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Emergency visits and occupational hazards in German Shepherd police dogs (2008–2010)

Authors

  • Joanna R. Parr VMD,

    1. Section of Critical Care, Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia & the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
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  • Cynthia M. Otto DVM, PhD, DACVECC

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of Critical Care, Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia & the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Cynthia M. Otto, Section of Critical Care, Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia & the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, 3900 Delancey Street, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010, USA. E-mail: cmotto@vet.upenn.edu

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  • The authors declare no conflict of interests.

  • Presented in part at the Penn Vet Working Dog Conference, Pearl River, NY, September 10, 2012.

Abstract

Objective

To describe the most common reasons for emergency medical visits in working police dogs.

Design

Retrospective case control study.

Animals

Two hundred three German Shepherd dogs (GSDs); 138 police dog visits by 74 dogs and 138 pet (control) dog visits by 129 dogs.

Procedures

Medical records of all GSDs seen in the emergency service (ES) at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital from July 2008 to July 2010 were reviewed. The recorded diagnoses from police GSD ES visits (defined as a new problem or new episode of a recurrent problem) were compared to those of randomly chosen pet GSD ES visits.

Results

There were significantly more intact male police GSDs than pet GSDs. Police GSDs were significantly younger than pet GSDs. The most common presenting complaint in both groups was gastrointestinal disease (eg, vomiting, diarrhea, gastric dilatation and volvulus). Pet GSDs were significantly more likely to present for geriatric conditions (eg, central nervous system disease, cardiovascular disease, and neoplastic conditions). Orthopedic issues were significantly more common in police GSDs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Police GSDs are more likely to present for orthopedic injuries and less likely to present for geriatric diseases. Gastrointestinal disease is not unique to the working GSD and was equally represented in both populations. Preventative measures for all GSDs should focus on minimizing gastrointestinal disease. Preventive strategies focusing on physical fitness and conditioning as well as selective breeding programs may help reduce orthopedic injuries in police GSDs.

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