Pet forum for dogs cats and humans -

Pet forum for dogs cats and humans - (
-   Dog health - Ask members * If your pet is vomiting-bleeding-diarrhea etc. Vet time! (
-   -   Is this dog arthritis? (

Thumpy July 7th, 2009 10:10 AM

Is this dog arthritis?
Hello everybody.

I have a female German-Shepherd, she is turning 11 on December the 25th. I'm not sure if she is suffering from osteoarthritis. She hasn't shown all the symptoms listed but I just need to hear some of your ideas. Here are her symptoms:

- She is unable to jump into the car without assistance (Last time she was able to get in was fairly recent, around June the 5th of this year. Even then she had some difficult getting inside, but no assistance was required.) We had not walked her very much that week and a possibility is that she just needs to walk a lot more to get some strength back. There had been some improvements after a good amount of walking.
- Her nails on her back feet have nearly worn off and she bleeds from where her nails are (after walking on pavement). When she walks, she doesn't lift up the back feet very high, and that causes her drag her nails against the pavement.
- Maybe a loss of appetite? She doesn't tend to eat as much as she did, but when we mix meat with her dry food, she eats it.
- She loves to walk, but she gets tired (this is very obvious on a hotter day). On a cloudy day when it's cool, she is able to walk for up to an hour. When she walks though, after about half an hour, she will walk beside us rather than go ahead of us. Sometimes, she will easily trip and fall on her front, sometimes she will just fall on her bottom. I have seen her sprint sometimes, when there is a squirrel or when she's really excited to walk.
- When we got her at the age of six, she had developed several bumps which the vet removed surgically. The most recent bump removed this spring, which was hanging from her belly, meaning it was hanging by the skin on her belly rather than being attached solid.
- At her most recent check up in early spring (before the surgery), the vet had said her bones look good, and she had behaved as such. But like many old dogs she had some kidney problem.
- She is not overweight (this is a good thing).
- She had developed another bump very recently, on her back next to her right hip, this one is still very small, about the diameter of a fingernail.

I don't think this is CDRM, it doesn't look that severe, since her back hips don't appear have much trouble staying up.

I would love to hear some of your thoughts on how to manage her problem (whatever it is). We are giving her one capsule of glucosamine daily, but that doesn't seem to be helping very much.

Thank you

Dog Dancer July 7th, 2009 10:18 AM

Sorry I don't have any advice for you, but I hope your girl makes out well. She sounds like she's getting old for sure. Mine trips on her feet once in a while, but just sorta stumbles, like I do... I wouldn't be taking her on overly long walks in case she tires out, I'd do more short walks. Good luck to you. I'm sure someone will be along shortly with more insight for you.

hazelrunpack July 7th, 2009 10:28 AM

Likely, what you're seeing is age-related the age of 12 there is bound to be some arthritis. Changes can occur in the joints or along the spine, and they can certainly cause the symptoms you're describing. And at the age of 12, a dog will definitely have less energy. :dog:

Continue to keep her weight in check, and take her on more frequent shorter walks instead of long trecks. Once capsule of glucosamine daily might not be enough--our 60-pound dogs are on two capsules as a maintenance dose, and some dogs require more.

If she'll tolerate them, booties to protect her hind feet might be a good idea.

Have you had any geriatric blood panels done recently? It'll tell you a lot about her general health. Also, if there are ticks in your area, screening for tick-borne disease might be a good idea--our dogs often get stiff in the joints when they're fighting anaplasmosis or Lyme's.

Good luck with your girl. She sounds like a lucky girl--well-loved and well-cared for!

Thumpy July 7th, 2009 11:15 AM

I thank both of you for your thoughts. We will have her checked for sure. She seems to be doing quite well. I'm not too familiar with medical terms (when you speak of geriatric blood panels), are these regular blood tests? She had a blood test in the spring, the one that found a slight kidney problem, that's the only negative the vet mentioned.

Again I thank both of you for the help, and if anyone has any other thoughts or advice, I would love to hear some more thoughts.

kandy July 7th, 2009 11:40 AM

From what you are describing, I would agree that it's likely arthritis. Everything from her decreased appetite to the stumbling after she gets tired. The discomfort will cause a decrease in her appetite. I agree that shorter, more frequent walks build muscle better than longer, less frequent walks - and keeping the muscles strong helps to stabilize and cushion the joints. I would caution against allowing her to jump in and out of vehicles - that jars the joints, and for an elderly dog, the impact is too much.

Depending on the brand of glucosamine you are buying - you may not be getting what you are paying for. Supplements are not regulated like drugs, and many brands of supplements do not contain what they claim when tested by independent labs. And like Hazel said, it could be that you aren't giving the proper dosage. You could also talk to your vet about using an NSAID like Deramaxx for the days when she is bad or if she's been overly active and you know she'll be in pain.

Her scraping her back feet could be due to a loss of range of motion, which is common with arthritis. Or perhaps the walks are too long for her and once she gets tired she doesn't lift her feet well enough? Shorter walks would help with this too. We had gsd's when I was growing up, and once they got to be about 12 or so, they definitely slowed down quite a bit, although they could show the bursts of energy when the mood hit them.

For managing her condition, I would suggest continuing the g/c supplement (either changing brands or increasing the dosage as appropriate), keep her weight on the lean side, don't let her jump into or out of vehicles - or on and off furniture, take more frequent, shorter walks to build her muscle tone without undue stress (swimming is also an excellent exercise and has zero impact on the joints), talk to your vet about the use of a painkiller for when she needs it, and lastly - look into buying her a good orthopedic bed. Allowing her to lay on hard floors is only going to increase her stiffness.

hazelrunpack July 7th, 2009 08:07 PM

The geriatric blood panel just tests for more things, Thumpy. It checks organ function more thoroughly and usually things like thyroid levels. As our dogs are getting older, we've started doing the geriatric panels on some of them yearly, just to keep ahead of the inevitable health issues.... They are, of course, more expensive than just a CBC.

shabess July 7th, 2009 10:48 PM

I can relate to this as I've had so many dogs with the same problem. No doubt you're describing the early signs of arthritis and there are a few things you can do. Entrophen, or Entrophen+ works well after a walk, I use it all the time. The idea of small booties for the back legs is a good one, that works as well especially on rough ground. Laying on a solid floor or concrete makes it worse, have somewhere soft to lay on. I use a wool blanket doubled over not too far away from a heat source. A massage now and then works wonders and so does swimming, best exercise you can give. Treated with care you can at least ease the discomfort and slow it down.

TeriM July 7th, 2009 11:34 PM

I agree that it sounds like arthritis to me although a geriatric panel is a good idea especially to monitor the changes in kidney levels.

Look for a good quality glucosamine/msm supplement. A lot of members have had great success with this product [url][/url]. You use a double dose for a few weeks to begin and then go to a maintenance dose. You can order online or find it at most smaller dog food stores that carry the high end products. You can also ask your vet about cartrophen injections which I give my old girl and they help reduce arthritis inflamation.

Lastly, can I ask what you are feeding? A switch to a high protein, low carb diet is often very good for seniors. Supplements like salmon oil are also very helpful.

Thumpy July 8th, 2009 01:26 AM

[QUOTE=TeriM;798291]Lastly, can I ask what you are feeding? A switch to a high protein, low carb diet is often very good for seniors. Supplements like salmon oil are also very helpful.[/QUOTE]

Actually, I have been doing quite the opposite after we were told she had a kidney problem. Our vet suggested that we feed her limited amounts of protein.
If something is wrong then please tell me, we began to feed her the vegetarian meals (dry corn), mixed with beef stew. I'm guessing I should stop feeding her beef? Would switching to chicken help? And if possible, are there any specific brands you would recommend? Thank you.

And thank you to everybody else who replied, I will do what I can for her. Luckily, I live right next to the lake so she gets to swim every now and then.

TeriM July 8th, 2009 01:45 AM

Actually the corn is probably much more problematic then the beef is. Corn is very difficult for dogs to digest and will likely just add to her dehydration. Updated thinking on kidney problems is to limit the carbohydrates. If you are making your own food then perhaps consider using sweet potato and pureed veggies instead. In earlier stage kidney problems like yours it is much more important to have a good quality protein source then to limit the protein. Here is a good site for you to check out:


and here is an excellent thread on kidney disease. It it actually for a cat but much of the advice and theory would also apply to dogs.

Thumpy July 8th, 2009 01:50 AM

[QUOTE=TeriM;798367]Actually the corn is probably much more problematic then the beef is. Corn is very difficult for dogs to digest and will likely just add to her dehydration.[/QUOTE]

Ouch, my bad. It's just that in my native language, corn is the same as the dry food that you feed them that come in a large bag. Just the typical dry food is what I'm feeding her. Thanks again.

mastifflover July 8th, 2009 07:40 AM

A high quality food is a good suggestion and I have found shark cartillage is also a great supplement along with the glucosamine. I agree a larger dosage for your dog would help. Also if you have a piece of solid foam not to soft to sleep on this will help too

kandy July 8th, 2009 11:31 AM

Most lower quality dry dog food uses corn as their main ingredient, so it doesn't surprise me that in your language corn and dry dog food are the same thing. A senior dog who gets too much carbohydrates (grains) will start to gain weight as their activity levels drop, and for a dog with arthritis, this will only aggravate the condition.

Thumpy July 25th, 2009 09:15 PM

Bad news. I took the dog to the vet, and it's not arthritis according to her. The moment she saw my dog walk, she said it was 99.9% degenerative disc disease. Anyone have ideas and how to deal with this? And also, apparently exercise is bad for the dog? Is that right? I would guessing the opposite, that she would need more exercise. Please let me know.

hazelrunpack July 25th, 2009 11:48 PM

I've never had to deal with degenerative disc disease, Thumpy, though I know there are some members who have. You might want to start a new thread with 'degenerative disc disease' in the title to get their attention faster!

:goodvibes: for your sweetie!!! :grouphug:

rainbow July 26th, 2009 01:47 AM

I do not have any experience with degenerative disc disease either but here's some info .....


I agree with the advice the other posters have given you. As far as the glucosamine supplements I would get a reputable brand that also includes chondroitin and msm. I have a 95 lb yellow lab that gets 2 capsules twice a day with both his morning and evening meals.

Salmon oil is another good supplement to add. If the brand doesn't include vitamin e in it them you need to supplement that a few times a week as well.

The link TeriM gave you ( [url][/url] ) has excellent information. I would definitely switch your dog to a grain free kibble and recommend Orijen ( [url][/url] ) or Acana Provincial ( [url][/url] ).

Good luck and please keep us posted. :fingerscr :goodvibes:

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:33 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.