Just inherited a GSD - she has ISSUES! - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Just inherited a GSD - she has ISSUES!

This isn't a doberman question, but since DT has been a good resource for me with my dobes in the past, and I know a lot of members have experience with German shepherds, I thought I'd come here for some advice and suggestions.

A couple of weeks ago, I inherited my mom's German shepherd, Belle. She is 9 years old. My mom had cancer and recently passed away. During the last months of mom's life, Belle mostly stayed in the back yard (she had a dog house and a covered porch), and was fed at night. Her diet was Kibbles and Bits mixed with a can of Pedigree, and she was fed at night. Mom lived in Mississippi, and I live in Colorado, so Belle has experienced a drastic altitude change and is in a drier climate than before. She was seen by a vet prior to her trip out here for her health certificate and to get caught up on her shots.

The problems I'm having with her are as follows:

Arthritis - When she got here, I noticed that she had trouble getting up from a laying down position, and she also had trouble with the stairs. I assume she was pretty arthritic. I put some GlycoFlex III on my Amazon Subscribe and Save, but since it was going to be about 3 weeks before it shipped, I went out looking for a glucosamine supplement that I could buy locally, and I found Cosequin DS chews. She won't eat them straight up, so I try to crumble them into her food and disguise them. When she was eating better and was getting the chews into her system, I noticed an improvement and I was so excited that she was getting around better and seemed more comfortable, but she has gotten back into her habit of not eating, and is therefore not getting the supplement into her system. She's seemed limpy-er and more achey the last couple of days. This brings my to my next concern...

Food - This dog does not eat - she will not. I transitioned her from K&B to TOTW (which is what I feed my other dogs) using the bag of K&B that traveled with her, and she is now off of the K&B and on TOTW. I also mix the dry TOTW with a bit of canned AvoDerm because I know she's used to eating canned food, and I wanted to make sure she ate. She does OK sometimes if I feed her small amounts and sit with her while she is eating (the first night she was here, I actually hand fed her), but I have to coax her back over to her bowl at least a dozen times in order for her to finish it because she just walks away. She won't eat unless someone is standing with her. And even then, she usually just won't eat.

Skin - Her skin is scabby and crusty in some places. That was the reason I chose to get her the AvoDerm canned food. It does seem to be getting better, but I've thought about adding some fish of some kind to her diet to get more oils into her system.

Nervousness - We put a bed for her in my son's room, and showed it to her when we first brought her home. That is where she chooses to spend probably 22 hours a day now (except for when we're at work). She will come if I call her to go outside. I tell her to come outside with me when I'm going out there to work in the yard, feed the horses, etc. just to get her out and moving around and spend some time with me. If I'm in the living room and I call her, she'll come out and she acts friendly, but after a few pets, she just goes back to the bed in my son's room. So in short, she will come out to eat, potty, and a little bit of socialization. She is sweet and friendly when she is around us. We make a big deal of it when she comes out of her corner and spends time with us - she gets lots of praise and pets.

The not eating thing is so stressful. And my dobe Sadie has now started to not eat because she knows that Belle is getting canned food, so she's turning her nose up at her dry food! We're trying our best to take care of her, but is there something else I can do to get her to eat? Is this a tough love thing where we just need to put dry food down and let her get hungry enough to eat? It just stresses me because then she isn't getting her glucosamine, and it seemed to be helping so much when she did eat it.

Any suggestions are welcome.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 04:50 PM
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No suggestions. I just wanted to offer my condolences on the passing of your mother. I also wanted to compliment you on taking in her elderly, somewhat infirm dog. In my experience many people are not that kind hearted.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I am happy to have her here, I just wish I could get her happy and feeling better.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Dobes View Post
This isn't a doberman question, but since DT has been a good resource for me with my dobes in the past, and I know a lot of members have experience with German shepherds, I thought I'd come here for some advice and suggestions.
A couple of weeks ago, I inherited my mom's German shepherd, Belle. She is 9 years old. My mom had cancer and recently passed away. During the last months of mom's life, Belle mostly stayed in the back yard (she had a dog house and a covered porch), and was fed at night. Her diet was Kibbles and Bits mixed with a can of Pedigree, and she was fed at night. Mom lived in Mississippi, and I live in Colorado, so Belle has experienced a drastic altitude change and is in a drier climate than before. She was seen by a vet prior to her trip out here for her health certificate and to get caught up on her shots.

The problems I'm having with her are as follows:

Arthritis - When she got here, I noticed that she had trouble getting up from a laying down position, and she also had trouble with the stairs. I assume she was pretty arthritic. I put some GlycoFlex III on my Amazon Subscribe and Save, but since it was going to be about 3 weeks before it shipped, I went out looking for a glucosamine supplement that I could buy locally, and I found Cosequin DS chews. She won't eat them straight up, so I try to crumble them into her food and disguise them. When she was eating better and was getting the chews into her system, I noticed an improvement and I was so excited that she was getting around better and seemed more comfortable, but she has gotten back into her habit of not eating, and is therefore not getting the supplement into her system. She's seemed limpy-er and more achey the last couple of days. This brings my to my next concern...

Food - This dog does not eat - she will not. I transitioned her from K&B to TOTW (which is what I feed my other dogs) using the bag of K&B that traveled with her, and she is now off of the K&B and on TOTW. I also mix the dry TOTW with a bit of canned AvoDerm because I know she's used to eating canned food, and I wanted to make sure she ate. She does OK sometimes if I feed her small amounts and sit with her while she is eating (the first night she was here, I actually hand fed her), but I have to coax her back over to her bowl at least a dozen times in order for her to finish it because she just walks away. She won't eat unless someone is standing with her. And even then, she usually just won't eat.

Skin - Her skin is scabby and crusty in some places. That was the reason I chose to get her the AvoDerm canned food. It does seem to be getting better, but I've thought about adding some fish of some kind to her diet to get more oils into her system.

Nervousness - We put a bed for her in my son's room, and showed it to her when we first brought her home. That is where she chooses to spend probably 22 hours a day now (except for when we're at work). She will come if I call her to go outside. I tell her to come outside with me when I'm going out there to work in the yard, feed the horses, etc. just to get her out and moving around and spend some time with me. If I'm in the living room and I call her, she'll come out and she acts friendly, but after a few pets, she just goes back to the bed in my son's room. So in short, she will come out to eat, potty, and a little bit of socialization. She is sweet and friendly when she is around us. We make a big deal of it when she comes out of her corner and spends time with us - she gets lots of praise and pets.

The not eating thing is so stressful. And my dobe Sadie has now started to not eat because she knows that Belle is getting canned food, so she's turning her nose up at her dry food! We're trying our best to take care of her, but is there something else I can do to get her to eat? Is this a tough love thing where we just need to put dry food down and let her get hungry enough to eat? It just stresses me because then she isn't getting her glucosamine, and it seemed to be helping so much when she did eat it.

Any suggestions are welcome.
I have both Dobermans and German Shepherds. My Shepherds are German show line. but most of your issues I don't think are breed specific issues. I have seen these traits in both breeds. Both breeds take dramatic change hard. Eating falling off is most common. dogs can suffer depression. For the arthritis The glucosamine supplements are what is going to work the best. I have had some that you couldn't convince it was a treat and wouldn't eat it with food. My only recourse was to hold them tip head back, open their mouth and shove it to the back of their mouth over the hump in their tongue and then hold their mouth shut rub their throat until they swallowed. If that is the only way to get them to take it, then that is what I felt I had to do. it wasn't worth them being in pain.
Food---- My dobermans and German Shepherds do not eat the same food. My Dobermans are on one for their coats our German Shepherds are on one that more fits their needs. Different types of dogs in different environments are going to require different foods. You will probably have to experiment to find one that works well and that she will eat. we generally feed ours separately, doing so will help avoid the problems of of one seeing what the other is eating.
skin---- German Shepherds need to be brushed regularly. They shed a lot (referred to by many as german shedders) If they aren't brushed regularly they start chewing at those areas causing sores. usually seen around the rump area. proper foods can help also.
Nervousness ---- back to the dramatic changes and loss in her life. Brought into another house where there are dogs who are well established. She needs some quality time with members of the home and supervised time with the other dogs so that she starts to feel part of the family. Otherwise she feels nervous because of the change and doesn't feel accepted where she is. so it is up to you to make her feel accepted. Some dogs will also chew on themselves if they have nervous energy. (as will some birds Parrots are especially that way).
Don't be over enthusiastic about her coming out. That raises her nervous and tension level. calmness is what she needs, People when trying to praise a dog their voices usually go higher. This would actually be counter productive in cases like this.

And of course these comments are my personal opinions based upon my own experience in my 53 years of life and over 35 years of Dobermans. I am in no way saying these are the only things that will work but it is a place to start. Others may have experiences that differ from that of my own.

Reggie McIntyre
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, Reggie! That is good to know about the food. I was figuring anything had to be better than Kibbles and Bits and Pedigree! Do you have any particular foods that you've found work well for your GSDs? We did invest in the XL Furminator and have been brushing her coat regularly. It doesn't seem to matter how much I brush her, more loose hair comes out. I haven't noticed her chewing or licking or anything. Oddly enough, she doesn't even seem to be itching terribly (although when you pet or scratch her back, she will dip and shake her leg, so obviously it feels good). It's just scabbiness mostly on her chest. She has been so good with my kids, which is nice. They love her already, and she is content to hang out in the room with them!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 06:14 PM
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One of our Shepherds is on an almost complete raw diet. That is generally the only way we can keep weight on her. The other one will eat almost anything in front of her. and does well on them. You and I live in very different climates. I live in north Florida with the super high humidity. so What I feed would be probably quite different then what would go for you. I would actually ask my vet what they recommend for this particular dog. Now of course they probably also sell a particular name brand like Pro Plan. But it is at least a place to start. My two dobes are on Pro Plan sensitive skin and stomach. They do real well on it, no dandruff and real shiny coats for the ring. I'm not as hard set on particular name brands as some. To me name brand is less important then how the dog is doing on it. And I have used many name brands over the years. With some doing well on one and others doing poorly. Each individual dog is going to be different, and as long as it is a good quality food if they like it and do well those are the only factors I go by.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado Dobes View Post
This isn't a doberman question, but since DT has been a good resource for me with my dobes in the past, and I know a lot of members have experience with German shepherds, I thought I'd come here for some advice and suggestions.
I don't know how much help I'll be but I too want to say how sorry I was to hear of the loss of your mother.

Quote:
A couple of weeks ago, I inherited my mom's German shepherd, Belle. She is 9 years old. My mom had cancer and recently passed away. During the last months of mom's life, Belle mostly stayed in the back yard (she had a dog house and a covered porch), and was fed at night. Her diet was Kibbles and Bits mixed with a can of Pedigree, and she was fed at night. Mom lived in Mississippi, and I live in Colorado, so Belle has experienced a drastic altitude change and is in a drier climate than before. She was seen by a vet prior to her trip out here for her health certificate and to get caught up on her shots

The problems I'm having with her are as follows:
Boy, you're right that is a radical change.

Quote:
Arthritis - When she got here, I noticed that she had trouble getting up from a laying down position, and she also had trouble with the stairs. I assume she was pretty arthritic. I put some GlycoFlex III on my Amazon Subscribe and Save, but since it was going to be about 3 weeks before it shipped, I went out looking for a glucosamine supplement that I could buy locally, and I found Cosequin DS chews. She won't eat them straight up, so I try to crumble them into her food and disguise them. When she was eating better and was getting the chews into her system, I noticed an improvement and I was so excited that she was getting around better and seemed more comfortable, but she has gotten back into her habit of not eating, and is therefore not getting the supplement into her system. She's seemed limpy-er and more achey the last couple of days.
There are a number of things that come only as chews or chewable tablets and if it's something that I really think is necessary (meds or suppliments) I don't rely on putting them in with the food to get them into the dog--my gluttons will eat anything I toss into thier food but I've taken care of other peoples dogs who don't. Will she eat treats? Can you break them up and wrap them in cream cheese, regular cheese, liverwurst? or something along those lines and hand them to her as treats? Or I also will just poke them down the dog--GSD's have the same advantage that Dobes do if you have to hand pill or hand feed the chews--they have nice long noses and big throats and you can usually get stuff down that way if they aren't eating well.

Quote:
This brings my to my next concern...

Food - This dog does not eat - she will not. I transitioned her from K&B to TOTW (which is what I feed my other dogs) using the bag of K&B that traveled with her, and she is now off of the K&B and on TOTW. I also mix the dry TOTW with a bit of canned AvoDerm because I know she's used to eating canned food, and I wanted to make sure she ate. She does OK sometimes if I feed her small amounts and sit with her while she is eating (the first night she was here, I actually hand fed her), but I have to coax her back over to her bowl at least a dozen times in order for her to finish it because she just walks away. She won't eat unless someone is standing with her. And even then, she usually just won't eat.
Are you feeding her twice a day? Have you tried feeding her only once a day. Every dog I've ever had has been fed twice a day except my Australian Shepherd--he ate twice a day from 4 months to 18 months--at which time he simply stopped eating breakfast--he'd eat dinner but that was it and ultimately I gave up and fed him dinner only--about the time he turned 8 he came in the kitchen one morning when I was distributing food to the Dobes--I gave him breakfast and he went back to eating twice a day for the rest of his life. But since she'd been eating only one meal at night if you haven't tried only one meal a day you might see if that works. Was she being fed outside at your mom's? I've twice had visiting dogs here who got fed outside and would not eat (or at least didn't eat well) if you tried to feed them inside. That's another thing you might try. And I be inclined to try some different foods. I know a couple of GSD breeders who have been feeding ProPlan Chicken and Rice--excuse me--it's called Focus Chicken & Rice or Salmon and Rice (was ProPlan Sensitive Skin and Stomach--not sure what they are calling it now). It really isn't poison although some of the members here are sure it is--but it has been my fall back food for years--in part because even picky eaters seem to like it and all of my dogs do well on it. As far as canned food goes an old friend who bred GSD for years claimed that they tended to be not very good eaters and his "never fail" trick was to choose the smelliest canned food h could find and use that--he said he relied on the kibble to give them the needed nutrients and the stinky canned food just kept them eating.

And I'd feed the Dobes separately from your new GSD--I think I'd feed the Dobes first if I was doing it and the GSD last.

Quote:
Skin - Her skin is scabby and crusty in some places. That was the reason I chose to get her the AvoDerm canned food. It does seem to be getting better, but I've thought about adding some fish of some kind to her diet to get more oils into her system
Keep brushing--my Aussie couldn't hold a candle to a GSD for shedding and endless undercoat but if I just ran a cursory brush through his coat--neck, back, shoulders, both sides of the body and the thighs (he didn't have a tail but I've got a couple of Goldens for the next week and one of them has so much coat that if I don't at least comb his tail out daily and run a pin brush over his body every other day his tail is total mats in a matter of days and his rompers are equally bad) his coat didn't mat and we never had hot spots which are often problems with both Aussies and GSD (and any other coated breeds you care to think of).

I really recommend fish oil, I buy (at the recommendation of my vet) fish oil in capsules (from Costco)--if they are gel caps you don't have problems with the oil oxidizing-which it quickly does as a liquid. Just remember if you buy human grade (which is less expensive than any of the one made for dogs) to NOT buy the kind that has an alamentary coating so that they DON'T digest in the stomach. You want the kind that does--otherwise they tend to make it all the way through the dogs shorter GI track and leave as intact as they were when they went in. I had an Afghan Hound many years ago and the breeders told me to feed fish oil as it was good for their coats--so I was feeding fish oil years before most of the Dobe people were. Any dog over 6 months gets fish oil at my house. And if you are feeding fish oil you should also be feeding Vitamin E. Vitamin E almost always comes as 400 iu capsules and should be fed at the rate of 200 iu's per 1,000 mg of fish oil. Most of my adult dogs get one E capsule for every two fish oil capsules.

Another thing that's easy and really good for skin is eggs (lots of biotin) and my Dobes get an egg (I hardboil them by the dozen) with their dinner.

Quote:
Nervousness - We put a bed for her in my son's room, and showed it to her when we first brought her home. That is where she chooses to spend probably 22 hours a day now (except for when we're at work). She will come if I call her to go outside. I tell her to come outside with me when I'm going out there to work in the yard, feed the horses, etc. just to get her out and moving around and spend some time with me. If I'm in the living room and I call her, she'll come out and she acts friendly, but after a few pets, she just goes back to the bed in my son's room. So in short, she will come out to eat, potty, and a little bit of socialization. She is sweet and friendly when she is around us. We make a big deal of it when she comes out of her corner and spends time with us - she gets lots of praise and pets.

The not eating thing is so stressful. And my dobe Sadie has now started to not eat because she knows that Belle is getting canned food, so she's turning her nose up at her dry food! We're trying our best to take care of her, but is there something else I can do to get her to eat? Is this a tough love thing where we just need to put dry food down and let her get hungry enough to eat? It just stresses me because then she isn't getting her glucosamine, and it seemed to be helping so much when she did eat it.

Any suggestions are welcome.
I think with all the changes this older girl has been going through that for her less may be more--if she's happy hanging out with the kids in their room--let her. Calling her to come with you to go out when you are working outside is probably enough. Even though I'm really adamant about "tough love" when it comes to eating and dogs I do make exceptions--and she's one I'd be making exceptions for.

And all of my dogs (and one cat) think that fish oil capsule an Vitamin E capsules are huge treats or if she gets to eating better you can poke a hole in the capsules and squeeze the oil out on her food but I'd spend some time trying to convince her that that are yummy treats. For the glucosamine suppliment I'd open her mouth and make sure she got it that way.

Good luck--it's hard enough to get someones 9 year old dog to make them happy but when you have one that doesn't want to eat--boy, that's really tough. Good luck.
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Last edited by dobebug; 08-22-2016 at 07:35 PM.
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They don’t call them “German Shedders” for nothing.

I would imagine that a lot of your problems with her is her total change of environmental and the loss of her companion. And if she is suffering pain from her arthritis, she may not want to do much other than lie down in a quiet place. If she isn’t moving around much (plus suffering pain and loss) she may just not have that much appetite.

You might want to read over this link http://positively.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13293, (two week shut-down) though I don’t think I’d go whole hog with all the suggestions--but perhaps some of it may give you some ideas.

So sorry to hear about your mom.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys so much for all of the amazing advice! I read the responses here yesterday, but didn't have an opportunity to reply. I did try feeding her outside last night as suggested, and I thought at first it may have done the trick! But she ate about half the bowl and then would not eat anymore. I left her in the garage alone with the bowl for about a half hour to see if she'd eat if she was undisturbed, but she never touched the rest. She ate this morning without much begging and pleading, though! And I did manage to get her GlycoFlex into her this morning. I'll grab some fish oil this week, too. The eggs are also a great idea and may help to make her meal more appetizing as a bonus!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 03:03 PM
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Good to hear--even if the steps are just little it all helps as long as it's going the right direction.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 05:10 PM
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I have had ones that would only eat if you weren't around and ones that would only eat if you were right next to them. Keep trying different things, Persistence will win.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 09:17 AM
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I'm very sorry about your loss.

First of all, I think you received some solid suggestions so I don't have much to add but I did notice you mentioned glucosamine tablets - maybe liquid glucosamine would work better, mixed into her food? My miniature pinscher is currently on it (Glucosapet), and so is my grandmother's elderly 3/4 StPoodle 1/4 Golden Retriever mix. My Irish Terrier was on it as well until she passed away in June. Neither ever had an issue when given to them in liquid form, mixed into their food. I think they like the rather fishy smell.

Geisha was on fish oil capsules as well because she had dry pads and an old IT breeder had said certain lines were prone, and to give them cod liver oil. Worked wonders for her.
Safran can be some what of a picky eater, he eats one kibble at a time, and often gauges to see if the person feeding him will give in and add yummies to his food. I usually don't do anything too fancy - the glucosamine, his kibble (Kirkland nature's domain), some olive oil or vegetable oil and dusted off with a tiny bit of grated/powdered romano/parmesan. You do kind of have to stand beside him and make sure he starts eating before you walk off though.

For the nervousness... I think simply give her time. You're doing great as is right now and I wouldn't coax out too much more, she's probably depressed and confused, and needs time to understand she has a new forever home. GSDs as I've known them can be 'worriers'.

Best of luck to her and you as well. We'll keep our paws and fingers crossed over here.
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