Your German Shepherd's Vet Visit
Discover 10 things your veterinarian will discuss with you at your German Shepherd’s vet appointments.
By Marcia King |
posted: March 28, 2012, 7 p.m. EDT
- Diet: Your veterinarian will ask what you’re feeding your German Shepherd, offering advice and suggestions, if needed. “Feeding recommendations should include the type of diet and frequency of meals,” says Thomas A. Carpenter, a veterinarian and former president of the American Animal Hospital Association. “Large breed puppy diets often are recommended for German Shepherds in order to minimize the rapid growth spurts that contribute to the risk of hip and elbow dysplasia.”
- Weight Control: “Controlling your German Shepherd Dog’s weight throughout his life is important, as excess weight can increase the risk of joint problems,” Carpenter says.
- Bloat Awareness: German Shepherds are at an increased risk for bloat, so your veterinarian will discuss signs and prevention. Bloat is a recurring, often fatal condition in which the dog’s stomach swells up or dilates due to rapid accumulation of food, water and air in the stomach. Bloat usually occurs in dogs older than 7 years, but a dog of any age, including a puppy, can suffer from bloat. To lessen the risk of bloat in your German Shepherd’s lifetime:
Appropriate Exercise: Exercise is important for maintaining proper weight and fitness. High-stress activities, however, can harm your fast-growing German Shepherd puppy. Vigorous or sustained running or jumping, or explosive, high-impact activities – such as flyball, lure coursing and agility – can put a lot of stress on developing bones and joints, increasing the later risk of joint problems. This is especially true in dog breeds that have a higher occurrence of hip and elbow problems such as the German Shepherd Dog.Vaccinations and Dewormings: Most puppies are born with intestinal worms. Dewormers routinely are administered very early in the puppy’s life and, depending upon the practice, to adult dogs on a regular or as-needed basis. If left untreated, intestinal worms can lead a GSD puppy to exhibit diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss or failure to gain weight, anemia or dehydration. As crucial components of your German Shepherd’s wellness program, vaccines prevent certain diseases and lessen the severity of others, some of which are highly contagious and deadly, such as distemper and parvovirus. The area of the country in which you and your German Shepherd reside as well as your puppy’s lifestyle (e.g. stay-at-home dog; one who’s exposed regularly to other dogs; a GSD who is boarded or travels) increases or limits your German Shepherd’s risk of exposure to various diseases. Your veterinarian’s vaccination recommendations will vary accordingly.
- Feed your GSD small meals two or more times a day instead of one large meal once a day.
- Slow down a speedy eater by placing large rocks or tennis balls in your German Shepherd’s food bowl to force him to eat around the objects.
- Place your GSD’s food dish on the floor, not in a raised container.
Flea, Tick and Heartworm Preventions: Fleas can cause itchy skin, severe skin allergies, tapeworm and anemia. Ticks can transmit various infectious and bacterial diseases. If serious enough, either can lead to anemia and death. Heartworm can lead to exercise intolerance, lung damage and death, too.
- “Bring along as much information as you have from the breeder about your GSD puppy’s vaccination and deworming history,” says Bernadine Cruz, D.V.M., of Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California. “Your veterinarian will discuss the vaccine schedule according to what your German Shepherd has already received. There will be a series of vaccines and usually a series of deworming.”
Dental Care: “Dental disease in dogs can be a source of infection for the entire body,” Cruz says. Owners are advised about the importance of daily teeth cleanings and are shown how to acclimate their German Shepherd puppies to having their mouths manipulated and their teeth rubbed and brushed.Spaying or Neutering: “During initial vet visits, plans are made for spaying or neutering the GSD puppy,” Carpenter says. It’s best to spay female puppies before their first heat cycle; this avoids a messy heat and reduces your GSD puppy’s chances of developing breast cancer. Male puppies should be neutered before they reach puberty; this helps prevent prostatic disease, perianal tumors and testicular tumors.Training German Shepherds: To become an amenable member of the family, your German Shepherd needs to be reliably housetrained and learn the meaning of “no” and “sit,” among other behavioral cues. Your veterinarian can provide you with tips to train your GSD in these areas.Microchipping: Every pet should wear identification. An ID tag on his collar or harness is the primary means for reuniting a lost pet with his family. “Collars can come off,” Cruz says. “That’s why I love microchips as a backup for indentifying pets.” A microchip is a permanent form of identification; they are not powered or mechanical, so they should last forever. No anesthesia is needed when inserting a microchip, so German Shepherds older than 6 to 8 weeks of age can be fitted with one.
- Prevention against these parasites is simple, reliable and effective. Additionally, prevention is easier, cheaper and safer than treating the diseases caused by these parasites. Your veterinarian can discuss the various options and how/when they should be implemented.
- The microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, contains a unique ID number and is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades. The veterinarian uses a hypodermic-type needle to place the chip, usually during one of your German Shepherd’s routine vet visits. After the chip is placed, the owner registers the chip to a national data base, along with the owner’s name, address and phone number. (Owners must keep the registration updated.) In the event your German Shepherd becomes lost, a veterinary clinic, shelter or dog warden’s office can read the unique ID number contained on the microchip with a microchip reader, contact the database and reunite the lost dog with her owner. Remember, though, a microchip should not replace a collar and up-to-date identification tag. Some shelters won’t have scanners to read the microchip, and neither will your neighbors!
Excerpt from the Popular Puppies Series magabook German Shepherd Puppies with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase German Shepherd Puppies here.
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