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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 32753
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Good morning, could you help me please,ive got a longhaird

Customer Question

Good morning,
could you help me please,ive got a longhaird german shepard dog,he's 17yrs old in june,and has started to suffer walking on his back leg's,some time's he's walking fine, and then all of a suddan he seem's to callapse on his back leg's, is there anything I can get to help him,or would it be better to have him put to sleep,
He seem's happy in his self,but I don't wan't him to be in pain or suffering, any help you can give me would be much appreciated,
thank you,
mr r smith, sandiacre,nottingham
email add, *****@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. An elderly German Shepherd behaving as you've described is going to be a challenge to manage. Geriatric weakness, degenerative myelopathy (a Lou Gehrig-type of spinal cord disease), degenerative disk disease (a "slipped disk"), and advanced osteoarthritis are all disorders that Rebal is likely to be facing.

We use a multimodal approach in these dogs - dietary management, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory pain relief, neutraceuticals, life-style changes and stem cell therapy (not appropriate at his age). When used concomitantly these approaches should synergize and provide the best control of symptoms. For example, Rebal might show considerable improvement if you add fish oil to his diet. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are anti-inflammatory. I use the cost-effective generic human fish oils and dose them at 40 mg/kg daily of the EPA in the fish oil. You'll find the amount of EPA on the label of the fish oil product.

Avoid flax oil because it is poorly bioavailable to dogs. They can't metabolize it properly.

If you prefer, there are diets that are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids. Hill's Prescription Diet j/d is one such diet.

Many vets feel that injections of Adequan (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) work better than oral neutraceuticals such as glucosamine/chondroiton sulfate which are a lower cost alternative. You'll find many over the counter glucosamine/chondroiton sulfate supplements for dogs. Cosequin or Dasequin is such a supplement. Please see here: Adequan is injected into Rebal weekly for a number of weeks at his vet's discretion. You can read more about Adequan here:

We have to suspect that just as in people, geriatric osteoarthritis in dogs is painful. If a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) such as carprofen or meloxicam isn't sufficient for controlling pain, please consider adding a well-tolerated narcotic such as tramadol to this therapies mentioned above. All of these drugs are by prescription only through Rebal's vet.

Weight reduction is essential. The less weight his joints need to carry, the better.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.