Conditioning an older dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Conditioning an older dog

Is there any hope in building back muscle mass in an older dog?

I first noticed my female had lost a lot of muscle mass when she was on the Royal Canin Ultanimo...probably because the protein source is hydrolized feather meal

Now the prednisone has done her in and when I touch her all I feel is bones, I don't feel any of her muscles anymore.


I am doing what I can to introduce quality protein into her diet and I have read some stuff about how much protein seniors need and it is way more than what she has been eating. Having hung out with a lot of male builders in my day I know they are all obsessed with their protein shake concoctions lol. So I am sure this matters.

Are there any videos of exercises that I could do with her to try and help her. She is still very active and loves to be active and I am afraid she is more prone to injury this way? She is not old enough yet to be happy just sleeping.

Prior to this prednisone fiasco i had seen a canine conditioning seminar coming up this summer by Kyra Sundance, think it is with the fitpaws equipment. Wonder if that would be worth going to?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 02:59 PM
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I would go to the seminar if you can. I recently pulled my Fitpaws stuff out of the closet because we had a puppy visiting. Since it was already out, I ran through some random exercises with my older adult and noticed she could really use the repetitions/exercises.

The simple inflatable disc isn't terribly expensive, you can get creative and do a lot with it. Stand-to-Down, Down with front paws on the disc and hold (sort of like a yoga plank for humans), etc. If you can get into a class where you can try all of the different equipment, I'm sure it will be worthwhile.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 03:16 PM
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I've had to do this a couple of times, over the years. Hill work was the easiest way for me to get some condition on. Don't know where you are, but if you can find some gentle slopes (no more than, say, 1/4 mile, at first) with a mild grade, try slowly walking up and down the slope, a few times a week. Do that for a couple of weeks. Assuming that s/he's bearing up well, try to find a longer slope or a slightly stiffer slope (sharper grade) and do the same thing. Over time, you can increase the frequency of hill work (more times a week, say) or go up/down the same slope multiple times, or ramp up to trotting the hills, etc.

Also, swimming is a nonstressful way to put condition on a dog (well, a horse too, but that's another story). It might be worth it to call around and see if nearby vets know of a facility that will let you therapeutically 'swim' your dog. (I once sweet-talked an equine hydrotherapy facility into letting me use their space for an IW recovering from back surgery, which they graciously did. Worked wonders for her and she loved it.). By the way, I'm assuming that this is just a matter of building muscle mass, and that you and your vet feel that the dog is okay for more demanding exercise than gentle walks.

Good luck!
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 04:15 PM
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Not sure where you are located-I take Rorie to a therapy vet She does underwater treadmill, laser etc and they have shown us exercises that we can do
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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I have emailed the seminar presenters to see if is appropriate to bring a senior/exercises can be modified if needed, but have not gotten a response.

She actually does go up and down some pretty righteous hills daily.

Unfortunately there are no indoor swimming places/therapeutic pools or underwater treadmills within several hours drive of me. I checked two winters ago when she hurt herself. There are two swimming holes that we frequent in the summer. I also am a member of a dock diving club although I usually don't take her to practice because she screams in the crate while I am jumping the other dog.

Right now I am just trying to balance her activity with her food and weighing her every other day to be sure she isn't losing more weight. Today it waffled back and forth between 63/64 and I took that as encouraging because the last two times I weighed her she was a steady 63.
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