German Shepherd Dog Potential Health Problems
The German Shepherd Dog has some major health problems, ranging from hip dysplasia, to elbow dysplasia, and some minor concerns such as Panosteitis, von Willebrand’s Disease, progressive posterior paresis, skin allergies, malignant neoplasms, pannus cataract, dreaded gastric torsion, perianal fistulas, cardiomyopathy and occasionally seen Pancreatic enzyme insufficiency. See the descriptions below.
German Shepherd Dog – Health Problems
Health guarantees: If you are looking for a German Shepherd 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 diseases 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 skeletal 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. See effective canine arthritis treatment More Hip Dysplasia information. See the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals OFA See the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program PennHIP You don’t have to wait until your dog exhibits symptoms. You can take steps now to minimize the chances your dog will suffer arthritic pain due to hip dysplasia. Treating your pet’s impending or existing arthritis.
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 severly affected dogs, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), fragmented medial coronoid processes and united anconeal processes can result from the stress in the joint. More information. Treatments involve surgical correction if possible, or medical management using asprin and other anti-inflammatory drugs. See effective Osteoarthritis treatment.
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 aspirin can be be helpful in controling the pain. In severe cases, corticosteroids 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 or 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 equina syndrome (CES) has been defined as low back pain.
Pyotraumatic 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 poor 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 the 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 keratoconjunctivitis 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 go 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 a 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.