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Dogs/German shepherd health problem


Hi my 7 year old German shepherd came from a local Midwest shelter. She hasn't gained an ounce no matter what diet or remedy I try. She chews and licks mainly her hips but now her chest. The vet tried antibiotics and steroids said her blood looked good and didnt listen to my concerns on what I researched. You see I'm an east coaster former vet tech and in this area of the Midwest I feel they are way behind the times especially in medicine. I dont know what to try to help her,she looks never fed and her chewing and licking is constant .please any advice would be great and thank you:)


Hi Megan,

I'm not a veterinarian, so I can't diagnose your dog. I understand about the perceived drawbacks of vet care in the Midwest (I'm also from the East coast and lived in a small town in Missouri for a few years. I traveled two hours to a vet I liked). Your best bet might be to take your dog to a veterinary teaching hospital for a diagnosis, and keep your more local vet for routine check-ups or emergency care.

What is it you researched and think your dog has?  What is the diet your dog is currently on (and how long has she been on it?) Where tests run for endocrine system problems or hormone levels? How much daily exercise does your dog receive (and what kind)? How long is your dog alone each day? How does she handle being left alone?

For what it's worth, between the skin chewing and being underweight, to my medically untrained ear it sounds like it could be a thyroid problem. You may have already run a test to rule this out, but relying upon the total the thyroxine (T4) test alone can give misleading results in an estimated 40% of dogs, and 62% of dogs are misdiagnosed with an in-house ELISA test kit.  You might want to consider running a full thyroid panel in the work-up (total and free T3 and total and free T4 levels, as well as circulating levels of thyroglobulin autoantibodies (TgAA), and T3 and T4 autoantibodies).

Aside from a medical condition, it's possible your dog's compulsive licking and chewing is an engrained habit. Obsessive or compulsive behavior can develop for several reasons, and sometimes dogs start compulsive behaviors for no obvious reason at all. Some dogs develop compulsions after having physical conditions that cause them to lick or chew their bodies. Anxiety  and conflict in a dog’s life can initially trigger a compulsive disorder, but the compulsive behavior might continue after the stressful elements in her life has been eliminated. It can be difficult to differentiate between a medical condition and compulsive behavior, but a medical problem needs to be ruled out before you treat this as an obsessive compulsive problem.

Don't punish or scold your dog for the chewing, as it can lead to greater anxiety and may make her behavior worse, or lead to the dog’s being more secretive. Confinement or excessive physical restraint should also not be used to the anxiety that is provoked.

Here is an article on managing a dog's hyperthyroidism with diet:

Here is a sample homemade dog food diet:

Of course, you should have your dog diagnosed as having hyperthyroidism since it is rare in dogs,  and not assume that any diet will be the cure. Your dog may require daily medication. But since I don't know what diet your dog is on, a high quality fresh diet can't hurt (Not a raw diet. Raw meat can aggravate hyperthyroidism). Keep in mind that it can take a month or longer before you see results from a change in diet.

If you'd care to get back to me with answers to the questions I've asked, we can continue this discussion.



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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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