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The German Shepherd Online Wellness Care Guide

The German Shepherd is one the most versatile and hard-working dogs ever bred. Extremely poised with terrific protective instincts, German Shepherds are fearless but not overly aggressive. Much like most breeds, they require regular visits to the veterinarian and a certain level of care and attention to keep them healthy, active and strong.

The Use of Supplements: In Support of a Healthier German Shepherd
The German Shepherd breed is traditionally one of the most unhealthy breeds due to decades of popularity and unwise breeding. However, today's professional GSD breeders are dedicated to the health of their dogs and supporting scientific research to help eliminate genetic diseases in GSDs.
Supplements are no longer an afterthought but an important element for your German Shepherd's nutrition and care. Animal Necessity recommends consulting your veterinarian regarding the types of supplements that could benefit your dog's physical health and mental well-being.
Some of the benefits supplements may provide for your German Shepherd include:
  • May help alleviate certain types of cancers, in addition to heart disease, diabetes, and cataracts caused by diabetes.
  • Help keep your dog's coat healthy and shiny.
  • May prevent certain types of allergies.
  • Relief from chronic hip, joint, back, and muscle pain.
  • Can boost your dog's intake of vital nutrients missing in its diet.
  • Increase energy levels in support of an active and healthy lifestyle.

A Short History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is traditionally one of the most unhealthy breeds due to decades of popularity and unwise breeding. However, today's professional GSD breeders are dedicated to the health of their dogs and to supporting scientific research to help eliminate genetic diseases in GSDs.

Fun Facts about the German Shepherd
Few breeds rival their intelligence and ability to assimilate and retain training.
Possess a unique dignity and stature with a show dog "pose" of one rear leg under the body and one extended.
Does not give affection lightly but will show serious loyalty, especially to its owner or main caretaker.
Morris Frank was the first American to benefit from having a Guide Dog. In 1928, he brought his Swiss-trained female GSD, "Buddy", to the U.S.
Health Issues German Shepherd Owners Should Know About
Pancreatic Acinar Atrophy

Pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA) is an inherited autoimmune disease in GSDs characterized by the selective atrophy ("withering") of the acinar cells of the exocrine pancreas, which make and secrete digestive enzymes. PAA is the most common cause of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) in the dog. German Shepherds are the most common breed to be affected with EPI. Affected GSDs have increased appetite, weight loss, and soft/loose stools. If not treated, the dog will starve even if they are fed a lot of food.

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus)

German Shepherds are prone to developing gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), which is also called bloat, gastric torsion, or twisted stomach. This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach twists on itself, cutting off blood flow to the stomach and other abdominal organs such as the spleen. It strikes very suddenly and a dog that is fine one minute can be dead a few hours later. Seek emergency veterinary care ASAP if you suspect that GDV is occurring!


German Shepherds are particularly prone to a type of cancer called hemangiosarcoma - cancer of cells that line blood vessels. Organs commonly affected include the spleen, the heart, and the tissue beneath the skin. The tumor can spread to other organs, such as the lungs, liver, and intestines. The tumor is "hidden" and grows very slowly, but eventually it can rupture and the dog bleeds internally.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a slowly progressive destruction of the white matter of the spinal cord, similar to Lou Gehrig's Disease in people (ALS). It is a genetic mutation in GSDs, striking primarily older dogs, and leads to the loss of many bodily functions, including progressive paralysis - first of the hindlimbs and then the forelimbs. In one study, 2% of GSDs presented to U.S. veterinary teaching hospitals were affected.

Immune-mediated Disease

German Shepherds are "the breed" for immune-mediated disorders. A deranged immune process can commonly affect nearly every organ system of this breed. The immune system commonly attacks: the thyroid gland, the pancreas, the eyes, the GI tract, muscles, and joints. Other tissues are also fair game in the GSD. Hypothyroidism is very common in GSDs and is a lack of thyroid hormone due to destruction of the thyroid gland. Common signs are weight gain, lethargy, thinned haircoat, and skin infections.


Germen Shepherds are at risk for developing diabetes, which is a serious disease. It is also a sad fact that almost all diabetic dogs will soon be blinded by secondary cataracts. In addition to veterinary care and proper diet, specific nutritional supplementation can help support diabetic dogs, and also help prevent formation of secondary cataracts.

Care Information for Your German Shepherd

Caring for your German Shepherd is more than just a routine - it's a healthy lifestyle that is will reap great rewards for you and your dog. Given the multitude of health problems in the breed, you must be watchful and monitor for any abnormal behavior/health concerns. See your veterinarian early, rather than later. Wellness is the key to good health in your dog!

German Shepherds require a quality, balanced high protein diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support their size, physical activity and predisposition for certain diseases. Food with essential fatty acids are important for maintaining her healthy coat and to help reduce shedding. As they age and activity slows, a GSD's diet must change to prevent obesity. A diet rich in antioxidants can have long-term benefits, especially as your dog ages.
German Shepherds are not suited for life restricted to the backyard and need to live indoors as a member of the family. However, with enough exercise and attention, GSDs can thrive in an apartment or on a vast ranch. They are naturally protective and will alert you to strangers or intruders. However, if you welcome someone into your home, your German Shepherd will usually accept them, too. She will also get along with other pets in the household.
German Shepherds are an active, thinking breed and are working dogs and service dogs, so they need a job! Give them things to DO - not only to exercise their bodies but stimulate their minds. If they are bored, they can be destructive and demolish your house. Taking your dog for long walks, playing catch or have them chase a ball. One-on-one obedience training can be critical to her mental health and physical well-being.
Routine grooming of your German Shepherd will enable you to inspect their coat, teeth, eyes, ears, and nails for signs of problems. Since they shed heavily throughout the year, they need to be brushed frequently and bathed regularly but not so often as to remove the protective oils in their coat that could lead to skin problems. If your elderly or special-needs German Shepherd is arthritic and/or has weak hindlegs, there is another strategy that can help in addition to veterinary care, diet, and supplements. Besides keeping the nails trimmed short, consider placing special ToeGrips rubber rings on the trimmed nails. These provide instant traction to stop dogs sliding on smooth floors or stairs.
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What People Are Saying About Supplements and Their Pets
Pet owners just like you are incorporating supplements into their animal's care more than ever before, and with exciting results.
  • "Buddy, our male Newfoundland suffers from PRA and cataracts. We have been using Ocu-GLO Rx™ for over six months and despite his eye conditions, Buddy's eyes are healthier. Our vet doesn't understand how, but Buddy can see even though he has the big bright green glow from the PRA and the fog from the cataracts. He doesn't get eye infections anymore and there is less brown crud in his eyes. Although both of these conditions cannot be reversed, we are hopeful that Ocu-GLO Rx™ is slowing the progression and at least allowing Buddy to enjoy the world with his sight preserved."
    - Tracie S. & Buddy
  • "We are very pleased with Joint Guard Vet™ as we are seeing improvement in the healing of our dog's cruciate ligament tear every day. I think all the natural anti-inflammatory ingredients in Joint Guard Vet™ might be really helping him. He has been off all NSAIDs for almost 2 weeks, only taking Joint Guard Vet™ daily, and doesn't appear to be in pain or want to limit his walking as much as before. He is walking a little better, putting more pressure on the leg and not limping as much."
    - Lisa B.
  • "My wonderful and sweet dog, Cocoa, was in a terrible accident and lost all of her vision in her right eye forever. Steroid pills were not really helping, so Cocoa was put on the Ocu-GLO Rx™ supplement in the hopes of saving the 10 percent vision she had left. The results were amazing! Cocoa has regained 50 percent vision in her left eye and she can now catch treats! One thing is for sure: Cocoa will be on Ocu-GLO Rx™ for the rest of her life."
    - Mike and Cocoa
  • "We have had Taffy, our 10-year-old Queensland Heeler, on Ocu-GLO Rx™ for about two years. We were told when her PRA was diagnosed that she would lose her sight completely within a year. It's been two years now and, although she can't see at night, she still sees during the day and you would never know she has a problem with sight. Thanks to Ocu-GLO Rx™, we truly believe that it has slowed down her PRA and, even if it only helps her see for a few extra months, it's worth it to her and us."
    - Linda T. and Taffy
  • "At the age of 5, Destiny was diagnosed with a retinal eye disease (progressive retinal atrophy). I was told she would be blind within 5 months. She is now 7-1/2 years old and can still see, thanks to Ocu-GLO Rx™. I am so thankful she was able to receive this supplement. I still give her one Ocu-GLO Rx™ GelCap each day and will continue to do so. Thank you so much!"
    - Sharon M. and Destiny
  • "My Toy Poodle, Nicole, seems to have some sight preservation when she is taking Ocu-GLO Rx™. This is definitely a plus!"
    - Sharon M. and Destiny
  • "Amos, my lively and lovable 8-year-old Vizsla, was diagnosed with diabetes and small cataracts already forming in both eyes. I was prescribed Ocu-GLO Rx™, which is rich in antioxidants like grapeseed extract, lutein and other nutrients that have demonstrated some success in reducing the formation of cataracts. Almost two years after his initial diagnosis - there has been no further development of his cataracts. Ocu-GLO Rx™ is an eye treat/vitamin that deserves wide exposure. I'm grateful to be among those who can speak personally for its benefits."
    - Jeanie B. and Amos
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