Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.
German Shepherds may be incredibly beautiful, strong, and loyal animals—but they’re also prone to developing a number of health problems. Some of the most common problems that German Shepherds experience are related to the bladder; they may develop infections, stones, or have problems urinating.
These problems can be difficult not just for your dog but for you, the owner. In this article, we’re going to discuss some common shepherd bladder problems so that you can learn a bit more about the health of these animals.
Bladder Stones in German Shepherds
Bladder stones are crystallized minerals that are originally formed in the kidneys. They move from the kidneys into the bladder and are thus known as bladder stones.
If your dog has a kidney or bladder stone, you may notice symptoms such as bloody urine, frequent urination, or difficulty urinating. You may also see actual crystalline grit in the urine of your dog.
There are a couple of different types of bladder stone that your dog might get:
- Urate bladder stones. Urate bladder stones can be very serious. In addition to being quite painful, they can actually put your dog's life in jeopardy. Some urate bladder stones require surgery, and in most cases, urate stones do not respond well to other forms of treatment. Fortunately, they are rare. Urate stones can actually be inherited and are believed to be a recessive trait.
- Struvite bladder stones. Struvite is a normal component of dog urine, and in most cases, it will be completely dissolved if your dog’s urine is acidic enough. However, if your dog has concentrated urine or if it becomes too alkaline, some struvite might solidify and cause struvite bladder stones.
Dogs With Bladder Infections
Bladder infections can be quite common in German Shepherds and may contribute to the development of struvite bladder stones.
A bacterial infection that causes the bladder to produce more urease can actually contribute to struvite stones. Urease is an enzyme that usually breaks down urea in the urine; an excessive breakdown of urea can lead to alkalize urine. As mentioned above, this can lead to the development of struvite stones.
There are other forms of bladder and urinary tract infections that can affect your dog’s quality of life, as well. Urinary tract infections are many in number, but often share similar symptoms which can include:
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Difficulty urinating
- Passing small amounts of urine
- Frequent urination or being unable to hold in urine
- Visible or audible signs of pain when urinating
- Soiling somewhere inappropriate
- Licking of the genitals
- Urine that smells very strong
- Weight loss, changes in appetite
- Drinking more water
If your dog is displaying several of these symptoms, it’s quite possible that they have a urinary tract infection. UTIs can be caused by a number of things. If your dog has experienced any of the following, it may have acted as a catalyst for their UTI:
- Previous issues with bladder stones
- An inflamed bladder
- Previous urinary tract infections
- Excessive consumption of water
- Hormonal issues that affected the bladder
- Previous physical trauma
- Constant stress
- Problems with the spine
- Prostate illness
Difficulty Urinating or Incontinence
You may notice that your dog is having a difficult time peeing. While this can sometimes be a normal symptom of old age, if your dog is younger, this could be a sign of a number of things.
Bladder infections, bladder or kidney stones, and other illnesses can lead to problems urinating. If your dog is straining to urinate or you notice that they seem to be in pain, make sure that you take them to the vet to diagnose the problem.
You may also find that your dog urinates unintentionally or excessively. This can sometimes be caused by urinary incontinence—a weakening of the sphincter that holds the bladder shut, keeping urine trapped inside. Again, this could be a normal sign of aging, but in younger dogs, this could be a sign of an infection or illness.
Combating Urinary Stones in German Shepherds
One of the best ways that you can prevent the development of urinary stones in your dog is to get a certain type of food that is formulated to help prevent these things, like the Royal Canin Urinary formula.
These formulas contain a number of ingredients that are specifically developed to help prevent the emergence of bladder stones and to dissolve bladder stones that have already been produced. By dissolving struvite crystals, these foods can get rid of problematic stones.
Royal Canin foods help to regulate urine pH, the amount of urine that your dog excretes, and the concentration of minerals in the body. All of these things prevent struvite from building up and can be ideal for helping to manage or prevent urinary stones.
Another thing to consider is getting a source of running water for your dog. Some dogs don’t enjoy the action of drinking from a bowl—it’s tedious and uncomfortable. In many cases, dogs will only drink when they’re very dehydrated.
Having a source of running water can fix this and ensure that your dog drinks water whenever they feel the need—not just when they’re dehydrated. Encouraging your dog to drink water is especially important when they’re eating dry food, as this will help to promote good digestion and ensure that your dog is hydrated throughout the day. Adding raw dog food to your dog's diet is also a great way to keep your dog hydrated.
German Shepherds can be prone to a number of unpleasant and potentially dangerous bladder issues. Fortunately, with the proper knowledge and dedication, you can prevent your shepherd from having to undergo anything too serious.
Treating your dog well, providing it with good food, and ensuring that it stays hydrated are great ways to help prevent the emergence of bladder stones.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2019 Sam Shepards