At first you see the symptoms as just that of an old dog. Then they start to get really strange, so strange you start to wonder "what the heck is going on?" I've had a lot of old dogs and although they all have slowed down, become frail or just plain wobbly they have not seemed off in the head to put it nicely. If you are a longtime reader then you know that Jessie had started out with an odd behavior of standing at the back door. I thought she had somehow associated this with feeding, now I am thinking that it may have been the beginning. She has now since moved her door standing to the other side of the house, upstairs in the hallway.
Dementia is in the house.
Dementia: severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and personality integration, due to the loss of or damage to neurons in the brain.
After researching dementia; I have come to discover that she has many of the symptoms. Dementia is common in old dogs but not all old dogs get it. Jessie is the first of all our old dogs to have it. We visited the vets today to make sure that we were not dealling with anything else. She now also has a grade 2 level heart murmur which she did not have before and I will get the results of a urine analysis tomorrow. But we are pretty sure it's just dementia.
There is not much to do about this and it sucks bigtime. During the day she is pretty much in a coma from being awake the entire night. She is now peeing in the house at night. The dementia causes her anxiety at night, and this may lead to the peeing. I'm heading out in a moment to pick up some potty pads, a first. We have gone over the whole nighttime scenario again and again. We had her in our room lastnight just to see if she could settle out of her crate, no. She got me up at 11:30, I let her out and went back to bed, she paced and paced and paced. She scratched, flapped her ears, paced at the patio door and paced some more. With a fear of no sleep for anyone I took her down to the kitchen, let her out again and got a bed set up for her.
I watched her for a while as she paced around the kitchen seeming like she was on a mission but wasn't sure what the agenda was. "Someone has to get some sleep," I said as I turned out the light. She never settled and when my son got up at 4:30 he said she was pacing and howling. This is the toughest thing I've dealt with, everything else we've been through with the dogs just needs nursing and tlc. There is not much to do for this dementia but we are going to try drugs to help her relax at night.
The vet has given me Clomipramine, typically used for separation in dogs but also dementia. She got hers in cottage cheese this evening and has been tucked in. Hopefully she will have a good night sleep and this will all work itself out. I can only hope for a good night sleep for all.