• cdenneycdenney
    Posts: 961
    I just asked to be added to the Shiba side for some questions on elder Shibes but in the meantime I thought I would gather some knowledge from ya'll.

    It is my understanding most of the NK that populate this forum are still young to middle aged but many of us have had experience with older dogs. With the two family dogs I had as a child, I know they lived to a ripe old age but I was too young to comprehend their health issues and therefore ways to ease them. I ask because Nikki my 13-14 year old shiba is starting to hurt.

    In the last month or so I have noticed more "old dog" qualities than before. You know that moment when your older dog does something and it rips a veil away from your perspective and you recognize they might be looking for more of a quiet retirement than just a relaxed lifestyle with get up and go moments?

    Nikki has had her issues, though truly she is mostly healthy, she's overweight (about 36lbs now) but has lost weight down to that, physically she is a huge shiba too, almost as tall as my kai (who is 31lbs and knee height) and much broader through the chest. She has stage 3 LP in her back left leg, she gets eye ulcers. I have reason to believe her eyesight (even with the ulcer now healed), is degrading at a much faster than previous rate, she is almost completely blind in dark or low lit conditions and maybe has a bubble of about 2-3 feet out that she can see and recognize things in. Her hearing has always been poor, and continues to remain so, no surprise there. Her backend is getting weaker and can be shaky, she either lies down or stands, sitting is harder for her--and also more difficult to push up from. She can no longer jump the 1 foot onto the bed or couch or do tears around the house. Sometimes you can tell it is difficult for her to squat on particularly cold days. She has some breathing issues (probably weight plus...) that causes hellacious snoring and makes her prone to wheezing.

    Right now I feed her Supermix7 kibble, a glucosamine chondrotin tab, a little bit of coconut oil, and the periodic treats. She seems in good spirits and just wants to sleep-rumbling-by your feet all day. She goes on 2 round 1 block walks a day and one short around our building walks. I ask her to walk up as many stairs as she can to try and keep her from losing those muscles but, some days she is weaker than others.

    She seems happy, and the reason I agreed to adopt her is I don't believe she has too many more years left and I wanted to make sure she had good quiet ones that I know I can provide, I just want to make them as pleasant and easy on her as possible. Long story not shortened do you know anything I can do to help boost her up, immunity, joints, eyesight what not in the meantime? Suggestions for working her out with out wearing her out? How to ease the aging dog gracefully?

  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 529
    I don't have any advice of my own, but this is a good thread to start with:

  • ShikokuShikoku
    Posts: 264
    Based on what I have seen most older dogs are just that- old. I would let her out in the yard or open area and let her do her own exploring for exercise at HER pace not the "expected pace" ... At her age ANY movement is good movement. If she just lays down when off leash then move around yourself, and have her follow you.

    Ps - love the first pic looks like me miyagi (sp?) lol

    Location:MD/VA/DC. Pets: Athena- Shikoku and Hades- Shiba Inu
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 4546
    Aww! Miss Nikki is turning into an elder.

    I would NOT just let her off lead to do her own exercises... I will guarantee that she will just lay down and chill out and that is not good for her. So you do want to make her walk, just at a slower pace with less distance. I would walk her on softer surfaces, so instead of walking on the sidewalk, maybe on the grass or dirt trails.

    For canine PT, half stability balls are really good for activating core muscles and helping with balance and back end strengthening. If you do not have one, I would highly recommend getting one (and you can use it too!). You can also walk her up grassy hillsides to improve muscle tone.

    In addition to some strengthening exercises, you might want to try cosequin for her LP with the glucosamine.

    As for the immunity, my Shibas love clementines. The extra vitamin C is great for Nola (who has such a low WBC that it barely registers on the blood work) and it is a good treat. Nola also gets injections of Immunoregulin, which also helps boost the immune system. It can be expensive, so I do not recommend it unless she has a low immune system.

    I have no idea about the eyesight issue... That is probably something better discussed with a specialist. (Or at least someone that has some experience with eye issues!) :)

    Thanks again for giving this girl a stable environment for her last few years! You are awesome.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3291
    I have just put my 11 year old (Reilly, greyhound mix) on a regular dose of Dasuquin soft chews. Theres lots of glucosamine things out there, but our vet said to get one with MSM in it. Another vet had advised me years ago that she found cosequin is the best-absorbed by her patients. Reilly still moves well, but i saw she was arching her back a lot while hanging around the house and after exam the vet said its not actually her back, but her hips that are sore. Rei has been heavily exercised all her life, so I've dialed her back to 2 easy grade off leash hikes a week and yard play with leash walks the other days. She still likes to go hiking and to hunt for rodents and snakes, but her off leash orbit around me is more like Mercury now, and less like the young kais (Jupiter Juno and Mars Matsu)

    Reilly has been on the loading dose for 3 weeks so far and she isn't arching her back as much, though she still takes her time laying down. I also got her a memory-foam dog bed because I saw that she sought firm, supportive but soft bedding, and was unsupported by the fluffy, squishy bed she had previously. She likes that it has a bolster to lean against too. For months she was slowly losing muscle mass, so I tried a couple foods/proteins and she has stopped losing now on Merrick kibbles, and I feed her three times a day now instead of two. Less but still regular exercise, more food, higher quality glucosamine. I keep some NSAIDs on hand (novox/carprofen) for days if Rei seems limpy or stiff- but I think since I found the right level of exercise for her and the better supplement she hasnt seemed uncomfortable to that degree in a while.

    I think the round the block exercise is fine for Nikki because its regular and what her body is conditioned to- I'd do as much of that as she enjoys. Since she cant see very well, I think being with you on leash probably gives her great comfort. Old dog walks, as you know, go at her pace anyway. :) Massage she may enjoy, with gentle stretching.

    ETA: Just saw Casey's post- I like the idea of the grassy incline compared to stairs, and keeping her on soft ground if you can. I forgot all about grass and soft turf- its been a very long winter... ;)

    Grooming really helps out old animals- I give Reilly a little face wash to clear out her eye goop if she has some (which is more often now) and keep her nails trimmed, combing time seems to feel good to her too. When our ancient cats were in their last years, they really needed help keeping clean/brushed and with their claws- they didnt scratch their ropey things anymore so their nails got old and thick and Id trim them and pick off the outer shells of the claw for them. It was uncomfortable for them to bend to groom themselves but they appreciated the attention, the gentle time together and the reduced stress of "my claws/fur feel uncomfortable but it hurts to do anything about it."

    Nikki looks really good, you care for her very well and she seems to radiate the security and love you give her. :)
    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2014-03-24 07:58:30
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    Such an adorable girl. :)

    Saya is 4 going on 5 in April so not a elder shiba yet she does get joint supplement for preventive measures since she has spinal issue since 5weeks at least..

    For joint support Saya gets Superflex. She also gets salmon oil.

    Not sure if these help, but so far Saya still does well and hasn't gotten worse or anything. she has a spinal issue no HD or LP, but I figured joint support would be good for her especially as preventive measure.

    It seems to last her decent while, I think it lasted 60 days.


    I seen one other brand of elk velvet antler supplement never tried the other brand so not sure how good it is.
    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • This might be odd, or too soon to suggest it, but I would also look for some good baby food. Eventually, when she has trouble with fatigue or loss of appetite, it is something to keep on hand that she will still enjoy eating.
  • I started a thread on the Shiba side about elder shibas too, but it's so difficult to find things on the Shiba forum (the search function is not helpful). Not that there was much there, but this might also be a good topic to have over there, so if you feel like reposting your original post, please do! (I'll look around and see if I can find it and bump it on the Shiba side).

    First, I think it's really cool you took her on. I love my old Shiba (Toby is 10, so just entering elderhood) and though I've often said I wouldn't have another Shiba, I could really see adopting an elder to give him/her a place to live out his life. Not for years though--as I want my Toby to have more time with us!

    Toby's hearing is getting pretty bad. Luckily his sight seems ok so far, and he responds to hand signals well. I can point from inside the house to his room when I want him to go in, and he goes trotting in to wait for his (tiny) treat. It's harder when both vision and hearing are going, so if you find things that work, let me know too--I suspect we'll need it at some point.

    Sunyata's right about if you let them out they won't exercise. toby just goes out and lays down in the sun. He engages with the other dogs a bit, but not too much. I take him for short walks. He has some weakness in his back legs (he is hypothyroid, has beginning stages of Cushings, and has LP in one leg that is getting worse.) Sometimes his walks must be very brief, but he's built up more strength (and lost weight). I do see his back leg is bothering him more. I'm going to start him on an elk antler velvet supplement. I know Brad and Jen had success with one, and I was able to get a nearly free sample from Wapiti labs (had to pay shipping though, which kind of defeated the free sample part, and if you get it, it looks like it is full price but they will discount one sample in the cart), so I'm going to try it out. It's not cheap, but I think is worth trying.

    Toby seems a little stiff sometimes and his leg with the lp bothers him a bit. He doesn't seem to be in pain--it can even be manipulated without him seeming to notice--but he does limp when he first gets up, though it goes away.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1671
    Aging varies from dog to dog, so the regime is varied as well. We take it day by day and week by week.

    I have a 12 yr old Shiba that is still bounding around and playing with other younger dogs (quite bouncy and twisty) and my other Sr. Shiba that is only 6 months older in age who is a bit wobbly and sits or lays in the sun mostly (bad hips and knees). However, she has her good days for zipping in small bursts too. I try to get the old gals to chase things and or dart after rolled treats to get them moving as we trace a path around the garden. When playing I keep them on level soft ground as well.

    I notice in early morning they require a bit of stretching and time to get up and out, even with orthopedic beds. I just start them out slowly for walks.

    Asking for tricks with the older gals helps motivate i.e. paw touches, high five, sitting pretty and turns to help their core. (Sadly keeping muscle mass and tone on a dog with hip or knee problems has been the most difficult.) I do put treats at the edge of counter or table to get front paws on edge for stretching. I don’t push extended things like jumping up on things because they don’t know they are old and will attempt feats that are harmful. Things they did when younger with ease now are being limited i.e.. jumping on picnic table or leaping off. Honestly the most motivating thing has been the younger dogs one at a time for play/chase interactions.

    The thing I do noticed the most is the eyesight issues (and dental). Bright light or very dim and the old dogs will miss things or attempt to alter their environment to accommodate the shortcomings. For example in direct sun my one dog will miss a tunnel entrance and run right into the side if the sun is facing her. She attempts to push it with her nose to move it, to no avail (lol). She is determined. (At their Sr. check up I have eyes checked and it appears that cataracts are setting in but they are not blind yet.)

    They never lose the desire to use their noses though, so I set up puzzle games and box searches several times a week as a form of hide and seek.

    As far as food, each dog is a bit different in their requirements. One gets kibble for breakfast and raw lamb medallions and rice for dinner. The other dog gets kibble for both meals since that suits her best.

    We tried Dasuquin on the oldsters and it caused digestive issues. I have had good luck with glucosamine with MSM + vit c, mixed with food.

    If you go the NSAIDs novox/carprofen route, monitor carefully not all dogs can process them or may have side effects. Just depends on the dog, nd other meds you may have your dog on.


  • tmdtmd
    Posts: 345
    I'm experiencing much what you are. Pharaoh recently showed his age in a way he hasn't before. We've got him on the Dasuquin + MSM, Vitamin C, Wellactin (Fish Oil) and something called Body Sore a Chinese supplement for animals. We also just got a supplement "CurcuVET-SA150" but just started that, so not sure how he's going to respond to that.

    Pharaoh has spinal arthritis just below the ribs which makes sitting and walking and climbing stairs difficult. Sadly our home has a few stairs at each exit, but after a few times carrying him I realized that I was doing more harm than good and the best I could do was make sure he wasn't taking them too fast. Eventually I'm sure I'll have to support his backend but not quite yet. We also have Rimadyl for when he's feeling particularly bad, but that can have side effects if used long term so we've gotten a homeopathic pain reliever call Traumeel, which was supplied to us by his acupuncture vet. She's certified in Chinese acupuncture for animals and also has a Western medical practice. She uses some Western medicines and some Chinese supplements based on the best results she's seen. She swears by Traumeel and it's something humans can take too. It's supposed to help a lot with bruising and muscle soreness, so if you play a sport or run, it can be good to take for that and it's much easier on the organs than Rimadyl or other pain relievers. Pharaoh also receives therapeutic K-Laser once a week (it started with twice a week for 3 weeks) and Acupuncture once every two weeks, started as once a week for 4 weeks.

    By far the biggest difference has been the acupuncture. He's almost like a his old self whenever we get it. I wasn't sure what was going making the biggest difference, but we recently missed his acupuncture due to snow last Monday and couldn't get him in until yesterday. Since last Thursday he was in obvious pain and we had to start regular doses of Rimadyl again or he wouldn't eat because of the pain. Now that he got the acupuncture, he's eating again and doesn't need the Rimadyl. YMMV, but if I had to stop giving him everything else, I'd keep getting him acupuncture. It makes me consider getting it for myself.
    - Hanzo (Kai Ken), Pharaoh (JA/AA tweenie), Meg (Border Collie/Lab mix)
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1671
    @tmd: thanks for the tip on acupuncture. I think we will try that at some point. Out of curiosity what form of Tramueel, was it topical or drops etc etc.?

  • tmdtmd
    Posts: 345
    The Traumeel is in pill form for Pharaoh. I believe it also comes in dissolving pill form which could be better for us two-legged types.
    - Hanzo (Kai Ken), Pharaoh (JA/AA tweenie), Meg (Border Collie/Lab mix)
  • Thanks for starting the discussion. I've been wondering about some of the same issues myself even though I have a different NK. ...I never thought about using traumeel on dogs, but have used the cream form myself. ...If anyone knows roughly how long kishus usually live, I'd like to know. I have 2 girls that are/will be 8.
  • I just found this article about elk velvet antler supplements in dogs with arthritis. I've heard great things about it, but it is pretty pricey, and now that I'm done with my samples, I've been waffling on getting more. But it looks like at least one study has found actual effects. This link is just a summary/abstract of the article, and it was a small study, but it is interesting:

    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2014-04-06 01:12:04
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    @shibamistress I was wondering what are your thoughts on the wapitilabs elk velvet supplement? I'm thinking of trying it for Saya as her superflex is almost out.

    Chewy has it for $33 for powder so I plan to get it there so my order will have free shipping.. Just figured I'd ask if you had anymore thoughts on the product.
    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • I've been using it with Toby who has pretty bad (ie the worst) luxating patella. I don't know that it can help with that, but he's also nearly 11 and getting stiff, and I think he seems a little more spry and flexible when he's taking it. I also give it to Oskar with his spine problems.

    Brad and Jen really like it for their older dogs, which is where I first got the idea to use it. They use Wapiti labs I believe. I get a powder from BonusElk Antler.

    If nothing else, it is really a supercharged form of glucosamine/chondroitrin, so it should help the same way that does. I'd say go for it, try it for a month or two and see what you think, but I do really think it helps Toby and Oskar.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)

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