Thoughts of a Dog Therapist – Dementia

Let’s talk dementia!!

Did you know that dogs get a form of dementia as well?

We’ve had 2 dogs with it now and when Benson started to show the signs I wasn’t too worried. We’d previously been through it all with his Dad Russell, and Benson started off in exactly the same way.

Both dogs used to enjoy car journeys and used to go everywhere with either me or Kev, and then suddenly, almost overnight they became quivering wrecks in the car. They’d shake and dribble and try to get in the footwell to hide so taking them out became a massive no 😢

Russell also used to walk into dead end spaces and then when he couldn’t go any further he’d just stand and bark until we went to rescue him rather than use his brain and turn round or back up. I cant even remember how many times I got home from work to find him barking his head off because he’d got himself stuck down the side of the bed. I can only imagine how long he’d been there asking for help when all he actually had to do was walk backwards 🤦‍♀️But overall dealing with Russells dementia wasn’t too bad. Benson however is on a whole other level!!

He’s about 17/18 years old now and his shaking and dribbling in the car started around 4 years ago when Russell was still alive. Since then he has developed some really strange behaviours and when I’ve spoken to the vet about them she’s confirmed that it’s all a part of the condition.

He has done the same as Russell a couple of times and got himself into a space and then not been able to work out how to get back out, and just like his Dad he just stands and shouts for help.

He also licks a lot but he doesn’t lick himself or anything that he should be licking, oh no……… he licks dog beds and carpets and sofa’s. Basically anything that might have dog hair on it and then he swallows the hair and brings up hairballs all around the floor later on 🤢.

If that wasn’t bad enough he also eats everything in sight. If a bit of rope comes off of a toy….. he eats it.

If a bit of mud is walked in on our shoes….. he eats it.

If a bit of fluff is pulled out of a bed…. he eats it.

If something accidentally gets dropped on the floor? Yep you guessed it…… he rushes to eat it. I had to fish the lid off of the Manuka honey tube out of his mouth the other day 🙄. He just has no concept of what’s food and what’s not anymore.

He also doesn’t seem to remember that he’s actually been fed. I always feed him as one of the last now and leave him in another room until his food is ready because otherwise he walks around thinking every bowl is his even after he’s eaten. If he eats near any of the others he also eats his and then tries to push into theirs (which he never used to do), and he takes offence when they tell him to do one.

But I think the most heartbreaking thing of all is that he doesn’t know how to cuddle anymore. If we go to pick him up to put him on our laps he panics and tries to run and as soon as we actually let go of him he jumps straight off our laps again. If we go to stroke him he jumps out of his skin and then realised it’s us, let’s us have a couple of strokes and then moves away. He used to absolutely love a cuddle and a fuss but he seems to have forgotten about that as well.

He also bites a lot now. It we wake him up at any point in the day to go out then he’ll bite us as he wakes. But if we don’t wake him then he toilets indoors. He bites when he has his nails cut and even sometimes tries when we try and have that cuddle or give him a fuss.

He also goes out to the toilet and then forgets that he’s been out and waits at the door to go again 5 minutes later. Some days he’ll stand at the door most of the night because he thinks he needs to go and we know he doesn’t.

Dementia is a horrific disease in people but I promise you it’s not much better in dogs.