MURPHY’S JOURNEY THROUGH SENIOR DOG DEMENTIA
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Here’s how it all started
One day he was fine and the next day he wasn’t. That’s how fast it happened. One day he’s my adorable, energetic 15 year old boy, always happy, always ready for a treat, always licking the bowl clean, and the next day, like a light switch, he stopped eating everything, even his favorite treats. That was August 13, 2018.
What’s wrong with Murphy?
At first I thought it might be too warm in our apartment for my senior pup, even though the A/C was on 24/7. Murphy seemed restless and had been panting at night for the past few days so that night I put a second A/C in the bedroom. The panting and restlessness stopped but Murphy still didn’t eat.
It was hot in August and Murphy was acting fine in every other way. Not every dog eats every meal, right? I got this, right? I bought a few different varieties of food and he ate a bit but not much. I decided to wait a few more days before making an appointment to see the vet.
The odd behavior started on day two
- Murphy approached his food bowl and pushed it around with his nose like he was burying a bone in the dirt. He pushed it left, right, front, back, occasionally sticking his tongue into the food, then right back out and back to pushing. He didn’t eat. He did this repeatedly for 3 or 4 minutes, appearing to be in a ‘zone,’ and then walked out of the room.
I had no idea what was happening to him, but I knew one thing for sure – Murphy had to eat. He couldn’t fight this thing if he wasn’t eating. I knew how to syringe-feed a dog, bought some syringes and syringe-fed Murphy that second night.
More odd behavior beginning day three
- Murphy walked to a corner of the living room and stood there like a statue staring at the wall. He did this repeatedly every day and night.
- He became incontinent, urinating wherever he was standing without knowing he was doing it, even though his pee box was in the bedroom where it always was.
- He forgot how to walk up the stairs to our apartment, something he’s been doing since he was 6 months old.
- He would stand in the middle of a room like a statue, not moving or acknowledging anything or anyone around him.
- He stopped coming to the door when I came home.
- And the behavior that brought me to tears was when he started looking at me with blank eyes like I was a stranger.
I continued to syringe-feed Murphy twice a day. Between the feedings I encouraged him to eat on his own, but aside from a few treats and bites of food here and there syringe-feeding was his main source of nutrition.
Research into Murphy’s symptoms led to a possible diagnosis of Canine Dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) and Doggy Alzheimer’s Disease
I joined a Facebook group for dog owners who have dogs with dementia, and learned about the disease, and about several holistic supplements that were helping other senior dogs who were exhibiting similar behavior.
The more I learned about Canine Dementia the more convinced I was that this is what Murphy was fighting. I’m a strong believer in a holistic approach to healthcare and ordered some holistic supplements that I felt might help Murphy and added them to the food I was syringe-feeding him.
I continued syringe-feeding Murphy his food/supplement mix every morning and every night, and about four months into this routine he slowly began to improve. During this process I experimented with a variety of holistic supplements — some worked, some didn’t.
Eventually Murphy started eating on his own, and his symptoms slowly reversed a little more each day, until no more incontinence, no more staring at the wall or stopping in the middle of the room, and suddenly the steps were OK again and best of all – mom I’m so glad you’re home! Can I have a treat?
If your dog has canine dementia this information may be helpful
On May 15, 2021, 6 days after his 18th birthday, Murphy crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
I credit the holistic supplements he was taking for giving me almost 3 extra years with my little warrior.