Despite their slightly scary reputation, most German Shepherds are loyal, playful, and make wonderful pets to have around the house. While they may take a little more maintenance than smaller breeds, these dogs usually have wonderful personalities and will provide you and your kids with years of company and fun. A well-bred German Shepherd will be able to go through its whole life without any major health issues. However, like any breed, there are certain conditions they’re more susceptible to. If you’re thinking of buying or adopting a German Shepherd, here are some important health care tips to follow.
Like us, dogs need a balanced diet to stay happy and healthy. By and large, German Shepherds are very active, and therefore they need a lot of protein in their diet compared to some other breeds. Chicken, turkey and beef-based foods are all great for this. However, you should also make sure there’s a healthy amount of vegetables and eggs in their diet. Generally, you should avoid wheat, rice or corn, as these can be tough for a German Shephard to digest, and may lead to health problems. Again, like us, the amount of food your dog eats should reflect the amount of activity they get. Generally though, three cups of food a day should be a healthy amount. When you’re looking for food for your German Shepherd, try to avoid anything that contains additives, as this can lead to an excess of calories. Reading this article on dog foods is a great way to start.
As you can imagine, the most important thing after your German Shepherd’s diet is the level of exercise they’re getting. Taking your dog out for regular walks will not only keep them entertained, but will also reduce the risk of health issues like hip dysplasia and arthritis. Let him out into your garden to play at least twice a day, and take them for daily walks of about half an hour. Remember that even though they’re getting a healthy amount of exercise, it doesn’t mean that your German Shepherd is totally immune to conditions like hip dysplasia. Whenever you take them out, pay attention to the way your dog is moving. If you notice anything off about their stride, take them to a vet’s as soon as possible. If hip dysplasia is left untreated for long enough, it can lead to severe muscle waste, especially in the leg muscles of the hip that’s affected.
On the subject of vets, it’s important to check your dog over fairly regularly for common health problems they may suffer from. Sadly, even if we take every effort to make sure they’re well fed and active, German Shepherds will suffer from medical problems from, time to time. In terms of behaviour, you may notice that the dog lacks coordination, become more aggressive, or lose their regular appetite or thirst. Sudden weight changes, like a bloated abdomen or an offset muscle tone, also shouldn’t be ignored. One of the most common places to find health problems in any large dog is their paws. Before leaving the house with your German Shepherd, get into the habit of checking the underside of their paws for damaged pads, abrasions, and cracks in their claws. It’s also a good habit to check their coats thoroughly for red spots, sores, and parasites like ticks and fleas.
The sensory organs of your dog are another major place where health problems can show up. Problems with the eyes, ears and nose can be extremely serious in a dog, so if you notice anything unusual get to a vet right away. You should be checking your German Shepherd’s eyes for discoloration, cloudiness, squinting, or discharges. You should also check the size of the dog’s pupils against one another. If one is diluted more than another, or stops responding to light, you need to have it checked by a vet. One of the most common signs for ear problems is your dog scratching them excessively. Redness in the inner ear, or an unpleasant smell, should also be cause for alarm. Noses can sometimes break out with discharges, become discoloured, or develop a crust on the top. Again, if you notice any of these, take your dog to a vet as a matter of urgency. Oral problems are slightly less serious than ones in the other sense organs, but you should still be on the lookout for them. Bad breath, sores on the tongue, and reddened or bleeding gums are all common signs of oral health issues.