My 14 year old Old English Sheepdog is pretty much at the end phase of her life and we are all heartbroken over it. She has been fairly sick over the last few weeks with a lack of appetite and her hind legs giving out. Our vet has said that she has nerve degeneration in her spine that is causing her back legs to gradually slide out from under her. With a small dog this is a bit easier to handle with carrying them and getting them around but with a 65 pound dog it’s not that easy. I wondered if there was any supplement that people have given their dogs for aiding the nerves in regenerating or getting better? I read that the mushroom Lion’s Mane is great for humans but haven’t heard how much a dog could tolerate. I would love to keep my dog going cause she’s so vibrant despite her age and these new hindrances. We love her so much and this has been a rough couple weeks with thinking the end is near. Is it a waste or stupid to try new supplements at this point? I brought her in to the vet today thinking it was the end for her after a long night of heavy panting and only eating canned food that she KNOWS has no pills in. She has suddenly become a detective with finding her meds hidden in wrapped treats and spits them out and it’s just crazy! But, he said that although she is old and not feeling well he thinks she looks good and can go a bit longer and he didn’t recommend euthanasia which was a relief. I don’t want to prolong her pain or make her stick around just to avoid that decision.
Any recommendations for senior dog supplements for the nervous system would be great. Also, she is allergic to brewers yeast so I have to avoid that ingredient. Thanks!
Did your vet suggest any type of gentle exercise such as aquatic therapy? Otherwise known as swimming in a heated pool, one minute of swimming is equivalent to 4 minutes of running, easy on the joints and might lift her mood a little.
If that’s not an option, see if your vet can prescribe pain meds that come in a liquid form. It might be easier to dispense with a small syringe.
“Supplements are not medication, they are not FDA approved. They are food supplements, not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure”
Per the search engine here: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/search/supplements/
Sometimes old dogs can suffer from dementia. Your comment about “a long night of heavy panting” made me think of this.
Panting can not only indicate pain and discomfort but also anxiety and confusion.
You may find this site helpful: http://dogdementia.com/
Your comment about “a long night of heavy panting” made me think of this site. Panting can indicate pain and discomfort as well as anxiety and confusion.
My vet did not recommend any hydro-therapy…I am assuming because he truly thinks she is in what could be the final couple months of her life? I am not sure though. I am starting to get a little more worried though that this is something serious that has just not been figured out. I am noticing a pretty large intake of water on her end. She seems to be getting up a lot to go drink. Definitely more then her normal amount. Also, since her vet visit yesterday she has totally turned her nose up to every piece of food I have tried to give her. Even things she would normally go crazy for like deli meats and cheese. The one thing I noticed is that if I sprinkle pecorino romano cheese on her dog food she acts like she WANTS to eat it and licks at it but spits the kibble out. This is concerning me greatly. I could live with the fact that she has mobility issues and that she falls when standing in one place for 10 seconds but the not eating, the constant panting and the constant drinking are serious concerns. I’m wondering if her kidney’s are failing? We just had blood work on her last week and the only value that was slightly elevated was her biliruben (spelling?) level. They did ultrasounds and x-rays on her stomach and everything looks fine to them though with no tumors.
Also, yes…I have wondered about the doggy dementia aspect as well because she paces at night. But, the vet also said he thinks this could be attributed to the fact that she lost her hearing so fast. He said she might just be very confused since she can no longer hear at night when everyone is asleep and things are dark. Not sure though.
Thanks for the replies.
Sorry, I was afraid it might be to late for the aquatic therapy. I have a young adult terrier that I sneak over to the lake for swimming (mild arthritis) and it seems to be helping him.
I recently had to say goodbye to a 16 year old small breed, he had spinal degenerative issues and did well on rimadyl for a while, but the side effects (diarrhea) put a stop to that. Anyway, the dementia was even harder to deal with. They are worse at night. Funny thing though, he loved to eat…… at the end he was on an antipsychotic that had strong sedative effects.
All you can do is try to keep them comfortable for as long as you can. With seniors you need the guidance of a good vet to help you decide how much treatment you want to put the dog through. Care and comfort vs aggressive treatment.
PS: Make sure you know where the nearest 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic is, in case she takes a turn for the worse and your regular vet isn’t available. Peace
Yes, that is true. I’m sorry about your dog too. Mine was on Rimadyl for a while but the vet took her off it when all of this started a couple weeks ago. They said that maybe her upset stomach could be a result of the rimadyl taking it’s toll on her. She is also off tramadol now which I think is making things worse. I just can’t get those in her. She knows they are in her food no matter what and even if I manage to get the food in her mouth she hacks it out. The vet said those are very, very bitter so a lot of pets just don’t want them in their mouths and will spit them out. The only meds she is on right now (well, if I can get them into her today) are her Proin for her incontinence and they put her on something called Deramaxx and another called Cerenia for nausea.
Honestly, I don’t think she looks good and I almost feel like I am dragging this out too much but the vet’s keep making it seem like I need to give her more chances. Maybe it’s because I am just with her too much and know her normal behavior so well and this is so unlike her? I’m not sure. But, this is torture. I am most worried for my other dog actually. He depends so much on her and he has bad separation anxiety. If I leave the house and take her he howls and barks non-stop. If I leave the two of them together he is fine. No barking or crying. Not looking forward to figuring out how to get THAT issue solved. I might have to become a hermit and never leave him alone. 🙁
Tramadol comes in a liquid form, it’s a human drug and even though new research shows it does not do much for dogs as a pain med, it has sedative qualities, your vet could call it in to your local pharmacy and they give you these small syringes, if you hold the dog’s mouth open and squirt it in then rub the throat till you feel her swallow.
Some dogs do grieve when a pack member leaves, be careful, sometimes they attack a dog that they sense is on the way out, it’s an instinctive thing. My terrier started to do this at the end.
If you can (after a respectable grieving period, of course), bring in another dog if it is within your means. Otherwise, give the survivor lots of attention and long walks and 1:1 attention.
I know what you are going through, no decision feels right.
If your vet is close by, maybe you could take her in for a pain med injection once a day?
I had a dog back when that I would take in twice a day for a shot of buprenex, toward the end.
I think it helped keep her comfortable.
PS: Bilirubin is a liver enzyme, an elevation might explain the poor appetie/nausea, the cerenia should help.
Thank you for the advice. I wonder why they attack dying pack members? That’s interesting. Is it a survival of the fittest type thing? Kill the weak? Hmmmm. My other dog is such a wimp that I could never envision him doing anything remotely close to that though. He has never even “play bit” at me…even when he was a 9 week old puppy! I thought something was wrong with him cause he was so mellow and has never even licked me unless I have something actually ON me that is worth licking. But, anything is possible.
I’m really not liking my senior dog’s behavior right now. She has been getting up and going for water every few minutes. I take her out and she wanders the yard aimlessly and has foam coming out of her mouth. I’ve never seen her like that before. It’s too late to do anything now since my vet is closing in a half hour and I have no car at the moment. I wonder if I should call them to ask if the foaming and excessive drinking is normal? 🙁
I would call the vet before they leave, see what they advise. Some vets will make home visits for a regular customer.
I just called them. They didn’t seem as concerned as I actually am. They just said to kind of ease up on trying to force food on her and to let her relax as much as possible. They said to call tomorrow if things progress and get worse or to call the ER vet that is about 20 minutes away if things get unbearable tonight. She is sleeping now so that is somewhat of a relief. I like when she relaxes and sleeps. It seems like the best thing for her right now.
I’m glad the vet clinic was helpful, get some rest yourself now while you can.
PS: Have you tried putting some homemade chicken broth in the water dish?
Thank you! I was doing that a lot last week but she seems to be tired of it. I might do it again later tonight though. I do need to get her pills in her somehow. I might just have to have my brother help me force them down. The vet said this is ok despite it being hard to do and almost cruel. 🙁
There is a trick to it. Hold the mouth open, pop the pill in and rub the throat till you feel her swallow. Do it as quick as you can. Make sure the pill went down before you let go of her mouth. Then watch her for a few minutes as she may try to cough it up.
Best of luck.Jenn HMember
Is there a worse feeling than seeing your pet struggling and not being able to help???
Hydrotherapy is really amazing. But don’t do it if it will add to the anxiety your dog is already feeling. Also Old English Sheepdogs (which I absolutely love and never see) have a lot of fur. Soaking that coat will add a lot of extra weight that the dog probably isn’t strong enough to carry.
One of my girls has Lyme induced arthritis. When she has discomfort I give her Neurontin (Gabapentin). It’s good for nerve pain and not expensive. I’m always weary of Rimadyl and other drugs like that as they can effect the liver. What your dog already has elevated bilirubin you don’t want to do that.
While we’re on the liver…your dog may have a nausea if it isn’t functioning properly. That could be the reason for the anorexia and foaming mouth.
It also works with the kidneys. I had a dog that drank ever few minutes like he hadn’t drank all day. The output didn’t come close to his intake. He was in kidney failure. (He was having mini-strokes.)
If the liver isn’t doing its job ammonia doesn’t get expelled from the body and that causes hepatic encephalitis (HE). This presents as dimentia and can also increase anxiety.
The liver is the 2nd largest organ. It’s very important and can cause a lot of trouble if it’s out of whack.
As for reversing or stopping nerve damage that’s a tough one. There aren’t many things that can get through the blood brain barrier. If it can’t reach the central nervous system then it’s not worth the risk.
Some dogs do still have the instinct to kill the sick & weak. They can’t waste valuable nutrients on a pack member that isn’t well.
Keep an eye on the healthy dog. Don’t leave them unattended together. If the other dog is strong or big I would just keep them separated at all times. Easier than getting him/her away when they are determined. The sheepdog doesn’t need that stress.
My plan would probably be:
*Get something for pain. To at least take the edge off. But also has the least side effects.
*Keep an eye on the liver levels. Especially ammonia. If you notice yellow tint in whites of eyes that’s jaundice. It’s the result of too much bilirubin.
*Get an anti nausea med. That may help with the appetite.
This is all really palliative care stuff. You can continue to seek a more permanent solution as you do this, but keeping the animal comfortable is priority.
My heart breaks for you. I hope you find a way to turn things around. 14 years is a very respectable age. Good on you for getting this far. I know it’s never long enough.
So get the baby comfortable, then find a way to improve health.
Best of luck to you.Jenn HMember
Your other dog will likely know when it’s time. Don’t be surprised if he starts acting weird and not eating too. I’ve had many a dog start grieving for the dying dog before they were gone.
You’re so in tune with you pets I think you’ll know what to do and when.
Even if you get something for pain & nausea if it doesn’t seem to help get something else. Not every dog responds to everything exactly the same.
Deramaxx is in the same class of drugs as Rimadyl I believe.
Pain meds can also cause stomach upset. Getting her to eat is necessary. Try feeding her anything. Even junk food has some kind of nutrition in it and can provide some energy. Crap is better than nothing. One dog I had ate yogurt and Twizzlers for a few days. It’s the only way he took meds and the only things he wanted until he felt better.
A pain patch may be another option. Those last a few days.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Jenn H.
I know this is an older thread but I was looking on the internet for a solution and saw that this website recommends a product. Let me tell you my story. I have a ten year old yellow lab mix. He was constantly active and could run and catch deer at our place in Utah. He got into a brand new bottle of dog vitamins and ate 93 out the 100. That was in February, 2016. In April, the doctor put him on thyroid medicine. He was starting to show signs of arthritis. The vet prescribed Rimadyl twice a day. Within 3 days, he was paralyzed in his back legs and vocal cords. I immediately stopped the pills. He had Rimadyl in the past but it was occasional for pain. The vet would not accept that it was the Rimadyl. She blamed a neurological problems and Cushings Disease. She put him on the medication for Cushings which made it worse. We took him to a neurologist who did not have all the equipment to diagnose him. But she suggested Acetyl L-Carnitine, Vitamin B and CoQ10. He is slowly getting better. I do not believe it is neurological because he can stand up on the carpet easily but he slips on the tile and sometimes concrete. He has lost muscle mass. I was looking on the internet to see about supplements for building muscle. His diet consists of grain free kibble, meat, vegetables, raw eggs, jumbo carrots instead of bones, Vitamin B, CoQ10, Acetyl L-Carnitine and his thyroid meds. There was a website that stated Dog Advisor recommends a product called Gorilla Max to build muscles in Police dogs and show dogs. Does anyone have experience in this? Suggestions?pitloveMember
The product you are talking about is from a company called Bully Max. They have a line of dog food and dog supplements designed for working breeds (specifically bully breeds).
From what I’ve come to understand these supplements are designed to aid in building muscle and helping to repair muscle during high impact dog sports like weight pulling, spring pole, and personal protection work. I do not know for sure that it would aid in building muscle in a non-sporting, non-working dog. You may want to contact the company itself to find out if their product would have any affect on a non-working dog.
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