6 Common German Shepherd Health Issues (Explained)

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Thinking of welcoming a German Shepherd? It’s important that you understand some of the most common German Shepherd health issues.

A German Shepherd can make a great addition to the family. Their intelligence, calm nature and caring temperament make German Shepherds good with kids.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the most common German Shepherd health problems. That way you know how to act appropriately when you spot signs of illness.

Health Issues to Keep In Mind With Your German Shepherd

Below are some good-to-know health problems about the German Shepherd:

1. Dental Disease

Believe it or not, you should brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. They are prone to dental disease which can have a lot of bad problems for both you and your dog.

There are special toothbrushes and kinds of toothpaste designed for dogs. The earlier you start, the better.

2. Hip Dysplasia

This tends to be a genetic disorder, mostly caused by bad breeding habits in puppy mills.

For that reason, make sure you get your dog from a reputable breeder with no signs of the disorder in the bloodlines.

Hip dysplasia does more than just cripple the dog. While it may be able to be fixed surgically, dysplasia could shorten your dog’s life.

Shepherds have a larger life span for big dogs than most at ten to twelve years. This has killed at ages three and four.

3. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis isn’t just a problem for German shepherds. All dogs have the tendency to develop this problem.

It is most often caused by an improper diet, which would include too much salt, fat, and sugar in the dog’s diet.

The condition can range from mild to fatal, so it’s imperative that the right foods be given to the dog at all times.

Try to avoid human food unless it is veterinary approved. Some human foods may be helpful, such as pumpkin, but some aren’t.

Check this out: 4 Ways to Fix Floppy German Shepherd Puppies Ears

4. Panosteitis

That sounds like a nasty condition, and the dog might agree with that idea. However, it is the technical word for puppy growing pains. These dogs grow quickly and sometimes they will appear to be lame in one leg.

When that happens, it should be checked out, but it can be diagnosed with an x-ray. There isn’t a lot that can be done for the pain.

But the good news is the next growth spurt will correct the situation. However, it may happen more than once as the puppy grows to adulthood.

5. Gastric Issues

Shepherds and horses have something in common. If allowed, they can bolt their feed. This can cause problems for the German shepherd.

Like pancreatitis, these range from mild to fatal. If the dog rolls or otherwise tries to get rid of the bloat that can come from this, they may develop gastric torsion… twisted guts.

The best way to prevent this issue is to feed several small meals a day rather than two larger ones.

That way the dog doesn’t eat enough at one time to cause bloat and can avoid both the discomfort and the danger.

6. Osteoarthritis

German shepherds are very active dogs. When they reach their middle and senior years, they’re likely to develop osteoarthritis due to the normal wear and tear of play. Injuries can also cause this condition.

Taking Care of Your German Shepherd

Your dog’s health should be one of your primary concerns. And there are preventive steps you can take to take care of your German Shepherd.

Regular exercise, proper grooming, vet examination, and a balanced and nutritious diet will help you keep your dog healthy.

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Lisemaine is a dog lover. She currently owns a Frenchie and enjoys working with and training her. She'll share her best tips with you to keep your dog happy, healthy, and active.


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