The German Shepherd is an asymmetrical, strong, and energetic dog with a friendly look and an enthusiastic, alert, and self-assured disposition. but they may have some health issues that you should be aware of.
They are the first canine breeds to be used in military, police, and therapy works. They are known for their ability to learn orders rapidly. These robust and affectionate dogs can live long, active, and healthy lives if they are bred responsibly.
Generally, a German Shepherd is well-considered as a healthy dog. Although, there are some issues that can be fatal and a responsible breeder should concern about their breeding stock.
These include hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, diabetes, Hemophilia A, etc. As a Shepherd owner, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of some common problems.
You also need to check the ear and teeth of your adorable Shepherd regularly for any signs of infection. Ultimately, this will help you to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risks to your canine friend.
Let’s insight some common German Shepherd Health issues.
1. Hip Dysplasia
Like other large-sized dog breeds, hip dysplasia is the leading cause of health problems in German Shepherds. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition that is more common in large-sized dog breeds.
This condition mainly develops because of the higher growth spurts during their development process. This ultimately puts extra strain on their hip joint and causes dysplasia.
Every responsible breeder should avoid dogs from breeding exhibiting this issue. Otherwise, this might lead to producing another offspring with a similar issue. In this condition, the ball and socket component of the hip joint develops improperly and produces symptoms like arthritis, pain, lameness, and discomfort.
It’s crucial to monitor the weight of your Shepherd to prevent this issue. After development, this malformation of the joint is very difficult to mitigate. Owners need to limit the amount of feed of overweight dogs and regular exercise is essential to prevent this condition.
Bloat, also known as gastric dilation-volvulus, a sudden and life-threatening enlargement of the stomach can occur in German Shepherd Dogs. Shepherd’s medium-length fur and long-haired body sometimes hide the abdominal enlargement.
Bloat causes the accumulation of gases in the stomach when your dog eats food too fast and performs rigorous exercise later. This accumulated gas later gives pressure over the diaphragm and results in breathing difficulty in your dog. Additionally, an air-filled stomach puts pressure over the stomach vein and causes disruption of blood flow to the stomach. The mortality rate during this case is almost 50%.
Diagnosing bloat in your Shepherd is quite critical. If you see any signs of an enlarged abdomen, or if your dog salivates excessively or tries to swallow or vomit some food particle, there’s might some problem. This requires special veterinary attention for recovery. Otherwise, your dog could die.
To prevent this condition, always avoid overfeeding your dog and check whether he tries to eat quickly at once. You can easily solve this issue by providing 3 smaller meals per day rather than a large one.
Also, it’s very important to ensure that your dog doesn’t engage with any physical activities immediately after eating.
Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, is the most common type of bony cancer in dogs and accounts for almost 95% of total cases. This condition mostly affected the long bones of arms and legs of dogs such as the femur, hip, humerus, etc.
The actual mechanism of developing osteosarcoma in dogs is still unrecognized, but research revealed a higher prevalence of this condition in larger-sized dogs like German Shepherd. Other signs and symptoms of osteosarcoma include lameness, limping, swelling or a mass, loss of appetite, lethargy, breathing difficulties, seizures, severe pain caused by a tumor, etc.
This condition spread rapidly and can spread to all areas of the body even before being diagnosed.
Treatment of this aggressive form of cancer includes tumor control and limitation of its spread to other parts of the body. Surgeons typically amputate the affected limb to control the spread and save the life of your shepherd.
We know this is so pathetic for many owners, but saving a life is more important than an amputated limb. After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy help to control the remaining cancer cells.
Like humans, your German Shepherds are very much prone to cataracts in their eyes because of their increasing age. You can easily diagnose this condition by looking at your dog’s eyes.
Cataracts progress slowly and your dog continuing to lose vision and become completely blind if left untreated. Partial blindness during the development of cataracts may cause your dog to run evenly and hit the wall while walking. Usually, a recessive gene develops cataracts in your German Shepherd.
Also, other problems like toxins, trauma, inflammation, etc. help to develop this issue. You need to contact your veterinarian as soon as you saw the symptoms of it. Veterinarians may perform surgery for complete removal of it and restore the normal vision of your lovely Shepherd.
Diabetes mellitus is quite common in German Shepherds due to their enormous size and tendency to overeat. Similar to humans, symptoms of diabetes include dry mouth, excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, increased appetite, fatigue, etc.
Most veterinarians consider this as a hereditary disease, although this can develop anytime during a lifetime. Causes of this condition are still unknown, but risk factors may include improper exercise, Cushing’s disease, obesity, etc. You can easily control this condition by providing the right diet and adequate exercise to your dog.
For a severe condition, veterinarians recommend injecting insulin to manage the disease. This disease isn’t curable, you just need to help your dog to make this for the rest of his life.
In conclusion,as a responsible Shepherd owner, be careful about the signs and symptoms of these health issues of your dog. Your Shepherd might also suffer from overweight, arthritis, pancreatic insufficiency, physical injury, etc. Please take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible if any of these conditions occur.
For more information, please contact your nearest vet hospital.