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Annie Laurie: Embracing Dementia

Discussion in 'Senior Sheltie Health' started by Chris, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Our precious Annie Laurie (15.5) has advancing canine dementia. I thought I'd share what can happen and how we deal with it. Maybe some of the things we've learned can help some of you.

    1. Increased sleep: Annie sleeps a lot during the day. Old dogs do, so we let her enjoy her naps.

    2. Increased anxiety and pacing: Annie becomes anxious when anything upsets her routine or at her sundowny hour (8:00 pm). We have started giving her Zen Pets to reduce anxiety during the day. At night, she and DH go upstairs where he reads and Annie sleeps until it's last potty call. Routine is important for old dogs. Benadryl is useful in some cases (we use it at night), and there is a prescription med available for canine dementia, but we prefer to avoid the potential side effects.

    3. Getting lost in the house or stuck in corners: Sometimes Annie gets disoriented and winds up between a stereo speaker and a table. Fortunately, she usually barks to let us know "We are not amused." We often put her out in the backyard to potter about, but in cold weather, we have to remember to bring her in after a short while. Usually she barks when she's ready to come back in, but just as often, she just stands there staring. Old dogs must get lost in memories or just in the fog.

    4. Waking in the middle of the night: Every night, Annie wakes us (usually between 1 and 3, but sometimes later) because she has to go out. We take her, of course (cheerfully, because we owe her so much that this is the least we can do). After she comes in, she has to have a long drink from the bathroom dog bowl (no, not the toilet). We've learned that we have to stay awake until she returns to put her up on the bed again. Otherwise she wanders and gets lost and frightened. The whole process takes about 15 minutes, and whoever takes her (DH prefers it be him) usually has no trouble going back to sleep.

    5. Nighttime agitation: Annie has begun having night agitation. She stands up on the bed, panting and trying to pace about. We've started giving her 25mg of Benadryl before we all go to bed, which has stopped this.

    6. Problems eating: Annie has always been a hearty eater (anybody remember the 29 chocolate covered cherry cordials?). Now, however, with her front teeth missing and some issues from what we think was a TIA (transient ischemic attack, sometimes called a mini-stroke), she sometimes has trouble eating. She has a hard time starting (will stand in front of the bowl staring), and once she does, she may stop as soon as her mouth doesn't immediately find food. We've stopped giving her canned food mixed in with her kibble because she can't manage mushy food unless she's hand-fed. We'd like to hold that at bay for as long as we can, so we're just moistening her kibble slightly and placing it in a smaller bowl. That way, she always finds food until it's gone, or nearly so. We've also raised her bowl, which makes it easier to reach.

    7. Accidents: They happen. Annie will usually make it pretty clear that she has to go by getting up and walking. We also know that 20 minutes or so after eating, she has to go poop. If we fail to read the tea leaves correctly or forget Her Majesty's schedule, she cheerfully squats right in front of us and lets loose.

    8. Irritability: Annie was always the Fun Police ("There will be no amusement after 8 pm!"). Now, however, she is even more intolerant, especially since she can't back up. If another Sheltie appears to be in her path, she stands and yells until they move. If I try to brush her or pick her up when she doesn't want to be picked up, she bites. Of course, she has no front teeth, so this is futile, but it relieves her harried little soul. She does allow Loki the Papillion to boof her with his fluffy bum in the evening, a game that seems to delight her for about three minutes.

    9. Exercise: Annie swims weekly with the exception of the coldest weeks. She's really good at it, and it keeps her joints flexible and her hind end working. She likes to potter around the yard, but long walks are out.

    10. Being with Daddy: Annie's sun, moon and stars is my DH. Wherever Daddy is, that's where Annie needs to be. When he's out, she's more agitated. If he's home, she has to find him. Mom is ok in a pinch (like today, when Daddy's is at the doctor), but she's no Daddy.

    I'll add more as we learn more!
  2. Cindy

    Cindy Premium Member

    Thanks for sharing....Annie Laurie's physical health is OK? I had an old dog that had some signs of canine dementia but also balance issues as well. He had seizures, poor guy, and hearing and sight problems. This was many years ago before there were many studies on it and/or medications.
    Chris likes this.
  3. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan

    You are SO KIND to post this! It is so heartwarming that you care for Annie Laurie in her sunset years!
    This advice is priceless! LOVE the format that is easy to read and understand!

    Actually, I could have used this advice for both Mr. Chance and Jasmine!

    Jasmine was deaf and almost blind and would get stuck in places and became scared. As she had accidents if placed in a crate, I ended up getting her an
    IRIS Pet Playpen with Door! This worked perfectly. It was large enough for her to have an accident in one corner but sleep in the others overnight. It gave her enough room to stand and move around a bit and not get trapped somewhere.

    Mr. Chance was losing is hearing but could see relatively well. He did, however, have advancing canine dementia. It was so heartbreaking. He would pace at night and become very disoriented. The vet gave me meds for this condition to calm his anxiety. I never gave the full dose as it made him to groggy and lethargic.

    I would have done anything to keep him going longer but he stopped eating. I tried drugs that the vet gave me to stimulate his appetite. It worked for a little while. I cooked everything under the sun to get him to eat. I could not watch him waste away. He was 14.

    I am so impressed with you and your husband's devotion to Annie Laurie. I have never had any of my six shelties live past 14.
    Clearly, you are doing many things right. Thanks for sharing your insights! Please give Annie Laurie a hug and kiss from me!
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
    Sharon7 likes this.
  4. SheepOfBlue

    SheepOfBlue Premium Member

    Oct 15, 2009
    Dow got a bit addled in the end. He would be walking across the living room and stop like where was I going. Once I said something he would look up and all was good again. He was also a wild man so didn't slow down in attitude though slept a ton like her. I did have to not let him around people though as you had a 30 second pet window before being bit (like Annie his teeth were to dull to cause harm). People would not believe me as he was cute and the tail was wagging so no way he is going to ....CHOMP! LOL. He made it about a year after the decline started.

    Give Annie a pet from us.
  5. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    Western Connecticut
    Chris, thanks so much for posting this...your summary is wonderful. We are approaching this with our Barkley, who is only 11. His littermate, Checkers, is a very young 11; Barkley is not. We think it's because he had Lyme as a 6-month-old puppy that recurred throughout his life. We've found many of the same remedies you use helpful, and you've added some extras. I'm going to keep your list for reference. It's invaluable. Pats to your dear Annie, and hugs to you. :love:
    Chris likes this.
  6. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    She has a mild heart murmur, but otherwise, she's fit.
  7. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Southern California
    Chris, this is such a great and useful description of poor Annie Laurie's sunset years. Our Asta had some of these same symptoms when she apparently had a stroke. It sounds like you are managing it as well as anyone could. It's difficult when the relationship revolves almost solely around caretaking, with only glimpses of the "real" dog still inside. But so worth it.

    Hugs to you and your DH, and gentle pats to Annie Laurie. :hugs
  8. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Thank you all. Just so you know, Annie Laurie would bridle at the descriptor "poor." She thinks she's the prettiest, coolest, bravest, luckiest Sheltie on the planet!!! Nothing poor about this girl!!!
    Hanne, ghggp and Ann like this.
  9. Cindy

    Cindy Premium Member

    I have one of those playpens, bought it when Gavin was recuperating from his surgeries and radiation. It is great! large enough for a dog bed plus room to lay on the floor and with room enough for a cone to turn around. Cheap and portable. Not for young pups who chew, but great for older dogs :)
    ghggp and Chris like this.
  10. sable

    sable Premium Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    Chris thank you for the info. Lil' Lady is the Royal Highness and just turned 12. Its really something how the fur kids have
    their ways as they age. She becomes more demanding and does a Sheltie Dance to get her way. Of course she has me trained.
    Annie could not ask for a better care taker. Through your experiences we can continue to learn.
    One thing Lil' Lady does that is so funny, after her yard walk she comes in and wants to lay down. She comes to me with a
    Sheltie Stare. Well I messed up my blanket on my bed, straighten it up so I can lay down and rest. I straighten it all up and
    she lays down. She is one in a million with her actions. Funny
    ghggp and Chris like this.

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