Night Terrors in Dogs

Daily Prompt Study Abroad If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?

As I have said to the innumerable young people in my life, “Why are you talking to me? Just GO!!!” One of my students got that tattooed on his arm. As for where I’d go? Anywhere in Europe or the middle east, thanks. Vietnam would be fun.

My old dog has night terrors. I figured that out yesterday. After I got that idea, I did some research to find out if this really happens to dogs, and it is a common symptom of canine senile dementia.

I haven’t had a whole night’s sleep in a month. She wakes up about 1 am or 2 am (and about every hour following) screaming. NOTHING is happening to her. She’s not unable to get up; her leg isn’t stuck under her (very soft and lightweight bed); she doesn’t seem to be in any pain. None of the problems that can happen to her have happened to her. She’s just screaming. I get up, naturally, and check on her, console her. She relaxes and sometimes goes outside to pee, sometimes she goes back to sleep. I go back to bed. An hour or two later, she wakes up again screaming. Everyone in this house is tired — me, Dusty and Mindy. Dusty loves her so much that he’s afraid for her. Last night I got two or three hours of sleep; the best between 6:30 and 8:30 this morning.

She calms down when the sun rises. I sleep an hour or so and get up to a dog who is as happy to know I’m there as ever. Sometimes she’s playing with Mindy or Dusty. She is the same dog, just slower and older and more confused and terrified in the night. In the daytime, the dementia shows itself as pacing back and forth to her water bowl or pacing back and forth in the yard. Physically, that’s probably pretty good for her to go on all these “walks” in harmless places where I can watch her.

We’re going to the vet this afternoon. I’m prepared to do the deed even though, except for the night terrors, Lily is doing pretty well for a dog in her 16th year.

My Aunt Martha suffered human senile dementia. At a certain point when she was — I’d say — about where Lily is right now, she asked me why she was still alive. Would Lily ask me that question if she could?

23 thoughts on “Night Terrors in Dogs

  1. The same as what KL said above. This is so hard, even when everyone knows it is right and humane, it is so hard. It is hard to know how to time it. Just… hard. My thoughts are with all of you.

  2. That is the negative side of having animals I think. When our Nera left us last year we could perhaps be glad that she had no signs of suffering. She just stopped breathing under aneasthetic. We still miss her today especially in Summer when we see the places she liked to sit in the garden. Our felines are now 12 and 13 years old, but are still active, although I know one day it will happen. Our fluffy often “talks” in his sleep and has a howling session in the early morning hours, but he is a tom cat and I think it is in their genes. Good luck with your canines.

    • Thank you. Today will tell. And it is the negative side of having animals; that’s for sure. But the good part is that, for her, if she has to go, she won’t be alone. She’ll be with me the whole way.

      • This sounds terrible, but when I see older humans suffering, I think…gee, they should have the option to be gently “put down”. Why do we treat animals better than people?

      • I wish I knew. I believe the same as you. I can’t think of a better death than in the arms and company of my friends, tranquilized then euthanized. I’ve been with many of my dogs (most of them) in their last moments and I KNOW they knew I was there and I FELT they blessed me in their passing. My poor Aunt Martha should have had that choice, but didn’t. It’s really wrong.

    • Thank you. I am ready. More important, I think Lily’s ready. I’ve had to pick her up and put her on her feet several times today and it occurs to me that those moments when she can’t get up might be exactly what her night terrors are about. Anyway, I will have her cremated (the shelter here has a crematorium and the fees for that go to the shelter) and I’ll take her ashes up to the cabin in South Fork where we stayed for a month before I moved into my house. I’ll spread them on the field where we walked and where, I think she was last really happy.

    • Thank you, Helen. I feel that she did. It was a good ending for us both. And the kindest vet; he and his assistant rearranged the examining room for us so we could be comfortable. ❤

    • Thank you — I appreciate that very much. I don’t know if when my two dogs are gone if I’ll put myself through this any more. I probably will, though, since so many dogs don’t have people. Probably old huskies, honestly. They’re a hard breed for most people to contend with and I love them.

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