As owners, we all should once in a while “take inventory” concerning our German Shepherds, to make sure we are providing him or her with the basic requirements for vibrant health and wellbeing.

I am basing this article on the book, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats (See end of article for details). The term “5 Pillars of Health…” is mine, not the author’s; but these five areas of focus that he discusses at length, concern the key factors impacting the health and wellbeing of your German Shepherd. While we have covered these matters in detail elsewhere on the website, here I’ll review them from Dr Pitcairn’s perspective; one which I find entirely sound, and backed by extensive study and field practice throughout a long professional career.

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Foxtail Grasses Explained

Foxtail grasses, which come in many varieties, are a potentially serious health risk to German Shepherds, and for that matter to any dog that may come into contact with them. Their effects on a dog range from external irritation to internal infection and organ damage. Untreated, such damage can be fatal. Foxtail grass is both common and widespread. It grows plentifully across the temperate and subtropical regions of Eurasia, northern Africa, and the Americas. It is also naturalized in Australia and New Zealand.

In the US, foxtail grass grows mainly west of the Mississippi, concentrating in the Great Plains – where wild bison feed on it. It is also abundant in California. Nevertheless, some varieties range into other parts including the mid-eastern regions.

The more common types of foxtail grasses include Cheatgrass, Foxtail Brome, Foxtail Barley, Foxtail Millet Needlegrass, Canada Wild Rye and Nimblewill.

In a moment we’ll get into some detail on the health risks to our dogs posed by foxtail grasses, and we’ll discuss both prevention and treatment. But first, let’s look at the nature of the foxtail grass itself, in order to better understand its hazards: Continue Reading


We’ve pushed up the publishing schedule this month in order to get out our book review of Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats ahead of the book’s release date which is set for March 21!

At 500 pages the newest – and 4th – edition represents a significant makeover from earlier versions. Here I’m giving the briefest overview, or summary, of some key areas of focus of the book, and we’ll provide a link at the bottom for those who’d enjoy seeing the full review. In addition,  we’ve arranged a very convenient tie-in with Amazon: To purchase the book – at a great price! –  just click the purchase link below.

Micro and Macro?

While most of us will approach a book such as Dr Pitcairn’s Guide’ with a view to some specific benefit to our pets, the author does a good job of broadening the topic in ways that add greater understanding, at the same time resisting the temptation to get off on an overly extended tangent. He keeps things relevant. The reader comes away with practical solutions for improved health for our animals that allow us at the same time to exercise an enhanced level of good stewardship over the environment beyond our immediate surroundings. Continue Reading



In this second of 6 articles featuring the work of Dr Richard Pitcairn, author of the bestselling, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. we’ll lay the foundations to Pitcairn’s approach to food. With 466 pages, the book covers a range of topics in some depth. In these articles we are taking an overview of key points. So, while space limits the detail we can get into here, I think the articles will serve as a helpful introduction to the important work of a leader in the field of holistic animal care.

Getting on the Right Path

Before diving in to our study, I’d like to make what I think is an important point. I happen to know wonderful, conscientious German Shepherd owners who use a higher grade commercial kibble, and their dogs seem to do fine on it. Others, however, have a GSD with a sensitive system, where no commercial food agrees with them. They’ve had the frustration of an unhappy, sickness-prone dog, and ongoing vet visits, trying to figure out the problem. Such experiences may lead to an owner experimenting with alternative diets. And often this is where they find the help they need as their dogs begin to amend and eventually flourish. Continue Reading


Did You Know?

About Calcium…

Calcium deficiency is a big problem with commercially-fed dogs; one that contributes to health problems like hip and elbow dysplasia.

A nursing pup gets a good and balanced supply of calcium from his mother’s milk. But once weaned, he depends on his humans to provide it in a form that is easily assimilated and provides nutritional balance.

Commercial food claims to provide sufficient calcium, yet cases of hip and elbow dysplasia, common to domesticated dogs, are not known to wolves in the wild. The difference points to diet. Raw and unprocessed bones are nature’s perfect dietary calcium source. Plus, the meat that comes with them gives the potassium needed to metabolize the calcium. Continue Reading


Today I’d like you to meet our friend and consulting vet, Dr Paul Kritzinger.

Family Vet

Dr Paul Kritzinger - CopyI got to know Dr Kritzinger as the vet for our rescued Lab-mix, Beauty. Moving with my family to North Carolina in 2006, we needed to find a local vet for Beauty’s regular care, and happily, we came across Dr Kritzinger.

After I launched GermanShepherdPlace.com in 2012, Dr Paul agreed to be our go-to professional for the website. Among other things, he fact-checks our health-related content, making sure it’s up to the high standards we set for ourselves (e.g. Healthcare for Your German Shepherd ), and helps me your humble publisher not make a fool of himself when expertise is required beyond my capacities! Continue Reading


The quick answer is that if you are not breeding your dog, he or she should be neutered.
However, to do justice to the question we must consider a number of factors before saying a definitive “yea” or “nay”.

Positive Reasons for Neutering

The foremost reason for neutering with both male and female dogs is to avoid unwanted pregnancies. According to the Humane Society, 3-4 million dogs are put down each year in the United States alone. This represents all the dogs without a home who have not been adopted. Two actions that clearly help this situation are, first, to neuter your dog, and second, to consider adopting from an animal shelter or rescue, when next looking for a dog. Continue Reading


Forming The Habit

A short checklist, coupled with simple powers of observation and a well-considered schedule can quickly turn a neglected task into an effective, worthwhile habit. Every trained pilot knows about the checklist. Doctors have checklists, as do professionals of all kinds.
Our dogs depend on us to insure their wellbeing. A health checklist helps us do exactly that – to take a nip-it-in-the-bud, proactive approach to our canine’s health.
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The short answer is… yes!

Let’s talk about the benefits of giving our canine friends olive oil in their diets. In an earlier post we looked at another beneficial oil – virgin coconut oil. These powerful natural food oils have some different and some overlapping qualities. Are we recommending one over the other? No, rather I see them as complimentary. Therefore to alternate their use would be a good way to combine their benefits for your dog.
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We want you to have the best possible ownership experience with your German Shepherd. So the health of your dog is always a high priority here at German Shepherd Place. And where possible we point you in the direction of some good nutritional possibilities that you may not be familiar with – the kind of thing that promotes vibrant health in your dog, which in turn means a better quality of life, and less money spent on vet bills! Continue Reading