contain antioxidant supplements - Hills D/D.
o Pheromonotherapy – Dog Appeasing Hormone (DAP, CEVA)), Calming Collar (Sentry HC Good Behaviour Pheromone Collar).
o Treatment of any underlying medical problems.
o Drugs – Seligilline, Nicergoline and Propentofylline.


This condition is progressive but it can be slowed with some mental functions returning with effective treatment and management. Early intervention is the best way to delay the progression.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Chill | 2011/06/01

Hi Steph... I''ve been in a similar situation with my old lad - seemed to lose his sense of time, and also went through a stage of staring at nothing. They do become senile - I guess there''s not a lot that can be done - you could give him salmon oil capsules, or even salupet - but actually I think probably those things may just make YOU feel a bit better.

As with people with alzheimer''s, there''s no real point in trying to ''correct'' their behaviour- the kindest thing is just to go with the flow, and manage as best you can. No question, they become pretty high maintenance when they get really old, but I guess that since they''ve given us their whole lives, they are entitled to a little pay-back time.

In a practical sense: my dog''s eating habits are also a little strange - so for quite a while I have been making the right quantity of food for him every day, and letting him have small amounts of it more or less whenever he wants. Also, the restlessness at night seems to become a bit of a habit, and if you can break this, then it''s ok for a while again. You could do this by giving him some valerian, either in the form of tincture of valerian, or tablets like calmettes or becalm, both of which also contain valerian. Do this for a few evenings in a row, and hopefully he''ll have settled back into a day/night rhythm. It''s quite mild and won''t harm him, nor is it a drug, so he''s not going to have any kind of ''hangover'' from it.

Good luck - I''m taking things one day at a time with mine - I don''t suppose he''s going to last much longer, but while he''s still happy, we shall persevere.

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