Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CDS) is the age-related deterioration of cognitive abilities (normal body functioning that is conditioned or remembered) characterized by behavioral changes in dogs that cannot be attributed to general medical conditions such as brain tumors, infection, or organ failure. Recent studies show 48% of dogs 8 years of age and older exhibit at least one clinical sign of this condition.

CDS is not “normal aging.” It is related to several pathological changes that may occur in the brain. The progressive, degenerative course of CDS involves a gradual decline of functions that are normally “remembered” sufficient to produce functional disability in the home and/or as a family member.

Recognition of the clinical signs by the owner is usually the first step in diagnosis. Next, the veterinarian must do a comprehensive physical exam and the appropriate laboratory testing to identify medical conditions that may be contributing to the clinical signs.


Wanders aimlessly
Gets “stuck” in corners or behind furniture
Stares into space or at walls
Has difficulty finding the door
Does not recognize familiar people
Does not respond to verbal cues or name
Appears to forget reason for going outdoors

Abnormal Sleep/Wake Patterns:
Sleeps more in a 24-hour day
Sleeps less during the night
Decrease in activity
Increase in wandering or pacing

Loss Of Housetraining:
Urinates/defecates indoors
Signals less to go outside

Decreased or Altered Response To Family Members:
Solicits less attention
No longer stands for petting (walks away)
Less enthusiastic greeting
No longer greets owners