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Autoimmune Diseases In The German Shepherd

Autoimmune Diseases In The German Shepherd. The BEST! Information & Advice ONLINE that YOU need to KNOW about Autoimmune Diseases.

In the last few decades, we have seen rapidly rising incidences of autoimmune disorders in the German Shepherd. These include: - Pancreatitis (EPI), Demodex, Megaesophagus, Bloat/Torsion, Intussusception, Pannus, DM (CDRM), Primary Seborrhea, Lick Granulomas, Anal Furunculosis and we should include cancers - especially hemangiosarcoma which is fast becoming the No1 killer of GSD's 

It is known that GSD's have a predisposition to a deficiency in an immunoglobulin called IgA which suggests that they have weaker immune systems than most other breeds leaving them less likely to cope with assaults on their immune system.

But are we as pet owners compromising the health of our GSD's by the use of toxic vaccines which are setting up many dogs for a lifetime of problems because they suppress the immune system rather than boost it.

The problem with vaccines is that they contain toxic adjuvants to heighten the immune response and trick the immune system into producing antibodies to the pathogen in the vaccine. The adjuvants used in animal and human vaccines are thimerosal (mercury) which is extremely poisonous and aluminium which is a potent neurotoxin. Common sense should tell you that neither you or your pet should be having these toxins injected into your body.

The Dangers of Vaccinating your Pet

So lets us look at some of the most common autoimmune diseases seen in the German Shepherd


Ears and Skin - Most of you that have had GSD's for many years will have encountered one that seemed to have persistent ear and skin problems which can be difficult to keep on top of. This is known as Primary Seborrhea which can cause scaly patches on the skin, a greasy feel to the dog's coat and ears that fill up with dark wax, yeast and fungus. Often many owners will battle to keep these under control particularly the ear problems which tend to become chronic. The ears can become very painful and distressing with many dogs now ending up having surgery which is not only expensive but can lead to complications such as infection and pain. 


Demodex - We have all seen pictures of dogs suffering from demodectic mange which can be localised on the face and ears or generalised where the whole body is affected. Either way, it is very itchy and very distressing for the animal. If the pet repeatedly scratches, bacterial infections can occur with the hair falling out and bald spots developing which can become quite extensive. The skin also becomes very rough, dry and thickened.

How Vaccinations Affect the Developing Immune System
And with that increased knowledge, we are learning that there are consequences that go along with attempting to trick the immune system through introducing a pathogen under false pretences.''


Pancreatitis (EPI - exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) - This is a malabsorption problem with poor digestion and poor stool condition which in its chronic subclinical form, is often undiagnosed.
The incidence has been increasing over the last few decades and there is almost certainly a genetic link as it occurs more frequently in heavily inbred lines.
These dogs have weaker immune systems and EPI is often seen with demodectic mange as the dog's body because of it's affected digestion, is less able to suppress the proliferation of the mange mites.
These dogs are generally underweight; their coats are usually dry and brittle. There may be hair loss and the dog's compromised immune system can't fight infections so Staphylococcus infection scabs may appear on the skin. 
They will often eat their own and others stools. Their own stools will be pasty light-brown/yellow to clay-colored, they may also have intermittent diarrhoea and flatulence.
The condition can be brought under control with a low-fat diet and pancreatic enzymes which come in powdered or capsule form. If you can stomach it, you can also buy fresh pigs pancreas and put this in the dogs' food. Every time the dog is fed, the enzymes must be included with the food. 
Dogs with EPI often go on to develop anal furunculosis which gives strength to the suggestion that they are both a result of the same underlying immune system weakness.  


Bloat/Torsion/Volvulus - Although anecdotal, there seems to be a link between bloat and EPI. It is possible that dogs with a history of bloating/torsion and or bouts of unexplained diarrhoea may be EPI carrier suspects. Dogs that have survived torsion often have full blown episodes of EPI a few months after.
Bloat tends to occur in older dogs and larger breeds with deep chests.
German Shepherds are one of the breeds most affected by this serious condition so it is important to recognise the symptoms of bloat as early surgical intervention is vital as the condition progresses very quickly and is often fatal.
The symptoms include: 
Heavy panting or difficulty breathing with drooling
Repeated attempts to vomit or pass stools 
Restless and anxious
Stomach becomes distended and painful
The dog may become lethargic
Arching of the back with stiff-legged stance
If the lips and gums are pale, this indicates the onset of shock.

This is a surgical emergency as gas must be released from the stomach, the entrance to the stomach must be untwisted and further surgery may be needed to staple the dog's stomach in place to prevent it happening again. If the gas is not released and continues to build, the blood supply to vital organs is affected resulting in shock, the release of bacterial toxins, collapse and death.


Intussusception - This tends to occur in young pups and although the most common causes include worms, foreign bodies or toxic substances, the incidence in GSD's is much higher than any other breed indicating that it is immune mediated. The gut telescopes ie one part slips inside itself.The symptoms are that of intestinal obstruction and the dog will require emergency surgery. The surgeon may perform enteroplication to prevent recurrence.


Degenerative Myelopathy - Also known as DM or CDRM is a chronic progressive disease of the spinal cord. The disease is very similar to multiple sclerosis (MS). Post mortem shows demyelination (loss of the insulating sheath) of the spinal cord, destruction of some large axons (nerve cells leading from the cord to smaller branch nerves), and abnormal cells (or certain cells in abnormal locations). Similar signs may be seen in other organs such as the brain, kidneys, and intestines, giving further hints that the cause of the disease is an immune system failure.
Further information on degenerative myelopathy DM and what you can do to help slow the progression of this awful condition.


Lick Granulomas - These are often seen on the back feet of dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). They are caused by frequent licking or chewing which may be as a result of the dog feeling a strange sensation or itch because of erroneous signals by the damaged nerves. 
These are not limited to dogs with DM but may also be seen in dogs with deficient immune systems that have atopic allergies, on the lower part of the legs or toes. The frequent licking wears away the hair and skin causing either a non-healing ulceration or a callous. 


Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy or SLO.
What is SLO? It is an autoimmune disease whereby the dogs' immune system launches antibodies against their own toenails.
It is common in GSD's who have weaker immune systems than most other breeds and a contributing factor will almost certainly be vaccinations.
As an autoimmune problem, it is likely that your dog may have other problems such as ear and skin infections, GI problems/food allergies etc.
More in-depth information of Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy or SLO

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