As pets become older, they can suffer from impaired mental function, just like elderly people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many of the signs associated with cognitive dysfunction in pets are chalked up to old age. However, with careful monitoring and proper intervention, you can keep your senior pet’s mind sharp well into their golden years. Commonly referred to as DISHAA, this acronym of cognitive dysfunction signs will help you spot changes in your pet sooner, allowing for more effective treatment:


  • Disorientation — Your pet may get stuck behind furniture or doors, have difficulty getting around objects, fail to recognize familiar people or pets, or get lost in your home or yard. 
  • Interaction — Your pet may display a decreased interest in socializing and interacting with your family, and become irritable or aggressive with visitors, other animals, or familiar family members. 
  • Sleep-wake cycles — One of the most common complaints of cognitive dysfunction is an off-balance sleep-wake cycle. These pets are typically restless, will pace or continually wake up, and may excessively vocalize throughout the night.
  • House-soiling, learning, and memory — Your pet may be less likely to respond to previously learned commands or their name, and suffer from decreased focus and increased distraction. You may also notice inappropriate elimination issues if your pet forgets their previous house-training. 
  • Activity — One change in pets that is commonly confused as an old-age problem is a decreased desire to play or exercise. Pets may also display repetitive behaviors, such as circling, chewing, licking, or pacing.
  • Anxiety — Pets with cognitive dysfunction may exhibit increased anxiety when separated from their owners, and be more fearful of visual or auditory stimuli. 



Has your pet forgotten that nighttime is for sleeping, and not wandering throughout the house? If so, contact us to schedule a behavioral assessment, to see if your companion has developed cognitive dysfunction.