Does Your Senior Dog Have Dementia?

Dementia can often go untreated for quite some time or forever, because there is no test to diagnose it.

Many of the signs of dementia can be explained by other health issues. For example, a dementia dog can forget his housetraining and pee inside, but that could also happen if a dog has a urinary tract infection, kidney disease or diabetes and can’t get outside fast enough or often enough.

That’s why I created this checklist!

This alone does not prove your dog has dementia, but it will go a long way to helping your vet make a diagnosis. In addition to bringing this with you to your appointment, it’s also helpful to make a list of all the changes in behavior you’ve been noticing. Even something you don’t think is worth mentioning, is worth mentioning. Try and note when it started, what time of day it happens, how long it goes on etc… Videos are also helpful!

If you find out your dog does have dementia, read this ⇒ “A Comprehensive Guide to Dog Dementia

Read this ⇒My Life as a Dog with Dementia


Note: There is a downloadable version at the end of this post.

Sleep and awake patterns

___Changes in sleep pattern

___Sleeps more during the day, less at night

___Wanders or cries at night

___Keeps family up at night


___Performing the same behaviours over and over

___Having trouble eating or drinking 

__Doesn’t respond to her name

___Doesn’t respond to cues/commands

___Wanders aimlessly/paces

___Seems lost or confused in familiar surroundings like the house or yard

___Gets stuck in corners or other tight spaces and just stands there

___Has trouble with stairs

___Stares into space or at walls

___Difficulty finding the door

___Stands on hinge side of the door

___Does not get out of the way when the door is opening

___Stands at wrong door to go out

___Does not recognize family or friends

___Gets stuck under or behind furniture

___Has difficulty learning new things

___Walks in circles, usually in one direction

Housetraining issues

___May not remember the signal to go outside

___Goes outside and just wanders, then pees and poops in the house

___Does not let you know she has to go out like she used to

___A perfectly housebroken dog seems to have forgotten her training

Interaction with family and others in your household

___Does not greet anyone, or if she does she’s less enthusiastic than usual

___Does not look for attention like she used to

___Walks away when petted

___Withdrawn from family


___Seems fearful and/or anxious

___Easily startled

___Barks for no apparent reason

___Aggressive but never was before

___Trembles for no apparent reason 

___Afraid of people she knows

Activity level

___Less enthusiastic about her toys 

___Plays less or not at all


Downloadable Checklist


Other dementia articles you’ll find helpful:

A Comprehensive Guide to Dog Dementia

My Life as a Dog with Dementia

How to Treat Dog Dementia


I’m excited to announce my new Senior Dog Care Support Service.

I offer 1:1 support on everything from health & wellness advice and training tips, to preparing to say goodbye and grief counselling. You can find details on all the packages I offer by visiting the Senior Dog Care Support Service page. If you have any questions or would like to book your FREE 15 minute chat, please email



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14 thoughts on “Does Your Senior Dog Have Dementia?”

  1. WOW!!! Hindy, this is a terrific list for dog parents. It will help lost of folks better identify dementia, talk with their vet, and better care for them. Super job! I’m sharing with all my dog parents!

    • Thanks Terri! Since there isn’t a test to diagnose dementia, in my experience too many dogs have it but their parents aren’t aware of it. The information in my dementia series should help guardians help their vet. In my dog Red’s case, my vet had no idea how to explain her symptoms, and thankfully the word dementia popped into my head. I hope this helps others get treatment for their dogs sooner.

  2. This is a great idea – to make a checklist to bring to the vet and track changes. With cats the number one symptom is middle of the night howling. But that can also be a cat going deaf like my Treeno.

    • Vet appointments can be stressful, so bringing a list will ensure you don’t forget anything and make the most of your time. Interesting…I’ve never had any issues with my cats howling at night.

  3. I have just gone through it and your list speaks to me, it is heartbreaking to see your dog become a ghost or shell as such, thanks for sharing this so others can learn and see the signs

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, it’s a tough issue to deal with. Unfortunately too often people don’t even know their dog has dementia, so I really hope this list will help dog parents figure it out. I’m the one that diagnosed Red, my vet didn’t even consider it!

  4. Wow, Hindy, I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me. We are going through this right now with our Husky Icy, and it is so heartbreaking. I can deal with physical issues, but the dementia is so hard to see. Thank you for the checklist, sadly I have to check off most of the items on it. And thanks for these resources, I’m going to read them all.

    • Cathy, I’m so sorry to hear that Icy is dealing with dementia. The good thing is at least you have a diagnosis, too often people don’t even know that’s what’s going on with their dog. I hope my experiences will help you, and be sure to read about the various treatment options and tips.

  5. I love the checklist! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and forget details when you are at the vet’s office and in the middle of an appointment. If I don’t write down everything before, I leave forgetting about half of what I wanted the vet to know or needed to ask.

  6. Know your dog’s normal is so important to monitor its health and welfare. We get comfortable with how our pets behave but sometimes lack guidance about where to look for clues about what might be wrong. I always keep a note for vet visits, I get stressed and (of course) forget half myquestions if I don’t.

    This is an excellent list and should help a lot of dog parents narrow down what might be wrong.

    • A lot of senior dog parents expect to see changes as their dogs age, so don’t always mention it to the vet. Unfortunately it’s usually the beginning of a problem that only gets worse if left. You’re very smart to bring notes with questions to your appointments. With limited time and worry we often forget to mention something.

  7. Having had a senior dog who wound up getting doggy dementia, this is such a helpful list. Our Chelsey checked off many of those boxes. We let her spend what was to be her final golden year snoozing peacefully in my daughter’s room (in her laundry pile!) soaking up sunbeams. This was many years ago…before they even came out with dementia medicine. Six months after her passing, I was sitting in the vet’s office for one of my Husky’s visits, and on their TV was the promo for doggy dementia and my mouth fell open. If only it had come about six months earlier, maybe my Chelsey could have been helped…this list will be so helpful to others with senior dogs, and I love that it is downloadable. I’m sharing this so others can be sure to read.

    • Sounds like Chelsey enjoyed herself and was comfortable, which is all that matters. That’s so interesting they had a promo about dementia, because from what I hear and based on my own experience, too many vets never even mention it when a dog’s behaviour cannot be explained any other way.


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