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The signs are unmistakable !

The dog, like the man, ages. When he reaches a so-called “senior” age, his body changes and the first signs of senility can appear and settle over several years. If aging is a natural phenomenon, it is quite possible to accompany your little companion throughout his last years of life in order to bring him comfort, well-being and security. Nevertheless, it is necessary to quickly identify the signs of senile dementia in order to provide an appropriate response. Let’s discover them in this file.

Senile dementia in dogs: understanding the aging process

In dogs, the passage to the so-called “senior” age is not as clear-cut as in cats. Indeed, the lifespan of our doggie friends varies greatly depending on the breed, but especially the size. Small dogs have a significantly longer life expectancy, with an average of 15 years. They are therefore considered old at the age of 9 years. A medium-sized dog is a senior from the age of 8, because it has an average life expectancy of 12 years. Finally, large dogs and giant breeds have a much shorter life expectancy, with an average of 8 years. They are therefore seniors at the age of 6 years.

We observe in the dog, from this senior age, a clear evolution. The animal begins to show signs of aging. These are usually both physical and psychological. The aging doggie may suffer from incontinence, he is often more anxious, he may have difficulty moving and he is less dynamic. His hair begins to gray and becomes rougher. It is not uncommon for his senses to become impaired, causing a decline in hearing, smell and sight. Also, the animal may begin to show signs of senility.

You should know that in the natural aging process, changes do not occur suddenly. They are progressive and occur over several months or years. Nevertheless, senility must be monitored in order to better anticipate the changes that accompany it, and this, in order to help the small animal in the last years of its existence. If aging is easily identifiable, perceiving senility is not so obvious in dogs.

Senile dementia is characterized by behavioral changes. The dog can then develop cognitive dysfunction that resembles Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The dog suffering from senility presents singular behavioral signs which are often underestimated and considered as signs of old age. However, this degenerative evolution is serious. If it does not impact the life expectancy of the dog, it greatly disturbs his daily comfort. It is better to identify its signs very early in order to put in place an appropriate response as quickly as possible. This precaution will make it possible to better accompany the animal and to facilitate the common life within the hearth.

Let’s discover the main signs that testify to senile dementia in dogs.

Senile dementia in dogs: what are the signs?

The dog suffering from senile dementia can present several signs which are in particular intellectual disorders of memory, learning, comprehension and attention.

A loss of energy

When the dog has senile dementia, he becomes much less dynamic. He plays less with his master or with his congeners, he loses his interest in certain activities that fascinated him until then and he can even seek to rest much more often, playing the pashas on the carpet, the sofa or the bed.

A decrease in social contacts

The senile doggie very often presents a marked decrease in interactions with its masters and with its congeners. Walks are no longer a source of intense pleasure for him and he may no longer recognize the places he has always visited and the people he usually meets. This sign is linked to an alteration of its memory which can push the animal to be more fearful, even aggressive in front of those it knows well. The doggie then tends to isolate himself more.

A loss of concentration

Your dog has difficulty concentrating due to senility. It is therefore not uncommon for him to feel lost as soon as you send him an order that he has always mastered. He can look at you without seeming to understand you, but also choose to ignore you.

Growing anxiety

Even if your little companion has always been a dynamic and relaxed animal, senility tends to promote the development of anxiety. The dog, disturbed by the confusion that assails him, can suffer from anxiety or an irrational fear at the slightest event which was nevertheless familiar to him. He can thus show signs of intense stress when he is alone, when he is confronted with a change, even insignificant, or even if you offer him a new route for a walk or if you meet an unknown person, etc.

Frequent disorientation

Senility alters memory and the animal tends to gradually lose its spatio-temporal landmarks. Thus, your dog may suddenly find himself lost in an environment he knows well. He may no longer be able to find his way home or simply to the garden, but this disorientation can lead to other consequences. Indeed, the animal has a lost look, a distracted air, as if it were elsewhere, to the point, sometimes, of no longer recognizing the members of its household or the layout of the dwelling.


If you notice that the small “accidents” are more and more frequent, it is not a question of your dog’s desire to provoke you. Unfortunately, the loss of memory and the disorientation caused by senility have the impact of losing rules and acquired orders, but also of certain basic reflexes. As soon as your dog feels the need to relieve himself, he may no longer be able to warn you and he will seek relief wherever he can, as if this behavior were normal.

A troubled sleep

The nights of the dog suffering from senile dementia evolve. Very often, the animal sleeps more during the day, to the point of taking long naps during the day. But at night he wakes up many times and wanders around the house not knowing what to do or where to go.

Confusional aggression

Even the nicest of doggies can develop aggressive behavior as senile dementia progresses. He can suddenly become more aggressive with you and those around him, whom he knows very well. This attitude, disconcerting for the master, is due to the confusion which sets in with senility and which also promotes the onset of anxiety. The dog, lost and disoriented, is afraid of what he suddenly perceives as an unknown and confusing element, or even something that surprises him. To defend himself, he reacts with aggression.

eating disorders

A healthy dog ​​has a good appetite and will usually eat what is within reach, including – unfortunately – inedible things. When he suffers from senile dementia, the doggie will tend, on the contrary, to lose his appetite. He no longer eats much and shuns his bowl. Over the weeks, the weight loss is visible.

Be careful, however, that this sign of senile dementia does not hide another underlying and potentially serious disease.


For the dog, senility is difficult to live with. The consequences of this dementia are global and affect his physical state, his dynamism, his social interactions, his ability to move freely, etc. He no longer wants to play as much, he may no longer recognize his loved ones and his home, he isolates himself more each day… behaviors that can favor the onset of depression.

Depression is serious in dogs. It must not remain without an answer or a veterinary framework, because in the long term, the doggie generally tends to let itself die without it being no longer possible to intervene.

How to improve the comfort and daily life of your senile dog?

If you notice one or more of the signs mentioned above, we recommend that you consult your veterinarian quickly. The practitioner will thus be able to diagnose the phenomenon and rule out any underlying disease. The sooner this diagnosis is made, the sooner you can support your animal in order to improve its daily life.

Several actions are possible.

  • Medical treatment: the veterinarian can prescribe the dog medication adapted to its morphology.
  • A dietary change: you can gradually introduce (with a transition made over several weeks to avoid digestive disorders) a new diet richer in fatty acids, in particular omega 3 and melatonin. Food supplements, on veterinary advice, can be another solution in parallel.
  • Quality outings: at least once a week, go for a long walk with your dog. Exercising in the garden is not enough. He needs to get outside and continue to be in contact with outside environments, other humans and other dogs. On the other hand, avoid running it.
  • Secure his environment: remove any source of stress and help him by arranging his environment with safety to avoid dangerous behavior in the event of a confusional crisis.
  • Stay kind and patient: don’t yell at your dog if he does something stupid or behaves in a way that you don’t like. He wouldn’t understand your reaction. Stay calm, caring, friendly and clean up his little accidents when he doesn’t see you doing it. Similarly, avoid panicking at the slightest sign of senile dementia, because your doggie perceives your stress, which may increase his anxiety.

Of course, do everything possible to make your dog’s daily life comfortable. Despite his senile dementia, you can accompany him in his last years of life by offering him a pleasant, secure and loving environment.

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