The following information is general information only, it is a list of
the more common problems faced by the average pet owner. It does
not cover hereditary problems and disorders that can
occur within the breed such as hip & elbow problems, cryptorchidism,
dwarfism etc. These topics are listed under the
page which is under construction and will be available soon.
It is in your best interest to find a
'reputable' breeder who is aware and knowledgeable about the breed
including basic genetics, and does their best to keep their breeding program free of
If you have a problem with your companion, please
contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for advice, as prevention is
far better than cure!
This site promotes responsible dog ownership.
A sound German Shepherd Dog makes an excellent companion. An unsound one
is a disaster waiting to happen!
Because of the German Shepherd Dog's many
diverse uses, the breed has become a very popular
companion over the years. This is one reason it has attracted some
'undesirable' people whose primary interest in the breed is to make money.
Unfortunately, many animals purchased from
disreputable breeders, puppy mills and backyard breeders are puppies
produced for profit, and can be a nightmare in the making. These people
pay no consideration to genetics, temperament or physical characteristics
of the breed, resulting in litters plagued with serious health and
temperament problems. These so called 'breeders' show little regard for the health
and or welfare of the animals they produce.
A well bred dog is a pleasure to own and a
wonderful addition to the family, and through careful selection of
breeding stock many diligent Australian breeders are striving to
consistently produce a sound, correctly built dog with limited hereditary
and health problem.
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Some of the more common problems found within the German Shepherd Dog
All dogs shed to varying degrees. One of the purposes of grooming is to
rid your dog of dead hair. During certain times of the year and when
bitches come into 'season' dogs can shed quite heavily. Brushing every day
will help the dog look good and will collect the loose hair. This will
also help keep it off clothes and furniture; although I haven't discovered
how to do this yet!
By providing your dog with good care, a proper diet and regular
grooming, you are helping him to look his best.
Dog breath may not be as silly as one thinks. A foul
odour form a dog's mouth can indicate a build up of plaque, a hard
mineralised substance found on the teeth at the gum line. This plaque can
undermine the root of the tooth and eventually the tooth will fall out.
Bacteria live in plentiful numbers in plaque and as a result root
abscesses are often seen. These infections, caused in particular by
Streptomyces bacteria, can spread to other organs, especially the valves
of the heart.
Thus it is important to take care of this problem. A
veterinarian can clean the teeth under comfortable conditions by
using a short-acting anaesthetic. They can also instruct pet owners on how
to clean the teeth at home with an anti-plaque toothpaste.
This is an inherited recessive trait. Some ears will never develop the
musculature needed to stand erect. Soft ears are disqualifying show fault.
Soft ears are also more prone to ear infections due to limited air flow to
Hot spot eczema is a painful, moist, raw and weeping area of
inflammation. It flares up within hours and leaves a hairless area that is
usually round in shape. They can be triggered by fleas, an allergy or
sting. The dog scratches vigorously and damages the skin. Bacteria invade
the raw skin and turn the area into an acute infection. Dogs with dense
coats such as GSD's are susceptible. It is usually when the hair begins to
fall out the condition becomes noticeable.
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Nutrition - Water
An ample supply of clean water is critical to the health and well-being of
animals during all stages of life. It is estimated that the body of the
adult dog is 50-60% water, while the body of young pups 15 even higher in
Dogs and cats can go without food for many days, but a loss of 10-20% body
water can cause serious health problems and even death. Under normal
conditions the percent of water in the body remains constant. Since the
body has little capacity to store water, it is important for the animal to
have ready access to clean water.
Functions of Water
Water is involved in the function of every cell in the body. It aids in:
- Regulating body temperature.
- Lubrication of body tissues.
- Movement of nutrients and waste products through the cell walls.
- Elimination of wastes from the body.
- Milk production.
- A fluid medium for the blood and lymph system.
Therefore you can see why serious health problems can occur with a severe
prolonged loss of body water.
Sources of Water
The necessary water intake for the animal is provided by:
- Consumption of water. This is usually the primary source of the
water required by the body. Dogs and cats should have access to fresh
clean water at all times.
- Food consumed. The type of food consumed determines the amount of
water provided by food intake. Canned pet food, meat and table scraps
usually contain 60 to 80% water while dry pet foods have 10% or less
water. Consequently an animal eating a canned pet food will usually
drink less water than when fed a dry-type pet food.
- Body metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates. During the
metabolism of food in the body, the oxidation of hydrogen does form some
water. When the same amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates are
metabolized, fat provides the most metabolic water, and protein provides
Water is lost from the body a number of ways including:
- Urine and faeces. Usually the greatest loss of body water is via the
urine and faeces. In illnesses with vomiting and diarrhoea, water loss can
occur to the point of dehydration. If this problem is suspected, consult
your veterinarian immediately.
- Respiration. When dogs and cats are in a warm environment and they
pant, warm moist air is expelled at or near body temperature. This is
one of the reasons why an inadequate water supply during the warmest
part of the year can cause health problems.
- Saliva. Some water is lost from saliva during panting. Also, when
the dog or cat lick and clean themselves, additional water is lost from
- Milk production. This can be a primary loss of water during the
nursing period. It is critical that adequate water be provided during
Amount of Water needed
Mature healthy dogs and cats experiencing normal activity and housed at
room temperature, generally consume 2 1/2 times more water than dry food.
Consequently if an animal consumed 300 grams of dry food it would be
expected to drink about 750 grams of water. Water intake is determined by
a number of factors including:
- Type of food consumed and food intake.
- Environmental temperature and humidity.
- Stage of life of animals. During growth, and lactation the animal
requires more water than the normal adult or the adult female
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The pet food industry
With numerous commercial diets on the market these days
aimed at getting
your hard earned
dollars, choosing a suitable product
can prove to be a bit of a balancing act.
best suits your budget whilst
providing your dog with a quality food suitable for his/her needs.
(health and well being).
Well......before you purchase your next
bag/can of dog food -Think about this?
Overseas, particularly in the USA many pet manufacturing
have/are using deceased companion dogs, cats road kill etc as the protein base
of their pet foods, both canned food and bagged food! Sounds too
unreal to be true?
What has this got to do with Australia?
Many companies import their products to Australia
from overseas. These well known companies are
actively involved with and fund research
laboratories in a quest to gain 'information' to support
their nutritional claims
which is then used to market it's products eg;
their product's benefit to the urinary tract
etc. One of the leading companies
in this type of research is Iams (owned by
Procter & Gamble)- you have probably seen the brand 'Eukanuba'
sold Australia wide?
Be assured that Iams is not the only company involved in such cruel
These Labs are notorious for carrying out cruel and
inhumane experiments on defenceless animals like cats and kittens, puppies
and dogs etc, and on completion of these tests, the poor lab animals are
then killed. So much pain and suffering is inflicted on them just to see
the effect these companies products have on a
living animals digestive system,
kidneys, urinary tracts, muscles and much more....and then have the
audacity to claim this cruelty
is all in the name of 'nutrition?'
Surely one must question the ethics of companies that
claim these products are in the best interest of our companions,
and surely one must also question the employees who carry out these
hideous tests. on the companies behalf?
The more we know about the many
companies behind these animal based products and
the sooner we can all begin to make educated choices about what we are
feeding our companion animals and if we want to support companies that
claim to care for animals whilst carrying out these inhumane acts of
Before you buy YOUR next
bag/can of dog/cat food for your best friend,
ask yourself, "What am I feeding my pet- is my hard earned dollar
contributing to animal experimentation?"
read the following article at the link below.
It is lengthy, but well worth it .
The Pet food industry
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misconception is that dogs are able to tolerate cooked/raw bones of any
description, when this is simply just not true!
Feeding your dog too many bones or the wrong type of bones can lead to
all sorts of problems usually ending with a trip to the vets.
Raw bones are preferable to cooked bones which are much more likely to
splinter and lodge in the dog's throat or intestine. Beef, Pork and lamb
bones are better than chicken bones. Raw bones are more easily digested.
Never feed grilled chop or steak bones as these splinter easily.
Bones can cause droppings to turn a chalky white colour and may cause
Avoid feeding cooked bones, especially those liable to splinter, such as
fish or rabbit bones. Large raw bones are excellent for dental health.
Rowen Blogg & Eric Allen
I prefer to use brisket bones, lamb flap or large knuckle bones (Dino
bones sliced long ways so the dog can get to the marrow inside). These are
particularly useful if your dog is required to spend time without you in
the yard. It will keep him occupied for quite some time and is also good
for his teeth.
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Fleas are not choosy about where they live and feed. They infect both
animals and humans, causing irritation and inflammation of the skin and
are the major cause of skin allergies in dogs and cats. Animals
often become abnormally sensitive to flea bites, making life uncomfortable
for the infested animal. Fleas are also capable of transmitting some
tapeworms from dogs, cats, rats and mice to humans by acting as a host,
but this is rare.
Effects of flea bites can be seen immediately. The skin will be
irritated and inflamed. Other effects of flea infestation - such as
tapeworm infection, hypersensitivity and dermatitis - will not be known
The biggest problem in fighting fleas is that 90% of the flea life
cycle takes place off the pet in the surrounding environment, i.e.:
carpet, bedding, furniture, kennels, car etc. Adult fleas living on the
animal lay 100's of tiny eggs which quickly drop off. The eggs hatch into
larvae which crawl away and hide. The larvae feed on debris and flea
faeces before turning into pupae. The pupae cannot be killed. In the
presence of animals and vibration the pupae batch into new fleas, which
jump onto the animal for a blood meal.
Until the flea eggs (including those on animals in the environment) are
destroyed by treatment.
Controlling the spread/and treatment
1. Treat ALL animals in the household at the same time.
To kill fleas that are on your dog or cat it is recommended you use a
flea rinse or spray and maybe a mousse for cats. These should be used
regularly to kill new fleas.
Treat animals with specific preparations designed to kill fleas. Use
these products strictly according to the instructions on the label. If
applying an insecticidal wash, wear rubber gloves and dilute the wash
according to the instructions on the label. Avoid absorption of
insecticide through the skin. Treat animals with fleas for tapeworm, as
fleas can transmit tapeworm infections. If indoor areas are heavily
infested with fleas, you may need to treat them. Further advice on methods
of treatment can be obtained from your veterinarian.
2. Treating the environment.
Treat animals, their bedding and their immediate environment (that is,
areas where they usually rest) to destroy adult and immature fleas.
Dispose of any debris and vacuum floor coverings thoroughly, at least
weekly. Include furniture, carpet, pet baskets, beds, kennels, doormats
and the car. Destroy vacuum bag contents after use. Wash animal bedding on
hot cycle and wash bedding regularly. Spray after vacuuming with
insecticidal spray. Use insecticidal foggers or environmental spray (flea
bombs) inside the home about every 6 months. These products contain adult
flea killers and also insect growth regulators.
3. Preventing Re-Infestation
Modern flea treatments available focus on disrupting the life cycle of
the flea. Using insect growth regulators (IGR's) that prevent flea eggs
and larvae developing into new adult fleas. These can be in the form of
tablets or paste, sprays, foggers or flea egg collars.
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The more common forms of worm infestation in dogs is intestinal:
however, there is an especially troublesome parasite that lives in the
dog's heart and surrounding blood vessels. This worm is aptly named -
Symptoms of Heartworm
The severity of heartworm infestation depends on the number of worms
living in the heart and primary blood vessels surrounding the heart. If
the worms are present in large enough numbers, some of the symptoms a dog
may experience include: coughing; difficulty in breathing; and
listlessness (tires easily). In the more advanced stages, a dog may suffer
from congestive heart failure, which can lead to premature death. All
these symptoms are caused by the worms blocking the flow of blood through
the right side of the heart and the main artery carrying blood away from
The worm is round, white and can grow to 30-35
centimetres in length.
The mature worms breed, and the females give birth to worm larvae called
microfilaria, which are so small they can only be seen under a microscope.
These larvae circulate in the dogs bloodstream but undergo no further
development. Development only proceeds when a mosquito bites the dog and
takes in some larva infested blood. While in the mosquito, the larvae
develop into an infective stage in about two weeks. When the carrier
mosquito bites a dog again, the larvae are deposited under the skin where
they grow to about 2-3 centimetres in 90-120 days. From under the skin,
worm migration proceeds to the heart where the worms reach maturity and
the cycle starts again.
For heartworm to be a problem there must be both mosquitoes and dogs in
the area infected with the parasite. Heartworms are primarily a problem in
warm and wet areas and pose less of a problem in dryer, colder areas.
However, since today many dogs are shipped from one country to another
etc, heartworm can be a problem almost anywhere.
Dogs of all breeds and of all ages have the potential to become
If you are concerned that heartworm may pose a threat to your dog,
check with your veterinarian for a preventative treatment. Do not
try self diagnosis and treatment. This may result in health problems or
even death of your dog! All medications and treatments should come from a
If heartworm is a problem in your area, a veterinarian can take a blood
test from the dog to check for the parasite. If the results show the dog
does NOT have the parasite, the dog can be put onto a preventative program
. Obtain medication from the veterinarian who checked the dog and follow
If heartworm is a problem in your area and the test shows the dog HAS
the parasite? Your veterinarian will prescribe treatment which can take
several weeks (if caught early enough). After treatment, a preventative
program will be started. Follow directions carefully.
Please don't wait until your dog (s) has the obvious
symptoms of heartworms - Remember, Prevention is the best treatment!
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Your dog's eyes should be clear and bright and the area around the
eyeball should be white. Any red spots, apparent damage to the eye, or
excessive and continual discharge from the eyes or other abnormal
conditions, should be checked and treated by a veterinarian.
Carefully clean the area where eye drainage can discolour the hair with
a cotton ball moistened with warm water.
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Check ears at least twice a month. Check for dirt, cuts, scratches,
swelling, parasites, discharge or an unpleasant odour. Clean out wax
deposits carefully with a cotton swab moistened with ear cleaner. To avoid
possible injury, never use long/sharp instruments to probe deep into the
ear. If you discover dried blood, scabs, swelling or a thick discharge,
consult your veterinarian. Persistent head shaking can lead to aural haematoma which is like a blood blister inside the ear. This is caused by
the breaking of veins and subsequent filling up of blood. This condition
is relieved by operating.
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Check teeth regularly. Food bacteria and saliva accumulate, and adhere to
the tooth surface forming a soft plaque. If plaque build up continues,
chalk like material forms a hardened dental calculus on the tooth surface.
If left unchecked, plaque and calculus build-up may eventually cause
inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and of the membrane lining the tooth
socket (periodontitis). Eventually this could lead to bad breath and even
loss of teeth. The abrasive action of regular feeding of dry food or
snacks, will help in keeping teeth clean. It is possible to brush dogs
teeth to help reduce plaque build-up. Teeth should be checked at least once
a year by your veterinarian and cleaned if necessary.
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Keeping nails clipped to the proper length is essential for good paws.
This is particularly true if your dog does not run enough on the types of
surfaces that keep nails worn down. Nail clippers made for dogs should be
among the first items purchased for your dog. Puppies have sharp nails and
clipping the points off is good practice for future clipping. If
necessary, have your veterinarian or breeder show you how to do it
properly the first time.
Cut the tips only and do not cut too far back where you may hit a vein
causing the nail to bleed. If this should happen, a moistened styptic
pencil usually stops the bleeding. Or you can press a cotton ball with
some petroleum jelly on it against the end of the nail. If the bleeding
continues, or is excessive, call your veterinarian.
Found on the inside of the front legs need to be clipped regularly also,
as these toenails are not worn down from walking.
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Dogs normally should be bathed when they look dirty and/or have a strong
doggy odour. A hydro-bath is excellent for removing dead hair and giving
the dog a 'spring clean'. If you don't have access to a hydro bath, then
you could use an old bathtub, or whatever is large enough for the dog to
fit into comfortably. If you use your own bath, then be sure to clean and
disinfect after use. Have everything you need on hand, as once you start
bathing you will have little opportunity to get them. Have the dog's
shampoo. towels etc nearby and accessible. Shampoo or soap used should be
specifically for the dog and always follow the instructions carefully.
Place the dog in the bath and soak the coat thoroughly to the skin. A good
shampoo followed by a thorough rinsing with warm water, should be
sufficient to get your dog clean. There are also many dog
conditioners on the market today. Let the water drip from the coat
squeezing out the excess water from the coat. Get him safely out of the
bath (prevent injury) and place him/her on a large dry towel. Have
an extra towel to cover the dog and gently begin squeezing out the excess
water with the towel. Do this until most of the water has been absorbed.
In colder weather
A hair dryer may be held above the coat to aid in the
drying process. Holding a hair dryer too close can burn the skin just like
humans! Move the dryer and the brush up and down so the coat dries evenly.
Never leave a wet dog outside in cold weather or drafts.
If possible, keep him away from areas where he is likely to get dirty
before he is completely dry!
Sometimes it is best to avoid using soap and water, especially in the
colder months. When a puppy is very young or a dog is convalescing you can
give your dog a dry bath (available from vets, pet shops etc). These
products are rubbed into the coat and brushed out. Be sure to follow the
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Intestinal Worms -from
Bellarine Veterinary Prcatice info sheet on worms
Adult tapeworm live in the intestine of dogs and
cats. Segments of the tapeworm are passed in the faeces and contain
infective eggs - these segments may be seen around the anus and look like
grains of rice.
The infective eggs are ingested by a flea or louse
(intermediate hosts) where they develop further. The life cycle is
complete when the dog or cat ingests the flea or louse.
The tapeworm rarely causes disease in the dog or cat
other than anal irritation.
Fleas are the most important intermediate host of
tapeworm of the dog or cat. Adequate flea control is an important part of
tapeworm control and treatment.
Hydatid Tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosus)
The hydatid tapeworm is an important health risk for
humans. The adult hydatid tapeworm is 3-6 mm long and lives in the
intestine of the dog. The infective eggs are passed in the dogs faeces. If
these eggs are ingested by people they can go on to develop into cysts
within internal organs, potentially causing severe and life threatening
Dogs can only be infected by ingesting intermediate
stages of the tapeworm (cysts) that are found in the internal organs
(offal) of sheep and rarely in kangaroos and wallabies. Dogs should
therefore not be fed offal. If they have access to offal, i.e.: living in
semi-rural areas where they can wander or on a farm where they have access
to offal, they should be wormed with a specific hydatid tapeworm treatment
(Droncit or Drontal) every 6 weeks.
Whipworm (Trichuris virus)
Is an uncommon parasite of dogs that lives in the
large intestine, feeding off intestinal contents and blood.
Often no clinical signs are observed. Abdominal
pain, diarrhoea and unthrift ness may be observed in severe infestations.
No human cases have been reported in Australia.
Hookworm (Uncinaria steriocephala) -and
others further north in Australia.
Hookworms of dogs and cats attach to the large
intestine lining feeding off blood. They cause significant damage to the
lining of the bowel and may produce anaemia, enteritis, diarrhoea and
Dogs become infected by eating the developing worms
found in the environment or in intermediate hosts. The hookworms found in
Northern Australia are able to gain entry by migrating through the skin.
In Northern Australia people may be at risk of the
developing larvae penetrating their skin causing itchy dermatitis. It is
not a risk for people in the southern parts of Australia.
There are three species of Roundworm that commonly
infect dogs and cats and are especially important in puppies and kittens.
Animals are infected by the worm in the following
- Before birth, from dormant larvae in the bitch
that are reactivated when the bitch becomes pregnant and are passed
through the placenta to the developing pup or kitten.
- Larvae are also passed from bitch to pup, via the
- By ingestion of small rodents that act as
transport hosts for the worm and may contain infective larvae in their
- By ingestion of eggs containing infective larvae,
passed by infected pups or kittens.
Almost all pups and kittens have roundworms. After
swallowing the infective larvae, the larvae migrates through the body of
the animal, eventually ending up in the small intestine where they develop
to adults and absorb nutrients from the animal.
Problems caused by Roundworm in Dogs and Cats
-Ill thrift vomiting, diarrhoea and a pot-bellied
appearance are the most common signs of roundworm infection in pups and
-Rarely, a cough and lung damage may occur during
migration through the lungs. Fits and stillbirths may be encountered.
Problems caused by Roundworm in People
People may be exposed to infective larvae of the
roundworm in soil, sandpits and on the coat or tongues of infected
If ingested, usually inadvertently by small
children, (eg: dirt eaters, touching mouths immediately after handling
infected puppies/kittens, child's face being licked by animal), the larvae
migrate and may cause mild disease.
In rare cases severe brain or eye disease results.
Worm Control in Dogs and Cats
Pups and kittens should be wormed fortnightly from
birth until 12 weeks of age, monthly until six months of age and then
every 3-4 months. You can start off with a puppy wormer but a broad
spectrum all wormer should be used form 16 weeks of age.
Pregnant bitches should be wormed twice during their
pregnancy and fortnightly whilst they are lactating.
Children should be encouraged to wash their hands
after handling animals.
Sandpits should be covered whilst not in use.
Dogs with access to offal or sheep's' carcasses
should be wormed every six weeks with Drontal or Droncit.
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