Cooper has been busy the last few weeks. He has been going to school, learning new things and has also been looking into the special care of Seniors. Cooper LOVES his Mama Tina and nothing is too good for her!
Cooper talked with LeighAnn, a Licensed Veterinary Technician and Dr. Jones Shults on the care of Seniors.
by LeighAnn J. & Jennifer Jones Shults
Care of Senior Dogs
As our dogs age, they are more likely to have aches and pains. But they can stay healthy and active well into their later years with a little planning and preventative care. We can also provide excellent care to senior dogs that have already developed joint problems or painful areas. In addition, German Shepherds are one of the breeds that are at increased risk for developing problems that can affect the nervous system, like disk disease, lumbosacral disease, and degenerative myelopathy.
As a rehabilitation trained veterinarian, I always start with a nose to tail thorough examination. This includes a general exam, gait evaluation, exam of all the muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones, and a neurologic exam. German Shepherds are at risk for wrist arthritis as they age, injuries to the support structure on the back of the wrist, developmental problems in the elbow that can lead to arthritis as they age, spinal arthritis, hip dysplasia leading to hip arthritis, injury to the knees, lumbosacral disease, and degenerative myelopathy. Any dog can have any combination of these, and an accurate diagnosis is essential to an effective treatment plan.
We utilize a combination of treatments in each dog to obtain the best results. Options vary based on the diagnosis and the dog, but may include:
Supplements to keep joints lubricated and reduce inflammation
Exercise at home to keep muscles strong; often a targeted home exercise program is needed
Low-level LASER therapy to reduce pain & inflammation and stimulate healing
Electrical stimulation of weak muscles or painful areas
Cold & heat therapy
Soft Tissue mobilizations to loosen stiff joints or muscles
In-House gym sessions to focus on specific problems
Hydrotherapy like swimming or underwater treadmill
Proprioceptive training for dogs with neurologic dysfunction
Support devices like Help ‘Em Up harness or ToeGrips
Pain medications – many options
Ultimately, our German Shepherds can live well into their senior years with great quality of life. My own German Shepherd lived to be nearly 14 years. Focusing on keeping active leads to an overall better quality of life, with more adventures with your canine friend.
Jennifer Jones Shults, DVM, CCRT
If you have questions about the care of a Senior, LeighAnn will be at our Adoption Event: