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 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.

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).

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.

63 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

    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

          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. 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.

        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.

        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.

  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

  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.

  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

    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.

  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. 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.

  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.

  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.

  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

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