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German shepherd Diseases: Recognizing Symptoms

It is critical to notice early indicators of canine ailments for your dog to leap safely through meadows. Because German shepherds cannot communicate (some argue the reverse), it is difficult to detect when a tail-wagger is ill. Detecting early indications of sickness requires keen observation. Pet owners who interact with their German shepherds daily are familiar with their dogs’ routines, moods, and preferences. As a result, you usually notice changes quite quickly, indicating a dog ailment.

We will only briefly discuss German shepherd ailments or disease signs that dog owners may encounter, as well as those that may be important in terms of breeding. We refer you for further and more extensive information to the specialist literature and your veterinarian.

German shepherd diseases are divided into:

  • Hereditary disease of the German shepherd
  • Skin disease in Pets
  • Infectious disease in dogs
  • Neurological disease of the tail-wagger
  • Orthopedic disease of the dog

Fever in the dog

A symptom that should always be taken seriously is a fever in dogs. A healthy German shepherds body temperature is between 37.5°C and 38.5°C. The only way to know your dog’s temperature is to measure it. It’s important to remember that body temperature is higher in the evening than in the morning and higher in puppies and young doggies than in adult German shepherds.

Fever in German shepherds can be detected by symptoms such as warm ears, a dry nose, and dull eyes. However, the actual body temperature can only be measured with a rectal thermometer. There are many different causes of fever. A tail-wagger with a fever almost always has a bacterial infection (cold or flu).

In any case, fever is also part of the natural defense response. You shouldn’t just try to lower it. A fevered German shepherd instinctively seeks out a cool surface, but after about 30 minutes, her body temperature can drop by 0.5°C. You can usually help your dog faster by trusting his instincts and letting him rest in a comfortable place. Giving your doggy plenty of water is also important. Otherwise, you will lose vital fluids. If your tail-wagger has a high fever or serious health problems, it should be treated by a veterinarian.


Diarrhea and vomiting are signs of serious illnesses such as distemper, parvovirus, and poisoning. Diarrhea in German shepherds can be a symptom of a benign neurological disorder, but it can also be serious or the result of overeating or consuming undigested food. If your German shepherd has diarrhea but nothing else appears to be wrong, you can give him a day to see whether his health improves. The first line of defense against diarrhea is to fast the doggy for a day.

Attempts to treat diarrhea with desiccants such as charcoal are shortsighted as they only treat the symptoms and not the causes. Water loss can be compensated with a spoonful of chamomile, sage, fennel, or black tea sweetened with a little honey as needed. Severe diarrhea will require veterinary care to replace lost fluids with intravenous fluids. Even if it is caused by harmless causes, diarrhea can cause severe systemic disturbances due to the loss of fluids and minerals, which requires veterinary treatment.


Vomiting, like diarrhea, can be an indication of serious infectious disorders such as distemper, parvovirus, or poisoning. However, most of the time, the reason is innocuous and merely the result of overeating or consuming unhealthy foods of any kind.

When it comes to German shepherd food, most German shepherds are not picky. They may target the organic trash in the garden or the trash can next door. As with diarrhea and vomiting, allowing the tail-wagger to fast for a day is a good first step. He won’t go hungry, but his digestive system will typically be alright. However, it is critical to have a full water bowl at all times.

Excessive drinking

Water quenches the thirst of a doggy, maintains body temperature, aids digestion, and lubricates tissues. A healthy dog is unlikely to consume excessive amounts of water. Excessive drinking in German shepherds could indicate a significant medical issue, such as a uterine infection or kidney illness. Don’t put off seeing the vet for too long.

Skin injuries in tail-waggers

In younger puppies, little skin injuries and wounded bunions (cuts) are more common. It is important to use a disinfectant; Chamomile tea is an excellent, affordable, and natural home treatment.

Major injuries from playing with other dogs or fighting can become infectious. Veterinary care is required. Head, neck, and back injuries are quite dangerous. If a wound in these areas becomes infected, the infection can rapidly spread to the underlying tissue layers.

Insect bites can be fatal if they trigger a severe allergic reaction. This is especially true for stings in the mouth and neck caused by bee or wasp hunts.

Hair loss

Hair loss in longcoatet shepherds is common, but it is more noticeable in long-haired types than in short-haired ones. As a German shepherd owner, you will undoubtedly require the vacuum cleaner more frequently. The majority of dogs shed their fur heavily in the spring and autumn. However, if hair development is disrupted or existing hair comes out in clumps outside of the season, hair growth is usually disrupted or existing hair falls out for a specific reason.

Nutritional issues, or dietary deficits, are common causes of hair loss. Defects are usually caused by incorrect feeds. You don’t have to spend a fortune on premium food to keep your German shepherds coat healthy, but branded food has the advantage of keeping all of the vital nutrients, unlike leftover food. Barking at their pets is one option that an increasing number of doggy owners are contemplating.

If your German shepherd wants to scratch its fur off, it most likely has fleas. Identifying fleas is simple, but getting rid of them is frequently tough. The best flea shampoo and/or powder are available. Your veterinarian may also administer drops or oral medications. Because fleas reproduce rapidly, treatments should be repeated regularly. Dust mites and allergies are two more causes of hair loss.

When young German shepherds limp

Young puppies are usually highly vivacious and bold; they play a lot, have no boundaries, and, most importantly, have no hazards. Playing with other German shepherds is frequently obnoxious and impolite. The young puppy is occasionally overwhelmed by its owner’s excessively long walks. Injured bunions are the most common cause of limping. Examine them for any wounds or punctures. Such injuries normally recover within 2-4 days if the damaged bunion is carefully cleaned. Pus and swelling are symptoms of an infection that requires veterinarian care.

Between the ages of four and nine months, many young German shepherds begin limping. The front limbs are the most commonly affected. Complete immobility would be inappropriate because the muscles and ligaments give support, and focused movement is necessary. You take short leash walks and briefly cancel the play session with the other German shepherds. Pain relievers just disguise the problem and should be avoided. The unhealthy process takes time and patience to heal.

Why can limping occur?

During the intensive growth stage, between the first and ninth months, both the cartilaginous and bony elements of the skeleton are exceedingly weak and cannot withstand large mechanical loads. This is especially true of the bones and limbs in the growth zones, such as the epiphyseal plate and articular cartilage.

The articular cartilage and epiphyseal plate cartilage are interlaced with blood vessels that commence ossification during the period of vigorous growth. However, this decreases the growing cartilage’s already limited stability. The shaft of bone around the epiphyseal plate is still forming, so it is mostly connective tissue.

Strong mechanical loads can harm both the articular cartilage and the freshly produced bone tissue in the epiphyseal plates. Bone tissue damage, typically microfractures, heals on its own. Damage to the epiphyseal plate cartilage causes faulty ossification, which is normally easily rectified by the healing process. In contrast, articular cartilage damage might result in persistent arthrosis. Ligament and tendon attachment points achieve complete resilience only after the most vigorous growth phase has ended. Excessive load can cause strains, which can be highly painful and be recognized by a limp if the periosteum is also involved. Improper nutrition can significantly impair skeletal stability and misdirect bone formation.

Limping can be caused by a variety of factors. Understandably, all owners want a quick recovery and decide, or even advocate, a procedure far too soon. Surgical intervention is not always required. Do you merely load the animal unduly in particular cases or, in the worst scenario, especially when joints are involved? Stop healing.

Canine hip dysplasia (HD)

HD refers to pathological abnormalities in the hip joint. Hereditary factors, in particular, play a significant role in its progression. Large breeds, including German Shepherds and others like Retrievers, Rottweilers, and Irish Setters, are the most susceptible to HD. Even with today’s improved scientific understanding, not all links are understood.

In addition to genetic predispositions, environmental factors such as high demands on the young dog or inadequate nutrition contribute to sick hip joints. X-rays only reveal the phenotype; the genetic makeup is concealed. The expert evaluates the size of the joint space, the shape of the acetabulum, and the femoral head, as well as any changes in the joints themselves and the femoral neck.

Depending on how strong and advanced these changes are, they are differentiated gradually:

  • HD-free: Unobtrusive joints in every respect, Norberg angle 105° or more. Sometimes even A1 if the socket rim wraps around the femur even further.
  • HD suspected: Femoral head or acetabular roof slightly uneven and Norberg angle is 105° (or greater), or Norberg angle less than 105° but uniform femoral head and acetabular roof.
  • Mild HD: femoral head and acetabulum uneven, Norberg angle 100° or less. Possibly slight arthritic changes.
  • Medium HD: the femoral head and socket are uneven with partial dislocations. Norberg angle greater than 90°: arthritic changes and/or changes in the socket edge occur.
  • Severe HD: Conspicuous changes in the hip joints (e.g., partial dislocations), Norberg angle below 90°, and the socket edge are flattened. Various arthritic changes occur.

The age of the German shepherd must always be considered. Because the skeleton and hence the joints have not yet matured adequately, no clear diagnosis can be made before the age of 12 months. Minor alterations observed on x-rays by 12 months of age, on the other hand, may disappear within 6 to 12 months. However, these are predominantly femoral neck alterations. Furthermore, not all alterations that occur in HD are the product of HD but are genetic. The X-ray scan, however, cannot show this.

It is clear from what has been described that a careful evaluation of X-rays of the hip joints in dogs is critical, but that the findings in the case of minor changes should be viewed with caution and that the necessary distance from which not only the hip joints but the entire animal should be evaluated can be encountered. The current practice of breeding animals with HD I is a reasonable compromise, on the one hand, because it is not always easy to distinguish between normal hip joints and those with HD I, and on the other hand, because mating two HD-free animals is possible but never guarantees HD-free offspring.

Lastly, other characteristics, such as movement sequence, should be examined in the selection of breeding animals in addition to hip dysplasia. A well-built Golden Retriever with HD 1 who walks well and frequently may be more valuable for breeding than an HD-free German shepherd with a rigid stride. Paradoxically, independence from HD is not often accompanied by excellent movement. The causes of discordant emotions can, of course, be discovered everywhere in the musculoskeletal system.

Osteochondrosis, Osteochondritis

Osteochondrosis is caused by improper joint development, which results in tubular bone epiphyses and articular cartilage abnormalities. This can result in inflammation or cartilage splits in joints subjected to high mechanical loads, particularly the elbow and shoulder joints. This disorder is caused by genetic factors. Osteochondrosis is commonly caused by improper vascular development, overeating, poor nutrition, and limb dislocation.


Canine epilepsy can be inherited (true epilepsy) or acquired (false or secondary epilepsy). It is unknown how epilepsy is inherited. Various diseases, prenatal defects, injuries, poisoning, stress, sleep difficulties, metabolic disorders, hormone disorders, and other factors can all contribute to convulsions or convulsive seizures (acquired epilepsy). Most of the time, it is the incorrect form.

As a result, it is appropriate to do a comprehensive clinical investigation, including the breeding line, before, as practice has shown, casually speaking about true epilepsy.

Eye Diseases in German shepherds

Veterinary ophthalmologists can now distinguish between acquired and inherited eye problems. This evaluation is non-invasive and only takes a few minutes. Most diseases can be recognized in German shepherds at the age of twelve months, which means that a disease can be detected ideally before the doggy is utilized for breeding. Inquire with your veterinarian about preventive checkups.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Is a slowly progressing retinal illness that can lead to total blindness over time. There are two types of PRA: the generalized form, in which the tail-wagger can go entirely blind, and the central form, which does not always result in total blindness. In the early stages of the condition, a German shepherd suffering from central PRA sees better in dark light than in daylight. Early detection is critical in breeding. However, PRA can only become apparent after a bitch has given birth to multiple puppies or the male has covered dozens of bitches.

Retinal Dysplasia (RD)

Retinal dysplasia is a retinal abnormality that can emerge as a result of retinal detachment. The condition can arise as a result of other eye diseases or as a basic genetic disease. It is already there after the conclusion of eye development in this situation and is not progressing. It can be detected as early as eight weeks of age. The magnitude of the shift determines the German shepherds vision impairment. In the best-case scenario, no major vision abnormalities are seen; in the worst-case scenario, an animal is blind on both sides. Inherited retinal dysplasia is frequently associated with other illnesses of the eye as well as the skeletal and cardiovascular systems.


A cataract (grey star) is any clouding of the lens caused by a variety of factors. The most common is senile cataract, which occurs in several breeds and is considered normal in elderly German shepherds. Cataracts can develop as a result of diabetes or retinal illness, or they might be inherited as a separate condition. A cataract causes blurred vision and, in the worst-case scenario, blindness.

Entropion, Ectropion:

Entropion is coming in, while ectropion is leaving the eyelid. Both are inherited disorders that are completely safe and easily treatable. Surgery is recommended for severe entropion as well as ectropion. When entropion is surgically treated in a young, growing German shepherd, there is a risk of overcorrection, which can lead to ectropion, and vice versa. There is typically a small Ek? With the young Golden or entropion, sometimes known as a droopy eyelid, is present. Puppies and young tail-waggers nearly always have an excessive amount of skin. When the head has attained its ultimate volume, the skin normally tightens on the skull, and the entropion disappears.
Note: The information that has been compiled here is intended to provide a decision-making aid for assessing the dog’s state of health. Accurate diagnosis and treatment are matters for the veterinarian!