Dog owners dread the old days of their dogs, following the adverse effects age has on them. Senior dogs are less active than happy days when you would come home to your happy dog. In some severe cases, your dog may forget you and may not react to you at all. Sad, right? Dog dementia aggression is common in senior dogs, especially after the age of 14.
Like in humans, dementia in our canine friends will cause senility. This means that your dog may have trouble remembering places or even his training. Aggression is mainly associated with old age and dementia in dogs. Some dog owners have seen their dogs slowly lose their memory as they get over the age of 10. This article will explore all the causes, signs and symptoms, and risk factors contributing to the disease.
My senior dog has been more aggressive than usual lately; could this be dog dementia aggression?
Well, let’s get it clear that it does not guarantee dementia when your dog is aggressive all of a sudden. There could be another reason why he has behavioral issues related to dementia. It is pretty unusual for a friendly dog to display aggression suddenly. To confirm dementia aggression in dogs, you may have to look at other factors that could lead to the symptoms indicated.
Symptoms of dog dementia aggression
It is important to note that dogs will display aggression whenever they need to communicate with their owners. In most cases, your dog only tries to express his emotions, usually frustrations. In older dogs, aggression can be associated with dementia, whereby your dog can get aggressive toward you.
However, you cannot assume that aggression is connected to dementia. You will have to look for the cause of the charge in your dog. How exactly can you do this?
Observe your dog’s behavior
Dog owners can understand this point about many behavioral vices in dogs. Before ruling out these vices, monitoring your dog for a few days is essential. To whom is your dog displaying aggression too? Is it always? Well, let us start by saying older dogs have issues with adaptability.
This means that your dog may not adjust to changes in your home or even something as simple as having guests in your house. He may show aggression towards the guests, and sometimes he will forget that you also live with him! This can be sad for dog owners.
The presence of other pets may also cause aggression in senior dogs. A charge is displayed through consistent barking and howling directed to the stimuli.
How social is your dog
How your dog interacts with other dogs is essential in detecting aggression in older dogs. If your dog has always been pleasant and accommodating to other dogs and that has changed, you may consider looking for dementia.
This is quite common in a household with two or more dogs. Dogs with problems socializing in their life will be stressed out if you get another dog. This leads to aggression towards the other dog. Dogs have their way of communicating with each other, but if there is a lack of proper social signs will cause an attack.
However, a dog with dementia aggression may have related well with the younger dogs earlier. Once the conditions deteriorate, your dog may forget some of his socializing skills. He may feel like the other dogs are disturbing him and thus display aggression.
Check for wounds
Pain can cause aggression in senior dogs, especially pain from wounded skin. If your old dog suddenly displays charge, you should consider checking his mouth and paws for wounds. If your dog has a wounded mouth, he may show symptoms of dental disease. These might include bad breath, bleeding gums, and loose teeth.
You may also consider checking your dog’s mobility. Is he limping? Does he refrain from exercising, citing painful paws or limbs? This might get your dog out of the mood to do anything and get him howling and barking unnecessarily.
Increased aggression should have you consult a vet about the vice. I mean, your dog just started the behavior out of nowhere. Your vet will ask about the dog’s history, breed, and when the aggression started.
Below are some of the symptoms of dog dementia in older dogs;
Unusual sleep-wake cycle
Each dog has its daily routine, including sleep at night. However, dogs with dementia may have a disturbing cycle where they may fall asleep during the daytime and stay awake all night. This could be very bad for you and your neighbors if he has aggression.
Loss of housetraining
As human beings need to train our dogs to live together. Over the years, we have mastered how we can train our dogs. For instance, some dog owners have trained their dogs to keep off furniture. Others have taught them to greet guests instead of jumping up at strangers.
However, dogs with dementia may forget all the training and even soil the house or furniture. People with older dogs should be keen to observe such changes in their dogs. For instance, if your dog has never soiled the house, but somehow he has soiled the house three days consecutively, you may want to check for dementia.
Dogs with dementia tend to have increased anxiety and are prone to stress. This may cause your dog to pace up and down in the house, looking for places he knows too well. In addition to pacing, your dog will develop aggression to cope with stress. These coping mechanisms usually turn into undesirable behaviors.
Losing his way
Dementia brings about senility, which means your dog may forget the usual things. For instance, he may find it challenging to get around the house. Well, we all know how much our dogs know of our home, right? If a dog appears much more forgetful than usual, you should consider taking him to a vet.
Forgetting his name
Dogs get used to the training we offer them, including their names. Spend a few days with a puppy, and he will adapt to your name. However, if your senior dog does not notice when you call his name, you may want to check for dementia.
Craving more attention
Like humans, dogs crave attention, and even more, as they grow older. Therefore, dog owners try to be there for their dogs as much as possible. Failure to give him attention will lead to him acting up. Dogs with dementia will act up through barking, aggression, and howling at just about anything. Senior dogs develop certain habits out of dementia.
Older dogs tend to refrain from exercise, even though it is healthy. Dogs with dementia will show less interest in any physical or mental activities. Once again, it feels like too much work since he is old and tired.
Dogs with dementia display repetitive behaviors such as licking paws and barking for no reason. For instance, your dog may have a habit of barking at you for attention and won’t stop until he gets what he wants.
Dogs with dementia may also show signs of irritability. Dog dementia aggression is common in senior dogs. However, there are other causes of aggression in dogs that may include;
Causes of dementia aggression in dogs
We have already established that dementia could cause aggression in senior dogs. However, is dementia the only cause of aggression in older dogs? The answer to this question is a definite no. To understand this, it is essential to know that aggression is an emotion. When your dog is aggressive, he will bark harshly, pull on a leash, if any, and jump at people and other dogs. Some of these causes of aggression include;
Dogs live in packs, and we have somehow become their packs due to domestication. Like in the wild, dogs protect their own, which is why they may display aggression towards your guests at the door.
Dogs are natural scavengers, which means they initially belonged in the wild. There, dogs hunt, reproduce and protect their own from predators. However, we have been able to domesticate dogs for different purposes, which may trigger aggression.
For example, some dogs like the german shepherd dog were bred for security purposes. His genetic composition was aimed at herding and providing security. Even after domestication, a German Shepherd will still be aggressive in certain situations.
Once again, domestication has made it possible for the human race to live happily with dogs. However, sometimes we forget that dogs are still animals, and thus we trigger frustrations. For instance, he may get frustrated if you have been busy and have not managed to play with your dog.
To communicate with you, your dog may express aggressiveness towards you.
How to manage dog dementia aggression
Once you have observed some of the above symptoms of aggression caused by dementia, you should seek a professional opinion. Your vet will examine your dog and come to a conclusive diagnosis. The vet may recommend anti-anxiety and sleeping medication to control the causes of aggression.
The medication will serve to correct the disturbed sleep-wake cycle and reduce anxiety.
Alongside medication, you will have to take care of your dog more than you are used to. You can manage dog dementia through the following simple ways;
A routine is a great idea for dogs with dementia. Sticking to a routine is crucial even as you correct all the other symptoms. You should stick to the same wake-up time, feeding time, exercise time, etc.
By so doing, you will be helping the dog through all the confusion that comes with dementia.
Exercise and play
Your dog will experience difficulties trying to keep up with the usual play and exercise. However, this does not mean you should refrain from practice or play. You can do this by reducing the amount of time allocated for activities. You should ensure that the exercises are short and simple for him.
Avoid reorganizing the house.
Once a dog is diagnosed with dementia, he will forget things. Some dogs forget how to get around the house, while others forget how to socialize. If your dog appears disoriented, it is better not to change anything around the house.
For instance, your dog will not be able to adapt to the changes and may keep wandering, looking for places. This may cause aggression whenever he does not find what he is looking for, for example, his bet or bowl.
Spend time with them
Dogs with dementia are prone to unhealthy attachments to their owners. Failure to be with their owner may cause anxiety and stress in your dog. The conditions may lead to even more severe behavioral problems.
It is recommended that dog owners should spend as much time as possible with the dog. This will reduce anxiety, especially separation anxiety.
Owning an old and sick dog is not easy; it is more like taking care of an elderly who keeps forgetting things. However, we should remember that dogs get bored quickly, which is adverse in old age.
Music can help your dog relax during anxious times and entertain you all day long. You may leave the TV on a music channel whenever you are away from home.
Age comes with a lot of complications in dogs, which may lead to the development of chronic diseases. Senior dogs seem to have their health deteriorating day after day. Some of the illnesses that you may notice in your old dog include;
Aged dogs may develop joint pains as they progress. This is caused by a lack of lubricants in the joints. This, in turn, leads to the wearing away of the cartilage in the hip, shoulder, and leg joints.
Joint problems are associated with arthritis which is caused by inflammation of joints. Arthritis is characterized by symptoms like difficulty walking, pain, aggression, and avoidance of exercise. Your dog may also lick and chew the inflamed joints to itch.
Even though there is no cure for arthritis, your vet can recommend the best treatment to manage the condition.
This is a common health condition in senior dogs. As dog’s age, they will likely tire quickly and avoid intense physical activities. We tend to forget these facts and therefore continue feeding our dogs the same foods.
Regular visits to a vet may help prevent obesity as your vet will guide you on the correct diet for your dog. This will be based on the breed of your dog and energy levels.
As your dog ages, some of its organs start failing to function. These organs include the heart, an essential organ in any living organism’s body. Obesity is the leading cause of congestive heart failure.
Senior dogs may get congestive heart failure, which causes fluid to accumulate in the lungs and heart. Your dog may suffer difficulty in breathing and coughing. If left untreated, heart disease could cause death.
Dog Dementia Aggression. Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic illness characterized by poor insulin production by the pancreas. This means that your dog may have problems absorbing glucose into the body.
Unfortunately, diabetes can be hereditary, so you should always know your dog’s health history. You should also visit vet care for a checkup to protect and manage your dog’s health.
Some symptoms of diabetes in senior dogs may include frequent need to drink water, increased urination, blurred vision, and a loss of weight.
Loss of vision and sometimes hearing may be related to diabetes, but it is a normal aging process for your dog. You may notice cataracts,
Once again, age may come with a lot of complications. Senior dogs may have kidney illnesses, which are caused by old age. The kidneys may lose their functions, but this condition is also manageable. Managing the condition properly will improve your dog’s quality of life and prolong his life.
This still stands as the leading cause of death in senior dogs. This is because aged dogs are prone to cancer, which may be difficult to detect in the initial stages.
However, you may want to check for body lumps in your dog’s body. You may as well monitor any physical changes in your dog. Consistent coughing and bleeding from the mouth may also characterize cancer. Your vet will be able to give a conclusive diagnosis as well as ways to manage the condition.
Ways to care for an aging dog
Aged dogs are like old humans; they need tender and constant care. When our dogs get sick, we must take them to vet care. However, when they are older, it is different. You must ensure that he is as healthy as possible as he ages gracefully. Below are some of the tips that you may use to care for your dog;
a) Appropriate diet
This is the essential thing when it comes to your dog’s health. The fact is, how you have been feeding your dog all his life is going to affect his old age. This is why we always insist on providing healthy foods to our dogs.
An inappropriate diet may bring about obesity in senior dogs. Obesity will decrease your dog’s lifespan. People taking care of older dogs should always make sure that the dog’s diet is balanced. This will prevent the risks of other severe conditions such as diabetes and arthritis.
b) Make them comfortable
As mentioned above, dogs need more care than usual as they grow older. You will need to make your dog as comfortable as you can. This means that you should clean his bed often and make sure to pick up waste in the case of an accident.
Aged dogs may have dementia which may lead to house soiling resulting from senility if it is essential to note that you cannot punish your senior dog whatsoever.
If your dog suffers from inflamed joints, your vet may recommend painkillers to help him relax. You may also consider changing your dog’s bed to a more comfortable one.
c) Regular health checkups
Regular check-up for dogs is essential regardless of age. However, it is crucial to have your senior dog monitored closely. This is helpful as you can catch any health complications early. This way, you will be able to treat or manage the difficulties.
Early detection of terminal diseases will help the owner determine whether to treat or proceed with end-of-life care. For instance, if a dog is diagnosed with a terminal illness like cancer, the owner might want to spend the last days with his dog.
Other people may consider going through treatment only to prolong the dog’s lifespan by a few months before he succumbs. This is an important decision, especially for dogs of 8-13 years.
d) Maintain oral hygiene
Your dog’s hygiene is essential, especially in senior canines. This is because dogs could get infections from sores in their mouth. Always brush his teeth unless he is showing irritability and aggressiveness. In this case, you can contact him with toys to help clean his teeth.
e) Prevent and treat parasitic diseases
It is essential to vaccinate your aging dog against parasites and parasitic diseases. Your vet can advise on how often vaccination will be administered, along with a prescription.
Parasites can cause fatal consequences to your dog’s body. In severe conditions, they may cause death. This is because they will feed on your dog’s body, taking away all the necessary nutrients from him. This will lead to reduced growth and other nutritional deficiencies.
f) Let him be
I know we have discussed the importance of exercising our dogs. However, aging dogs cannot be exercised in the same way as younger dogs. Senior dogs are usually tired, with no interest in doing anything. However, you should keep him healthy and exercising to avoid behavioral vices.
If your dog shows signs of aggression or irritability while playing or exercising, playing or exercising, you should let him be. Sometimes aging dogs want to be left alone to rest.
All in all, dogs that have lived their entire lifespan may develop dog dementia aggression at some point. And since we cannot reverse the aging process, we do our best to ensure they enjoy their last days. We want to make them happy before they leave us.
It is sad to lose a beloved dog, a companion you have had for years. However, you may notice your dog having difficulty performing the usual tasks during this time. You should make it as easy as you can for him to get around places in the house.
You should also refrain from punishing your senior dog. He probably forgot what he did anyway. You should keep reminding him of some training, such as potty and greetings.
Aging dogs may experience complications, but most of them are manageable. You should have your vet examine your dog to detect any underlying illnesses.
Keeping a senior dog comfortable is also important. Avoid changing your house arrangement. More importantly, stick to a schedule. It is essential to give your dog a happy ending!