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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 20626
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My dog Bertie was a rescue dog and has had numerous problems

Customer Question

My dog Bertie was a rescue dog and has had numerous problems since we rehoused him 12 years ago. He has skin allergies and is now on steroids. Our problem now is that he will not settle at all.he wanders around the house, even at night. He pees everywhere, Even on beds and is giving us real problems. My husband and I have family worries and do not sleep well at the best of times and now the dog is waking us constantly by not sleeping. He seems to be disorientated, his hearing is not good & sometimes stares into space!
I wondered if he may have some form of dementia and whether there is any medication for it. Can I have your advice Please
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Do you think his urinary accidents are related to the wandering/confusion?

Or do you think he is drinking and urinating more then ever before?

When he has house accidents, does he seem aware that he is doing it?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He has had kidney function tests which were ok. He has always had problems at night when he is left but he's fine generally during the day. I think he knows he's weeing but I'm not sure.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Elaine,

If you aren't sure if he is aware that he is passing urine, this would be something to keep an eye on. The reason is because urinary accidents in the house can be related to increased urine production (even if he is clear for kidney troubles, we could still see this if he has Cushing's disease secondary to his long term steroid use, blood pressure issues, liver disease, etc), urinary tract infections, secondary to arthritis (when the dog is too sore to get up before he has to go); but is also commonly seen with dementia in dogs. So, knowing if he was aware that he was (perhaps appeared like he knew he did wrong at the time) can give us clues to whether this is related to his health or a sign of brain deterioration.

That aside, considering the wandering, loss of house training, and his other behaviors, I have to say that Bertie's signs do sound suspicious of our age related issues like dementia. So, if all his organ functions are fine, his blood pressure is normal, and the urine has no abnormalities, then we do have to consider this for him. And in this situation, as long as all is well otherwise, there are some things we can do to try and help him cope with these old age changes. First, if he is struggling to settle at night and we perhaps have some sight deterioration, consider putting night lights around the house (especially by the food dish and his bed) to facilitate his getting around on his own. As well, if he is agitated being on his own, it can help to put the radio or TV on low to give him some company.

Further to this, I do find that use of anti-anxiety/stress supports can help allay night agitation and wandering in dogs. To give them the feeling of a peaceful safe environment, you might want to consider using Adaptil (http://www.adaptil.com/). Also known as Comfort Zone in the pet stores, it is a synthetic dog pheromone that helps to soothe anxiety and help him settle. This can be used as a spray (that can be used on furniture or his dog bed) or a plug-in diffuser (that can be used in the room he is in most often). This may just be enough to soothe him and help him settle overnight. There are also a diet and treat preparations on the market like Calm by Royal Canin. or Composure. As well, there are supplements available over the counter from the vets, like Kalmaid (LINK), or Anxitane (LINK), that we often use to soothe anxious dogs. As well, there is even a Bach Flower Remedy (LINK) for dogs (though not as well tolerated as the other agents and isn’t as pet specific as the other de-stress therapies). And since these are not drugs per say, they can be used in any combination we may wish.

Further to these, we can find the use of dietary antioxidants like vitamins E and C, selenium, omega-3 + 6 fish oils and/or carnitine can help support cognitive functions for dogs (just as they do in people). These can be given via a dog specific multi-vitamin or there are products that do include these especially for this condition like Aktivait (More Info). So, these too would be options.

So the above would be our first point of call for the signs he is showing. Further to that, we couldconsider medication options. In this case, there are some specific drugs licensed for treating cognitive dysfunction in dogs. These drugs tend to focus on promoting more efficient neurochemical signalling (e.g., selegiline, an MAO-B inhibitor), improvingblood flow (e.g., nicergoline and propentofylline) or some combination of these. So, these too could be considered if he didn't respond to the more gentle supports.

Overall, in Bertie's situation, we do need to tease out the nature of his loss of house training to make sure there is nothing health related afoot. Otherwise, his signs are highly suggestive of dementia. Therefore, at this stage, we'd want to consider the above to support his brain function, reduce his stress, and help him to settle at night.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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