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Discussion Starter #1
Hi!
When we adopted our shepsky, we knew that this is usually an active breed. Being runners and hikers ourselves, we thought that would be a good match for us.

Our shepsky was estimated at 5 when he came into the shelter, so he's probably about 6 now. My worry is that, ever since we got him, for the first several steps whenever he gets up, he limps & looks as though he can barely walk. Sometimes I even think about canceling his walk and let him rest.

But outside, once he's moving, he has a beautiful effortless trot. He can gallop (we only let him gallop on grassy fields). His walk is fine, and sometimes he "prances" along when he is in high spirits. I've watched dysplasia videos and he doesn't do the "bunny hop" going up stairs or have any unusual movements with his hips. The vet also watched him walk, and said she couldn't see anything wrong.

But he continues to be really stiff when he first gets up from a rest. We've now stopped any trotting on asphalt/concrete (he's only allowed to trot on the trails) and we always go in/out the front door, which has the widest lowest steps. But I wonder if we should exercise him less?

Usual exercise:
Morning: We walk my daughter to the bus stop and go for a 45 min-1 hr walk around neighborhood (no trot), OR a jog on the trails (mostly trotting, with a bit of sniff/walk breaks) Probably adds up to 3-4 days jog on trails, 3-4 days sidewalk walking

Early Afternoon: Short walk around the block or some play in the yard

After Dinner: 45 min walk around neighborhood (no trot)

Anyway he's always happy to go out and will get in front of me and stick his chest out (so funny) when I am holding the leash.
But the lameness when getting up looks painful. Sometimes when he goes to lay down, I hear him make a little grunting noise...:-(

- How much do most 5-7 year old shepherds exercise? Does it sound like he does too much?

- The vet did not offer or recommend X-rays - does this mean she thinks it's normal aging?
( We could go see her again, but daughter #1 needs braces, and we are currently paying daughter #1's college tuition...so trying to avoid unnecessary bills)


THANKS for any thoughts!
 

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Probably has some arthritis. Try dasuquin with MSM, it does wonders. I would also consider getting insurance, it will likely be expensive on a monthly basis, but better than spending thousands at once for surgeries. One caveat is if the dr. documented the evaluation in the dogs history, anything related to that wouldn't be covered since it is pre-existing.

https://www.amazon.com/Nutramax-Dasuquin-Chewables-Large-Count/dp/B000MCVGEA/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1525006256&sr=8-4&keywords=dasequin+msm+for+large+dogs
 

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The only way to know for sure about dysplasia or the beginnings of arthritis-- as it sounds like you already know--is xray. Sounds like he's likely showing his middle age a bit-likely early arthritis. IMO exercise is a good thing as long as your dog enjoys it and he's not "lame" afterwards--sounds like your guy enjoys it... I've always preferred woods, trails or grass over hard surfaces because these guys are known for joint issues....It's important to me that as they age....keep them as active as they're comfortable with as they age...otherwise along with arthritis-they loose muscle tone (just like humans) and end up weak in their rear legs.

This is an age IMO where if you're not already using a supplement like glucosamine....chondroitin and/or MSM---we usally start our dogs.....may just be in my head... but over the years we've felt like it helps---though I don't remember reading it's ever been proven through someone's online study.
 

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The only way to know for sure about dysplasia or the beginnings of arthritis-- as it sounds like you already know--is xray. Sounds like he's likely showing his middle age a bit-likely early arthritis. IMO exercise is a good thing as long as your dog enjoys it and he's not "lame" afterwards--sounds like your guy enjoys it... I've always preferred woods, trails or grass over hard surfaces because these guys are known for joint issues....It's important to me that as they age....keep them as active as they're comfortable with as they age...otherwise along with arthritis-they loose muscle tone (just like humans) and end up weak in their rear legs.

This is an age IMO where if you're not already using a supplement like glucosamine....chondroitin and/or MSM---we usally start our dogs.....may just be in my head... but over the years we've felt like it helps---though I don't remember reading it's ever been proven through someone's online study.
I don't think its in your head. MSM is known to help arthritis. There are too many people with dogs that could barely walk and after using dasuquin or similar products they are running like puppies. I used it for my old girl and saw significant improvements. I always prefer clinical data over hearsay, but I have found this, which summarizes what is out there...I don't care to read up on it, but it might be worth a read.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356289/

Here is something else from Nutramax. I don't know if they funded the study, I always take that with a grain of salt. If they didn't fund the study, then, to me, it hold a higher value.

Landmark Clinical Study Confirms Effectiveness of Glucosamine Hydrochloride and Chondroitin Sulfate Combination in Supporting Joint Health
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you, I will look into these!
When we switched his dogfood (to Merricks grainfree) the bag says it has Glucosamine and I was hoping that he would improve, but he's been the same...
Maybe the amount in the dogfood is too low to do anything.

Yep, when he comes back after outings, he's happy and relaxed, no limp.
But I've noticed that after a harder workout (i.e. a trail outing with my husband), he'll rest awhile, and then when he gets up, he is extra-stiff.
(The two of them always race across the field at the end...those guys!!)
 

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a dog with arthritis gernerally would not trainsition to

" once he's moving, he has a beautiful effortless trot. He can gallop (we only let him gallop on grassy fields). His walk is fine, and sometimes he "prances" along when he is in high spirits. I've watched dysplasia videos and he doesn't do the "bunny hop" going up stairs or have any unusual movements with his hips. The vet also watched him walk, and said she couldn't see anything wrong."

apparently the lame is only upon getting up from a long rest, so the problem may be a problem where the dog is
cutting down circulation just as if we went to sleep in a funny position , arm under head, or knee bent tmeporarily
cutting circulation.

your foot may be numb - can't feel the floor you're stanidign on . Same thing happens in bus or airline seats with
too little leg room .

anti inflammatory care is always good --- Omega 3 - fish oil epa and dha for circulation .

MSM - best quality American made Opti-MSM

turmeric -- lots of things will benefit the dog - not just for problems but as a preventive
 

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Glucosamine in kibble is minuscule and barely benefit (being polite).
To get a good bio-available glucosamine and chondroitin is make a home made bone stock, reducing it to Gelatin. Using 1/4-1/3 C of vinegar to pot (slow cooker) with chicken frames and feet and cow bones...slow cooker usually takes 24hrs. I do in 8qt.


This has helped others and I have had personal exp. with, with my guy (r.i.p)...(include NEM supplement), but at the time I dehydrated eggshells and gave with food (was raw fed)...30 days to the day I started this food based supplement...he jumped on my bed...he hadn't been able to do that for 10 months. Shocked the you know what out of me!!!
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you, all!

It sounds like nobody thinks we've somehow caused this by over-exercising him, phew...
It is true that he walks, trots, and runs smoothly and happily once he limps those first few steps.

I am definitely going to try supplementing for his joints!
I will post back if news of improvements!

Yea, I really wished that it was just the "limbs falling asleep" case, but I realized it was unlikely that it would be 100% of the time when getting up. He also shows other signs... i.e. avoiding going up and down stairs unless it's really necessary, climbing into the car slowly instead of jumping in, and sometimes when he gets up from his bed, he puts himself in a Sit first and then gathers up his hindlegs under him.

Hopefully he's just like me...I don't have arthritis, but on cold mornings I feel pretty stiff until I get warmed up, and I don't run on roads anymore since it makes my right knee ache...this aging thing, argh.
 

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Here's why I don't wait on imaging with arthritis: it's degenerative, and the sooner you intervene to stop cartilage loss, the longer you preserve joint function and stave off serious pain.

I think the starting point is a good orthopedic evaluation, but use a vet who is very good with orthopedics. Most aren't. They should take the joints through range of motion (stretching to see if there's pain at any point), and check the ligaments too. A good ortho exam can take a while (they even may keep the dog for the day, to walk it and watch the gait on different terrain). They should also be feeling and checking the spine for tender points.

Based on what they find, we'll know where to x-ray (if anywhere). Sometimes it's the spine, or the hip, or the elbow, or maybe multiple spots. I always pay extra for sedated x-rays in order to ensure excellent positioning -- paying for bad x-rays is about like flushing money down the toilet (or worse, since they cause people to think things are there that aren't -- elbows are notorious for bad positioning causing all sorts of erroneous readings of the x-ray).

If a malformed joint is present, with arthritis, already starting, I would want to start Adequan injections as soon as possible. It's expensive if the vet does them, but reasonable if the vet shows you how to do them yourself (2 shots/week x 4 weeks to load, and monthly or biweekly to maintain). Adequan preserves cartilage. It lubricates the joint. The earlier it's started for arthritis, the better.

Adequan can be used with Dasuquin products (and there's some thinking they may support each other.) However, I prefer the "Dasuquin Advanced" over "Dasuquin with MSM" because "Advanced" has MSM but also adds turmeric/curcumin, green tea, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables and several other ingredients (it's only sold by vets, not online, unlike the others). I also give Natural Eggshell Membrane to my arthritic dogs, as Gatorbytes mentioned -- it's a supplement with a lot of promise.

Re that Numax study in Europe linked above: it used a patented form of low-molecular-weight Chondroitin and Glucosamine owned by Numax and got wildly different results than previous well-designed studies of the "regular" forms of those supplements sold at supermarkets (which found very little benefit). It's too soon to know whether it's the special form Numax has (which is also in Dasuquin), or something is up with the study being an outlier -- however, DO NOT EXTRAPOLATE results to other, more widely sold "super market" forms of gluc/chon pills, as other large, long-term studies have already looked at them, with disappointing results.

I think you've already missed the window for pet insurance. Pre-existing conditions are determined not by the date of diagnosis, but by the date of symptom onset.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you so much for all the information!!
Sounds like I need to look around for a vet who is strong in orthopedics.

Previous vet seemed relaxed, and since I assumed she is the expert,
that's why I haven't done anything about it all these months (except worry a bit when I watch him get up, and wonder if he needs to walk less):

Me: So, he has trouble getting into the cargo area of my Prius?
Vet: Oh, sounds like he is closer to 5 then, maybe older. There are lots of pet ramps and steps you can buy to help him...

Me: He limps a bit when he gets up from his naps.
Vet: (after exam) We walked him up and down the hall, and up and down a few steps, and I didn't see anything.

Anyway thanks. Copied names, links etc down.
 

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Thank you so much for all the information!!
Sounds like I need to look around for a vet who is strong in orthopedics.

Previous vet seemed relaxed, and since I assumed she is the expert,
that's why I haven't done anything about it all these months (except worry a bit when I watch him get up, and wonder if he needs to walk less):

Me: So, he has trouble getting into the cargo area of my Prius?
Vet: Oh, sounds like he is closer to 5 then, maybe older. There are lots of pet ramps and steps you can buy to help him...

Me: He limps a bit when he gets up from his naps.
Vet: (after exam) We walked him up and down the hall, and up and down a few steps, and I didn't see anything.

Anyway thanks. Copied names, links etc down.
IMO finding the "right Vet"....that you trust completely and actually has your pets best interest at heart is one of the very difficult things about having pets.....hmmm well.... that and finding the right pet food. In our 45 years of pet ownership we've been VERY LUCKY to have found two super vets !!----But it was a REAL search and time consuming.....to find the "right" Vet
 

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I fired an old-school vet who treated arthritis exclusively by throwing NSAIDs at every dog. It's an outdated approach, and I wanted more progressive thinking about orthopedics.

I had to do a lot of asking around, but when I asked the most knowledgeable dog people I knew, the same names kept coming up. So I went for a second opinion with the one who was closest to me -- and I ended up becoming a client and establishing a long-term relationship with him. He was my kind of vet -- took all day to do the exam, patient and slow with GSDs, laying out a multi-modal treatment plan with diet, exercise, supplements and meds all playing a role. He doesn't tell me how it's going to be. We talk through options, pros and cons, research on each one, lifestyle factors, and together we reason through the best solution for my dog. We're partners.

He got my oldster who could barely shuffle along behind me on walks so much improvement that the dog was happily trotting next to me, setting a faster pace than we'd done in years -- with NO pain meds on board. That's the difference with a vet who is thinking systemically about reducing inflammation, and using everything synergistically instead of just using pain pills (which do have a role in some dogs, but ideally just as a bridge until everything else punches down the inflammation).

When you ask around about who has a good vet, EVERYONE will say that they do. Most people don't know enough to be able to judge. They mean that "they like" their vet. That's not all that helpful. Try to get opinions from "heavy users" of vet care -- people who handle vetting for a lot of dogs. For example, if you can get the Commander of your police K9 team to talk to you, chances are the vet they see is excellent with orthopedics because their dogs get injured on the job. Same goes for people who are serious agility competitors. And rescues and shelters (we get lots of seniors, and also hit-by-car dogs, so we know who can really fix them, and who can't) -- most GSD rescues will gladly tell you who they use for ortho stuff, as they love to send business to people who have done so much to help dogs in need. Good breeders of most any large-breed dog in your area will also know who does good xrays and who consistently gets mediocre positioning on images (as they have to get good ones for OFA).
 

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My guy had arthritis at 6 and the vet would walk him down the hall and then tell me he walked fine. We ended up switching vets because they would not even tell me how to treat it if it was arthritis (because that isn't what he had). I mean it also had to do with them putting muzzles on him when we went to the vets office because the vet was afraid of GSD's but the next vet was really great with him and listened to what I had to say about the way he walked and ran etc. He would still run and was really active. I'd start treating it asap even as preventative if it isn't arthritis as was mentioned above it could be circulation.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the ideas!

I'm going to start giving him some kind of supplement for his joints (I'll study and figure out...) and look for vets.

This animal hospital we go to, got the best reviews of all the places around here, and is very well-liked (for instance, to board your pet at Christmas, you have to reserve by July? we found out the hard way). But that doesn't mean they are shepherd or husky people...

My friend has a chow mix with severe arthritis (he is 12) and I know he goes for weekly treatments. I'll ask about her vet.

And now that I think about it, Rumo's foster mom mentioned that their family dogs were a husky and a shepherd - so she is probably also a good person to ask...
 

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Again as someone who's used 2 Vets.....both of them initially were...i guess I'd say stand offish (we were very close eventually)......but....what was I looking for ??....this.....how they reacted to and handled my dogs.....AND.....how my dogs acted around them.....I value my dogs "opinions" more than most people's.....both Vets ended up getting A+ grades from my dogs and later from me....through the "Sunny" bright times and the darkest times they've been perfect.

Many times a professional (any field) is popular-highly thought of and even good reputation.....has gotten there simply because they have a great personality and customers/clients love them....many times that doesn't make them great or even good Vets....Trust YOUR instincts/gut and your dogs opinion. One more thing that's an immediate turn off for me is an introduction followed by......Oh you have GSDs... let's get out the muzzles simply because of breed......nope-you don't know my dogs....out the door I'd go (been there-done that) and my search would continue.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi all,

I just wanted to update this thread by saying that Rumo has been on a supplement which contains Glucosamine / Chondroitin / MSM / Omega 3 & 6.
About 1000-1500mg Glucosamine a day, but will back off to "maintenance" (500mg/day) after this week.

For clinical data - we have seen a marked improvement!!
Yesterday for his walk, he sprang to his feet by gathering all paws under him, which I have never see him do before?!
We thought he was limping less...but we thought it might be "placebo" effect...but this kind of sealed the deal.

Since this implies that he does have joint issues (and was not just sleeping funny), we will need to bring him for an XRay soon.
( But I don't know if I want to start him on serious arthritis meds yet...those seem to have side-effects and my friend with arthritic dog, says she still hasn't found one that doesn't affect her dog in a bad way. Vet has switched meds twice so far. With first arthritis med, her dog basically stopped eating.)

Anyway thank you for the info on joint supplements!
It worked well enough that I may actually get the human version for my basketball-playing husband,
whose knees have been bothering him as he gets older...:)
 
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