DOI: 10.1002/vetr.3266 ISSN: 0042-4900

Guardians’ perceptions of caring for a dog with canine cognitive dysfunction

Tracey L. Taylor, Bradley P. Smith, Susan J. Hazel
  • General Veterinary
  • General Medicine



Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is a neurodegenerative disease that is difficult to diagnose, as its clinical signs are similar to those of other age‐related conditions. The experience of caring for a senior dog with or without CCD is not well described.


Data were collected via an online survey. Using a mixed methods design, the level of CCD and burden of care were measured using validated tools, and open‐ended questions gathered qualitative data. A general linear model showed the factors associated with guardian burden of care.


Sixteen percent of guardians experienced a clinically significant burden of care. Factors associated with burden of care included severity of CCD, sleep location, guardian employment, household size, dog age, guardian age and the dog taking medication. Few dogs with CCD were prescribed CCD medications to ameliorate clinical signs. Euthanasia, strong attachment mitigating burden and the complexities of caregiving were themes presented by guardians.


Measures are based on self‐reports and as such the usual limitations apply.


The burden of caring for an older dog is greater if they have CCD. More attention to the treatment of senior dogs, including medications to reduce clinical signs of CCD, could improve the welfare of older dogs and decrease the clinical burden experienced by guardians.

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