Article on dementia
November 19, 2011 at 8:42 pm #8800
Hopefully you are here because you have read my article on dementia. If you haven’t here is a link to it http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2010/02/01/dementia-and-anxiety-in-your-older-dog-what-to-do/comment-page-1/#comment-2662 . Let me know your thoughts and questions.November 29, 2011 at 12:18 am #11388
A question from Kelly – I have a shi tzu, 18 years old, struggling with dementia. It is nice to know that others relate. He doesn’t pace through the night, but he does start early (around 3:30 a.m.). I have gotten used to this, but one thing he does quite often is yelp whenever I try to brush him, bath him or clip him. I have stopped taking him to the groomer because he gets so stressed out, but I am having a difficult time accomplishing the task because yelps and jumps around which stresses me out and definitely doesn’t get us very far. I so do not want to hurt him and I don’t know if I am or if he is just scared. He looks awful! 🙁 Any suggestions?
Thank you!November 29, 2011 at 12:22 am #11389
I hope you get other people also offering suggestions.
Usually I find this is more of a hypersensitivity to touch secondary to dementia but sometimes it is also pain.
One thought may be to talk to your vet about using a pain medication like Tramadol before trying to groom or brush him. Sometimes these guys are so sensitive to touch and pain meds can sometimes take just a little of the edge off even if it is more sensitivity than pain. Another thought would be to try something like Animal Apawthecary’s tranquility tonic to see if a light sedative and calming herbal would also be enough to take the edge off. Worse case if he just continues to resist grooming I would just let him be a little grubby rather then push the grooming.
LenaNovember 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm #11390
Perhaps you can provide some help here. I have an 8 year-old shitzu that has recently developed what can only be termed anxiety at night in bed. He sleeps in our bed, and he will, after a couple of hours, jump out of the bed, walk around the bedroom, lay down next to the bed, then walk some more. He may then jump back onto the bed, try to get comfortable for awhile, then repeat the previous. This will go on for an hour or so, then he’ll get back onto the bed, and be OK for the rest of the night. I’ve taken him to the vet, who said it would be unusual for dementia to be the cause at 8 years. He did basic physical, and said all appeared fine. He also excised anal glands, which he said could be causing it. He is not in any pain that we could determine. HE also suggested a half a Prevacid, and to cut down on food close to bedtime. Should he be doing more testing (I wouldn’t even know what to suggest)? He sleeps a lot during the day – the vet says this is normal. HE does play with toys, but not as much as before. He is not disoriented, walks and eats OK. ANy ideas what else I should be doing? It’s quite disturbing. THanks.December 1, 2011 at 12:42 am #11391
It might be worth having some blood work done at your vet to make sure there is not an infection or some other metabolic problem that is emerging. If it is a problem with his biorhythms being off then melatonin might be helpful. If it is pure anxiety then using a t-shirt or a thundershirt at night would probably be the first thing I would try. I have had some success with night time anxiety with acupuncture so that may also be an option if there is someone is your area who does it. If nothing works then I would talk to your vet about a mild sedative or anti-anxiety drug to give before sleep. I agree he is very young for this to be a dementia issue.
Thanks so much for being the first to post in these forums since I started them up again recently.
LenaDecember 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm #11392
Thanks for your response.
I’m having some blood and urine work done on him today, and will pick up some melatonin. He slept thru last night, but was on the way to pacing around 6AM. Stopped him, and he seemed to calm down a bit, but would still frequently raise his head to stare out at nothing for a minute or two, then back down Mid-morning now, and seems OK. I know it’s difficult to diagnose via forums/email, but your help is appreciated. I’ll pass the word about this forum.December 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm #11393
In an update to my above posting, I had blood work done at the vets (results should be coming today), and I picked up Melatonin at CVS – the lowest dosage is 3MG tablets. He suggested a half tablet at bedtime and it worked! Slept thru the night. Now I’m not sure it was the tablet, or just that he had been rather active (we had company) before bedtime, but in any case, it was the first good night’s sleep that I’ve gotten in a couple of weeks. I will try again tonight. Again, thanks, and maybe this will help someone else as well.December 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm #11394
Wow that’s great! I really hope it continues.December 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm #11395
I suppose I should ask..is there any limit on how long this can be used? I know that some human OTC meds say only use for 14 days (altho my dr. says that there’s really no reason that I can’t use the one I use indefinitely). Any such restrictions on Melatonin that you know of?December 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm #11396
I have had people give Melatonin to their dogs daily for multiple years without any negative issues. Overall it is a very safe supplement.December 15, 2011 at 3:01 am #11397
(Sorry I realized I started a new topic without meaning to. I guess the following should go here as it’s on the dementia topic.)
I have an old girl whom I adopted as an old girl. Only been with me 5 years. She has horrible dementia now. Spins in circles until she falls. I haven’t seen her walk straight in weeks. She cries- or should I say screams – at night. She’s starting to do so during the day now. On the positive, she does have a voracious appetite. But I have to hold her in place so she can eat. She is about 25 pounds. She was on 5 mg of selegeline (anipryl). When her dose was doubled the symptoms seemed to have gotten worse. The anxiety, the spinning, the screaming… It’s heart-wrenching.
I guess I’m looking for a miracle. Is there something I’ve missed? She wears a sweater and harness. I’ve not tried the ginko, the fish oil in a while, and all the other things.
I feel like I screwed her up with doubling the dose of selegeline. But her life wasn’t that great before that either.
Am I being selfish holding on to her? What more can I do? Dr. McCullough, have you ever seen a dog – not recover – but improve to better quality of life after living like this for several weeks?
I’d appreciate any advice.
I know it’s inevitable, her death. But I’d like to give her every opportunity to bounce back to a bit of her old self. But most truthfully, I don’t want to feel the excruciating pain of her passing.
Thank you.December 15, 2011 at 4:16 am #11398
I think dementia is one of the hardest things to go through with an animal. It is so difficult to see their minds go. I have seen dogs improve but it is hard once they get to that point of circling and screaming. But yes usually you can get some improvement or at least help with their comfort.
A few things to think about –
Have you ruled out pain? Sometimes even if she don’t have arthritis they can have very bad headaches (in my opinion) and pain meds might help.
It might be worth trying light sedative or talking to your vet about something stronger like valium. I just started working with a dog with very advanced dementia and circling and dosing him with Tranquility Tonic three times a day really helps him be more relaxed and feel better.
I have seen some dogs improve when taken off all dry food and put on a high protein wet food or home made food.
If you have a good alternative medicine practitioner in your area it may be worth a check in with them to see if they have any suggestions http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/12/11/how-to-find-a-good-holistic-vet-to-work-with/ I have had acupuncture and herbs help although usually not completely take away symptoms of more advanced dementia.
If she got worse on the Anipryl could it be that she is having a bad reaction to it? You may want to talk to your vet about stopping it and seeing how she does.
Ginkgo may help but truthfully I haven’t seen it help that much with the more advanced circling dementia animals I have worked with.
Finally if you feel like the time is near, I have worked with an very wonderful shaman named Rose DeDan who has helped both my own animals and my clients animals with issues around end of life. She does consultations by phone if you are out of the area. http://reikishamanic.com/
best of wishes and thank you for sharing you questions here
LenaDecember 15, 2011 at 5:37 am #11399
Lena – Thank you for your speedy and thoughtful response.
My little one has been eating raw rabbit. And I did have her on metacam until her anipryl dose was raised then I took her off it. Perhaps the metacam was calming her. Our vet suggested benadryl instead of valium for sedation. I think I should have gone straight to the valium. At this point, concern over drug interaction isn’t really a issue for me, unless it makes her more anxious.
I gave her melatonin tonight, no anipryl today, and added back the metacam. She’s sleeping sound for the moment. But that can change at 3 in the morning.
I am grateful for your input. You have confirmed what I know in my heart – that whatever progress she makes, if any, will be fleeting.
Aside from the unbearable, awful stuff, it’s the few seconds of the wag of her tail and her hearty appetite that tricks my mind into thinking she’s still in there. But the reality is, those bits of her left, are just bits. Most of my sweet little dog is gone. I already miss her terribly even though her heart is still beating.
I wish she’d go on her own. The guilt of euthanizing is just another layer of awful.
Thank you for this blog. I did take comfort in reading other posts. Certainly, I am not the first, nor will be the last to go through this.
Wish I were stronger for her.
KatyDecember 16, 2011 at 4:10 am #11400
Lena – I had my sweet little dog put to sleep this morning. Thank you again for your thoughts on the matter. The decision was easier and the guilt greatly lessened with your experience in the mix of the advice I was getting. The odds of her bouncing back were so miniscule and she was suffering greatly. I know it now especially since the house is so quiet without her here. I had gotten so used to the sounds of her distress. I did right by her.
Thank you again for your honesty.
KatyDecember 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm #11401
I’m sorry Katy. I’m glad that you were able to let her go at the point she was at. It takes a lot of strength to be able to make that decision.
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