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20 Most Common Health Issues in Senior German Shepherds

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Get a German Shepherd, they said. It will be fun, they said. Sure. Until he gets older and can't get up from a lying position properly. Or his owner suddenly notices a big hard lump on his shoulder that he could swear wasn't there the day before and then finds out his German Shepherd has Osteosarcoma. Or the poor old dog develops a weird thick, brown substance in his eyes that seems to impede his ability to see. Does any of that sound familiar to you? If not, and you own a German Shepherd, you should be aware that they risk developing health issues as they age. Heck, health issues and lack of funds to care for them are the number 2 reason for surrendering to Woody's Place Senior German Shepherd Sanctuary.

So why is there the potential for older German Shepherds to develop so many health issues? Well, for starters, you may or may not know this, but because of inbreeding early on in the history of the German Shepherd dog, some congenital defects that took place then persist in the breed even today. A prime example of this would be Hip Dysplasia. Other causes range from the sheer size of the German Shepherd dog and wear and tear on the body to a lifetime of being fed nothing but a commercial dog food diet that is laden with unhealthy byproducts, preservatives, and food coloring, which are most likely nutritionally defiant.

And then there's the whole issue regarding over-vaccinating our dogs and the host of problems that can come with that, which range from autoimmune diseases to cancer. And last but certainly not least, our dog's lives tend to resemble ours, so if we live a sedentary lifestyle filled with days and nights of Netflix and bags of chips and pizza, then our dog is probably not going to be getting very much physical activity coming his way, which of course, is terrible for everyone's health. These are just some examples, folks.

But at the end of the day, decades ago, dogs didn't have the whole host of health issues that they do now at the rate they do now. Why is that? What is so different now than only a few decades ago? Well, that's a whole other topic that we will discuss in a later season of our podcast.

But for now, we are just covering the most common 20 health issues of senior German Shepherds. In the meantime......... => => => Want some Woody's Place tips to keep your senior German Shepherd as healthy as possible for as long as possible? => => START BY COOKING REAL FOOD FOR YOUR SENIOR GERMAN SHEPHERD & ONLY GET THE VACCINES REQUIRED BY LAW, NOT EVERYONE ON THE LIST. ALSO, LOOK INTO TITER TESTS INSTEAD OF ANNUAL VACCINES. AND BE SURE TO INCORPORATE AN APPROPRIATE EXERCISE PLAN FOR YOUR DOG.

You're welcome. :)

That's what we do, and we've been told that once our senior German Shepherds arrive to us, most go on to live much longer than expected. Ok. Let's get to the list of the 20 common senior German Shepherd health issues. (Listed in alphabetical order)

1) Allergies 2) Arthritis 3) Bloat or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) 4) Cancer 5) Cataracts 6) Degenerative Myelopathy 7) Degenerative Disk Disease 8) Dementia 9) Dental Issues 10) Diabetes 11) Elbow Dysplasia 12) Epilepsy 13) Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) 14) Hip Dysplasia 15) Kidney Disease 16) Megaesophagus 17) Pancreatitis 18) Pannus 19) Perianal Fistula 20) Thyroid Issues That's quite a list. And from that list, we have direct experience with a whopping 14 of the health issues listed, so we will have quite a bit to add when we start to dive in deeper into each topic.

Which happens => => => In season three of our #LifeWithOldDogs podcast and blog, so be sure to join to get lots of goodies like our newsletter, which is free and valuable information delivered right to your inbox. To join, go to: Scroll halfway down and look for the "I want to be part of the #lifewitholddogs club" postcard. Our fur friends don't live forever.....none of us do.... but as your German Shepherd ages, it's important to know the typical ailments your fur friend can suffer from and how to navigate the waters if something does come up instead of being blindsided and feeling helpless. We want to help you with that. At the end of season three of the #LifeWithOldDogs podcast and blog posts, we will send you the entire season's worth of all the information we cover in a FREE ebook, so be sure to subscribe to be "in the Know."

If you have a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix, be sure to check out this guide with our friends at Calming Dog.

***** Disclaimer: Throughout the "20 Most Common Health Issues in Senior German Shepherds" series, each blog post is expressed explicitly from our point of view and is not to be substituted for the professional medical expertise of your trusted veterinarian.


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