German Shepherd Health Problems, Treatment and Care

German Shepherd Health Problems

One of the brilliant, muscular, and loyal dogs, the German Shepherd, is America’s favorite big dog. The German Shepherd is included in top 10 most popular breeds. Other courageous breeds are part of a herding breed group, meaning they are the most loyal and energetic dogs for jobs like police and military work. People love to keep the German Shepherd as their companion or pet, who is a loyal companion during walks. However, everyone who loves to keep this breed must know all about German Shepherd characteristics, especially the health problems, because there is a reason behind it. According to research in 2017 by Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, almost 63 % of UK German Shepherds had at least one disorder. Therefore, in this article, we will talk about German Shepherd Health problems and how you can treat them, So delve into it.

Health Issues of German Shepherd

German Shepherds are active dogs and always demand good training and exercise to keep them fit mentally and physically. Consistent training and a social environment are essential for a German Shepherd puppy. Moreover, this breed is famous for its lively behavior and capacity for work, which is possible when you give them constant training. According to Forbes, German Shepherds should be taken to the vet at least once a year. 

1. Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a neurological disorder that affects the spinal cord, due to which the back legs of German Shepherd could be paralyzed. Therefore, you need to notice the early signs and symptoms, such as weakness in the hind end and if they feel difficulty standing. Check their claws once a month to note down the signs. Degenerative Myelopathy treatment is not possible, but physical therapy can strengthen muscles and protect their ability to strengthen their legs. Moreover, if you cannot diagnose the condition, you can test for this by using a DNA-based blood test.

2. Elbow and Hip Dysplasia

Elbow and Hip Dysplasia is a common joint disease that causes pain in the front limbs and the hind end. The Orthopedic Foundation of Animals said that 20 % of German Shepherds have hip dysplasia. Clinical signs of dysplasia are reduced range of motion, limping, pain symptoms, and then, later age, arthritis set. The treatment is possible by reducing weight and activity, using joint protection supplements, pain medication, and surgery. However, testing to diagnose elbow and hip dysplasia, named PennHIP, is also available to predict the risk of this disease.

3. Cancer

A deadly disease, cancer can develop in German Shepherds at any age, usually in later life. The common cancers, bone hemangiosarcoma, lung, and intestinal, are included. Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant tumor detected in blood-rich organs such as the heart and the spleen. The common symptoms are internal bleeding, pale gums, weakness, disturbed abdomen, and trouble breathing. In the cancer treatment plan, chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation are included.

4. Gastric Dilation or Bloat and Volvulus

The deep chest of a German Shepherd makes it prone to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilation or bloat. It mostly happens because of an expanded stomach with gas that blocks the entrance. This is one of the progressive diseases, and the early signs are dogs feel discomfort in the abdomen and a bloated stomach. Therefore, if you notice these signs, immediately visit your dog’s vet.

Sometimes, this bloating causes twists in the stomach, called Volvulus. However, this is a less serious problem because it is treatable without surgery. Merck Veterinary Manual said almost 20 to 30 % of dogs with GSD can survive. The treatment is surgery, which requires the stable condition of dogs through IV doses, gastric decompression to allow built-up gas to escape, and untwisting of the stomach. Most dogs need medications for several days, even after surgery, and you can take care of their diet, too.

5. Allergies

Allergies are common in all pet dogs and could be prevented if you notice the signs earlier. Not treating allergies leads to itchy skin, skin infections, ear infections, and upset stomachs that cause nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Now, all the diagnostic tests of ears, skin, blood, and fecal tests are available. Allergies in dogs can be treated by preventing allergens and managing the symptoms with medications and diet therapy.

6. Heart Disease

Heart murmurs, valvular disease, and dilated cardiomyopathy are common in German Shepherds. It could be checked during the physical examination by listening to the heartbeat with a stethoscope, and an x-ray of the chest, lungs, and heart can be taken. The treatment plan for heart disease is several medications that help to increase the heart’s pumping ability. A sodium-restricted diet with more amino acids is recommended to promote heart health.

7. Pannus

Pannus is an immune-mediated painful eye condition and also called superficial keratitis. It causes blindness if not treated on time. It mostly happens because of increased exposure to UV light and severe air pollution. Therefore, always keep dogs indoors during most sunny days and shelter them. 

Some other health problems of the German shepherd are epilepsy, seizures, bleeding disorders, and immune-mediated disease that must be screened on time and then plan their treatment.

All these are common German Shepherd Health problems, and every pet owner must notice these in the early stages. All could be treated with diet therapy, medications, and surgery. German shepherd puppies need proper care, grooming, and training, and you can save your German Shepherd from many diseases at later age.

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