Always make water available.
Feed a suitable diet for the dog’s age and development. Modern ‘all in’ foods provide a balanced diet. For an adult 18-20% Protein is OK.
Keep an eye on the dog’s ‘motions’ and avoid foods that makes them loose.
Keep the dog’s vaccination up to date.
Consider taking out Pet Insurance, for peace of mind i.e. vet bills and 3rd party claims etc.
Your dog needs exercise every day.
Groom your dog regularly, hand groom, then brush away loose hair. Don’t let ‘long coats’ hair build up into knots and tangles.
Don't bathe too often.
Consider having your dog ‘hip-scored’ especially if you want to do agility or working trials.
Worm your dog regularly.
Don’t leave your dog unattended in vehicles for long periods, and not at all when it is hot.
Occasionally let your dog have a marrow bone sawn in half.
Don’t let your dog get fat. If you can see the outline of their ribs when they’re panting, that’s about right.
Always have a First Aid Kit handy for emergencies, include: thermometer (Adult dog temp 38°C, puppies 39°C); bandages; adhesive tape; scissors; nail clippers; vaseline; skin ointment; tweezers; eye drops; saline solution; cotton wool.
Get your dog used to being examined all over from an early age, by yourself and strangers.
Put tablets into a tiny bit of tasty food i.e. cheese etc.
IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERN ABOUT YOUR DOG’S HEALTH – GET THEM TO YOUR VET. BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY.
Some conditions can be potentially dangerous for GSDs.
Here are some examples:
Dogs can soon become overheated particularly if shut in cars on warm days (even if the windows are left slightly open). Cars must be in the shade with plenty of ventilation. A dog cage with the car boot open and a light coloured sheet over the car should provide a comfortable environment. A dog's temperature can soon rise to dangerous levels, remember, they have very few sweat glands.
Signs of Heatstroke – exhaustion, very heavy panting, staggering or lurching gait, collapse.
Immediate Treatment – immerse in cold water, drape with a large soaked towel. Apply ice cubes to nose and tongue. Keep in a cool place.
This potentially fatal condition requires immediate attention of a vet. Causes of torsion are considered to be as follows: exercise after a heavy meal (allow at least an hour)feeding soon after strenuous exercise (again wait at least an hour) drinking excessively after exercise gulping large quantities of food whilst also gulping air.What is torsion? – The stomach (which is loosely suspended in the GSD) fills with gases and once distension begins it becomes twisted, causing severe pain and trauma to other organs in the body.
Signs of torsion – sudden swelling of the abdomen. Stomach becomes bloated and tense like a drum. Breathing becomes rapid and shallow. The dog will gulp and try to vomit. May try to grab at anything to eat e.g. grass, bedding etc. The dog will arch it's back in pain and will be uneasy.
Treatment – Don't Wait! Immediate attention of a vet is necessary.
Your dog can be x-rayed at about 18 months when any faults in the hips can be see. (BVA/KC Scheme) A score is given for each hip, these are added together. A score of 25 or below is considered acceptable if the dog is to be used for breeding.
There is no clear opinion of the causes of HD, there is a definite hereditary factor. Other factors such as feeding, exercise etc are considered to be relevant.
Treatment - Pain relief. In extreme cases hip replacements.
CDRM - Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy
Known now as DM. This distressing condition most often affects GSDs sometimes as young as 5 years, but more commonly over 8 years old. The onset can be very gradual and affects the hind legs. The condition is not painful.
What is DM? - DM is the degeneration of areas of the spinal column itself. The sheath of the nerves deteriorates and gradually the dog loses sensory information that the brain receives about the position of the limbs in space and feeling in these.
The signs of DM – The hind legs are usually affected (the dog can have difficult walking on slippery surfaces). Dogs may stumble and gradually have reduced agility. This leads on to difficulty in getting up, going up and down stairs, the hind legs may cross over. With reduced use muscle mass deteriorates, thus the dog will ‘knuckle over'.
Progress of DM and treatment – this condition can progress more quickly or slowly in various dogs (from a few months to 24 months or more) Sadly the cause remains a mystery, research is being carried out at the present time.
Trying to maintain muscle condition through the use of therapy swimming pools has proved beneficial – walking through long grass helps to maintain movement and muscle strength. It is thought that Vitamin E and B could be beneficial. However, at the present time, there is no cure for this condition.