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Shiba elders--health issues and more
  • I thought I'd start a thread on Shiba elders, because I'm sure I'm not the only one dealing with Shibas who are getting older, and it might be useful for others to know what to expect. I've only had one old dog of my own, a GSD who we lost to cancer 3 years ago, so I'm still kind of new to aging dog issues. (I've had family dogs that were old, of course, but was not responsible for their care).

    My Shiba Toby turned 9 this year, which in Shibas is not that old--lets say more middle aged I hope!--but I've noticed that he seems like an old dog kind of suddenly. He sleeps more and seems content to just lay in the sun. He does have a number of not age related health issues: he has mild LP and is hypothyroid, and we believe he is developing Cushings. He's not in the greatest health--he's pretty fat and we can't get his weight down, and there's something going on with him that makes him unable to tolerate much exercise, poor boy, so I can't even do much with walking off the weight, though we do go for short walks. He's losing his hair too, which we think is part of the possible Cushings thing, so my poor boy just doesn't look his best, but luckily, he doesn't care!

    But what I really noted with him was that I don't think his hearing is very good anymore! My husband said this, and I thought, no, he's just ignoring you (because of course, he's not only a Shiba, but is very well aware that he's MY shiba!). But recently I realized he really is probably losing his hearing. I was trying to get him into the car today and he loves to go for rides, so he'll come right away for that, but he didn't even twitch his ear or anything when I called him, and then when I approached him, he startled, and it was clear he really didn't hear me at all! I've been noticing this more and more--he doesn't seem to hear me, and he's often startled, especially if he's been asleep. (He seems to sleep more deeply too). Now luckily, he's super keyed into hand signals, and he's often watching me, so if he's paying attention, I can point to where I want him to go and he'll happily do it, but I don't think he's hearing so well.

    Anyone had to deal with loss of hearing in a dog? What do you do?

    Anyone have any tips for dealing with aging dogs or stories about your oldsters?
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    This will be a very good thread hopefully to help others too.

    I am sorry I have no experience to share. I am sure though it is sad to think about him aging. I hope you find answers and support as you enter this phase with your Shibas.
  • comp142comp142
    Posts: 16
    Our B&T Sabu is 13 and, yes, there are definitely challenges.

    His hearing has also diminished. Used to not even get the key in the lock before he was alert and at the door. Now I can be halfway down the hall before he notices. As to what to do? Don't see much in the way of issues to deal with. He's not completely deaf, just doesn't always react as quickly.

    We discovered he had liver issues last year when he had a blood test in preparation for a dental cleaning. They can't pinpoint what it is exactly without a biopsy and we decided that putting him through that would be pointless. It seems to be controlled with Denamarin, so as long as his quality of life is not diminished we will continue with that treatment.

    This fall he came down with acute Pancreatitis and we were sure that the end was at hand for him. It caused some kidney damage and was touch and go for almost a month. Amazingly he recovered back to the point he was before he fell ill. Although we have him on a vet sold kidney food I'm not so sure the drop in kidney function is not more a function of age rather than permanent damage from his illness.

    We've made up our minds that everything depends on his quality of life. He moves a little slower and and has a few issues, but doesn't seem to be in pain or struggling to function day to day. I can instantly transform him into a 6yr old Shiba by simply getting out the lead and harness! (Is it time for walkies!? Why are we still here?)

    His biggest issue right now is his new 9wk old little brother Tank. We believe he may be planning an "accident" while we are not home to gain back his peace and quiet.

    :-$
  • Just thought I'd bump this thread on Toby's birthday! Toby is 10 today, so he is firmly in the "elder" camp now. Toby has been relatively healthy, though he does have mild luxating patella, and is hypothyroid. Recently, (last year) he started developing Cushings syndrome (or so my vet thinks: he's not quite high enough in the numbers to be a cushings dog, but he seems to be on his way). He's also quite fat, and we've been trying a variety of diets for a couple of years, but he has not lost any weight. Unfortunately, I've noticed in the past couple of months this has put more stress on his knee, so we're going to continue to work on his weight.

    He's also a bit deaf these days, poor boy! Well, not deaf, but hard of hearing: sometimes he'll be trying to get in one door, and I'll call him from another and he stands (im)patiently waiting for me to let him in the other, and doesn't realize I'm calling him unless he sees me!

    But in spite of his health issues, Toby is overall doing ok. For most of his life he did not get along with other dogs, and in the past year, he has developed a friendship with our Kai Ken (and that's all due to Leo's patience and sweetness), and this year, he even tolerates the Akita puppy! So yes, and old dog can learn new tricks!

    Here's a picture of Toby for his birthday with Leo:

    P1020343

    And here's my Toby's birthday post on the blog, with more pics and a Toby retrospective: http://fromthehouseofthefoxdogs.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/toby-is-ten/
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2014-01-25 23:23:03
  • tatonkatatonka
    Posts: 1210
    Thank you so much for starting this thread. I've bookmarked it. I love Tatonka so much I worry about things that might happen when he gets older.

    Edit: I'll add what I know about my friend's dog who is older (13 years, Lhasa Apso mix).
    -She must have aching bones. She's not a huge fan of walks, so her exercise has to be well planned.
    -Hates the cold and hates being outside. This makes it difficult to ensure she eliminates outside. Sometimes she will go inside the house maybe to avoid having to go outside (some incontinence contributes to this).
    -She was always particular about personal space and snapped at anyone (except me) who might touch some parts of her (like her ears). With old age, this makes it impossible for someone at Petsmart to cut her nails or groom her, so my friends gets a "come to your home" groomer.
    -Slow reactions and some paranoia due to bad eyesight and hearing
    -Less attention and love. Old dogs in houses with younger dogs and puppies get ignored. After all they're not as interesting or social to the humans.

    Edit 2: @shibamistress what I do with my friend's dog with bad hearing that works is use touch and exaggerated gestures more. Also their sense of smell and taste still works great so treats, bitter apple (as a deterrent), etc.
    Monkey!
    Post edited by tatonka at 2014-01-26 01:20:58
  • natashanatasha
    Posts: 122
    Aww happy birthday Toby! Glad to see he's doing well and even getting some friends. Your story which I have followed has been very educational, and helped me when things didn't work out with a male shiba puppy we tried to get. We were in touch with our breeder who helped us find him another home, so luckily things never escalated to the degree of Toby and Bel. So thank you for sharing your story, it certainly put things in perspective for us.
  • ddavidddavid
    Posts: 94
    I get the jest that Shibas in particular become health prone as they get older. Am I correct ? That puts a question mark in my head.
    I also don't really know how old a normal Shiba gets, before he has to be put to sleep.
    I was so attached to my other 3 dogs, it strikes fear in me if my Shiba won't live as long as my other 3. My Collie lived to 18. My pure bred Dalmation (AKA born from two Champions) lived to 17, and my Dingo/Pit mix lived to 18. I'm expecting the same from my Shiba, that's why I adopted him and saved him from a pound with less than a 1 day to go before being euthanized. He is 8 years old, which would give me 10 years of love to give. I'd rather hear a lie, than counting the years. That isn't a pleasant way to enjoy.
  • natashanatasha
    Posts: 122
    A lot of shibas make it to about 16 years old, and as a breed they are one of the healthier ones around, but this also depends on their lineage. Puppy mill dogs will often have more health issues than others.
  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    While I don't have experience with senior dogs, I do have experience with a deaf dog.

    I once lived with a man that owned a JA, but early in our relationship he also owned a male American Akita named Oso. Oso was born deaf and was communicated with and trained using just hand gestures. I still use that same hand command when I ask my dog to sit. What was also helpful was having another Akita in the house to guide him and help him understand what was going on.

    Unfortunately, Oso was not well socialized and was very reactive towards other dogs and strangers. So if Oso was asleep, it was imperative to wake him up in a way that wouldn't cause him to startle or abruptly attack. We had to stomp on the ground to wake him up or even hit the nearby wall or doorway so he felt the vibration.

    Edit: I wish I had more examples and experience to share about Oso, his story is tragic as well and I didn't spend much time with him. He had attacked and bit many people before and one day he attacked and tore his owner's wrist quite badly. Oso was put down a few days after the incident. :(
    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
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    Post edited by Kira_Kira at 2014-01-26 11:10:42
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    Yay Toby, hitting the grand double digits! His health issues, esp. his weight that doesn't want to go away, still puzzle me, but I absolutely love that he continues to come out of his shell and mingle with the crew. I totally agree that "old dogs" still learn new tricks -- or at the very least, their personality is constantly changing. Which is to say that we must be prepared to change along with them, too...

    --

    I guess I can contribute now, since Bowdu is officially as old as Toby senpai when this thread was started -- he just turned nine years old. I tend to think of Shibas at 4 ~ 8 years of age as being in their prime, and 8 or 9+ as seniorhood (with some dogs moving/behaving as "seniors" earlier than others). Bowdu is finally hitting his senior years. I think he's doing really well!

    IMG_3951

    Bowdu is also hypothyroid (diagnosed before he turned 6), and came from a Taiwanese pet store/night market, so basically unknown, shady sources. Overall, I credit his graceful aging to a good diet, regular exercise and activity (not necessarily super high impact, but something every day), and some lucky genes. He has quite a varied diet, including kibble, home-cooked, dehydrated and home prepared raw. He does a lot of walking, including lots of off-leash time where he can trot about at his own pace (note that we live in an area where this can be done safely). I think keeping him active, and encouraging him to enjoy being active, does wonders to keep him physically and mentally stimulated.

    He does sleep more now (though nowhere near Bowpi the Basenji's marathon snoozefests), he gets winded more quickly, and he is more willing to take it easy in general. But he still has the energy for Shiba 500s.

    IMG_4072IMG_4068
    IMG_4052

    ... although he didn't quite make it up the ledge at first attempt, in that last picture. That was from just a couple weeks ago. Watching him run that day made me realize he's still in really good shape, but he is getting older. This is most evident at the end of long hikes, when we're heading back to the car, and his back legs will shake a bit -- the vet said it was probably a sign of muscle weakness or fatigue. Bowdu allows himself to be lifted up into the car now, whereas he was a little too proud to let that happen before.

    He hovers around 30 pounds at his ideal weight. He can look a little paunchy from some angles, but I think that's just his sagging underbelly skin. Overall, he feels in good shape, and his food portions are well regulated.

    His teeth are looking good too. Some minor plaque buildup, but it all appears very superficial. I'm wondering if it's possible for him to go his whole lifetime without having to undergo a full dental cleaning. That would be ideal, since putting them under becomes more dangerous as they age.

    Bowdu's teeth as of July 2013

    Looking ahead, I do wonder and worry about glaucoma, after hearing so many anecdotes about its sudden onset, sometimes with younger adults, sometimes with seniors. I know there are lots of older Taiwanese Shibas with cataracts, which is to be expected in old age and doesn't seem scary. Glaucoma did not come up as an issue amongst Taiwanese Shibas, nor did I ever see post-enucleation Shibas to the extent that I've noticed them in the US. Maybe it just wasn't on the radar of Taiwanese Shiba owners or vets. Anyway, I doubt Bowdu will ever submit to a proper eye test to measure how susceptible he might be to glaucoma, so this is something to be vigilant about ... probably one of my biggest health concerns for him, mainly because of the cost.

    One final, sort of long-term concern is that Bowdu does not react well at all to being handled while he is in pain, not with strangers or familiars. He becomes a biting, snapping fury when it becomes necessary to handle him under such conditions. I'm at a loss as to how to desensitize him, since the whole point is that his reactivity is highly conditional. I do not know how this bodes for his senior years, but I'm not thinking about it too much now. He still has a lot of life in him, and I expect him to keep on trucking for many, many more years.

    IMG_3595
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • Yay for Bowdu entering his senior years too, and looking so healthy and happy about it! He really is an inspiration, and I'm delighted to see his photos and see how well he has aged!

    Re: Toby's weight, I think it is likely a combo of endocrine problems. They thyroid levels are supposedly correct, but there is the cushings issue as well. He is, now, starting to get the "pot belly" look of of cushings dogs.... He does need more exercise though. We've had our best luck getting weight off with a diet of fish and exercise, so I'm going to start again. I'd like to have him around for as many more healthy years as possible!

    And Toby isn't deaf yet, but getting there, but he's always been good with hand signals, so I use those, and remember that I need to get his attention sometimes. That's a very sad story about Oso, the deaf AA. :(
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    @ddavid

    Some dogs age faster than others, depends on genetics and lifestyle. 18 years from a rescue Shiba may be a bit unrealistic.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    I think it's more fair to say that 18 years from any Shiba, rescue or otherwise, is a bit unrealistic. Few on the Shiba Inu Veterans page, which I realize is possibly out of date and also just a limited sample of all the pedigreed Shibas in the Western world, have hit the 18 year mark, either. But it has happened!

    At any rate, I do believe that it's quite possible overall for Shibas to continue to have a great quality of life even at 12+ years. I can't remember anymore the oldest Shiba I've met, but I've definitely met several in the double digits that appeared to be doing great, rescued and otherwise. Of course that doesn't mean you can just expect them all to be hardy seniors, especially if you don't know anything about their lineage. But one can stay informed of typical age-related health issues within the breed, prepare the best one is able (financially, emotionally, etc.), and then hope for the best.
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • ddavidddavid
    Posts: 94
    @curlytails
    I just love your pictures. Thanks for posting. Which leads to a question. You have your Shiba free running (off the leech) Do you do that only in the wild ? or does he stay off leech all the time ? I would love to have my Shiba run free especially since we have the acreage, yet we still live in the middle of 4 million city, for him to get out. And coyotes are our problem. I had my Dingo/Brindle run free as you do, strong wonderful dog, but 1 day he was surrounded by a pack of Coyotes and they did his hind quarters in. That's what reduced his life span, otherwise I think he could have lived another 5 years easily past 18 in my estimation. He too was a rescue, a rescue which enriched my life with joy. Wonderful pics.
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    @ddavid,
    We have some good threads about off-leash Shibas, as it's a question that comes up often. I'd redirect you to these threads to continue that topic:
    http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/discussion/5857#Item_23
    (Sidenote to self: Amusing to me that I am talking about a five-year-old Bowdu there, and that I said I'd probably not take him to a forest, because we have done a few forest hikes now, though not terribly remote places.)
    http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/discussion/8052#Item_38
    http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/discussion/3574#Item_34

    Since you are in an area where you already know that coyotes were a problem, and feel that it did shorten your Dingo's life, I wouldn't risk it with your new Shiba.

    Bowdu's off-leash privileges are determined by space, laws, and of course his own behavior. He's legally allowed to roam off leash in the places that I take him, and we've had enough practice/experience to know what works for us; doesn't mean that I'd see every Shiba that way. As far as I know, he's not legally allowed to roam off leash in my neighborhood, on campus, or other places I take him -- nor would I want to let him! If there is any possibility of him coming in contact with cars, dangerous wildlife, or unknown terrain (like drop cliffs or whatever), the leash is on. The goal of our off-leash exercise is to extend his life, not to tragically truncate it!
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
    Post edited by curlytails at 2014-01-26 19:19:05
  • ddavidddavid
    Posts: 94
    @curlytails
    Thanks for your reply. Your wisdom was well received. I think I'm expecting too much.
    That's my inner self. I trained both my Dalmation and Dingo to heel, stay by my side without a leash, not cross a road without my OK. Let 'em run but return upon my command. For all I read about Shiba's stubborn willpower, I thought I could make it different. I have lots of passion's but this time it may be fruitless. I'll let you know in a year. I've only had Nikki for less than 2 months and he's coming around to mind me.
    And thank you for the links.
    Post edited by ddavid at 2014-01-26 21:42:49
  • amtiamti
    Posts: 1066
    Happy Birthday to Toby! Shibamistress, could an increase in the thyroid meds help take off pounds? The first month Sheba was on meds, she was at 0.8. Now she's at 0.6. If I recall correctly, wasn't Toby around 0.2? Sheba is still losing, although at a much slower rate- about 1 pound/month, which the vet feels is healthy. When she was on 0.8, she lost about 5 pounds.

    My first shiba passed away relatively early around 10 from the heartworm meds. My second one passed from kidney failure. She was about 12 and was healthy up to then. Both dogs were adopted into our family so their roots are unknown, but they were abandoned dogs on a military base. My Samoyed, while not a shiba, is a spitz breed, was put down at 13 because she had a big growth on her side and we did not feel it was right to operate on her at her age. She was hard of hearing, couldn't see well and could not get up without rocking herself up or without help. She started to wet herself while sleeping and would feel terrible about it when she found out. She whimpered because her hind legs would hurt. She stopped getting up to eat so my son, who was three at the time, would bring her food and feed her one morsel at a time. He would often lay there with Sasha and read her books. The day we finally agreed to take her in, she walked out of the door herself and pranced around the yard like she was in no pain, so I doubted myself. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do. I haven't had much luck in getting fur babies that live long, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Taisho and Kaji live to be at least 17 years old and have great lives. I can't think of living without them and the thought of them growing old and dying makes me so sad.

    Ddavid, My Kaji runs freely most of the time. We live in the city but next to a wooded area and because there are coyotes, I never let him get too far away from me. I think he senses some danger in the woods too because he's very good about staying within eyesight. How did you get the pack of coyotes off your dog? While in the woods, I'm always looking for them and worried I won't know how to scare them away.

    I should also add that I take him into the woods behind my house and there is a well traveled path. Many people take their dogs there and jog it so it is not that secluded. I have not seen any coyotes there but hear them at night. I have also taught Kaji to stop at the curb and wait for me before crossing any street. I think off leash training is worth doing, even if you use a leash most of the time. I no longer worry about Kaji getting out when people come over because he has a certain amount of freedom because he listens well and comes when instructed. That alone is worth it!
    Post edited by amti at 2014-01-26 22:52:33
  • ddavidddavid
    Posts: 94
    How did you get the pack of coyotes off your dog? While in the woods.

    To be honest my heart was pounding and adrenalin was running. I could hear them and my dogs bark. It was 100 ft some below the house, so I ran into the garage and grabbed a bat. I was intending to grab my pistol but that was in the house. Speed was on my mind. I just ran into the pack with my bat swinging, the Coyotes just took off, about 10 of them Then I had to carry my Dingo up to the house, his hind quarters wouldn't support him. Coyotes are no different from any animal, self preservation, when they sense harm to them their 4 legs will seek safety. I wouldn't do that with a Cougar, but cougars don't hunt in packs. Packs have an organization, when that organization fails you've just won the battle. We have a couple of places were Cougars have killed joggers, I stay away from those places.
  • @amti: Toby's thyroid levels are correct. He is at the right dosage for him. We can't just up the dose to get him to lose weight as he would then start to be hyperthyroid! So that's not the answer, I'm afraid.
  • tatonkatatonka
    Posts: 1210
    @curlytails, my goodness those teeth look pretty flawless. What's your secret?
    Monkey!
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    @tatonka No secret. The same for both dogs: a sugar-free diet, natural chews. Varies by dog: dental additive PlaqueOff (seaweed-based, so I only give occasional or lower amounts for Bowdu, while Bowpi gets the suggested amount daily), tooth brushing (Bowpi gets it regularly, Bowdu only occasionally), and genetic luck of the draw.

    To compare, this is what Bowpi the Basenji's teeth look like (she is also nine years old now):

    Bowpi's teeth are kind of gross. #basenjiTEETH #basenjichallenge

    Not a very good shot, sorry, but she's squirmy. I couldn't even pry open her mouth wide enough to show you her molars, which is part of her problem because of the way her sighthound mouth is shaped. She also underwent a full dental cleaning a couple years ago, and the buildup is already back to this... Even with semi-regular brushing (which the vet insisted is keeping her teeth in reasonable shape, though I feel like Bowpi's teeth are so much worse than Bowdu's, but maybe that's just because I'm comparing against a relatively high standard, haha).

    On "natural" chews: I stopped buying dental chews like those Zuke's bones or Terrabones and definitely Greenies a while ago, because I thought they were too expensive for what they claimed to do -- clean your dog's teeth. Plus, they didn't seem to digest very well because it'd all come out in chunky colorful poop. (Also, Zuke's was recently bought out by Nestle/Purina, but that's another topic.)

    I prefer giving them chews like raw bones and dehydrated skins. With bones, the trick for me was to find something between chicken bones (too soft) and beef bones (readily available, but too hard). No matter what the bone, Bowdu WILL try to consume the whole thing, so I have to watch and make sure he's not chewing so vigorously that he'll crack his teeth. Basically I look for bones that encourage him to gnaw and work his whole jaw around the knobs, because that does a lot to naturally knock off a lot of plaque. Raw lamb (though hard to find, for me) and pork bones work well for him, as well as some commercial chews like The Honest Kitchen's dehydrated fish skins.

    I'm going to go bump an old thread because I think it might be better to go into dental health in a topic of its own. It's something that I do take way more seriously now, in part because Bowpi's issues made me aware of its importance, and because dental health is a classic example of preventative maintenance that will pay off for your dog's health when they hit their senior years.
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • Yep, my dogs teeth are in great shape. They eat a raw BARF style diet, though, with bones.
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    Also, Zuke's was recently bought out by Nestle/Purina, but that's another topic.
    That sucks I liked Zukes. Ah well I've been making my own treats.

    Glad your two doing well.

    I agree sugar free type diet is best Dink our 16year old catahoula mix had horrible teeth once I learned better got her on better kibble and gave an occasional raw turkey neck or chicken quarter it got bit better, but not as good as when she was a pup.

    It could be due to genetics, but doesn't help her diet was poor and high in sugar.
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  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    NOOOOO!!!!! Not Zuke's too!!!! :((
    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
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  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    I cleaned out the shelves at my pet boutique, so now I have enough Zukes for a few years. Maybe there will be something similar for training treats at that time.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • To add another "old dog learns new tricks" I just took Toby for a very brief ride with Leo. Leo is a nervous car rider, whether he is crated or tethered. This time, since the trip was very short (less than a mile) I left them loose in the car. Toby stuck his head out the window, and Leo watched with great interest, then very stuck his nose out! He was so excited, and he seemed a lot calmer about his ride when he saw how Toby was comfortable and happy in the car.

    I suppose this is more "old dog teaches young dog new tricks" but I did think it was quite funny.

  • sisi_ausisi_au
    Posts: 3
    Miso turn 15 years in January 2014 and about two years + ago I remember telling miso to sit for food and then without warning he started to slides back and could not get up and I tried to get him up he Shiba screamed. Now he is getting even weaker on his back legs when he lays down he tries so hard to get up but cannot and he panics and screams out for help. He is on medication but is not really helping. He recently went to the vet because he had a problem with his poo and was given medication but since that visit he has to be picked off the floor every so often which is frustrating because cannot leave him at home and he also started to bark and shiba scream at night and pacing which we think could be CDS. He is going to the vet this arvo and I was crying on the phone to the vet nurse because it I want him to be better. Fingers cross that we might be able to make him feel better. Has anyone else had a problem like is before?
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    @sisi_au Were you able to get any input from the vet?

    Screaming for help sounds dramatic. I wonder if it is some kind of spinal issue, and how that would be diagnosed?
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • I was wondering how he was too. This isn't anything I've come across either, but it does sound like it might be a spinal issue. Sorry you're having to deal with this in your boy, and keep us posted!
  • I'm bumping this thread because a question about elder Shibas came up on the Nihon Ken side, and I'm hoping the person will repost here too!
  • aferraroaferraro
    Posts: 33
    I do not have a elderly shiba, but I do have a shiba with lots of problems!

    1. She is overweight and exercise is difficult (read on) - so she is on a fish based diet. The Honest Kitchen Zeal, and more recently OC RAW Fish and Produce blend.

    2. The vet thinks she has a herniated disc in her T12-T13 lumbar (middle of the back). I don't think that I know more that the vet, but I saw the X-Rays, and there wasn't much to see. I have done a bit of research and have learned that vets don't learn much about back issues in dogs. So, it could be a herniated disc, it could be some muscle issue. Who knows.

    3. She has luxtating petellas in both back knees - this means her knee caps pop in and out of socket. The phyical therapist/vet rated this a 3 out 4 in severity. She said the first time it happened must have been fairly traumatic because it doesn't seem her bother her now.

    4. She has very straight legs that she hyper extends when walking.

    She has been to the vet three times because of her back issue. Each time they give her muscle relaxers, pain meds, and even steroids. And they mentioned the possibility of paralyzation and spinal surgery if the problem keeps flaring up. I didn't like the drugs, and I really didn't like the words spinal surgery. So I looked into preventative measures. Here is what I have found:

    1. Lose weight - it is a slow process with needing to be careful with exercise. The fish diet does seem to help (it helps with her acid reflux too - but that is on another thread)

    2. FItPaws! It is like doggie pilates. This helps dogs build core muscle and back leg awareness. I have found this to be one of the most helpful aspects of Emma's therapy. Here is a sight I found to help you get started: http://www.paradisecaninerehab.com/home-exercises/balance-exercises/

    3. Chiropractor for the dog. If you aren't a crazy dog lady like me, this sounds weird. I thought the same thing. Then I tried it - and my dog got worse. It was the wrong chiropractor for us. It took me about 9 months to try again. When I did, I found someone who does laser light therapy and milder adjustments. I fell in love. Emma is like a puppy when we get back from visits with Dr. Andi.

    4. I watch my dog. I know what she walks like on a good day, I know what she walks like on a bad day. I also let her set the pace on a walk. The faster she walks, the better for her legs. Slow speeds make her hyperextend her legs. I keep the walks short. We go on more short walks throughout the day rather than 1 long walk. If she walks slow, I make the walk even shorter. If the weather is bad and we can't get out for a couple days, I start with really short walks and extend time over a week or so.

    5. Last, doggie massage. I rub her shoulders, neck, and if she lets me her hips. On sore days, she says no hips and I listen.

    Emma is currently on no medications and runs and jumps around the house probably more than she should, but we are monitoring her. On our walk tonight, she wanted to run. Not jog, run. That hasn't happened in over a year and a half. So we ran - for a block. :o)

    Let me know if you are interested in info on the stretches and exercises we do during FitPaws, I would be happy to share what I know.
  • ddavidddavid
    Posts: 94
    I do would like to mention when it comes to age all dogs are pretty much the same.
    They all make believe they can't hear you, but they do. It's just that they become lazier, and don't like to get excited the same as younger pups do.
    The more exercise you can give an old dog, the better, but rather shorter walks. Let him decide how far he wants to go. Our 8 year old Shiba walks to the door when he had enough, or he will bypass the door, stay far away from the door, when wants to walk more. He sleeps quit a bit, as all older dogs do, I've owned. As they get older the rear legs give them more problems. I can't say much about health issues, we've been very lucky with our Collie, Dalmation, Stratford Pit, and our Shiba. And same with our cats, they either lived to be 24 or got eaten by a coyote. The diet is still the most important thing you can do for a dog, putting on weight is the worst because they can't handle the body weight for their legs. Legs don't get stronger as they get older, but instead become weaker. And hips become weaker too. Dogs are the same as humans, the more body weight, the shorter their life span.
    I myself haven't noticed any difference between our Shiba and our prior dogs, except that they are more stubborn, and attempt to control you. Sharp as a tack, they pick up fast how to manipulate you. If anyone is afraid that their dog is getting older, don't be, they still love to be loved, they still require the same care, and they still will bring much joy.
  • 603shiba603shiba
    Posts: 99
    Great thread!

    Brewster is 11.5 years. He has always hesitated to go up long flights of stairs, but he is hesitating a bit more now. His knees and hips are still good, though, according to the vet. The vet thinks he is probably starting to get a little arthritis, which is normal for this age. We are going to start him on a glucosamine supplement. Any recommendations?

    Pretty conveniently my children are now at an age where I can trust them to be responsible to walk him around our land, and give him some extra exercise, because he gains weight more easily than he used to. We used to do 2 long walks per day and a couple shorter walks, but now he seems to gain weight if we don't squeeze in some extra exercise mid-day (Maybe because he runs around the house a bit less?). We also mostly use baby carrots and apples for treats now (he loves both and they are less caloric than his other treats). They are also watching Brew for Cushings. He zooms a lot less than he used to, but he still wants to play fetch whenever anyone is willing. He loves clicker training, and you can't even put a clicker in your pocket without him getting all wiggly.

    We had a cancerous lump removed from his belly a few years back. It was removed with clean margins, but we switched to a high protein and low grain food at the time (recommended by the vet to discourage cancer cell growth (one of the many benefits)). Since then, on his most recent senior blood work, his liver enzymes were a bit elevated. The vet said to switch him to a less protein-intense food and we will test him again in a few months.

    He is still so playful and willing to work. His hearing and vision seem to be getting a bit less sharp, and he's starting to develop cataracts (but too early to treat). However, for his age the vet said he looks wonderful. His coat, teeth, etc. are great. We did his teeth 2 years ago, and we need to start thinking about doing them again, but they look pretty clean according to the vet. He is 23 lbs with his winter coat, and he tends to drop down a pound or two in the summer (partially because he has a very thick coat, and partially because we spend more time hiking and outdoors when it is, you know, above freezing...ha ha).

    To add to the "old dog learn new tricks" thread - my 9-year old daughter is pretty passionate about doing a daily training with Brewster. He never loved having his paws touched, and despite all the commands he knows (sit, stay, down, wait, drop it, get, come, walk, crawl, etc.) he would never happily partake in "paw" and I didn't force it on him. Well, just recently he perfected paw! It's more like a high-five slap of one paw, but he does it when she says "paw."
  • 603shiba603shiba
    Posts: 99
    Also, I was wondering if any of the seniors partake in dog sports? I am wondering if it would be beneficial or risky to put Brew back in classes. On the one hand I am worried about injury. On the other, I think the exercise would be good for him, and it will also help keep his skills sharp as we add a new pup to our pack. I was thinking of barn hunt and/or rally instead of agility (he loved agility in his younger years, but we never officially competed).
  • aferraroaferraro
    Posts: 33
    Other sports that might be fun and not as taxing on the body:
    - nose work
    - Trieball (Urban Herding)
    - tricks
    - FitPaws
  • I'm going to do a nosework class with my boy, Toby. He's dog reactive so he can't do a whole lot of other things, but nosework should be perfect for him!
  • 603shiba603shiba
    Posts: 99
    We are in the midst of appealing his rabies vax, so once that is settled (either he will have to get it again despite history of reaction, or we will get pass from the state of NH), I will sign him up for something. He will stay with me in a heel, and will not react to other dogs, BUT, if another dog owner lets their dog come pounce him, I'm sure he would react. I have to call the gym we used to go to and see what they recommend. It's been a while. I might go check out the atmosphere and get myself comfortable with it before I even take him to anything. He will totally feed off of my energy if I'm nervous the first time we go back. I feel like he would have excelled at nosework and barn hunt classes in his younger days, but his sniffer and vision aren't as good as they used to be.
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    If he enjoys doing little tricks rally would be perfect for him and it doesn't involve a lot of running.
  • 603shiba603shiba
    Posts: 99
    Thanks, Juni! He does love doing tricks.
  • well, here's some Shiba elder issues. took Toby to the vet today because he's been limping. We've always known he had mild LP, but no more! Meaning today she gave it a grade of "5" which kind of a joke (4 is as bad as it gets) to tell me how bad it is. Basically his knee cap doesn't stay in place even when we put it back in place (I felt it pop back out of place immediately). She thinks he may have had a recent injury (not one I saw) that twisted the knee and made it worse for now (it wasn't this bad a couple of months ago), but now it is as bad as it could be. We could do surgery, but he's 10, and the recovery time is long on this. Right now, we're going to see if this was made worse by an injury, give him a month of almost no activity, and reevaluate.

    And when we were looking at the xrays, we discovered his liver is quite shrunken. Cirrhosis of the liver, probably from the meds he had to take when he nearly died several years ago--he was on quite a heavy dose of antibiotics, painkillers, muscle relaxants, etc. We didn't have a choice: he would have died. But now that we know, we're going to work on strengthening his liver. (He hasn't shown any signs of liver disease, but obviously, there are problems).

    But the good news was no arthritis or compacted discs in his spine, and his hips looked great, so at least he's not as bad off as he could be, and she said his back and hips looked great for a dog his age. But the knee is bad, poor boy!

    So my elder boy is going to have even less activity for awhile, sadly.
  • natashanatasha
    Posts: 122
    Sorry to hear that shibamistress, seems like you've had more than your fair share of doggy health issues. Hope Toby's knee is due to an injury and manages to improve somewhat.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8583
    @shibamistress - I saw this on FB this morning... Poor boy can not catch a break! Hopefully limiting his activity will help his LP and the supplements you were talking about will help strengthen his liver. Give him some extra love from us!
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • AntoinetteAntoinette
    Posts: 887
    Thanks to all for your comments. @curlytails-Bowdu is gorgeous, so strong and healthy looking! @shibamistress-sorry to hear about your wonderful pooch's health issues. We all love our Shibas so much!! That counts for a lot!!
  • 603shiba603shiba
    Posts: 99
    @shibamistress - So sorry to hear about all he has going on. He's lucky to have such a nice mom to take care of him! Which supplements are good for the liver? Brewster's liver enzymes and kidney numbers were a bit off last time. They told us to switch off of Orijen to something with a bit less protein. We are transitioning to Acana right now. I would like to get him on some supplements, too.
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    @shibamistress Oh poor Toby! That really sucks about having to limit his activity, especially after all your efforts trying to get him into shape. The liver issues would frighten me more than the LP, not that any of it is easy news to take. Was this the first time you've ever done an X-Ray for him? Sucks to know that medications from so long ago could still have such long-term repercussions. This is something I've always tried to be mindful of with my own health, since so much is processed by the liver. One reason why I try to avoid medications unless it's absolutely necessary, which I realize it was for Toby... Battle scars, inside and out.
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • AddieThibAddieThib
    Posts: 42
    Well this seems to be the right thread for this. I've applied to adopt a very sweet elder Shiba from a rescue. I've talked to the foster mom already! I'm really excited about this opportunity. She's wonderful with kids and cats, but she was kept by an older couple who didn't socialize her with many dogs. She's fine walking past them, but when other dogs come up to her to sniff and check her out, she growls.
    She's 12 years old, and I'm a firm believer that old dogs CAN learn new tricks with patience and love.

    So my question here is how would I start to make other dogs a positive experience for her if I do adopt her? I understand it will take some time, and I'm determined to help her out with this.
    It's a question I'm curious about nevertheless.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8583
    @AddieThib - Start reading through the "Socialization, Fear, & Anxiety" and "Reactivity & Aggression" categories. There is a ton of information already on the forum regarding working with reactive dogs and socializing them with positive experiences.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • @sunyata Okay, I'm having trouble choosing a specific forum! So when it comes down to it, try to pick the actual problem to look up rather than the age of the dog? (I felt that the age was important to note so I posted in the elder shiba board.) Geez, I'm really sorry, I feel like I always post in the wrong place.
    Post edited by AddieThib at 2014-08-01 11:01:08
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8583
    @AddieThib - Look for existing threads that are similar to what issue you are having. 99% of the time there is already a thread that you can read through to get advice that has already been given. There is often no need to start a new thread and most of the time, your question can be answered fully if you just read through the existing threads. :)
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • Yes, take a look at the socialization threads, as that's the bigger issue, rather than her age. But YAY for adopting an elder! I hope you'll love her--elder Shibas are the best! They are mellow and much easier to handle than puppies, and just overall a joy to be around. Plus, it just breaks my heart to think about elders needing homes, so I'm always just thrilled when people want to adopt them. I hope you get her! (And when you do, make a life story thread for her--we'll want to see pics of course!)

    You'll find more info. in the socialization threads, of course, but also....just take it really slow. She's new to you, and it may take several months before she really settles in. There may (or may not) be problems in the beginning as she figures out her place, and she may not be up for a lot at first--she has to get used to you and her new home. Also, elders do tire easily, and so she may not be up for a lot.

    Also, I'd say this about her "problem": is it really a problem? I don't think so actually. Does she HAVE to meet new dogs? If she's polite as long as other dogs keep their distance, I'd say you can work with that and don't necessarily have to work on changing it. My elder, Toby, is like that. He was QUITE reactive as a young dog, but now has mellowed and he just ignores other dogs now, unless they come up to him, and then he will growl. So I just don't let other dogs near him, and I accept that this is who he is, and he's 10, and he doesn't have to interact with other dogs if he doesn't want to.

    (Which is not to say you shouldn't try to work with her, slowly and gently on this if you want to, after she's had a chance to settle in, but also, I'm in favor of accepting who dogs are, too, so I wouldn't see this as a problem, really).

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