Urgent answers for old dog

gardeningannieMarch 26, 2013

My elderly parents have a sweet 11 year old mutt whose behaviour has suddenly become very strange. She has always been a quiet, obedient farm dog and loved by all for her sweet disposition. She has never been one for crowds or loud noises, but would quietly slip under the bed if she felt overwhelmed ~ not the kind to make a scene, whine or cry for attention.

Suddenly several weeks ago, she got up one night and turned over a trash can and pushed a desk chair across the room. The next night, she did much more 'rearranging' in the bedroom to the point that my folks started putting her out in the sunroom at night. Last night, she managed to turn over a 4 gallon bucket full of water, a large potted plant and push various pieces of furniture around the room. This has been going on for weeks now and every night she seems to find more ways to move things around. She is only 35 pounds and it would take great effort to move some of the things she has, but it's happened just the same.

Up until now, this behaviour was only nocturnal, now she does it when ever she is left alone ~ something she used to love. She has been to the vet and he could find nothing wrong. Has anyone else ever experienced such strange behaviour in an old dog? My parents are reluctant, but feel they may have to have her put down as they are losing hours of sleep every night. It seems that the more they prepare for the night by putting things up, she manages to find more ways to 'rearrange'. Please help ~ no one wants to see this sweet girl put down. Thank you. annie

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annzgw

I would seek out another vet for a second opinion. What tests were run? Did they check her ears, eyes & thyroid?

My senior dog would wander at night, and then during the day, and my vet at the time said it was 'sundowners syndrome' aka dementia.
Hopefully others chime in, but I've heard of medications that can help with the symptoms you're seeing.

Check out the link below and read the responses that follow. Several people talk about meds that have helped their dogs.

A small room such as bathroom worked for my dog at night, and if he was calm enough I would sometimes let him sleep in a crate.

Here is a link that might be useful: CDS

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:46PM
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lily316

They should crate him and keep him safe, and they'd get some sleep too..

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 1:49AM
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jomuir

I wonder if it's a form of dementia? In humans, they call it sundowner, a friend's DH w/Alzheimers becomes very energetic yet goofy after dark most nights. The article I linked to has some good suggestions. Our old dog Callie got very confused in her last few yrs, I used to be very concerned that she'd get lost if she got out. Sometimes she was so loopy I didn't think she always knew us-she looked at us like 'these are nice people, they keep feeding me & giving me treats.'

I agree w/Lily, crating her may be the best if she'll tolerate it. I hope they can find some peace for themselves & their dog, it must be very difficult for them to see this happening so suddenly.

Here is a link that might be useful: dementia in dogs article

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:20AM
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sylviatexas1

I lost my old girl in November;
it turned out that her "destructiveness" wasn't deliberate;
she was having small strokes & stumbling into things.

I wish all of you the best.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 4:07PM
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robertz6

You might try putting a unwashed T-shirt of her favorite human under or by her bed. My dog had to be put down last year. His hearing and sight declined. He had three different bed in various locations. All had been in use for a number of years, so I imagine his scent and mine was on all of them. He had free run of the house, which he lived in for his last eight years, and never seemed to get confused or anxious. He did show signs of being startled when I had to step over him. The hearing loss was the most noticeable change.

During last year and a half, his reaction to being petted by strangers changed. One had to go down to his head level, then extend a hand out to him. He did not like to be petted on the head or back any longer, and would bark once or twice to indicate that. Before the age change he was a great dog to pet. Never objected to four strangers petting him at the same time.

Perhaps something was moved in your dog's usual area, and she got upset. If you moved her from that area, she may have gotten more upset , as the hearing and sight continued to decline.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 4:22PM
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gardeningannie

Just wanted to thank you all for your suggestions and to let you know what has happened with Sissy. Labs tests turned up nothing out of the ordinary, crating was out of the question as she has always slept under the bed, but I mentioned the t-shirt idea to my mother and she took it a step further. She purchased something called a 'calming collar' from the locally owned pet care store and within 5 minutes of wearing it, Sissy became significantly less anxious and confused and slept the rest of the day. That night she was up some but not distructive or disoriented. The next day the folks had company and rather than heading under the bed, Sissy stayed out to meet and greet ~ something she's usually a bit unsettled doing. Last night was the 3rd night and Dad has stopped the night time tranquilizer (wasn't doing anything but making her incontinent anyway) and she slept through the night ! My understanding of these collars is that they release a pheromone that replicates that of a mother dog and works to calm and settle any dog by way of old rememberances, I guess. Either way, it has saved the day and I hope it will help others with dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, nervousness, thunder and fireworks, etc. Can't wait to try it on my own beautiful and obedient Belgium Malanois who becomes a 4th of July nightmare every year. Pass the word and thanks again. annie

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 3:22PM
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annzgw

Thanks for the update and the info! So glad to hear things are working out well for everyone.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 5:09PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Thank you for the info about the 'calming collar' GardeningAnnie! This is good to know. I'm glad that you found a solution for your old doggie.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 3:31PM
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socks

Calming collar, that's very interesting to know about. I checked them on Amazon, and they are not expensive. Your parents must be so relieved now that the dog is doing better.
Gardenweb is so helpful.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 6:43PM
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gardeningannie

Yes, this is all quite a relief and after everything else they had checked or tried, the answer was so simple . . . love that it all goes back to nature.

And yes, socks12345, I couldn't agree more. Gardenweb is my go-to for so many solutions from dogs to dogwoods and cold frames to hot flashes ~ don't know what I'd do without the shared experiences of my Gardenweb family !

Thanks again to all ~ gardening annie

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 8:08PM
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