Senior Dog Behavior Changes: What to Expect


Photo by Stacy

In addition to their grey whiskers and slower pace, the behavior of senior dogs changes as they age. These behavior changes in your BFF can range from minor, such as slight shifts in sleep habits, to severe issues that require medical care. Often they are related to the cognitive decline, pain, and other ailments common in older dogs.

Not all older dogs will experience significant behavior changes. But knowing what to expect helps you prepare for (and cope with) any changes that arise. Here are some answers to common questions about the changing behaviors in older dogs.

Why Does My Senior Dog Pace?

Your senior dog may begin pacing uncharacteristically due to several underlying issues common in older dogs. These include:

  • Cognitive decline – As in humans, cognitive function tends to worsen as dogs age. Confusion, anxiety, and sleep disturbances increase as cognitive abilities decrease, which can lead to pacing, particularly at night. Pacing is one of the repetitive behaviors common in cognitive issues.
  • Canine cognitive dysfunction (dementia) – A more severe, clinical version of cognitive decline, sometimes called ‘Dogzheimers.’ While every dog will likely experience some loss of cognitive function, not all aging dogs get cognitive dysfunction. Sleep disturbances and pacing at night are also common symptoms of canine dementia.
  • Another brain ailment – Brain tumors and other illnesses can cause changes in the brain that affect your senior dog’s behavior.
  • PainOsteoarthritis and other joint problems common in older dogs can cause discomfort and pain. You may notice your senior dog moving around in an attempt to find relief from the pain.

What to Do

If your long-time best friend begins pacing, bring him to the veterinarian to determine the underlying causes. For both cognitive decline and dysfunction, early intervention is important to manage and even reverse symptoms. Depending upon the exact diagnosis, your dog’s veterinarian may prescribe medication. She may also suggest food and supplements that support cognitive function, such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Other effective ways to manage symptoms include sustaining a daily routine, regular exercise, and mental stimulation through puzzle toys, training, and play.

If the pacing is due to pain, the underlying condition requires treatment. In the case of osteoarthritis and other joint issues, your dog may require prescription medication and/or supplements. Dogs with joint ailments also require moderate exercise and gear that improves their comfort at home, such as memory foam dog beds and dog stairs that help them reach their favorite couch, chair, or bed.

If your dog paces at night and is already crate trained, it’s helpful to keep him in his dog crate overnight so he doesn’t disturb the household or injure himself. If your older dog isn’t comfortable in a crate or is incontinent, this isn’t a viable option, as it can increase his anxiety.

Why Does My Senior Dog Walk in Circles?

Circling behavior in senior dogs usually occurs as a result of cognitive issues or anxiety. A trip to the veterinarian is warranted each time your senior dog exhibits uncommon behaviors, including circling frequently and repetitively. (Circling before lying down in his dog bed or favorite napping spot is normal.) Keep in mind the circle may be tight and easy to spot, or wide and tougher to recognize as worrisome.

Along with pacing, repetitive circling is a symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction. Other symptoms include disorientation, sleep disturbances, unusual vocalization, and incontinence. Don’t ignore circling or other symptoms as the regular effects of aging. Cognitive dysfunction is a disease, and early intervention can help delay or slow the decline of mental functioning.

As with pacing, circling can also indicate serious brain ailments, such as a tumor.

Anxiety can cause circling in dogs of any age, but it becomes more prevalent as dogs age and experience normal cognitive decline and pain associated with other illnesses. Circling caused by anxiety is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, in that it gives dogs a sense of control and comfort.

What to Do

The response to circling behavior is similar to handling pacing. Take your dog to the vet with notes on how long he has circled, how often, and any other changes in behavior or health. For both anxiety and cognitive dysfunction, the vet may prescribe medications that manage symptoms.

At home, keep your dog’s schedule as routine as possible and offer regular exercise and mental stimulation. Increase any activities that are particularly calming for your dog, such as belly rubs or getting fresh air. Keep rooms uncluttered and don’t move the furniture around, especially if he’s also experiencing disorientation.

Why Does My Senior Dog Pant So Much?

Noticeable changes in your senior dog’s panting may indicate several serious health issues. Increased panting is normal when dogs are overheated from the temperature or from exercise—it’s how they cool down. But when the panting is out of the ordinary for your senior dog, or unrelated to heat or exertion, it’s time to trundle your dog in the car to visit the vet.

Possible causes of increased or heavy panting in older dogs include:

  • Heart Disease – Other symptoms include low energy, coughing, reduced appetite, and difficulty exercising.
  • Cushing’s syndrome – overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Other symptoms include a distended belly, excessive hunger and thirst, increased urination, and hair loss.
  • Respiratory illnesses – multiple possible conditions
  • Heat exhaustion or stroke – Senior dogs are at elevated risk of heat-related illnesses because of preexisting conditions and medications.

What to Do

Sudden panting unrelated to heat or exercise requires immediate medical attention. Once the underlying cause is determined, your dog’s veterinarian will determine next steps.

If you suspect the panting is heat related, get your dog to a cool place, give him cool water (not cold), and get him to the veterinarian or the emergency room at the nearest animal hospital.

Do Older Dogs Sleep More?

Yes. As your dog gets older, he’ll probably sleep, take cat naps, and rest more often. Though sleep changes are a normal part of aging, they can also indicate underlying problems such as cognitive decline and osteoarthritis. The loss of cognitive function, and pain from these illnesses, can cause sleep disturbances resulting in one exhausted senior dog.

How Much Do Senior Dogs Sleep?

Your once active dog may sleep between 18 and 20 hours every day as they age into their later senior years. Your senior dog may, of course, sleep less, but if they suffer from some of the common senior dog ailments, your dog may be active for only four to six hours every day.

What to Do

Take your dog to his veterinarian if you notice a sudden change in his sleep pattern or sleep changes combined with other symptoms. Depending on the diagnosis, the vet may prescribe medications to manage or slow symptoms. At home, offer your dog a comfortable, peaceful sleep environment to help facilitate the best night’s sleep possible. If it’s a joint disease such as osteoarthritis, an orthopedic dog bed offers protection from cold, hard floors which can worsen symptoms.

Do Dogs Get More Anxious as They Age?

Yes. Anxiety can increase in dogs as they age, and the causes are often the same as for the behavior changes outlined above. Joint pain can make your dog anxious because he can’t find relief, and he may be sensitive to touch. The disorientation and confusion that coincide with cognitive dysfunction also increase anxiety, as do incontinence and hearing loss.

What to Do

Discuss your dog’s anxiety symptoms with his veterinarian so he can determine causes and suggest treatment options. A routine schedule and regular exercise can soothe anxiety symptoms, as can ensuring your older dog is with a family member through most of the day.

Are Older Dogs More Aggressive?

Older dogs can become irritable, and even more aggressive. You may find your senior dog growls when touched or snaps when rambunctious children or puppies are nearby. This transformation in your dog’s normally sweet demeanor is likely fear-based aggression caused by cognitive decline, pain, hearing loss, or vision loss. He’s suddenly irritable about touch because petting hurts his sore joints. He’s scared or confused when there’s a hubbub because his vision, hearing, or cognitive impairments leave him vulnerable.

What to Do

The first step, as always, is a visit to your dog’s veterinarian to determine the cause of his aggression. If there’s an underlying illness, medications may be necessary. At home, pay attention to where petting your dog causes him pain so you can avoid those areas. Stick to a familiar daily routine, and keep the chaos to a minimum, as much as possible.

Why Does My Older Dog Whine?

Older dogs can whine excessively because of pain, anxiety, cognitive problems, hearing loss, or other medical issues. Increased vocalization in senior dogs may come in the form of whining, howling, or barking, and often occurs around the clock.

What to Do

Managing excessive vocalizations in senior dogs is important because it can cause unhealthful sleep interruptions for the entire household. A trip to the vet should go on the docket as soon as possible. Once the cause is determined, the veterinarian will outline a treatment plan that may include medication for an underlying ailment. On the homefront, your dog will benefit from many of the above strategies, including exercise, a consistent routine, and sleeping in a dog crate (provided he’s already accustomed to this sleeping arrangement).

Why is My Senior Dog Peeing in the House?

Like humans, senior dogs can encounter urinary incontinence, which can be caused by various factors, including kidney infection, urinary tract infection, hormone changes,  Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes, neurological disease, stress, anxiety, or loss of cognitive function. 

What to Do

With so many possible causes, you should see your vet to properly diagnose your senior dog’s urinary incontinence. At the same time, you can also address any major changes in your dog’s life that may have caused them stress or anxiety as a possible root of their incontinence.

As your dog ages, you are likely to encounter at least some behavior changes. These can be painful to watch, and coping with the more extreme behaviors is challenging. By understanding the root causes, you can seek early medical interventions, manage symptoms, and offer comfort. Awareness and preparation also help you sustain your patience and kindness—what your dog needs most through his golden years.

128 thoughts on “Senior Dog Behavior Changes: What to Expect”

  1. No this doesn’t help . I know all of this I need to figure out quantitatively how to deal with it.
    Do I give more med or more stimulation. Do I leave him alone more or increase contact.

    1. I have had good luck with more contact. When my dog hangs around my feet in walks around me I pick her up and give her love just a few minutes then put her back down somewhere else. If she still needs attention I just do it again.
      We also have a young dog in the house. Whenever I play with her I make sure the two older dogs get attention at the same time. Since I started this I’ve noticed a behavior change that is better. They seem to like it

      1. I have a Old guy myself. He lost his love of his life a yr ago. The combination of losing his love and getting older has broken my heart. We decided to get him a little brother. We pick him up tomorrow. I hope it brings a little pep in his step if only for a little longer.

    2. This is the most explained site I’ve seen. My boy was diagnosed with dementia in March and watching him decline has been awful. Especially the VERY loud and odd vocalized yelping overnight.

      1. Not judging, but when does it come to a humane end of life? I have an anxious dog with bad joints and u can see her pain. But how much time do you alliw the suffering?

        1. We have a 17 year old dachshund. She has become anxious and has joint issues. We’re dealing with the same question. Recently our girl has started taking a few mis steps or circling so much she falls on her side and can’t get up. It’s quite sad. Our vet said if that continues, that’s an indication her quality of life isn’t the best. I’ve come home twice already and found her like that. We’re just happy we’ve been able to give her a good life for the past 14 years she’s been our baby.

          1. It can be hard to watch, the dogs we have loved for many years. I’m just trying to do everything to make my 15 year wheaton comfortable. Sure your doing the sam

          2. My 19 year old dachshund has been exhibiting the same circling and pacing issues for over a year now. She is also mostly blind due to cataracts. She has always been able to find her food, water, bed and pee pads just fine, until recently. Last night, she was stuck in her bed on her right side and couldnt get up, so she started yelping. I picked her up and tried to stand her up, but she just keeps falling over to her right and cant get up. This morning I managed to get her to sit up for a bit, and she managed to stand almost the whole time she ate her breakfast, but did eventually slide down and lay down to finish eating. She is hungry and thirsty, but I know she is not having a quality life if she stays in this state. She has become more incontinent and I know her time is coming sooner than I want. I just pray she goes peacefully in her sleep and no suffering due to my selfishness to not want to let her go. I hope all yall can find some peace in this end of life journey with your fur babies. Its heartbreaking.

          3. This is what we’re going through with our 13 year old pit. He’s falling a lot. But it seems like it’s his nails on the linoleum floor. Doesn’t do it on carpet. So sad this happens. We’re hoping he just makes it through the holidays.

          1. No he can’t hear he runes into things I feel bad for him it’s hard to see him that way . I give him a good life he was happy now I’m not sure what to do .

          2. My dog is 16 years old. She eats and drinks and goes outside to potty.She is blind now and l have to direct her.l have to carry her up and down the steps to go.She walks into walls.l am 75 and she has been threw everything with me.l love her with all my heart.l don’t want her to suffer,but l don’t know if it’s time for her.Please help me.

        2. We will be making appointment to put our 11 year old chow mix to rest this week. She is now doing everything article describes and then some. She no longer obeys her house boundaries and walks with tail tucked between her legs(fear). She growls and or jumps when we pet her and she just today started grabbing toys from our 5 year old granddaughters toy box. We are afraid she will forget totally and bite one of us or our other dog that’s been around for 2 years. She no longer enjoys(or remembers) things she always loved doing. Very difficult decision, but we need to think of them and not ourselves. She will be and is missed.

          1. You should not have your baby around Brats.. they scare them grabbing them and everything else. Don’t give up on the dog because that is the most important thing in life. Dogs of all ages are traumatized by kids

        3. When they no longer want to eat,.go for walks or when just staying in bed is what they prefer instead of their favorite activity. that’s when I had to take the hardest decision of my life. 9 years later, I still keep her ashes.

          1. I’m so sorry. Every reply here breaks my heart. I had to put my 10 year old golden/lab down in January. Her box of ashes in their little green velvet bag is next to me on the couch as we speak. It is beyond heartbreaking to say goodbye to them. They are the purest souls on the planet. Comfort and peace to all of you.

        4. I can understand what your dealing with. My dog doesn’t cry but has osteoarthritis. Lots of trouble with back legs make it hard to walk. I don’t know if they are in pain but dont want that & you don’t either. Very hard choice.

          1. Yes your dog IS in pain. Inaddition if your dog walks in a stiff fashion then YES it is in PAIN. Give pain meds or put to rest.

          2. My small dog is 17 years old. He has seizures, he goes around in circles, he has arthritis his back legs are very week, now he can’t stand a long time or get up. He falls when he tries to walk. He still tell us when he has to go outside( which is good). He doesn’t cry but I can tell if he’s in pain. With arthritis he’s always in pain I know how he feels because I have arthritis also. So I try to relieve the pain with medication. It hurt to see him thus way I hope he goes in in sleep when the time comes.

        5. That is my question. I love my baby, but don’t want him to suffer.
          When is it okay to take a life? I am really having a hard time with this.

          1. When he refuses to eat or drink and is yelping and moaning in pain and cant leave bed he is in that much pain. I was missing my dog that passed in late 2015, I experienced the same issues you are describing. My advice to you is its not quite the time yet but if she deteriorates further, I would say go to the vet and discuss options because you are getting close to that time because my princess had a stroke that I think finally ended it but I did not know that her not eating that night meant something as did her stiff head, and I of course still beat myself up about that but I feel like she was comfortable in my arms when she went to be with God but I hope my story will help you because I had no clue at all what to do either and it seems that vets generally dont have a definite answer either, but I think if they can eat and are functioning despite being blind I think that is fine quality of life, not great- not great- but also not complete agony either. I think the more I think about it its like a human, if we refuse food, probably something is very wrong as would it be if they stopped daily activities completely and abruptly. Monitor the pain level definitely thats key. That respects them whilst also not prematurely taking them as I have also heard of countless times. Theres no need to put a arthritic dog down if theyre still eating and licking the family. Thats just being excessive and in a way cruel too.

        6. I’m fretting about the same thing. She doesn’t seem in so much pain, but she’s blind, isn’t comfortable walking anymore, anxiety ridden and circles for hours on end. *sigh* want to do right by her.

          1. I’m struggling too. My boy walks in circles endlessly…especially at night, does not want to be pet anymore, falls a lot, stares into corners and is incontinent. So hard to watch. Do I wait to really see him suffer/get worse or give him a dignified end.

          2. My 15 year old schnauzer is walking in circles a lot but still eats drink and yesterday I came home from work and he just so excited and was waging his tail I’m not putting him down he still has a lot of life my 10 year old helps him

          3. My dog is not in pain, but is doing blind. He still eats, drinks, is happy to see us, sleeps fine and pees fine. He yips at night and seems to get confused at bedtime. He circles around the table and into the kitchen. When I bring him up to bed first for a few hours then bring him down when he wakes up. Then he sleeps in his bed and he is ok. If I don’t bring him upstairs and do our normal routine, then I hear him whining more. He seems to get confused. Vet says we don’t need to talk about anything more at this time.

        7. Yes. I have a 12-1/2 yr old Shihtzu who is newly blind (from corneal ulcers, eyes removed) and he is showing signs mentioned here. Sometimes I think society treats pets more humanely than hmans at end of life. We make our elderly (which I am a senior) linger too long.

          1. That’s a loaded comment. While I am inclined to agree, we as a society are guided both by the Bible and our beliefs, and our laws. Then we go a step further with some countries allowing physician assisted suicide (for chronically ill or elderly) it then becomes political.

            I don’t want to be old, and unable to thrive, and become a burden to those around me and society. But… here we are.

            My elderly dog is becoming more and more of a responsibility which is how I came across this article, which is very informative.

        8. It’s a tough choice but you’ll know when the time is right. They will tell you without words. There are groups of veterinarians that come to the house and will put your baby to sleep in his favorite spot in the yard /bed painlessly and say a prayer and it was actually quite beautiful.Google it and read reviews. Sometimes it cost less than taking to the vet for euthanasia. It was actually quite peaceful and beautiful,No stress, no pain, and they make all the arrangements for burial etc. hope this helps

      2. @jazmine – I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but THANK YOU! It was such an eye opener and confirmed what we had suspected. Our 16 year old has recently started having these episode in the middle of the night where he yelps and it’s so loud and alarming he sounds like he was hit by a car. Afterwards he’s very confused, paces and walks in circle. It lasts for about 5 minutes and then seems to come out of it. In addition, he’s up several times throughout the night pacing/very restless. We took him to our vet’s where we discussed the possibility of dementia, but our vet had not heard of any cases of random loud yelps so he physically examined him and took x-rays to rule out other causes, which yielded nothing. In addition to the yelps & pacing, he no longer responds to certain words/phrases like “treat” “go on a walk”, etc. – he just stares at us like he doesn’t understand. On occasion he doesn’t know us and approaches us like we’re strangers. We don’t want him to deteriorate to the point where his quality of life is nil and have made that painful decision to let him go. Breaks our hearts – we just lost his companion 2 months ago and still grieving the loss of her.

        1. He had seizures! I’m not a doctor , But I did go through exactly what you are.
          My 15 yr. old , Ed the mutt , started having seizures and everything happened that is happening to your 16yr old!
          Classic examples.
          I bet if you take him to the vet and ask him about epilepsy you’ll have a breakthrough. And there’s things that you can do to help your dog!

        2. My dog is not in pain, but is doing blind. He still eats, drinks, is happy to see us, sleeps fine and pees fine. He yips at night and seems to get confused at bedtime. He circles around the table and into the kitchen. When I bring him up to bed first for a few hours then bring him down when he wakes up. Then he sleeps in his bed and he is ok. If I don’t bring him upstairs and do our normal routine, then I hear him whining more. He seems to get confused. Vet says we don’t need to talk about anything more at this time. My dog has seizures and is on meds for them. It sounds like your dog has them too possibly.

      3. I am going through the same thing right now 🙁 he has had dementia since January 2021.. induced by brain tumour… I don’t know when it is time to let him go… it’s been very exhausting and heartbreaking at the same time

      4. My dog has been whining at night and has been walking around in larger circles at night. He is losing his sight. How did you know it was dimentia?

  2. I, too, already knew all this. And it seems all roads lead to “a trip to the vet”. I’ve already been to the vet and was told exactly the same as above. No medicinal suggestions were made here, or at the vet. I hope you ladies have more luck

    1. I also went to the vet, she was quite harsh and said he had no quality of life. He is a 16 year old poodle. Blind, deaf and very aggressive. I cannot have him groomed so he looks a mess, that doesn’t bother me, he can’t go for a walk because he won’t allow me to put the lead on. He can’t find his way back from the garden and he is a snarling vicious dog if I try to help him. He eats well and sleeps well, he seems happy if I leave him alone. I can’t let him go and I just wish some mornings when I get up that he would have passed.

      1. Think of yourself- would you want to feel all that your loved pet is dealing with.
        I ask for mercy, humanly let you pet go.

  3. No huge revelations here. My 16+ year old husky mix is on Galliprant and has been for a few years for arthritic pain. That is something to try because the side affects are practically nil and it really did help him. Now he just paces and pants and his back legs are giving out. I suspect the painting is from pain and there is little more I can do. His time is coming up and it’s so hard.

    1. I sympathize. My daughter has come to live with me with her 3 dogs. The nearly 14 year old dog screams for hours and nothing helps. She also paces almost continuously.
      The other 2 dogs are very boisterous and I’m finding my patience wearing very thin.
      The old dog was prescribed claiming meds by the vet but made no difference.

    2. I’m going through this with my 13 1/2 yr old lab. He’s been on galliprant for over a year. Also takes gabepetin and gets atiquin (so) shots twice a month. Still eating, drinking but starting to lose his bowels in the house. When do you know it’s time? I feel like I’m being selfish as he’s helped me through the covid mental health issues I’m having , but what about him? I’m depressed either way…

      1. 13 yr old lab on same meds, paces/pants at night, poor bowel control (will poop his bed while sleeping). He stumbles around and back legs appear sore. Hearing almost gone and maybe some vision issues? Give him CBD oil at night helps some. Hoping he helps us make a decision sooner than later, 2 adult kids leave for the summer-we all want to be together to say goodbye. Lost our other lab 1 yr ago to bone cancer.

    3. When she’s around me she manages to swing her tail and this lets me know she’s there.
      Adequan injections has helped her arthritis pain.

  4. Turbo’s Mom, my 15 year old Border Collie/ Australian Shepherd is on Galliprant for his hip dysplasia. I think this is one of the worst diseases for a dog. About your dog’s panting, it could also indicate a heart condition. Hope this helps. I’ve had him since day 1 and it hurts me to see him get older with all his issues. The time he has been with me has gone by so fast it seems, but I have come to accept the lives of our friends and how they are only here for a short period of our lives yet they give endless love and devotion.

    1. Hi all. I’m visiting my sister for a few weeks, and wound up taking care of her 14 year old Schnauzer. He has all the same issues talked about here as it relates to dimentia.Pacing in circles, and howling at night till he wears himself out. He doesn’t seem to have hip dysplasia, however my 14 year old Chihuahua does. I started giving him Cosequin about 2 years ago. It cleared up completely in a week. Same thing with my neighbor’s dog. Now I put Cosequin in his food occasionally to manage the Dysplasia. It works wonderfully. Try it for Dysplasia. Based on my experience I would call it a wonder drug.

    2. Try Cosequin for the hip dysplasia. I use it on my 14 year old Chihuahua to clear it up initially and 2 years li use it to manage the Dysplasia. Same deal with my neighbor’s dog. It’s amazing stuff . BTW, I grind it up and put it in his food. Good luck

  5. My Maltese (male) age 17.5 years old was diagnosed with dementia and arthritis 2.5 years ago-his overall health is very good with no heart disease, kidney/liver diseases, tumors or diebitihes. He still exercises regularly everyday and has a very good appetite. However, lack of sleeping at night, whining, moaning and walking in circles is difficult to watch. My husband and I are up comforting him throughout the nights and don’t ever like to leave him alone. Ww are spending a lot of money with trips to the vets, supplements and massages.
    Not sure what to do???

    We recently purchased Hemp oil w/ vitamin D3 for dogs, the supplement has helped to calm him, relieve his pain and sleep 5 hours at night.

    We are exhausted and stressed out wondering what is the best decision.

    1. I really feel you on this. I became involved with senior German Shepherd rescue 7 years ago, and the dogs I foster and adopt are a minimum of 10 years old. Bear, my third senior dog, is a little over 13 and is having bursts of pacing and panting, no longer can walk far, doesn’t want to go outside much. We have increased his pain meds however he has really slowed down. I know he is entering end of life as now have two other old dog experiences under my belt. Fortunately, he is still doing OK. As to your situation, do what’s right for your dog but also consider what is right for you. and your family. I struggled with when to put down my last dog and actually waited too long. Her last few days were not good ones and there was a severely unpleasant incident in the middle of the night that led to a call to our 24/7 vet and me having to drive at 4 AM in the morning trip to have Emme put to sleep. I should have put her to sleep when she couldn’t get up and down without her Pick Me Up harness. I wish I had put her down when she could no longer get up unassisted.

      1. Thank you for that comment Of putting your dog down when she couldn’t get up. My Katie is 14 years old with hip dysplasia and arthritis and is on daily gabapentin and 5 mg of prednisone. She does walk around in circles and sometimes looks off into space and sleeps much more now. We have occasional accidents in the house but still able to go outside even though at times her back legs get out. Dang it is soooo sad!

    2. See my reply above. I’m having the same issue with my daughters old dog. The screaming goes on for hours and the vet says no-one would normally put up with this. The only alternative is PTS but she’s fit and healthy.

    3. Where did you get the Hemp oil w/vitamin D3 for dogs. My sons dog has just started having these symptoms of walking in circles and whining/moaning at night and thought this might help/

    4. I have an 18 year old beagle and I am experiencing the same except the whining. stretch is up on the dot 7am and sleeps maybe an hour throughout the day I walk him daily when weather permits and he still will pace the house when we get back. he also will go to the bathroom whenever and wherever I have to be on alert all the time can’t leave him alone long at all. I am exhausted. I have tried CBD oil didn’t do anything for him I have some new chews for anxiety not really working. he doesn’t stop to give me affection and when I go to give him some he flinches as if I’m going to hurt him makes me so sad. I am wresting with if it is our time to say goodbye for now. these comments sure help.

      1. We are in a similar place with our mini-Schnauzer. He is starting to not know us and flinches when I reach out. But he still enjoys going for a short walk and out into the yard. When he no longer has anything of enjoyment in life…then I guess we’ll face this same tough decision. I see your post is several weeks ago. I hope you are doing well.

  6. Yesterday, made the decision to let my yorkie of 16 ys go home. We always walked 3 miles a day, played for hours with his ball, and alot of biking. We both were active every day. Papa (yorkie) had gone blind and deaf. He still had smell so I still walked him and played games with his smell. He started walking in circles, bumping into things and just looked lost. Broke my heart. I feel, the purpose of life is to be happy, love someone deeply and be loved back. Papa and I had it all until he walked in circles and stared in space. Hard decision but I believe its about quality of life. Its about them and their quality of life, not about the pain you will feel to let them go. Miss him.

    1. That was such a difficult but brave decision to make Pat.
      I hope all of your happy memories of Papa help you through the days ahead. Much love.

    2. I feel like I’m reading my story with my nearly 16 yr old Yorkie, Teddie lost one eye, now is blind in the other. Pacing and circling continuously, bumping into walls, staring into space…we must put aside our feelings and do what’s best for him, so heartbreaking…

      1. my chi mila is 16 now one eye & blind, deaf doing circles. Shes bossy, more food! Picky about certain food. Im exhausted becuz of her sleep pattern at night. She does that trachea cough thing she’s always had but more often. I wish there was something I could give her to calm her. She usually tells me when she needs to go but there’s been some accidents. Ugh. My heart goes out to you

        1. Hi Jorie – our dog is going on 19 and has the trachea cough which can cause him to have asthma or heart looking episodes. Our vet prescribed Cerenia which seams to do remarkably well. I think it is typically used for vomiting and/or motion sickness but while he is taking it he has minimal to no trachea cough resulting in no related episodes. Hope this helps!

    3. I’m going through the same thing with my 15 year old Westie. Tessie circles, is blind and incontinent. But she eats well and is in no obvious pain. Lately I am struggling with what kind of life quality she has VS the guilt I feel in thinking about end of life.
      I feel the decision is just days away and it has my stomach in knots with dread.

      1. I’m going through exactly the same thing with my beautiful little Meesha
        She’s almost 16 blind seemingly deaf and circling and pacing constantly
        The only time she stops is when she sleeps
        It’s tearing my heart apart . I don’t want to medicate her but is that the answer? She’s urinating in my partners house where I am staying if i put her outside she will go out there but has many accidents inside of late . Her fluid intake is good and she’s eating but I think her sense of smell is poor .. I just don’t know when the right time is to put her at rest .she won’t let me hold her she vocalises really terribly .The only thing she allows us to do contact wise is scratch her head and ears but only on the floor not on our knee etc Cuddles have gone out the door totally . She did enjoy a bath tonight but vocalises loudly +++ when held . Any advice would be so appreciated
        It’s cruel to put her to sleep in a way as she’s eating and drinking but seems cruel to keep her alive due to poor quality of life
        Please help and thank you

        1. Hey Paula,
          I was missing my dog that passed in late 2015, I experienced the same issues you are describing. My advice to you is its not quite the time yet but if she deteriorates further, I would say go to the vet and discuss options because you are getting close to that time because my princess had a stroke that I think finally ended it but I did not know that her not eating that night meant something as did her stiff head, and I of course still beat myself up about that but I feel like she was comfortable in my arms when she went to be with God but I hope my story will help you because I had no clue at all what to do either and it seems that vets generally dont have a definite answer either, but I think if they can eat and are functioning despite being blind I think that is fine quality of life, not great- not great- but also not complete agony either. I think the more I think about it its like a human, if we refuse food, probably something is very wrong as would it be if they stopped daily activities completely and abruptly. Monitor the pain level definitely thats key.

        2. this is the first post I have read that mentions the same thing I’m struggling with.
          My little girl ( 17 and 1/2) no longer likes be touched apart from occasionally around the ears. She used to be the most affectionate dog id had ever seen. If she is settled which is not very often, and I pat her, she gets up and walks away 🙁
          She is now blind and deaf and my vet said most dogs get a little more clingy when they lose their sight but she has done the opposite. Its very hard to accept.

          1. I use the band diapers with my male dog when he became incontinent. they don’t bother him at all and I’m not constantly having to put him outside. He shares some of the same symptoms. He’s on Gabapentin for pain which has been helpful. We walk and do a lot of sniffing. His appetite is very good but his legs are weak so we’re careful with that. He’s happy to see me come home and follows me around the house. When he loses interest in being petted and around us, I will know it’s time

    4. I had a lab/mix and I loved her dearly.. She had just turned 11 and I noticed she would sometimes stare at the wall for no reason, she stopped wanting to go for walks, she did her business and wanted to come right back inside, but I just thought it was her getting old. Then she stopped eating, she wouldn’t even take a piece of hamburger so after trying everything, I made an appt with the vet. Before her appointment, she got really bad and had a hard time getting up one night so I took her to the emergency vet at midnight. I didn’t care, I couldn’t wait. It was bad, she had a huge tumor and the vet was very honest with me and said I shouldn’t put her through surgery. Lucie never cried or gave me any indication she was in pain. My appt was on Tuesday so I called in sick on Monday and spent the day just lying next to her and petting her and talking to her. Tuesday was one of the saddest days of my life when I said goodbye. That was 3 years ago and I still think maybe I should have let her have the surgery. I haven’t cried that much losing family members and I’m crying now. This was the same week I retired and I was planning on having her with me 24/7, no more leaving her to go to work.

      1. I’m so sorry too, because the kids have grown and gone now with leaving their dogs behind that they had as children. I thought I would have time to spend with them, but instead they are dying of old age and it is absolutely heartbreaking!

      2. My 15 year old schnauzer is walking in circles a lot but still eats drink and yesterday I came home from work and he just so excited and was waging his tail I’m not putting him down he still has a lot of life my 10 year old helps him

      3. Michele, I’m so sorry, for your story, and mine, and everyone else’s here. I truly had no concept of the heartbreak that saying goodbye would bring. I too, cried more for her than other family members, when of course I loved them with all my heart as well. I still cry every day. I think it’s because humans have circles of friends, many people who loved them and cared for them. Your dog has YOU. It’s excruciating. I was planning on the same as you…her and I, 24/7. I feel the same guilt, still.
        I hope you find peace, comfort, and slowly, joy in remembering the pure soul that you were lucky to call your best friend. 🙂

      4. I’m sorry. My dog Nyla was 15 and I loved her dearly. She was a Yorkie mix and super smart. She had a humongous tumor and I was told it was cancerous and to put her to sleep. Being a medical professional I questioned the vet’s ability to diagnose cancer without a biopsy. I couldn’t let her go because she was fine the week before running and playing. So I paid the $5000 for surgery, she survived and the tumor was benign. She lived another year or more and died from eating a poisonous mushroom. I noticed she was having trouble walking, vomiting and she threw up a mushroom. I took her to the vet and the lab work showed multiple organ failure and death was imminent. I held her, cried and took her back home. The next morning I decided to take her to be put down and she died by choking on emesis as we told her it was okay and watched helplessly. I still struggle with how her life ended after she brought us so much happiness…I should have had a plan of what to do when the time came instead of on the phone trying to find euthanasia options when she was suffering. I cried more than I did for some family members. My Nyla RIP

  7. I too am worrying what to do about my 15 year old Lhasa apso. He pants a lot, drinks quite a bit, paces a lot, can’t manage steps at all. Sight is failing and so is hearing. He is incontinent and soils in the house nearly every day. He sleeps most of the day and all night. Hates tbe car now and doesn’t like walks any more. What do I do? He doesn’t seem to be in any pain, has a healthy appetite and knows my voice. When will I know it is time….

      1. EXACTLY, people listen to me and Denise please, and dont prematurely put down a pet too early but also dont wait too late as was my case i think. If they stop eating and drinking go quickly to the vet so they dont feel much pain if they have to be put down-talking within hours here.

    1. Thanks Ruth. Hope this can help others. Its September now and I feel better about letting him go. It was the right thing to do.

  8. I hear all your stories with all my heart. My Gigi Girl (Jack Russel/ MinPin mix) just seems lost. She is nearly blind, and when I call her name, loudly, she looks around like she doesn’t know where it is coming from. I have had her for 20 years. I have had her since she was only 6 weeks. My heart is just broken. She paces all night, and all day everyday, she uses the bathroom in the house. She has never done this since she was house broken. She will even do it in front of me, and I know she just can’t hold it. I am just struggling right now to let her go, and I know that is being selfish. It just hurts so much, but I don’t want her to hurt either.

    1. I’m going through exactly the same thing with my beautiful little Meesha
      She’s almost 16 blind seemingly deaf and circling and pacing constantly
      The only time she stops is when she sleeps
      It’s tearing my heart apart . I don’t want to medicate her but is that the answer? She’s urinating in my partners house where I am staying if i put her outside she will go out there but has many accidents inside of late . Her fluid intake is good and she’s eating but I think her sense of smell is poor .. I just don’t know when the right time is to put her at rest .she won’t let me hold her she vocalises really terribly .The only thing she allows us to do contact wise is scratch her head and ears but only on the floor not on our knee etc Cuddles have gone out the door totally . She did enjoy a bath tonight but vocalises loudly +++ when held . Any advice would be so appreciated
      It’s cruel to put her to sleep in a way as she’s eating and drinking but seems cruel to keep her alive due to poor quality of life
      Please help and thank you

  9. Our Sophie who is only 10 1/2 and is a coonhound/lab mix, is on Gabapentin and Carporfren for pain for arthritis of the spine. That worked for a very short time. As the weeks went on you could almost watch the continual decline. It was so sad. She got sores on the back of her legs from not moving enough. Those were easily treated with Neosporin. Our walks decreased to now just a few houses. She doesn’t even come out with me when I water flowers to smell her favorite trees. Then we put her on Calmacoil for anxiety as every night for about 3 hours she panted, paced and barked. That worked for a very short time. The last two days there is no stop in the barking, panting or pacing except when she absolutely exhausts herself at night. We made the difficult decision to let her go over the bridge tomorrow afternoon. It will be so hard, but seeing her in such distress…keeping her here is for us not for her.

    1. It’s a very hard decision. But it sounds like you’re making a good and carefully-considered choice in my opinion. I find it helpful to read articles about making this decision, which I’m doing right now. My elderly dog has no illness except arthritis and hind end weakness and a bit of senility, which have all progressed to the point where mostly all he does is exist. In pain and discomfort. He takes two meds and CBD oil for his arthritis pain, but you can see that he’s still in a lot of pain by the awkward stance he takes where he hunches down such that he’s “propped up” on his ankles. If we up his meds, he has horrible diarrhea, which is made infinitely worse by the fact that he poops indoors more often than outdoors anymore, due to his difficulty in getting up and lack of awareness of what’s going on with his BMs. I think I’m just talking out my own decision here, so pardon me. But my point is, I feel your pain and share your sadness and am about to take action on the same decision. I hope you are feeling that you made the right decision. I tend to have regret afterwards, regardless of how appropriate it was. So just remember what nearly everyone says, “better a week too early than an hour too late.” May you never find out what “an hour too late” is like.

  10. Its just one day at at a time with my 16 year old Boykin Spaniel. Like posters above, she pees in the house sometimes. She poops every day in the morning and middle of the night while pacing. This leads her to walk in it and track it all over. You can only get out of bed in the wee hours and clean up then. I cant remember having a full night sleep in 2 years. She still eats well, and gets excited about her food. She sleeps the day away and goes in constant circles at night. Sometimes during the day, she forgets to lay down, so you must pick her up and make her comfortable on the couch. Sometimes they need hugs and kisses. I think we will know when its time. For me, its not time yet. She still looks up with those big brown eyes and expresses her love and gratefulness for my patience. We have been entrusted. Its stressful. It won’t be forever.

  11. I too have sofa-surfed for the last 4 months to be there when my 16 year old boy wants the toilet or backs himself up into corners or entangles himself in furniture he can’t get out of. He too walks around in circles and has fits of crying and whining and the last two weekends have been bad. Some of the family say it is cruel to let him carry on and on reading these posts find that I am not the only one to wonder should I let him go. The vets say he is old for his breed (a staffie). If only they could just go in their sleep but they seldom do.

    1. I feel that. I just emailed my vet last night and asked if she would come to my home to euthanize when it was time. I never thought I’d write or say those words and I also can only hope my Ender will go in his sleep. He has to be in a large play yard now for the last 3 weeks as his LOUD yelping and crying became too much – since we have very young children. He has slept with me for all his years (he is 16) and it broke my heart but I ran out of options. He is also blind and when he wakes, he becomes VERY anxious and starts spinning and spinning (I keep a RING camera on him) and will poop then circle in it :(. He was sleeping thru the night up until about a month ago. I can only imagine his confusion when he realizes he can’t get out. The moment I go pick him up, it stops. It is SO hard. He is also diabetic and THIS is the HARDEST thing. All the best to you and your baby.

    2. Omg, I’ve been praying for my dog to just go peacefully at night, but so far nope. My husky/shepard is 15+, can’t walk upstairs anymore, poops while she’s walking and sleeping, eats less than normal dog food but begs sooo bad (she never did that ever), pees in the house, whines and pants, starting the circling and pacing at night, but still has spunk and tries to play with my 2 other dogs (13 yo staffie and 10 yo shepard/staffie mix). She’s been on gabapentin, rimadyl, and galliprant. I am sleeping on the couch which is killing my back, I also have an 18 month old, 2 other not so young dogs, work part time, and try to be a housewife. I’m so tired but feel selfish to put her asleep, even though I think her quality of life has diminished to that point. I read all these posts and tear up because we’re all in the same boat just loving our dogs. Good luck everyone and my condolences to all those that have crossed that rainbow bridge.

      1. I’m usually one that just reads all comments and never comments myself . I agree with everything you have said , we are all In the same boat , we all love our dogs sooo much , I too am crying reading all the comments . I just put my 16 yr old Moodle to rest 2 weeks ago. Am sooo depressed, so sad, but only realising it was the right thing to do . Definitely need to look at quality of life , but it’s strange because you can’t see it for yourself , but once it’s done then you start realising how the time was right . So hard, sending love to all of you x

  12. Our dog is a little over 17 years old, and exhibiting the same symptoms as listed here. He’s a terrier mix/mutt, and has difficulty walking anymore because of arthritis. He used to love his long walks, but now it’s all he can do to make a trip around the house to relieve himself. Usually, he just pees and poops wherever he happens to be when the urge hits, and we clean up after him. We have to wash his bed cover 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes. I feel for him. We’ve been giving him a baby aspirin tucked into a Vienna sausage once or twice a day and it seems to help a little. I just can’t see us having him put to sleep. We’ve had him in our family so long, and this is very painful for us to see every day. Knowing he’s in pain, he can’t hear much of anything or see out of his left eye, walks with his back end leaning to the left. He paces round and round the house, counterclockwise with his right shoulder touching against the wall, couch, or whatever else he walks past. I know it’s probably time we eased his suffering (and ours) but I can’t even say the words to my family. We’re being selfish, I know, but we love him too much to let him go. There’s always that possibility he’s still a little bit happy. I don’t think I could bear the look in his eyes if we take him to the vet that one last time.

    1. That comment ‘the possibility that he’s still a little bit happy’ is exactly how I think about it. My Emily is 14 (lab/boxer) and the last year has been tough with increased anxiety – seems as if every 3 months or so it’s a step ‘down’ in her cognitive state and strength. Nights are especially tough, with pacing, panting, and separation anxiety while we sleep; days are generally good and she sleeps a lot. I know a decision will need to be made someday in the not-too-distant future, but have no idea what that will look like or how I know it’s the right time. Heart wrenching.

    2. Our dog started having seizures and we have him on CBD oil. So far so good and it’s been. months without any more problems. We get the CBD oil made for dogs at our pet store.

  13. Arthur is 17… He’s been with the family since he was only 6 weeks old! Sweetest beagle we ever met… ran right up to us and said “Please take me home with you!”. The most peculiar thing about Arthur is that, for most of his life, he was not a very loud dog; as some beagles are notorious for being particularly vocal. Not Arthur. He was always fun to be around, and like many dogs, knows his favorite toy, knows all kinds of commands and loves to perform them for family and friends, and never so much as a peep, as if he had no voice-box. He plays tag with the kids, and fetch… entertains his humans for hours on end! Everyone in our circle adores him, and he is the protector of the castle! What a noble dog, our Arthur.

    Then one day, about 2 years ago, Arthur had a hematoma on his ear which filled up almost completely with fluid and had to be drained. The usual visits to the vet were only for shots and nail clippings, but this was his first “health” related visit… and the decline of his “happy days”. From then, we experienced something the vet could not explain — lethargy, dehydration, lack of appetite… we thought he was on his way out. Fortunately, all blood tests were negative, and finally, the third visit, he was given an IV and miraculously, a 2nd lease on life! He lived another year normally, and for a senior dog, he sure still acted like the 6 week old puppy from years ago! He would run around the house with excitement when his humans would return home even from so much as a 10 minute errand. His tail wagging, his always seemingly sad face filled with a certain joy and contentment. He was proud to be a part of this quirky family, and his family was proud to have such a noble companion.

    At 16, Arthur began to exhibit more obvious signs of old-age. He started to have a small bump on his hind leg (which has gotten to be about the size of a golf ball). The vet had it checked out and wasn’t too concerned. She told us that seniors sometimes get these bumps, and that’s where toxins in their bodies seem to go. It was followed up with with a few small skin tags that appeared on his face and near his hind paw which often blistered and broke open when we went for walks as he would accidentally rub upon it on the concrete… and then a most heartbreaking moment, when the strength of his hind legs began to fail him. Following these few minor health issues came more alarming and mysterious ones — Arthur started doing what could only be described as obsessive compulsive behavior. Constantly pacing back and forth from the back room, to the front room… sniffing at the front door, and to our surprise, he belted the first eerie howl we had ever heard. This ritual went on for hours and continued randomly for weeks — and it’s as if he had found his voice after all these years, and boy did he use it to our dismay! He sounded like a dog twice his size and it was very scary and terrifying to hear! Although we didn’t mind his singing during the day in the waking hours, it was very disconcerting during the sleeping hours! Eventually, we had to block him from entering into front area, but every blockade we made, he was able able to break through… witty dog indeed! This battle went on for some time until finally, we installed a permanent “baby” gate separating the two rooms, thinking this would solve the problem (which it did)… alas, it was followed up with other more strange behavior!

    The next episode happened one evening. It was, what seemed like a very normal day for him until something was triggered in his mind, and he was startled. We witnessed his first “fight or flight” behavior where he suddenly panted incessantly and went into a pacing frenzy all around the house (indoor and outdoor). We thought the howling was alarming?? This jolt of adrenaline he got suddenly, had him trotting and sprinting about like an anxious, fearful, and lost animal for what seemed like 30 minutes. It was as if he had lost his mind completely and was on auto-pilot! How is he even able to run around like that given his weak hind legs? So, out of fear for his safety, and ours, he was contained in a makeshift pen where eventually calmed down only after reaching exhaustion. This was the first of many of these episodes in the following weeks, the worst of which he lost control of his bowels and his bladder and danced on it making a very big mess to clean up.

    We love Arthur… and it is breaking our hearts to see him aging, and going through these odd and often painful moments in his life where he no longer has control. Arthur at times, doesn’t recognize us, and doesn’t respond to his name anymore. It’s as if we have a loved one hooked on life-support. A week ago, we finally considered putting him to sleep. There were tears, and feelings of guilt…. reminiscing the good times, and trying to imagine life without this loyal family member. It was a tough moment for the family… and then just when we had come to terms with our emotions and started to consult with a vet to schedule a day, Arthur made a turn-around. He started being on his best behavior — no accidents in the house, we even went for rather long walks, and best of all, he let us sleep peacefully through the night for several nights consecutively without so much as a squeak! The household has not had a peaceful night of sleep for months! His appetite has been good, his demeanor has also been very good, and he seemed to have a glimmer in his old eyes as if to say, “Dear humans, my time is near, and I’d like to gift you some days of peace before I go. Thank you for loving me.” It’s as if he knew we were going to send him home or something! So we have postponed his final vet visit, at least for now as we enjoy a few more days with this wonderful dog. So here we are, at the crossroads with our noble Arthur. It is no less easy to think about, but we are loving on him as best we can and as much as we can and we are thankful for the extra time he’s afforded us, although we know his time is soon.

  14. Thank you for your sincere stories about your loved one pets. My Junior has all these symptoms… Very heartbreaking. So difficult to watch. He has accidents constantly. We get up several times at night to let him out yet he still has accidents. He sleeps àll day & walks around with a glazed look. He’s almost blind…paces all night. I am praying he goes in his sleep too. He has congestive heart failure & is on Lasic. I need to make a decision soon & pray I do the right thing. This is not quality of life. He will be 18 in Feb. My little man for all these years. My heart breaks just thinking making this decision Prayers are appreciated

  15. As I sit here sobbing I know how you all feel. Our Borus has all the symptoms mentioned. he can’t hear, see or smell and paces for hours and hours in circles, soils the house many times a day sometimes. He just can’t makes it out. If we cage him he soils and get’s it all over him and his bedding. He now falls and cannot get up so we constantly have to help him. He never barks or plays or chews like he use do and wants no affection. He acts afraid of us and acts as though he doesn’t know us. When he isn’t pacing he sleeps for hours I am so devastated I cry all the time. You all have my prayers.

  16. My dogs dementia continues to get better with these supplements:
    1.) Canine Senior Vitality Pro
    2.)Solid Gold Seameal – it has 60 trace minerals, 22 vitamins, and 12 amino acids.
    3.)Thorne -Canine Geriatric Basics-great for cognitive function.
    4.) Miracle Vet- High-Calorie liquid dietary supplement 2400 calories -high quality nutrient gel + assists with dogs dehydration+ and adds a boost of vitamins for healthy dog.
    The brain is connected to the gut. Your dog’s dog food is a major factor in whether he or she gets better. I feed my dog 5.)Solid Gold sensitive stomach dry dog food, mixed with organic ground lamb, and ginger.
    To be honest – most of your dogs underlying problems come from being nutrient deficient.
    ❤️6.)Always-Always give your dog filtered water. The fluoride+ chloride in the water will eventually cause major damage to your dogs body and mind.
    Magnesium is a huge help with my dog- Google magnesium deficiency in dogs and it will provide you an array of info.
    Its all in the nutrients that the dog needs that he or she isn’t getting! Also there is a deficiency of D3 in dogs as well! Vitamin C is great for dogs!
    Pet stores carry calming aids for pets. I suggest getting one that has quality ingredients-

  17. Well, there was a dog treat that helped with doggie dementia but it has been taken off the market, supposedly to come back at some vague future time. Nutricks. The active ingredient is jelly fish. Same as Prevagen, the OTC memory aid for people. I started giving my dog this human aid and she has improved. No more looking at the wrong side of the door, she looks at us with focus and intelligence again, seeks affection, goes outside to be in the yard more often, she quit standing in corners, etc. Our 15 year old girl still has some symptoms. Zoomies, mostly in the morning but sometimes at night. Mixed up days and nights or disturbed sleep at night, but this is no longer every night. Very occasionally still randomly barks at night, but this is improved greatly. Make no mistake, she still has dementia. Confusion at times, restless, a strange stubbornness, disorientation, especially at night, basically is still “sunsetting ” in regards to cognitive function. I sprinkle the prevagen powder on her food. Break open the capsule and give only the powder. One per day for my 40 -45 lb. dog. Approx. 10 mg per 40 lbs.

  18. Our beauty queen Harriett who will be 17 on Halloween. Eats a dry food called Gentle Giant and a daily vitamin. Since we started her on this food we had noticed wonderful changes in her. She does have the senior problems as loosing her eyesight and blindness. I do get her out for daily walks. She just now start circling to her left. Otherwise she has given us much joy in her 17 yrs we have had her. She will be having her birthday party with her dog pal Bonnie like they do every year and the neighbor dogs who can’t make it will get a treat bag of goodies.

  19. We have just said goodbye to our beloved 15 year old Bassett hound, she had been diagnosed with a brain problem two years ago,and often her back legs wouldn’t work because the message from her brain simply didn’t make it to her legs, she was on medication which seemed to help then we had two other episodes of the same problem and gradually the medications seemed to work less.We both knew that she “wasn’t right “ and that at some time we would be faced with the decision that we dreaded,she was completely deaf by this time too last week the situation came to a head, she had become incontinent ,wasn’t eating properly and was drinking lots more, so rang the vet and took her in, the vet explained that she was very poorly and the situation would only get worse, we had discussed what we would do if we were given that news, and made the call, it was truly horrible, she had to be sedated first as she had compulsive walking disorder but they bought her out and I held her as she slipped away ,telling her how sorry I was ,I don’t think I have cried so much in years ,BUT I know I would have felt a lot worse if I had come down stairs and found her dead not knowing if she died in pain,on her own ,in distress,yes I see her everywhere I look , theres no dog bed ,no toys, no noise of her clip clapping across the floor,but we gave her a safe and dignified end,and she was entitled to that.God bless you Hollie,our beautiful old lady.

  20. All we can do for our senior dogs is treat them with extra tlc and compassion. Our dog has just turned 14, whic is a miracle in itself as he has (now advanced) liver disease, hyperthyroidism, degenerative myelopathy, & arthritis. He’s on various medications, prescribed food, we’ve altered our home to suit him better, we bought a dog buggy, dog shoe-socks and now a support harness, as his back legs are starting to fail and his rear left foot is now “knuckling”. This morning, he messed himself in the house for the first time since he was a puppy. I came here looking for some kind of “fix”, but from reading the comments, there is none. There comes a time when it’s time to say goodbye. I’m slowly coming to terms with this, even though it breaks my heart. I love my dog more than anyone can imagine. All we can do for our old boys and girls, is be with them as much as possible (luckily I am recently retired, so I’m home all day with our boy). I’m currently sitting on my sofa with my boy next to me, stroking him gently, & it relaxes him. We’ve had two walks already today, & will have another one later, & one before bed. Lots of love, being tactile in stroking and rubbing, is all we can realistically do until it’s time. We’ll know when it’s time, & our boys or girls will let us know, too. Much love to everybody out there, struggling to come to terms with this reality x

  21. Frankly, giving my dog drugs that seems to upset his tummy, besides the hardship of the cost, keeping him for my sake and not considering his quality of life, which is terrible for him is pure selfishness. I’ll miss Toby, but it is time for the rainbow bridge, not more vet visits, not more drugs and not another night where he cannot communicate his utter unhappiness. I had an Alzeihemer patient say to me “help me find myself” in a lucid moment with tears running down her cheek. Perhaps that is what our beloved animals are trying to communicate to us , just look in their eyes.

  22. I just put my 16+ year old Shiba Inu down last week. She was walking in circles, crying all day and night, getting stuck in corners and completely disoriented. She had blood in her urine for 3 months and after a gamut of tests, was diagnosed with bladder cancer that had mestastasized to her lymph nodes. I had to hand feed her in the last few weeks and she was drinking a lot of water, which she of course just peed almost immediately. She lost 30% of her body weight in 3 months. Foxxy was the center of my world. I have no children and I’ve had her since she was 8-weeks old. Putting her down was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. She was a leaping, bouncing happy dog up until 3 months ago. It came to a simple choice: seeing my dog suffer, with each passing day progressively worse or my own suffering about losing my little companion; I chose the latter. As heartbroken as I am now, I will learn to cope. I also have to mention that Foxxy used to love car rides; in fact we took a road trip last summer from Miami Beach to Asheville, NC and stopping in Charleston and Savannah. As of 3 months ago, car rides became traumatic for her. She started squealing and crying almost immediately. Her vet is a 40-minute car ride from us. It was never a problem for the last 12 years since moving to Miami Beach as Foxxy has always been healthy and our vet visits were minimal to say the least – annual checkup and vaccinations. When the decision was made for me to let her go as soon as I got the ultrasound showing the masses in her bladder and lymph nodes, the thought of driving her for 40-minute, traumatized only to be put down was not an option. I immediately went online and researched home euthanasia services. I was so lucky to find an amazing company that provided this service. The professionalism and compassion showed by the veterinarian from Resting Paws who came to my house was priceless. Foxxy went peacefully in my arms, in the comfort of my home. I miss her with every core of my being but my love for her far exceeds my selfishness to keep her around longer in the state that she was in.

  23. Making end of life decisions for your pet is the most difficult, heartbreaking decision many of us experience. We are mid stage with our rescued 10-12 year old shepherd with Degenerative myelopathy, rectal fissures and now some mental decline. He is the calmest sweetheart. There will be many tears, a long period of grieving , an emptiness in our home and in our lives. I have chosen to view this decision as a blessing. To be able to end suffering in spite of your personal pain is a selfless act. Be sure to give yourself a hug.

  24. It is the hardest decision to make but I think you have to ask who are you keeping the dog alive for if the dog is in pain is it right to keep him in this pain. I read a poem when trying to decide about my cocker who was 14 and it said I have looked after you all your life do not let me down if it is time for me to go let me go do not let me suffer

  25. Delilahs dad

    I’ve been faced with the decision if I should put Delilah down for weeks now. She has syncope and has been in a bad state. Her spine is degenerating and has severe arthritis in her hind legs. She has her ups and downs and it’s made it the most difficult decision of my life. She doesn’t react to my call anymore and it seems like she might recognize me but I’m not sure. She’s been at my moms because I’m terrified to leave her alone. She’s stressed if left alone and I don’t want to come home and find her dead if she works herself into another episode. She paces all the time and is definitely uncomfortable being still. I’m just terrified I’m letting her go too early

  26. Our Jesse, now a 15 yr old Yorkie/Silky we rescued has been showing signs of doggie dementia. Incontinent 1 & 2. Wears wraps. Has hip issue like dysplasia. Hard to walk. He’s on Cosequin. Helped in beginning but not so much now. When he collapses he’ll sit there til we noticed he’s collapsed. Has Trouble seeing and hearing. Has had dental visits removing most of his teeth. I have tried numerous brands & types of dogfood even grinding it down but he only seems to be interested in our cat’s food. I even bought kibble that resembles the kitty kibble. Still he wants theirs. I know its not healthy for him. We dont allow him. Im lost as to what to do. I feel bad for him. He’s not the spunky little man he once was. Recently He’s been walking in circles I guess hes trying to get comfortable. My sister n law says, perhaps its time. I can’t think of it when he shows his good days. Confusing.

    1. My small dog is picky but loves the primal raw duck, its soft for is teeth and his stool is very small with good texture. He will be 16year old. Hope this help with the dog food

  27. This thread, which I found on a search at 1 AM was such a comfort for me last night. My cairn terrier is over 16 now, is mostly blind, deaf and has had doggie dementia over a year now.
    Have the 2.5 rooms we are mostly in “tiled” with pee pads as he began peeing in house a lot about 8 months ago. I have a lot of barriers now to keep him in . He also has had weakening of rear legs for 2 yrs and now goes thru periods where he can’t rise/stand. Mostly at night when he is pacing, pacing. But last night was awful because he was whining and whimpering and trying to stand whenever awake and unable to. He has never done this whining before.
    AND YET- he just lept upon his food for breakfast and is now walking again. I am in the same position as so many on here- love my old guy but how do I know when it becomes cruel to keep him alive? Up until last night I thought I would know. I will call the vet to see if there is something to help nighttime sleep- I can’t be up all night with him and still work myself.

    1. I’m in the same boat as you. I don’t know what to do. My Beachy girl is 17.5 years and is a mixed breed… looks like a mini German Shepard. She still eats and poops good. Now she whines at night and paces in circles. These stories really helped me a lot! I too have anxiety and the best thing that calms me down is someone hugging me or talks calmly to me. And that’s what I did to my dog. I held her I my arms for a good 30 min and then she slept good. In the morning she’s awake and eats away! She wears diapers in the house and yoga mats are placed on our tiles everywhere for grip. This has been a lifesaver so she doesn’t fall. However, I’m stuck with the same question. Am I selfish to keep her alive? It’s not a quality way of life. Ugh… so sad…

  28. I’m sat here with about 15 hours to go before our Monkey is put to sleep, I’m trying to ask myself is it for my convenience, or am I doing what a friend should and not let him suffer, he’s 17 now ( JRT), he paces al” the time we’ve just been away camping for the weekend and I’ve now noticed, if I stand with my dog on his extender lead he continually walks round and round in a clockwise circle, he holds his wee in if we visit anywhere and wets the bed continually, he’s in bad pain when he stands, he is so frightened of almost everything and his anxiety levels are off the scale he even walks around at home with his tale between his legs, but when he goes out into the garden he walks round in circles continuously.
    When we slowly reach out to him, he flinches like we beat him, it’s heartbreaking, to see our little man this being like this, he’s led a spoilt life of sleeping on our bed and freely begging for food without reproach lol, we
    recently had to have our beloved Winnie who ( I think the next door neighbour poisoned her with rat poison and he has recently threatened our JRT too) she was only nine and was destroyed because she had a very low count of red blood cells we spent over 6000 pounds trying to save our little Winnie but to no avail,
    Now our monkey the grumpy old man has to go, I have struggled with this decision for ages but now looking at him I know the next step is the right one
    Thanks for letting me relate this story, please think of your love for your dog and don’t let them suffer
    Ged

  29. Last week, I had to say goodbye to my beloved sixteen year old Lhasapoo, Dexter. My heart is truly broken and I feel lost without him. We had been together since he was a puppy so my world is now quiet and empty. His long time vet told me the spark in Dexter’s eyes was gone. I, too, noticed (although didn’t want to). He didn’t have any particular ailment. He was just tired. The vet assured me I did the right thing at the right time but I miss him and can’t stop crying. However, I wanted to mention to those who describe their dogs walking in circles that it could possibly be vestibular disease. Dexter had two bouts of vestibular this year. While he didn’t walk in circles, he stumbled and was wobbly. Walking in circles is one symptom of vestibular. His vet put him on prednisone and it really helped. My love to all of you. I wish the best for you and your dogs.
    ❤️

  30. Our beautiful clever happy Yorkshire terrier Bobby is now 17 years old. He has given us so many happy memories. He has had a wonderful fulfilling life. He has had dementia for the past 18 months. He is blind and deaf needs complete care to feed and drink shows no affection and has recently started howling on car journeys which he used to love. He goes from sleeping a lot to unable to settle and howls if you pick him up. He gets stuck behind things in the house and garden and howls to let you know. He has a great appetite and drinks well. We bought him a cage for nightime which he feels secure in and take him outside constantly even though he still has the occasional accident but does try to tell us by getting off his bed and not settling and whimpering. He cannot be left alone except when sleeping and our life is severely restricted because of it. We know he is getting near the end but while he is eating and drinking and not in obvious pain he needs us to give him back the love he has given us all his life. We also have another Yorkie same age going blind and deaf
    and standing the hinge side of the door who we also love dearly and just have to look after and care for them both so long as they are eating drinking and are not in pain. It’s what they deserve.

  31. I think this article hits all the right points on what you need to do to address anything that may be wrong with your older dog but should have highlighted to expect that even after going through all those steps your dog may not improve.
    I have a rescue dog who was very healthy his whole live and now at 19 years of age he is exhibiting the symptoms discussed in this article. In particular instead of resting comfortably during day he is pacing back and forth and bumping gently into things and seems very uncomfortable most of the time. He has also lost all bladder control and will only eat when hand fed.
    I’ve taken him to vets in city and upstate where they ran blood tests and x rays and pinpointed some sources of pain from old age. He is now on Galliprant with Dasaquin and another chewable to reduce pain with tumeric and fish oil with one meal and CBD oil with the other meal each day.
    But the bottom line is you can do everything right like I just described and nothing will materially change what the dog is going through which is final stage of old age just like an aged person in their home or a nursing home.

  32. Our girl was 15 and a half yrs old. When people ask what kind of dog we would say a little brown dog (50lb).She was going through all of the symptoms, weak back legs, falling up and down the stairs, peeing on her bed, walking with her head tilted(vestibular) and a few more but the last thing that told me she was ready was when she wasn’t eating as good as usual. I want to thank everyone who wrote and told their stories. Someone wrote that they let their friend (dog) go over the rainbow bridge well today we let our dear friend walk over the rainbow bridge. It’s so sad but I think she was ready by the look in her eyes. I refused to let her suffer. Yes we could’ve given her more pills but we could see it wasn’t really doing any good. The veterinary was very surprised when I told her how old she was. I thought she looked good for her age. Up until a couple of years a go she would walk 3 to 4 miles a day without fail. She had a winter coat and boots. She finally didn’t want to go on the walks with us. Anyway thanks again for all the help.

  33. I’m Tire I don’t want to sound cruel ,,just can’t keep taking care of her and my sick mom ,,I know her joint are hurting her her sight is gone she can’t hear me she crash against the walls. ,but in the 2 hours of the good day she eats good walks around,,she slim ,but eat well,,when is it right ..To put her down I can’t continue taking her to vet

  34. I’m torn on what to do. My 15-18 year old dog if blond, deaf, and might have dementia. She barks for hours on end throughout the day and paces around the bed a lot at night. When I put her in front of the water bowel, a lot of the time she won’t drink. She has a head tilt that sometimes almost touches the floor. I feel her neck muscles are becoming weak, too, because when i carry her her head droops, so I have to be careful when placing her in front of the water. She is being very picky about her dog food when she wasn’t before. She wants to eat people food more.

    When I put her on the floor she runs around and bumps into walls until she gets to a space big enough for her to just walk in circles, until I pick her up. Sometimes she hits the wall so hard she falls over and is disoriented. It’s heartbreaking to see her like this.

    She wets the bed pretty much everyday. Sometimes when she wakes up she just goes where she is. I tried trazadone to help with any anxiety she might feel, but seems like it just puts her to sleep, and she ends up peeing herself and laying in it. It also seems to make her cry, whimper, and shake. That’s no way to live.

    When I take her out she either is running around the yard nonstop (crashing into the fence when I can’t get to her in time) or stopped in place and moving her head as though looking for danger.

    Even after becoming blind and deaf a couple years ago she would still show excitement when I got home from work, but now she doesn’t seem to recognize me. I think it’s time to let her go, but it’s so hard and I’ve been crying for weeks trying to find the strength to.

  35. My 15 year old schnauzer is walking in circles a lot but still eats drink and yesterday I came home from work and he just so excited and was waging his tail I’m not putting him down he still has a lot of life my 10 year old helps him

  36. I must add my story, this page helped me a lot. My girl was almost 18 years old, she was a 32 lb. mixed Jack Russel with a bigger dog. I went through many health issues with her that I fixed. First she got mast cell tumors which I fixed, at age 13. Next at age 15, she got trouble walking, then I found CBD, fixed it. When she got chronic pancreatitis at 16, I switched her diet to raw, and we passed that issue. Next she got flea bite allergy at 16, and we found Cytopoint, made it past that issue. Then she became unable to get up off her pillow at age 16, got chronic urinary tract infection, and I learned to carry her outside to help her pee every 1-3 hours, and put her on vitamin C, probiotics and other supplements for keeping bacteria unable to adhere or live in the urinary tract. Fixed. Then we had to get the pet wheelchair for her to keep her able to walk upright without falling and used this a lot to get her outdoors and feeling normal. This was due to a broken leg she had at less than one year old, severe arthritis in one knee. And then she started moaning and whining a lot. And I needed to figure out what she wants. Food, water, pee and poop, and prop her on her pillow correctly. I felt she still had quality of life because she ate her meals and drank her water, and walked the best she could. Towards the last few days as we carried her she felt lighter and weaker, she could barely hold her head up to eat. But she continued to eat and drink right up to the last day. On the final morning … she ate, went for a walk, came and lay down and strangely stopped whining. He looked over at her and she was breathing very deeply and she looked him in the eyes one last time. She did this for about 5 minutes and then stopped breathing. Our little girl had finished her transformation back to the spirit.

    We dreaded needing to intervene but we didn’t need to. Not all dogs will have this kind of an ending. I still wonder if she was suffering but I gauged her quality of life on that she was still eating, drinking, and trying to walk. I think every situation will be different. I have had other dogs with cancer where I did need to intervene I MAKE SURE THEY ARE SLEEPING BEFORE EUTHANASIA. I must say this last year with our baby girl has been hell on me, severe sleep deprivation, and back aching from carrying her, cleaning her and her pillows when she peed or pooped on them occasionally, and the carpets. She hated peeing and pooping on her pillow she was a clean and proud girl. We did the best we could to allow her to have quality of life. Maybe this story will help some one. I loved her so much that I dreaded her crossing over for most of her life. This was her 2nd or 3rd lifetime with me thanks to reincarnation. In her prior life she died of lymphoma at age 12. She was a bigger dog but she looked the same and I swore to never allow her to get cancer again. We love her so much.

    1. I have a 14 almost 15 yo English bulldog that still eats and drinks but cannot walk except out in the yard here and there. He cannot stand to eat or drink and needs help if he falls off his dog bed onto the floor. He has accidents in his bed, pooping and peeing, frequently. Poop also just randomly falls out of his butt. We have another 7 yo old dog and 1 yo baby. You can imagine with all of that having to be a doggie hospice nurse is overwhelming. He doesn’t interact with the family just lays in bed all day and night and barks or whines for us to come get him to tend to him for something. I obviously dont want to “kill” my dog, but when is the decision right to alleviate him from the pain and doldrums of his life now? He has been this way for the past 3 years and has declined more this past year to not being able to walk at all but short distances to use the bathroom outside. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  37. My beautiful Rat Terrier Rosie passed away 8 August 2021. She represented all that is good in this world. She was over 20-years old. She was diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction and prescribed Selegiline. We worked with two amazing neurologists at WSU Vet Med Teaching Hospital. This medicine worked wonders! She had been pacing for over 6-hours each night, vocalizing when she needed me to help her, and was generally confused. Selegiline, a human Alzheimer’s drug, was effective in helping her symptoms. She passed away at home on her terms. I laid down with her and told her it was okay if she was ready to go. She went early the following morning in bed next to me. This medicine extended her life and gave her quality of life. She exhibited the symptoms you all describe and Selegiline helped improve them. I never had to make that difficult decision many of you are worried about. It’s not that I’m grieving any less, but it’s such a heartbreaking decision to make. I recommend looking into Selegiline to help your beloved family member.

  38. My grandparents have a nine year old German shepherd named Bella. For her age she doesn’t have any health issues, she eats, drinks, sleeps, hear, walk, run, and play normally. but just the other day I’ve noticed she doesn’t want to go outside as often anymore and she wants to hide when outside as well, or wait at the door to go back inside, which is so unlike her. I thought her weird episode was over when she went to play with her kids, yes my grandparents kept her puppies, but she went right back to not hiding right after she was done. I’m worried something is wrong and I just can’t figure out what’s bothering her.

  39. My Lily the miniature labradoodle is 15+. If she makes it to July 4th she’ll be 16. Saturday she was diagnosed with kidney failure. I thought she had cystitis so I was very shocked when I got this diagnosis. Tonight she’s wandering around the house, sort of jumping on and off the couch over and over and over. I know she’s not herself. I’m praying to know when the time is right. This is heartbreaking

  40. My old lady terrier mix will turn 20 years old on June 16, 2022. She has all of the “old age” issues. I have had to stop her from sleeping in her favorite chair because she started falling out of it. She had been using steps to get into it. She developed sundowner syndrome about a year ago, whining and pacing at night, so she had to stop sleeping with me. I started giving her melatonin at bedtime and it does help her to rest . . . and me too. She has trouble getting around and needs help getting up sometimes. She has started “circling” too. She doesn’t seem to be in pain. My hope is that she passes in her sleep naturally. That is my hope for me too because I have a lot of the same “old age” symptoms and I’m not ready to be put to “sleep” just yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.