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Australian Shepherd Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Australian Shepherd

Start your Australian Shepherd off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.

Jump down to this list of
Australian Shepherd Health Problems

Or check out my advice for raising a healthy Australian Shepherd puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Australian Shepherd lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet... [read more]

numeral 33 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
You can dramatically increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life by feeding the right food. Cutting right to the chase, the best foods for your Australian Shepherd are... [read more]

Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
Your Australian Shepherd will love real chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, broccoli.... this is not just "people food" and I'll tell you why... [read more]

Dry kibble and canned dog food 5 Best Kibble and Canned Dog Foods
Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

Information on booster shots for your German Shepherd. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Australian Shepherd puppy really need? Does your adult dog need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you... [read more]

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female Australian Shepherd be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Australian Shepherd? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your Australian Shepherd suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]

Australian Shepherd

Complete list of Australian Shepherd health problems

The Australian Shepherd Club conducted a health survey in which 28% of the breed were reported with allergies, which cause itchy skin and can lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma).

19% were reported with tumors and cancers.

The most common eye diseases were cataracts (18%) and coloboma of the iris (18%). Cataracts usually appear at 1-3 years old (but can appear as late as 7 years) and often progress to full blindness. Coloboma of the iris appears primarily in the merle colors.

Other eye diseases in Australian Shepherds include persistent pupillary membranes (15% in the club survey), eyelash abnormalities (8%), collie eye anomaly (3%), retinal dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

Autoimmune diseases are those in which your dog's defective immune system attacks and damages parts of its own body, often the skin. The most common autoimmune diseases in Australian Shepherds are hypothyroidism (8% in the club survey), demodectic mange (6%), and lupus (3%).

Orthopedic diseases in Aussies are led by hip dysplasia, then osteochondritis and elbow dysplasia (6%), and occasionally luxating patella. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 36,000 Australian Shepherds and found 6% dysplastic. That wouldn't be high for this size dog, except that the true rate is higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation. And sure enough, the club health survey shows a 22% hip dysplasia rate. That's bad!

Epilepsy (seizures) is a serious problem in Australian Shepherds, with 12% affected, according to the club survey.

Heart disease (patent ductus arteriosus) is increasing in the breed.

Inherited deafness is somewhat common in Aussie puppies, especially if the puppy has a lot of white on his head.

Blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's disease and hemophilia) have been reported, along with liver shunt and megaesophagus.

Australian Shepherds and other collie-type breeds often react adversely to certain drugs such as ivermectin (in heartworm prevention products such as Heartguard), Imodium A-D, flagyl, and certain anesthetics. If your dog has a mutant gene called mdr1, he cannot pump these drugs out of his brain, which results in neurological toxicity. Don't give any of these drugs to your Aussie unless he has been tested for this mutant gene. It's a simple DNA test offered by the Washington State University Veterinary School.

Aussies are prone to losing pigment on their nose and muzzle – this can be caused by nasal solar dermatitis, vitiligo, or lupus, but most commonly it's a harmless condition called "snow nose", where the nose only loses pigment in the winter.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

FREE eBOOK! My free online health care program, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Australian Shepherd in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.