GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG HEALTH PROBLEMS

 

Health guarantees:
If u are looking for a German puppy , it is very important to find a reputable German shepherd breeder, one who cares about the breed and who has all breeding stock tested and cleared for various genetic problems before breeding. It is only by testing and breeding cleared specimens that these will be brought under control. We suggest that you start your search with the breed clubs. Most clubs have a code of ethics and while it doesn’t guarantee a perfect puppy, it’s a lot better than dealing with breeders who don’t know or care about such matters.

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD)
Is a skeleton problem, an abnormal development of the hip joint where the head of the femur does not fit snugly into the pelvic socket. It is characterized by a shallow acetabulum ( the “cup” of the hip joint) and changes in the shape of the femoral head ( the “ball” of the hip joint) these changes may occur due to excessive looseness in the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist with or without clinical signs. When dogs exhibit symptoms of hip dysplasia they usually are in pain and lame on one or both rear legs. Severe arthritis can develop as a result of the malformation of the hip joint and this results in pain as the disease progresses.

Elbow Dysplasia ( ununited anconeal process)
Due perhaps to improper development (different growth rates ) of the three bones making up the elbow, the joint is lax or loose and in mildly affected dogs leads to painful arthritis. Whereas in severely affected dogs, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), fragmented medical coronoid processes and united anconeol processes can result from the stress in the joint. Treatments involve surgical correction if possible, or medical management using asprin and other anti-inflammatory drugs.

Panosteitis:
Is a skeletal problem of spontaneous lamness and pain, usually in large breed dogs in the 5 to 14 month age range and affecting male dogs more commonly than females, The pain can come and go and last up to two months ( sometimes up to a year). Analgesic medications like asprin can be helpful in controlling the pain. In severe cases, cortiosteroids may provide relief. Eventually the conditiont goes away.

Von Willebrand’s Disease ( vWD):
Is a blood disorder, a deficiency in clotting factor VIII antigen (von Willebrand factor).
Dogs affected by the disease do not effectively utilize their platelets for blood clotting and therefore are more likely to have bleeding episodes associated with trauma or surgery.
Progressive posterior paresis:
Is a neural condition, a paralysis of one both hind legs.

Cauda equina syndrome:
is a neural condition. The cauda equina (ce) is formed by nerve roots caudal to the level of spinal cord termination. Cauda equine syndrome (CES) has been defined as low back pain.
Pyrotraumatic dermatitis (“hot spots”)
Is one of two types of bacterial infections confined to the surface of the skin( the other being “ skin fold dermatitis”) it is caused by allergies, parasites and grooming.

Skin allergies:
Allergies in pets, are one of the most common causes of skin conditions. Allergies can be difficult to control and are chronic in nature. There are 3 main types of allergies in relation to skin conditions. It is possible for a pet to have a combination of all 3 allergy types: 1. Food Allergy; 2. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD); 3.Atopy, or Allergic Inhaled Dermatitis.

Malignant Neoplasms (abnormal growth of tissue or tumor):
A malignant neoplasm is infiltrative with metastatic potential. Therapy depends largely on that type of tumor, its location and size, and symptoms of the animal. With Canine Malignant Lymphoma, cyclic combination chemotherapy can achieve long-term remission.

Pannus cataract (chronic superficial keratitis):
Chronic Immune mediated keratoconjuctivitis sicca(CIKS) is the newer name for pannus. It is a serious inflammation of the cornea and is potentially blinding.

Gastric Torsion - or Bloat (Gastric dilatation volvulus GDV):
This condition is caused by a twisting of the stomach and thus trapping the stomach contents and gases resulting in a rapid swelling of the abdomen accompanied by pain and eventual death if untreated. It is a Top priority emergency With immediate veterinarian action required. This is a predicament most common in large deep chested breeds. Anyone owning a deep chested breed, susceptible to bloat should be prepared by recording and posting the exact emergency procedures for the veterinary hospital they got to – who to call after hours, how to get to emergency clinics or alternative facilities and what payment arrangements those facilities will require.

Perianal Fistulas PFs:
Are abnormal openings around the dog’s anal area which soon get badly infected and can be painful. They may or may not emit a foul smelling odor. The dog is often observed to scoot along the ground. This is a very serious disease and early detection and treatment is very important.

Cardiomyopathy:
Is a general term meaning “disease of the heart muscle”. There are various types of cardiomyopathy, one being “Dilated Cardiomyopathy” (DCM), opposed to “Hypertrophic” Cardiomyopathy” (where the heart walls thicken instead of becoming thin). Cardiomyopathy is serious problem in many breeds but especially in the Doberman Pinscher breed.

Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency (PEI):
Is a digestive problem where the Pancreas does noot produce sufficient digestive enzymes which results in poor nutrient absorption,German Shepherds are a very popular breed. Unfortunately this has lead to large numbers of breedings looking for very specifications traits. A German shepherd bred for Schutzhund has to have the required characteristics to compete in three different disciplines in a competitive sport. A dog bred for show, must have the correct look, color and presence. Some dogs have been bred for size, color, or even profit. This has meant that many breeders have overlooked minor health issues. There has been a movement towards reducing hip dysplasia and more serious life threatening health issues such as mega- oesophagus, but many German Shepherds still have milder health issues which may lower their potential for work. This is a collection of some of the problems I have had experience with and have sometimes found alternative treatments to help conquer. A change in management, food or supplements can sometimes help.
Note: This is not a substitute for veterinary advice!

Health problems in the German Shepherd Dog:
Allergies
Hotspots
Interdigital Cysts
Ear Infections
Diarrhea
Panosteitis
Hypothyroidism

Allergies
Many dogs and humans seem to be suffering with allergies. These often manifest in dogs as itching, dry or red skin, and may be a factor in recurring ear infections or hot spots. Allergy tests can be done at a veterinary clinic to pinpoint food or environment related causes. An elimination diet may also be useful in diagnosing the cause. In the case of mild itching and scratching, moving to a raw or BARF diet can help and sometimes cure completely. With more severe problems, where the dog is clearly uncomfortable and has open sores or large red areas you should see your veterinarian.

Supplements which have helped many dogs include the addition of Salmon Oil capsules which can be added to the food up to a dose of 1000mg per 10lbs body weight. Borage Oil can also help, the dose for this is typically 1000mg per 50lbs body weight. A good Probiotic /enzyme blend can also help alleviate some symptoms of allergies. Some people have found dried nettle leaf helps given at a rate of 1tsp per 50lbs. Yucca can also help in the short term to reduce inflammation and half sever itching. Hair loss from scratching

Episodes

Shampoos which can help with the itching include oatmeal and tea tree preparations. A tea tree rinse after shampooing can also help. This is made by adding ½ tsp Tea tree oil to one pint of water. This rinse is poured over the dog and left on.
There are other causes of scratching, popularity the ears. Ear infections and mange mites can also cause the ears to become itchy and inflamed. These are usually easily treated by topical preparations available from your vet. It is always a good idea to have your vet check your itchy dog, and run a blood test and any other diagnostics before you assume the itching is due to a specific cause.

Hot Spots

Hot Spots can be caused by bites by insects such as fleas, mosquitoes etc or spiders, or by the dog scratching or biting a part of his body. They are particularly common in hot and humid places. They begin as a red inflammation, then quickly get larger and often yellowy or crusty. The quicker you can apply treatment, the better. Cut the hair away all around the spot so you can see at least half an inch of normal skin. The best treatment I have found is Witch Hazel, Aloe and Tea Tree. I mix 4oz of Thayer’s Witch Hazel with Aloe with 10 drops of pure tea tree oil in a small spray bottle, and squirt that on to the hot spot twice a day. This mixture is excellent for drying up hot spots and wounds. If the hot spot is over a joint, it may be that the dog is experiencing some discomfort there, a trip to a chiropractor to remove hot spot trimmed and drying the root cause can prevent recurrence. Hot Spots can also be caused by collars, so be sure to check the dog’s neck regularly and cleanse and thoroughly dry any rubbed areas. With my Golden Retriever, I found Sulfodene very useful if applied quickly, but his hot spots would spread very quickly and often required a course of the antibiotic, Cephalexin to clear them up.

Inter-digital Cysts

The German shepherd breed is apparently prone to these thickenings found between the toes. They can be quite sore and make the dog mildly lame. There is often no redness, just a hard thickening of the skin. If you Inter-digital Cyst
Squeeze the hardening gently, the dog will pull away showing some discomfort. Sometimes, if the cysts appear on more than one foot, the cause within a couple of weeks. These cysts often go hand-in-hand with allergies be caused by a foreign body like a grass seed. It is a good idea to check with your vet and maybe take x-rays before trying a home treatment. Panalog is also reputed to be a good treatment for this condition when there are no foreign bodies and no underlying bone problems.

Ear Infections

Some GSDs are very prone to ear infections, usually one particular ear. Again, the best prevention is keeping a close eye on the dog, and treating as soon as any symptoms appear. Black goo in the ear, scratching, and the ear appearing to be set on the side of the head are indications. Keeping the ears clean, and removing grains from the diet can help, be gentle when cleaning the ear, and try not to clean too often as irritation might be a catalyst for infection. The mix that I use for hotspots also works well to clean ears and for mild infections. I mix 4oz of Thayer’s Witch Hazel with Aloe with 10 drops of pure tea tree oil in a small spray bottle, and pour it into the ear twice a day for 2-5days. This will usually clear mild infections, but if there is no improvement in a couple of days, a trip to the vet may be in order.

Diarrhea

Not a condition in itself but a symptom of illness or stomach upset, diarrhea is more common in some dogs than others. Some dogs are sensitive to very fatty meats, or a change in diet from cooked to raw and vice-versa. The most effective way to stop diarrhea is to withhold food for 24 hours, and then offer half a can of pure pumpkin with 2tbsp of yoghurt (for a 50lb dog), an additional enzyme/probiotic might also help.

Panosteitis

Many German shepherd pups experience pano during their rapid growth in the first year or so. My experiences have been between 4 and 11 months of age, with between a week and two months duration. Pano is considered to be self limiting, so while it is distressing for an owner to see, a sore pup will rest more and recover quicker. Make sure your pup has a comfortable bed, and limit his exercise. If you pup looks a little chubby at this point, cut down his food a little, this may help to slow his growth and limit the time he is sore. A glucosamine chondroitin supplement may also help.

Hypothyroidism

German Shepherds seem to be prone to disorders associated with the immune system. One possible cause of Hypothyroidism is thought to be autoimmune disease. This is also thought to be hereditary. It often shows up between the ages of 2 and 5 and has many disparate symptoms. If your dog shows a strange change in behavior, gains weight or has skin and hair problems, it may be a good idea to have a simple test done to see if thyroid dysfunction may be a cause. The medication is inexpensive and effective but the dog must be monitored with regular blood tests to ensure the dosage is correct.

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