Ask Dr Fiona

My 17 year old dog has suddenly started to cry and yelp through the night, but he is fine during the day. Even when I leave the lights on it doesn’t help, what can I do? 

It sounds like your dog may be suffering from doggy dementia. Also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, doggy dementia has been recognised for some time and has many similarities to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

Some of this signs of the disease can be subtle but you should watch out for:

  • Barking or yelping for no reason
  • A disturbance in sleep patterns, pacing at night, unable to settle
  • Staring at walls, getting stuck in corners
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Decreased levels of interaction with family members or other pets
  • Forgetting toilet training

There are many other diseases that can lead to the signs of dementia so diagnosis involves assessment of your pet and is a process of elimination. Causes of pain such as osteoarthritis also need to be ruled out. Because of this, a check up with your regular veterinarian would be a good idea.

Your dog may require medication to help reduce any anxiety he may be experiencing.

If you’d like to chat in person, you can get a vet within minutes on a live video call or start a text chat to discuss in more detail.

We’re here to help!

Chat soon,
Dr Fi