Vet Corner

Helpful Information From Our Vet Dr. Welsman for more info on her read her bio

Canine Geriatric Nutrition

Most of us love to eat and many of our dogs also live by their love of food.  Nutrition is very important for the working dog but it is equally as important upon retirement when they are moving into their senior years.   As we all age our bodies change.  In dogs we know they get a big more “grey”, their coats often aren’t as shiny and they will lose muscling. Internally their organs will change, they sleep more and may have undiagnosed or diagnosed diseases as complicating factors.   This will affect how we should feed our senior dogs.  A


Your retired dog has spent many hours in their tracking harness over his or her career. Some dogs may also have been used to wearing harnesses for repelling or long lining purposes. As they age, they might now need a new kind of harness, one that helps with their mobility. As dogs add a few more grey hairs to their muzzles, mobility issues become a concern for any large breed dog. German Shepherds also have degenerative diseases associated to their breed that cause significant mobility issues as the diseases progress over time. On top of the breed and age predisposition,

Mobility Issues / Living with Arthritis in the Retired Working Dog

In this blog I discuss some things to consider for your retired dogs as their mobility starts to become less than perfect.  Many of your dogs will have some degree of arthritis but they may also have other mobility issues for which these suggestions may be helpful.   Exercise  Walking:  Please consider shorter bouts of exercise instead of occasional longer runs/exercise. Three shorter (10-20 min) walks each day would be better than one hour long walk for example.   This allows them to stretch their legs more often and not tire out.  As they age, limit the off-leash time as this


Everyone wants to try marijuana right now as the new miracle cure for many ailments. Some of the potential uses for cannabis in humans according to Health Canada include palliative care, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, to stimulate the appetite in cancer or AIDS patients, MS, epilepsy, chronic and acute pain, arthritis, movement disorders like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, glaucoma, asthma, stress and psychiatric disorders, dementia, skin inflammation, IBD, anti-cancer and many emerging potential uses as well. There is a lengthy list of pharmacological actions of cannabis on various systems of the body. It almost seems like a dream come true

Splenic Hemangiosarcoma

This is a type of cancer that German Shepherds are predisposed to, along with Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Often the cancer is found on an emergency basis after the spleen has ruptured. The spleen is an organ filled with blood. When it ruptures, your dog can bleed dramatically into the abdomen, which can result in the dog going into shock.  What you might see is your dog being more lethargic than usual, breathing a bit differently, maybe their abdomen looks a bit fuller and the gums are often paler.  This is an emergency as your dog can lose a lot

Tooth Fractures – To Cap or Not to Cap?

When your dog fractures one of his/her teeth, especially the canine teeth, historically putting a metal cap/crown on the tooth along with a root canal, was the treatment of choice. However there appears to be a shift in the dental world away from putting caps/crowns on every single police dog. The work of the dog, the wear pattern on the teeth, the potential future wear of the teeth (bite arm work, chewing on kennels, chewing on balls/bones), the need to return to work and the list goes on, will be factors that the veterinary dentist will take into consideration when


GDV is short for Gastric Dilation Volvulus. Gastric means stomach, dilation means expanded or blown up (bloated) and volvulus means twisted.  So many of you might know this disease as “bloat” or “twisted stomach”.  This is different than “food bloat”. We had a dog out east and one out west dealing with each of these issues this past fall. Both have done very well since their ordeals thankfully!  GDV is a life threatening emergency that requires surgical correction ASAP.  Food bloat isn’t usually life threatening and will often self-resolve. However, both can look similar on initial inspection.   The dog

Winter Woes

Some things to consider when winter is in full blast in your part of the country, that relates to your dogs.  Antifreeze is super toxic to dogs- even a few licks isn’t good. Contact your veterinarian or local ER clinic right away if you have concerns. “Death by chocolate” takes on a new meaning when you are a dog- wintertime means many holidays such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day where lots of chocolate is in the house. Milk chocolate isn’t nearly as bad as dark/baker’s chocolate. Christmas decorations do not look as good on the inside of your dog as on the

COVID and Veterinary Clinics

You may have noticed how busy your local veterinarian is, and perhaps you’ve had the misfortune of needing to visit an emergency clinic recently and noticed the same at that facility.  Veterinary clinics are insanely swamped right now all across the country. Our clinic in Kamloops, BC has about a 3-4 week wait for a non-urgent appointment, which is just unheard of until COVID.  We don’t have an emergency clinic, so each of the clinics in town takes a day each week to be on call. We are run off our feet on those days seeing all of the urgent 


Pannus is believed to be an immune mediated eye disease that unfortunately can result in blindness if it is not treated.  It is common in retired police dogs.  Pannus is more common and more severe at high altitudes and in areas with significant air pollution. Military working dogs in Afghanistan for example were seen to have higher rates of pannus.  Other factors may be a response to exposure to ultraviolet light or other irritants which might be risk factors for your retired dogs. German Shepherds as a breed are genetically predisposed.   Middle aged dogs (4 to 7 years) are at

Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)

Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) are a class of drug that is commonly used by us humans. Naproxen and ibuprofen fall into this category.  The common medications in this category for dogs are Metacam, Deramax, Onsior, Rimadyl and Previcox, just to name a few.  These drugs can help dogs with fever, pain and inflammation which is similar to how they are used in humans. One of the main reasons a retired dog might be on this type of medication, or it might be recommended that your dog be put on it, is for joint related pain from things like arthritis.

Ticks, ticks and more ticks!!!

I love spring because of the flowers and gardens and the warmer weather. Unfortunately, all of that means it is also tick season and I hate ticks. I’m not sure they have any redeeming qualities and I’m not sure why they exist, other than to transmit disease and creep people out.  I’ve pulled one too many off of my kids every year, and I pull about 100 or more off of my horse every spring.  Putting my own personal feelings aside, talking about ticks is important as they do transmit disease to both humans and dogs. Many parts of the

Vital Signs

When you are worried your dog may be sick, it is helpful to know what your dog’s normal vital signs are so you can recognize when they are abnormal. When handlers call me about their working dogs, some of the most important information can be gained by knowing what your dog’s temperature, heart rate, gum colour and respiratory pattern are like.    This will help me assess over the phone how urgent or emergent your situation may be.  Similarly, this can help your local veterinarian or the ER clinic if they are triaging you over the phone.  Adult German Shepherd

First Aid Kits

Like our family, many of you are active with your retired dogs, hiking, camping, canoeing or travelling.   If you haven’t already done so, I would highly recommend having a first aid kit with you, for your dogs. This may be a modified human one, or one specifically dedicated to your dogs.   My suggested list for a first aid kit is as follows, and it is based on some of the most common issues we see at our practice and your dogs will be no exception. Self-sticking bandage material (Ex: Vetrap)  It sticks to itself and can be used to help

Canine Trauma

In relation to canine trauma, Dr. Kathryn Welsman had published an article for Police K-9 Magazine. Please download and read Kathryn’s article (please be wary of graphic images) .

February Newsletter

Dental Care Dogs chew.  Dogs chew a lot of things. It is part of their natural behavior.  My own Golden Retriever likes to chew concrete, any hat (even if it’s on someone’s head!!!) and pretty much any stick he comes across.   Working dogs like to chew like any other dog, but they have the added wear and tear from working with a bite arm over their career. The bite arm material is not tooth friendly.  It wears the enamel down but also has a tendency to fracture teeth as they get snagged in the material. They also can have the