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German Shepherd

Health Problems in German Shepherds

3 min read
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Are you looking for a German Shepherd to join the family and wondering what the most important health concerns are in relation to this stunning dog breed? German Shepherds are a relatively healthy breed, so the chances are that you’re going to spend many years together from now on.

However, there are a few conditions owners should be aware of. Here are some of the more common health problems in German Shepherds and the symptoms that should prompt you to call your vet.

Health problems in German Shepherds

Hip dysplasia

German Shepherd

Some German Shepherd puppies can be born with a genetic condition known as hip dysplasia. This means that the ball and socket hip joints don’t fit together as they should, leading to symptoms such as limping or bunny hoping, stiffness, and a decreased level of activity.

Your vet may recommend changes in diet and a different exercise routine. In more serious cases, surgery can help alleviate this condition so it’s important to check with your vet for the best solution. German Shepherds diagnosed with this health issue will still be able to live a full life as they enjoy the support and care of their human family.

Elbow dysplasia

One of the possible health issues affecting German Shepherds is elbow dysplasia. This painful condition is a result of the elbow not developing correctly during puppyhood. If you notice your dog limping or if they have swollen elbows, it’s time to go to the vet to check if elbow dysplasia might be to blame. There are many treatment alternatives that will help your pup continue their fun-filled adventures. From medication to weight management, physiotherapy, and even surgery in more serious cases, the vet will choose the best option for your dog’s condition.

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (bloating)

Large dogs such as the German Shepherd can also be affected by gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloating. However, in dogs this condition can be fatal. Due to the extra air inhaled during meals or exercise, the stomach can bloat and twist on itself causing a sudden case of GDV that needs urgent medical attention. This German Shepherd health issue can also affect other dog breeds and often requires surgical intervention.
Pay attention to symptoms such as retching, vomiting, a swollen abdomen, or excessive drooling and don’t hesitate to contact your vet as soon as possible.

Degenerative myelopathy

Woman hugging dog

A diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy is terrifying for any dog owner, but it’s important to be aware of the main symptoms and treatments available. This is a condition that affects the spinal cord and unfortunately, it gets worse over time.

The dog can end up not being able to use their back legs at all and will eventually experience mobility challenges with their front limbs too.

This is an inherited illness and German Shepherds are one of the breeds most likely to be affected by it. The first signs that your dog might be suffering from degenerative myelopathy are: walking with difficulty, incontinence, and trouble standing up. Although there is no cure for this health problem in German Shepherds, there are plenty of things owners can do to make their best friend comfortable and help them stay active, although in a limited way. The vet will be able to recommend a special set of exercises, ways to deal with incontinence, and solutions that will make it easier for them to move around the house.

Eye Problems

One of the common eye problems in German Shepherds is a hereditary condition known as pannus which affects the cornea. You might notice a grey or pink film which changes into a darker shade covering one or both their eyes and even the cornea itself. Any unusual eye problems in dogs should be investigated by a vet, so make sure you ask for their help and advice if you notice changes in your dog’s eye colour or sight.

Pannus is a progressive disease that can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as UV light and high altitudes. However, if caught early the vet will be able to recommend treatment options that may halt the progress of the disease. Following their exact instructions is key, as pannus can come back and affect your dog later on in life.
German Shepherds are intelligent, loyal, and can be trained for so many amazing jobs from therapy and companionship to search and rescue missions. But just like any other dog breed, there are certain health conditions they are prone to. Luckily, with the help of a vet you can help your pup get over many health challenges so you can live a wonderful life together for years to come.

Discover more about the amazing history and incredible personality of the gorgeous German Shepherd breed, next.