Would a person with Alzheimer's Disease ever hurt their own pet?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 19, 2016
Reenie317 asked...

My client has a pet dog and I know she loves that dog but lately, it seems she gets agitated with the dog. I am afraid she might hurt him.

Expert Answers

Jytte Lokvig, PhD, coaches families and professional caregivers and designs life-enrichment programs and activities for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Her workshops and seminars help caregivers and families create a healthy environment based on dignity and humor. She is the author of Alzheimer's A to Z: A Quick-Reference Guide.

I think your worries are warranted. It sounds as though your client is no longer able to care for her dog. On behalf of the dog, my concerns are twofold: your client may no longer be aware of its needs, i.e. when it needs to go out or what, when and how much to feed it. Many poor pooches suffer at the hands of loving owners, who give them human treats, not realizing how harmful these foods are to dogs, i.e. cookies or even chocolates (pure poison to dogs and cats,) She also may not be aware that kicking or striking her dog is not only is it animal cruelty, but puts her at risk. Even the most devoted dog can turn on its owner in self-defense. Hopefully your client has a friend or family member who's willing to foster the dog and bring it by for visits. Pets can be wonderful companions for someone with cognitive problems, but since dementia influences a person's reasoning and empathy, someone needs to monitor the relationship.

Community Answers

Cbs answered...

Just as Jytte Lokvig said, even though your client loves her dog, she is no longer able to make good decisions about the care and handling of the dog. For both the dog's safety and the client's, the dog needs to be rehomed - hopefully to someone who will bring the dog for visits. Many, but not all, Alzheimer's patients become dangerous not only to the household animals, but also to their caregivers. My Dad would not have ever raised his hand to anyone when he was in his right mind, however he became a different person once Alzheimer's claimed him. My Mom hid the knifes, we removed his hunting rifles from the house, and other dangerous objects (scissors, etc) were hiddened or removed. Thank you for looking out for both your client and her pet.

Reenie317 answered...

Thank you for your responses. This lady is married but she is alone during the day with this dog. I will certainly let her husband know of my concern for the dog.