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Pet Poison Helpline
$35 fee per incident payable by credit card

The Pet Poison Helpline™ is a nationwide (now also serving Canada) 24-hour service available to pet guardians and veterinary professionals requiring assistance with a potentially poisoned pet. We have the ability to help every pet, with all types of poisonings, 24 hours a day. Our knowledge and expertise will put your mind at ease when dealing with a potential emergency.

Animal Poison Hotline
$35 fee per incident payable by credit card

The Animal Poison Hotline is sponsored by North Shore Animal League America and PROSAR International Animal Poison Center (IAPC). PROSAR IAPC is staffed 24 hours a day with licensed veterinary professionals as well as experts in toxicology and pharmacology. Available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, Massachusetts 01536

National Poison Control Center has three telephone numbers for easy access:

900-680-0000 for NON-emergency questions:

*Costs $20 for the first five minutes and $2.95 for each additional minute. Billed to your telephone.

(800) 548-2423

(888) 426-4435 for Credit Card-only numbers:                                                                                                         *$30 per case.
Only Master Card, Visa, American Express, and Discover cards are accepted.

*These prices are subject to change. Please check with the operator for current rates.


printable list of poison control numbers.doc

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a genetically linked condition where the pancreas becomes severely atrophied. It is most commonly seen in German Shepherd Dogs but increasingly occurs in other breeds as well. Wayde, one of GSRNE’s foster dogs, had EPI. He is now a poster boy for the disease. Please print out a brochure for educational purposes.


FAQ: Our old dog suddenly became dazed and confused, staggering around the house, losing his balance, and wandering in circles. Our veterinarian diagnosed his problem as vestibular disease. What causes this disease and how serious is it?

Idiopathic Vestibular Disease (IVD) is a disorder of the organs of balance (vestibular apparatus), situated in the middle ears. Their function is to maintain equilibrium (balance) by coordinating movements of the head with the eyes, trunk and limbs.   Failure of this system results in a tilting of the head, abnormal body posture, loss of equilibrium, abnormal eye movements and incoordination as the body tries to compensate. Vomiting occurs because the loss of balance and incoordination, in a sense, make the patient “sea sick” or nauseous.

There are many causes of vestibular disease. Degenerative processes of the body, inflammation, cancer, trauma and poisons are some of the known causes. Most commonly, the disease can be related to an inflammation of the organs of balance due to an ear infection. However, in some cases, the cause is simply not known. In these situations, the disease is termed “Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome”. The term “Idiopathic” means that veterinarians do not know why this disease occurs.  

When IVD affects middle-aged or older dogs, which it commonly does, it is called “Geriatric” or “Senile” Vestibular Syndrome. It can also occur in cats at any age, and it occurs most often in the summer and early fall (75% between June and September).

When it occurs, IVD is usually sudden in onset and often incapacitating. The pet usually has a loss of balance, disorientation, unsteadiness and a pronounced head tilt. The degree of head tilt can vary considerably and there are usually involuntary rapid movements of the eyes. There may also be a tendency for the animal to walk around in a circle in one direction. Some animals will be listless, refuse to eat, pant and be nauseated.

At this point, many owners often think that their dog or cat has had a “stroke” or a fatal brain hemorrhage and suspect the worst. In some cases, pet owners have mistakenly euthanized their pet, thinking that their pet’s prognosis is poor and the situation hopeless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pets with IVD, although confused and anxious at times, are not in pain and there is no reason for euthanasia. Relapses usually do not occur. 

In fact, there is no treatment for this disease nor does any appear to be necessary since all patients appear to recover on their own. In some cases, a slight head tilt may be the only clinical sign that persists. Supportive therapy, if required, generally consists of preventing self-injury and ensuring adequate nutrition. Should your dog shows signs of this disorder, contact your veterinarian to confirm that this is the problem with your pet.

Here is a story by one of our members concerning her experience with Vestibular Disease

NO, stop!  It’s not a stroke!
By Christine Jackman



The vestibular system is the neurological system which controls balance by holding the head and body in a relative position to gravity and space. It is located in the inner ear and connects to the brain. Canine vestibular syndrome is also referred to as “old dog vestibular syndrome” and “geriatric vestibular syndrome” since it commonly occurs in older dogs with an average age of 12 – 13 years.

The most common causes of vestibular syndrome are due to a middle ear infection, a brain lesion or it can simply be idiopathic, which means that there is no known cause.

The symptoms, which come on very suddenly, include:

  • Ataxia (stumbling and staggering)
  • Motion sickness
  • Nystagmus (rhythmic movement of the eyes)
  • Circling and falling to one side
  • Head tilt where one ear is held lower than the other

These symptoms gradually disappear within two weeks, and most dogs fully recover. Some dogs may retain a slight head tilt, which does not seem to bother them, and they live the rest of their lives quite happily. Since there is no cure for this syndrome, the most important thing is to help the dog during the recovery period.

Well, my vet was right about the getting worse part. Alex’s condition quickly got worse until he could no longer stand and his eyes began to dart back and forth. I fixed up his bed where I could keep watch over him at all times. I spent the entire days of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday never leaving his side. Because he could not get up to eliminate, I placed urinary pads under him, and each time he urinated, I gently rolled him over to the other side, cleaned his soiled coat, replaced the pad and repositioned him on his opposite side. I’m sure it must have been quite scary to be rolled over while already trying to cope with dizziness, but he cooperated without a struggle.

After 12 years together, I guess our trust in each other was implicit. Periodically, I would lift up his head and shoulders, propping him up with my body while I directed his head to his water and food bowls. Surprisingly, though Alex was immobilized, he was still thirsty and hungry as usual, although it was quite the trick to keep his head steady enough to find the water or food in his bowl! After meals, I watched for the tell-tail (no pun intended!) lifting of his tail after a meal to alert me that he was having a bowel movement, and I quickly whisked it away. At night, I put down cushions and slept next to him, touching him so that he would know I was there. He seemed very comforted by that and rested peacefully through the nights.

Finally on Tuesday afternoon, Alex began showing signs of wanting to get up! After much steadying, he was able to stand, and we practiced taking some wobbly steps around the room. After making some ramps to get him down the two sets of small steps to get outside, we finally made the attempt to go outside. I think he was as excited as I was to finally be able to urinate outside!! We walked around a bit with me on the left awkwardly trying to keep him from walking in circles, while trying to keep up with his quick forward steps!

Remember how you felt as a child when you spun around in circles and then tried to walk? Well, that was Alex, with me trying to keep him steady-quite the sight for my neighbors, I’m sure! By Wednesday, Alex was recovered enough for me to go back to work. He retained his head tilt for another week or so and then that eventually disappeared too. I could not believe that my “old man” was able to recover from such a debilitating condition with absolutely no side effects! And he lived happily for another 2 years!

The important message to remember in this article is that stroke, or vascular disease, is very uncommon in pets. So please, do not wrongly assume that your dog has had a stroke and needs to cross the Rainbow Bridge. See your vet. While canine vestibular syndrome is very debilitating, it is a short-lived syndrome which, with a few days of compassionate nursing, can result in many more years of enjoyment with your best friend.


Degenerative myelopathy is a slowly progressive ataxia and paresis of the hindlegs. Marked muscle atrophy is common and fecal and urinary incontinence often develops. The etiology is unknown, but an immune-mediated mechanism is suspected as a depression of T lymphocyte responsiveness has been demonstrated in affected dogs.

There is a yahoo group for those with DM that’s very helpful. They’ve been around since 2003 and have a lot of resources and experience.

They’ve listed the following websites where medical, and additional information can be found:

Here in New England, we rejoice when winter loosens its grip and spring finally arrives. But along with the warmth of the season come pests that make both our lives and our pets’ lives miserable: fleas and ticks. Fleas can be both a nuisance and a health hazard to you and your pets. Not only are their bites itchy and painful, but many animals have flea allergies causing severe itching, chewing and biting of their tail, hips, and legs, oozing lesions from the chewing, and hot spots. Along with fleas, here in New England we also have the highest number of some tick diseases in the US.

Where tick-borne diseases are foundSherman scratching

Tick diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis cause pets and people untold suffering. They may cause stiff, painful joints, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea, kidney failure, depression, and neurological signs (infrequently) resulting in seizures and neck pain, weight loss and even death.

Thousands of dogs contract Lyme disease, canine Ehrlichiosis, canine Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever every year, and despite simple testing, prevention and treatment options, many dog owners never realize their pets are suffering from these debilitating diseases. has a list of tick diseases and their symptoms. It also shows maps that highlight the number of reported positive cases in dogs across all regions of the United States. Take a look at your state.

To combat these pests in the past, we’ve reached for spot-on treatments like the ones sold in tubes or vials. But in light of the new EPA news release, included in part below, we’ll be using those products with caution and researching alternatives.

EPA Increases Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Pet Products

(Washington, DC – April 16, 2009) “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for pets due to recent increases in the number of reported incidents. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, the death of pets.

Flea and tick products can be appropriate treatments for protecting your pets and your family’s health because fleas and ticks can transmit disease. While many people use the products with no harm to their pets, EPA recommends that pet owners take precautions when using these products. People should carefully follow label directions and monitor their pets for any signs of an adverse reaction after application, particularly when using these products for the first time. Pet owners may also want to consult a veterinarian about the responsible and effective use of flea and tick products.

Incidents with flea and tick products can involve the use of spot-on treatments, sprays, collars and shampoos. However, the majority of the incidents reported to EPA are related to flea and tick treatments with EPA-registered spot-on products. Spot-on products are generally sold in tubes or vials and are applied to one or more localized areas on the body of the pet, such as in between the shoulders or in a stripe along the back. This advisory pertains only to EPA-registered spot-on flea and tick products; these products have an EPA registration number on the label.” 

dog scratchingHow can we protect our animals?

Fleas can be kept off your dog by using these products every 3 months as directed so you are not dosing your dog as often. There are also alternative means to keep your home free from infestations. Comb your pet regularly with a flea comb, vacuum frequently and dispose of the bags immediately after use, mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time, wash pet bedding weekly, and wash your pet with a pesticide-free pet shampoo.

Marie Thomas, Freelance science & health writer, tells us that “for concerned owners, there is a natural product made by Cedarcide, Inc, that contains primarily oil of Texas cedar trees. This company advertises their product as a safe alternative to chemical spot-on flea killers for pets. It is safe to use inside the house and out, to stop fleas, ticks, lice, and even bed bug infestations using cedar oil sprays, cedar powders, and cedar granules. There is more information on their web site” (Note: not recommended for direct application on your pet. Pure Texas cedar oil may be hazardous to cats. Use another Cedar oil if you have cats in the home).

Ticked Off tick remover

Ticked Off! Tick Remover

For ticks, check your animals daily and invest in a manual tick remover, such as Ticked Off! Tick Remover, that safely and easily remove ticks without chemicals! These can be found online, in pet stores and in many grocery stores. Ticks don’t drown, so once you remove them from your pet, either take them outside and use a rock to kill them or keep a small jar of alcohol and drop the ticks in there.

The EPA is not advising pet owners to stop using spot-ons, but is asking them to exercise caution and make informed decisions when selecting treatment methods. Though approximately 70 products are included in the warning, most of the adverse reactions have been from the 7 most popular products: Frontline, Advantage, K-9 Advantix, Promeris, Revolution, and Biospot. They have taken these brand names off their website while they research other products to insure they have
a complete list.

While many people use the products with no harmful effects to their pets, EPA recommends that pet owners take precautions when using these products.

In the meantime, here are some of their safety tips:

·         Carefully read and follow the product label.

·         Use flea and tick control products only on the animal specified─for example, dog products for dogs only.

·         Only apply the amount indicated for the size of the animal being treated.

·         Pay attention to the age restrictions. Use caution with aged dogs.

·         Do not apply to kittens or puppies unless the product label specifically allows this treatment.

·          Monitor your pet for side effects.

·         If your pet has an adverse reaction call your vet immediately. Bathe your pet with mild soap and rinse with large   amounts of water.

·         Keep the package with the product container (such as individual applicator tubes). Also keep the package after treatment in case adverse effects occur so you have the instructions at hand, as well as contact information for the manufacturer.

For the full release, check out their website at:

More information on pet products and safety tips, including the EPA’s Q&A database:

Lyme disease


Without treatment, Lyme disease causes problems in many parts of the dog’s body, including the heart, kidneys, and joints.  On rare occasions, it can lead to neurological disorders. Lyme disease most commonly is associated with symptoms such as a high fever, swollen lymph nodes, lameness, and a loss of appetite.

Dogs get Lyme disease from a tick that passes the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into the animal’s bloodstream when it bites.  The tick must remain attached to the animal’s skin for at least one day before the bacteria can be transmitted. 

The ticks, called deer ticks, generally are found in specific regions of the United States: the northeastern states, the upper Mississippi region, California, and certain areas in the South. Like dogs, people can suffer from Lyme disease—they, too, catch it from ticks carrying the infection. Infected dogs do not transmit the disease to humans. For both canines and humans, the illness is treated by antibiotic medication.


The veterinarian may be able to determine if a dog has Lyme disease after performing a blood test that will show exposure to the bacteria that causes it. In previously vaccinated dogs, a special type of blood test must be performed to differentiate between the vaccine and actual exposure to the organism. Unfortunately, these tests do not provide a simple yes or no answer. The veterinarian must evaluate the results along with the dog’s symptoms, and take into account whether the dog has been in an area of the United States where Lyme disease is endemic, such as the northeastern states, the upper Mississippi region, California, and certain southern states. A positive response to treatment is also important in making a final diagnosis.


Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is passed to dogs through a bite from the deer tick.  The tick must remain attached to the dog’s skin for one to two days before the bacteria can be transmitted.

Lyme disease can be a multi-systemic illness, with signs that may include fever, swollen lymph nodes, lameness, loss of appetite, heart disease, inflamed joints, and kidney disease.  Disorders of the nervous system, while uncommon, may occur as well. 

A vaccine is available to prevent dogs from developing Lyme disease, although some controversy exists regarding its use.  An owner should consult with a veterinarian for vaccine recommendations which may vary depending on whether you live in parts of the country with high rates of infection.

Transmission or Cause

Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, which is passed to dogs and people by deer ticks carrying the infection; the ticks get the infection from the white-footed mouse, which acts as a carrier. The only way a tick can transmit the bacteria is to remain attached to the animal’s skin for one to two days. Unfortunately, these ticks are very small and easily can go unnoticed.


Treatment involves the use of an appropriate antibiotic, such as doxycycline, for at least three to four weeks.


Dogs should begin to show signs of recovery two to three days after beginning treatment. However, the disease may recur within a few weeks or months; in these cases, the dog will need to return to antibiotic therapy for extended periods.


There is a vaccine for the prevention of Lyme disease. Quick removal of a tick also will help prevent Lyme disease because the tick must remain attached to the dog’s body for one to two days before the disease can be transmitted. Consult with a veterinarian about the different tick prevention products that are available, as they can be an effective way to prevent the disease.

Article republished here with permission from
Copyright(c) 2000 by



We learned about a relatively “new” (for up here) tick disease that you all should learn the signs for: it’s called babesiosis, or infection from the Babesia canis tick. The dog we found this in was lethargic, wouldn’t eat much, and had a bad fever. He went to Tufts where he got an ultrasound because his bloodwork was actually ok. On ultrasound, some of his organs looked enlarged. Seemed like he had an infection. They did some tick tests, and bang, they found Babesia canis! This is a nasty, nasty tick disease for your dog to have and it is one that few vets do check for because it’s not common up here. This tick seems to come as far north as Martha’s Vineyard, from what I’ve read. I’d guess it comes into CT and southern MA, in general. It’s all over the southeast, southwest and is found in the northwest, too. We’ll start treatment of this dog right away! Here is a little description of it that I found on the web. This disease is not as common as Lyme disease or even Ehrlichia in the northern New England states. But it does come up and, left untreated, can kill your dog. :( So if your dog has these types of symptoms and tests negative for Lyme and Erlichia, ask to check for Babesia canis, too.

Babesia canis was formerly called Piroplasma canis, so you may hear infection with this parasite called “canine piroplasmosis”. B.canis is a one-celled parasite that infects dogs and other wild carnivores like wolves and fox. It can be quite common in certain areas of the southern United States and is found most often in kennel situations. The disease is transmitted by the Brown Dog Tick and the tick must feed for a minimum of 2 to 3 days to transmit the disease. Be sure to check your dog for ticks frequently.

Babesiosis is a cyclical disease, similar to Malaria. Dogs that recover from the initial infection show variable and unpredictable patent periods alternating with dormant periods. The clinical signs vary greatly depending upon the stage of the disease, the age and immune status of the dog and complications from other infections.

In the early stages few clinical symptoms may appear beyond intermittent fever and loss of appetite. In the chronic phase the most obvious initial signs to an owner are a cycle of lethargy, loss of interest in food and a gradual loss of body condition especially evident around the eyes and along the spine. Other symptoms are: upper respiratory problems such as coughing or labored breathing, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, ulcerative stomatitis (sores in the mouth), edema (swelling), abdominal swelling (ascites), bleeding under the skin or a rash (purpura), low White Blood Count, clotting problems, joint swelling, back pain, seizures, weakness, increased liver enzyme, low Platelet count, hyper reflective eyes, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, septic shock and depression.


German Shepherd Dogs can suffer from stress


Strongheart, the “wonder dog”, was a German Shepherd whose story was published in 1926. Like his predecessor, Rin Tin Tin, he was a movie star in the 1920s and ’30s. In their films, these brave dogs caught clever criminals, delivered messages across war-ravaged battlefields, and fought wild animals without faltering. Nothing stressed them. These dogs did not tremble in animal shelters, nor whimper and pace when introduced into unfamiliar homes. They did not run and hide when thunderstorms rolled over the rooftops, or fire crackers popped on the Fourth of July like artillery. They were known as “police dogs” and their offspring populated books and TV programs for many years. Thus, it is not surprising that many people formed the impression that German Shepherds do not suffer from stress. When they discover that the noble Shepherd may suffer from anxiety just as people do, they are nonplussed, as I was when I first saw a severely stressed dog, my German Shepherd, Schatzi. Pictured here is a photo of Schatzi after she’s had a bath!


         I was thrilled to bring her home, believing that she would be happy in a loving home, after having been found wandering along a highway. Instead, in those first few days, her entire being projected despair. She whimpered her way disconsolately through every room in the house, head down, ears back. She didn’t eat. She would approach me as I was sitting down and place her head between my knees, as if to hide. I would pet her, speak soothing words to her, then she’d wander away.

I have since learned that restlessness is a symptom of stress in a dog. In those first days after Schatzi’s adoption she exhibited many of the symptoms of stress: loss of appetite, whimpering, pacing, lack of bowel control. In the animal shelter, on the day of her adoption, she had stood calmly as the adoption papers were filled out. Then, suddenly, she had a bowel movement. I now know that was a sign of her stress, for she was fully house-broken and never again had an “accident”.

Looking Away, Ears Back

While we often welcome change, as with a trip to a foreign country, dogs are often unsettled by it, whether it be a kennel stay, the arrival of a new family member, or a divorce. Many dogs do fine with change, but others do not, depending on their backgrounds (which, with adopted dogs, is rarely known) or genetic predisposition. My German Shepherd, Shadow, adopted from German Shepherd Rescue, was the victim of a divorce. Whenever he heard raised voices, he was uncomfortable and got up and left the room. He was also the dog who approached our male guests from behind and nipped at their pants. He was uneasy with men, except my husband, so to relieve his stress (and, no doubt, the stress of my guests) I followed the advice of dog behaviorists: “Remove dog to a different area.”                                           

Lip Licking is a Sure Sign of Stress

Recognizing stress in a dog is not difficult, for the symptoms are remarkably similar to those in humans: whining, hiding, drooling, lip licking, dilated pupils, repetitive behaviors, lack of bowel or bladder control, and aggression, such as biting or growling. Understanding the causes is also not difficult: traumas through accident or mistreatment, physical restraint, confinement, improper diet, change of routine, noise, rough handling, unwanted interactions, such as with aggressive people or other dogs, and separation, to name the most obvious. Boredom is also a stressor, often overlooked because it is so common.

What to do with a stressed dog is the challenge. There are dogs pre-disposed to anxiety because of genetics, dogs who have been traumatized over time, and dogs distressed by a specific situation that, once relieved, quickly regain their equanimity, such as Schatzi. In most cases, time and love can work wonders. With storm phobia or separation anxiety, medication may prove helpful, but, overall, kindness and patience are the preferred medicines.

The recommendations for stress reduction are (surprise!) beneficial for every dog. Be the leader of the pack, even if it’s a pack of two. Set boundaries. Socialize your dog to new experiences, take long walks together, play ball, provide a variety of toys to engage the dog’s attention, and take dog obedience classes. These activities will promote confidence in your dog so that one day your anxious dog may feel like Strongheart, ready for whatever lies ahead.

                Only $3.95!        

Carol Nickisher
GSRNE  Contributor                           


by Chris Harriman

Obese Rommell

Studies show that as Americans continue to gain weight, so do their pets. Their obesity is just as dangerous to them as it is to humans. Like humans, dogs develop certain diseases when they are overweight. If not corrected, obesity can lead to more serious complications such as diabetes and heart disease so it’s important to make sure that your dog eats a healthy diet and receives plenty of exercise.

There are several reasons that your dog may be overweight or even obese.  The two most common are overfeeding and not enough exercise. Usually substantial weight gain is caused by well-meaning owners who tend to give out more treats than is healthy, or think that a couch potato dog is a happy dog.

Studies have found a strong correlation between owners’ weight gains and dogs’. Owners that are struggling with excess weigh project their hunger onto the dog and tend to give too much food or too many treats. After all, we know how hungry we feel and how much we suffer as we struggle to lose weight! We don’t want our “babies” to suffer too. And who can resist those sad eyes telling us though they just ate, they really ARE starving and need some of your pizza.

There are other reasons why your dog may be overweight. Certain health conditions such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease may cause your dog to gain weight. If your dog is overweight or has had a sudden weight gain (or loss), the first thing you should do is have your veterinarian do a full exam. This will help rule out any underlying health conditions.

As your dog ages, she may also begin to gain weight. Older dogs are not as active and their metabolism slows. Added weight on seniors is a concern because of the additional stress on old dog’s heart, hips and elbows. If your senior dog is putting on weight, you should switch her to a high quality food specifically formulated for seniors.

Obese Rommell & foster dad, Dan

Some breeds of dogs are especially prone to weight gain, like the Labrador Retriever. Some breeds, like the German Shepherd, are also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia along with other degenerative joint diseases. Since there is a strong correlation between overweight dogs and these disabling diseases, it is especially important to keep your dog slim and trim.

Fat dogs are also more at risk in surgery, more prone to injury, and have more stress on their heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Allowing your dog to become or stay overweight brings with it numerous potential health concerns. Among those are:

  • hip dysplasia and other joint disorders
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol levels
  • thyroid problems
  • diabetes
  • respiratory disorders such as sleep apnea or a collapsed trachea
  • kidney problems
  • mammary and bladder cancers
  • heat intolerance and/or heat stroke
  • decreased immune function

If you are not sure if your dog is overweight, there is a very easy way to check. First take a look at your dog. A dog of normal weight should have an indentation at his waistline, whereas an overweight dog will not have a waistline. Look at him from the side. His tummy should slope upward as it gets closer to his tail. How much slope there is will also depend on the breed. Check out Purina’s Adult Body Condition Chart

Next, flatten out your hand and run it over your dog’s rib cage. Using slight pressure, you should be able to count each rib. There should not be a thick layer of fat over his ribs nor should you be able to count your dog’s ribs just by looking at them. Also, feel the base of his tail where it meets the body. The bones should be easily detectable and not covered in fat.

obese dogs are at risk for many diseases which can lead to an early death

Obese dogs are at risk for many diseases.

If your dog is overweight, it’s time to make a plan to help him become healthy. First, visit your veterinarian to rule out health issues.

Next, take a look at what you are feeding him. If you are free feeding your dog, stop! Measure the food you put in your dog’s bowl. You may be feeding more than you think. Make sure you feed him smaller amounts twice a day instead of just one large meal. This will help keep your dog’s blood sugars more steady, and decrease the likelihood of gastric torsion, which is often called bloat. Feeding your dog a high quality dog food, such as Nutro Natural Choice, Wellness, California Natural, or Canidae lets you cut down on the amount given each meal, as more of the food is used by the dog’s digestive system. Check out this website’s food section for more choices on wholesome kibble to feed your dog.

Change your dog’s food over slowly; mixing it with the food you’ve been feeding. If you’ve already been feeding your dog high quality food, remember to cut your dog’s food down a little at a time. Don’t cut it in ½ immediately but work towards that goal. It takes time to slim down and even if you don’t see immediate results, it will happen.

Rommel, still overweight but looking so much better!

Next, watch how many treats you’re giving your dog. Like humans, calories count and empty, sugar-laden calories can really add up quickly. Do you give your dog leftovers from you dinner? Save the pizza crusts because they love them as much as you do? Let your dog finish up the end of your nightly ice cream? Does he get a treat or two just for being such a good boy or performing that trick that you just love? If so, you may need to cut down a bit. Give your dog four small pieces of pizza crust instead of 3 entire ones. Buy small dog treats and break them into little pieces. Your dog won’t mind. Or try substituting pieces of carrots or other vegetables or fruit instead. (Don’t feed your dog grapes or raisins though, as they can cause kidney failure).

Dogs need exercise to keep them healthy.

Be aware that dogs are scavengers and when you cut down their food, they may suddenly start raiding the trash or counter surfing. This doesn’t mean they are starving though, so don’t go back to over-feeding them. Just move or cover the trash and keep food off the counters until this new behavior stops.

Rommel now slim and trim. He’s healthier and happier.

Most importantly, make sure your dog gets exercise daily. You can do this with long walks, play sessions, or strenuous training sessions. This will help keep muscles in shape and bodies functioning properly. Time alone in a yard is not sufficient. If your dog is overweight, start exercising him slowly.

Too much too soon can cause your dog injury and discomfort, so use moderation. Start with a few slow, short 15-minute walks daily. After your dog has adjusted, step the time up so you’re walking an hour a day.

It can be difficult to find time to walk your dog. Most people today are very busy, but taking time to walk with your dog will help you develop more of a bond, and keep him calmer and happier. As an added bonus, you’ll be in better shape and walking will help keep YOU healthier.   

If you can’t get out and walk with your dog, then find another activity that will help him get moving. Teach him to play ball in your back yard using two balls and have him run hard. Take him swimming if it’s warm enough or you have an indoor dog pool nearby. Take him to agility, Rally-O, or doggie dancing classes.

If your health doesn’t allow for you to do any activity with him, don’t give up! There are numerous people that walk dogs for a living that will come and walk your dog for you. Or purchase a tread-mill and slowly acclimate your dog to using it. Start first by having him just stand on it (you can use small treats at first to bribe him), then slowly walking on it (again using treats until he’s used to feeling the treadmill move beneath his feet), and eventually trotting along at a comfortable pace.

It takes time and commitment to help an overweight dog slim down. We over feed our dogs because we love them and want to make them happy. But an obese dog’s life expectancy is much shorter than a healthy, trim dog’s. If you want cuddles and kisses from your dog for many years, then be careful that you’re not killing him with kindness.

Rommell after losing 35 pounds, along with Dan, who helped him do it.




The German Shepherd pictured to the left is a GSRNE fellow. His name is Holling and at age 12-13 he is experiencing some challenges that are all too common to senior dogs.  In the interest of making Holling and other senior German Shepherd Dogs more comfortable in their advanced age, a new forum
was born.

All caretakers/parents and friends of senior German Shepherd Dogs are welcome to participate. Let’s exchange information and learn about experiences with our older dogs.

You don’t need to be a GSRNE member to join.

Showing by category: Health

POISON CONTROL NUMBERS FOR PETS Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680 www.petpoisonh[more]
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a genetically linked condition where the pancre[more]
VESTIBULAR DISEASE FAQ: Our old dog suddenly became dazed and confused, staggering a[more]
WHAT IS DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY (DM)? Degenerative myelopathy is a slowly progressive [more]
Here in New England, we rejoice when winter loosens its grip and spring finally arrives. B[more]
BABESIOSIS We learned about a relatively "new" (for up here) tick disease that you all [more]
STRONGHEART MAY SUFFER FROM STRESS German Shepherd Dogs can suffer from stress [more]
KILLING THEM WITH KINDNESS by Chris Harriman Studies show that as Americans con[more]
GSD Health: Seniors
YOU'RE INVITED TO JOIN! The German Shepherd pictured to the left is a GSRNE fellow[more]