|Barked: Mon Jul 30, '12 9:22am PST |
|Food can make a world of difference. Feeding raw, I see a HUGE difference in muscle tone between my dogs and dogs of comparable age that are on low-quality diets. Raw may not be an appropriate choice for a senior with unknown origins and possible undiscovered health issues, but there are many other ways to increase diet quality including raising overall quality of the commercial foods you use, cutting out kibble entirely (difficult to digest/utilize), and adding fresh foods to her diet.
Definitely take her to the vet and have her checked over. No matter what's wrong, if she is as happy as you say she is, there is no need to put her to sleep - no matter what the vet says. YOU are her caretaker, YOU know what she needs and if your vet refuses to work with your wishes take to her a different vet.
Based on my experience rescuing emaciated or malnourished dogs, IF nothing else is physically wrong with her, I would guess she simply lost all her muscle mass when she was starving. Due to her age - which can cause muscle atrophy to begin with - and likely having some joint pain she is understandably reluctant to move, so the muscles simply are not regenerating.
Going for walks is a good thing, as long as you stay within her limits. If she can make it to the end of the driveway and back - awesome. It's better than nothing, and you can try to push her a little further and a little further. Most dogs enjoy getting out and sniffing around so much that having it to look forward to helps them immeasurably also.
Water therapy and swimming are also great, but if she's having trouble walking period you will need to start very slow with that as well, and be careful where you take her. Even on lead, she could easily be knocked down and drown in the ocean, for example.
Visiting a canine physical therapist would be a wonderful idea, if you have one nearby. If not, you can buy equipment like the FitPaws Donut and DVD and work on your own. Again, though, if her issues are really, really bad you may want to seek professional guidance before you start any sort of conditioning regime.
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