Need some advice

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    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.


    Hi Katy,

    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 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.

    best of wishes and thank you for sharing you questions here


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