1) The MY GERMAN SHEPHERD Health Manual is a unique collection of the 31 most common German Shepherd ailments, warning signs, and treatments. If you ask "Why 31, not 30?", I say "Why make it an even number where it isn't?". There are of course more than 31 German Shepherd ailments, but the 31 ailments in this manual seem to be the most common ones - therefore the subtitle The 31 Most Common German Shepherd Ailments and Treatments AT A GLANCE.
2) To have the best lifelong relationship with your German Shepherd, you must know of the most common German Shepherd ailments, typical warning signs, and common treatments. Only when you have a basic understanding of all of these areas, you will know how to keep your GSD healthy and happy - and therefore yourself too (and what the consequences may be if you don't). That's what makes The MY GERMAN SHEPHERD Health Manual so crucial for every German Shepherd owner and handler.
3) With every ailment, you decide yourself at what point you visit a vet. Probably you neither want to be your vet's best customer to the extent that your vet thinks you are hysteric, nor you want to be hitting the news as the "cruel dog owner who lets own dog die". Your benefit is that, within a few months, you will know your dog so well that you get a feeling for when you should better visit the vet, and when the ailment is temporary and will heal itself with a lot of rest. This manual - or anyone else's advice - can only give you additional (impartial) information. Like with your child or yourself, ultimately you (and your wallet) will determine the course of action.
4) The warning signs of many ailments can easily be misinterpreted, and some ailments do not show warning signs at all. Therefore it is important that you take your German Shepherd to the vet for a checkup regularly, even if everything seems fine. Ideal of course is that every time you visit the vet, they conclude "Your dog is in top health". When you consider how many years represent a dog year, and that you yourself can communicate your ailments and simply drive to a doctor, you will appreciate that a half-yearly vet visit is not a "waste of money". At least a yearly vet visit should be an absolute must if your dog's wellbeing means anything to you.
5) As you will notice, many ailments may be indicated by the same symptoms (eg listlessness, lethargy, loss of appetite etc). Therefore you will generally need to consider the concurrent appearance of several symptoms, and also put them in relation to lifestyle changes, dietary changes, exercise changes, environmental factors etc. In other words, you will need to apply some developed common sense.
Only an experienced vet can make the right examinations, determine the real cause of any symptoms, and decide on a suitable treatment.
However, just like with human doctors, qualification and experience does not always necessarily mean that a vet will enquire of and identify all relevant warning signs, perform the right examinations, correctly identify the ailment, and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.
A vet, like any other professional, ultimately has economic constraints too (like you). For some, these are more on the forefront of their minds, for others more the backburner. But note that every vet is inundated with samples, trial agreements, and turnover incentives from drug companies, food companies, research institutes (often funded by the prior), etc.
The prior paragraph alone fully explains on its own why X-rays etc are done so frequently (the equipment need to be paid for), antibiotics are prescribed so frequently (it's easier and quicker than searching for the real cause and specific treatment of an ailment), medicaments in general are prescribed so frequently (they pay incentives while alternative, natural treatments pay nothing), etc. To apply common sense does help a lot in life!
Therefore it is crucial that you understand a bit of the ailments, warning signs, and treatments too. Of course, the vet should ultimately have the last word. However, if you have enough life experience you will know that in a not insignificant number of cases one vet's diagnosis and recommended treatment differ from those of the next vet. If you had a very sick child, you would probably study the subject a bit yourself too, and not just blindly accept everything the doc suggests - in fact, you might then want to visit a second and third doc.
As much as the vet will often try to argue in favor of machine-use examinations, prescription of antibiotics and other blanket medications, you should aim to avoid all which puts unproportional strain on your German Shepherd, and all which is likely to have side effects that will require further treatments (and so on).
For example, the administration of antibiotics, corticosteroids, glucocorticoids, etc make certain future chronic ailments not just possible but likely - these medications incur for example Bloat (4), Digestive Disorder (5), Bladder Infection (26), Immune System Disorder (17), etc. Paradoxically however, there is a blanket recommendation to treat most infections with antibiotics, and then the consequent ailments with antibiotics again (and so on).
When you have your vet's diagnosis, always consider their suggested treatment carefully.
From experience spanning many decades (and total independence from drug companies etc) I can assure you that for every ailment there exist almost always natural remedies that have zero side effects (at least in the longer term) and are more effective, and are therefore the more appropriate treatment too. It's just a question of getting to know those remedies (and being indifferent to the incentives of the pharmaceutical sector). This is where you come in, and sources like MYGERMANSHEPHERD.org and this Health Manual.
Antibiotics, for example, should only be administered to treat life-threatening conditions or conditions that materially impact the quality of life in the longer term, and where all other remedies have been exhausted. The latter can never be the case upon the first vet visit!
If you aim to avoid all which puts unproportional strain on your German Shepherd, and all which is likely to have side effects that will require further treatments, the vet and you will meet somewhere in the middle, and this should benefit your GSD long-term. Conversely, if you simply nod through everything your vet suggests (as so many people do in life, in general), you wouldn't play the role of your dog's advocate but merely play the key role in your vet's economic function. Which role do you prefer?
6) Also note that if you administer your German Shepherd any prescribed antibiotics, then although your dog's symptoms should usually resolve within say 2 or 3 days, you must administer the entire prescribed course of treatment (usually 10 or 14 days of antibiotics). Incomplete treatment may not only lead to (a quite immediate) infection recurrence but - more worryingly - future bacterial resistance. This would mean that during future treatment this antibiotic pedigree may not help at all. Most worryingly, it would not just fail to help your GSD, but over time fail to help any GSD, because most resistance is transmissive.
7) Aim to choose a holistic vet - one who is well-versed in treating your German Shepherd overall, not just focusing on the symptoms of the single condition at this time. A holistic vet does not mean a homeopathic vet, a holistic vet is someone whose passion is to consider the connectivity of all ailments and treatments over the entire lifetime of your dog (holistic is an attitude, not a study).
Such a vet is likely to be more expensive per individual session (because it is almost impossible for them to obtain perks), but cheaper in the long-term (because consequent ailments are rather rare).
8) Avoid discussing with your vet that you've "read up on an ailment on the internet". There is so much nonsense on the net these days that your vet may rightfully respond with criticism. - Just like you should not blindly accept everything either that the vet suggests (see the common sense advice in Note 5 above).
9) Make sure that you never apply any ointment, lotion, powder, spray, etc close to the eyes, never in the ears, and never in the mouth or nose - unless it is specifically and clearly meant for this body opening! If this happens nonetheless, rinse well under running water, and if serious visit a vet straight away.
10) Never administer your German Shepherd two medicaments at the same time, unless prescribed as such by the vet. "At the same time" does not just mean "the same minute" but can actually mean "within the same 30 or 60 day period"! This is because various drugs constitute a powerful impact on body functions or reactions that may interact with those of the other drug in a way that could even lead to death.
Since you cannot know which drugs are dangerous if taken "together", you should seek the vet's authorization in such case (although, note that sometimes not even the vet may know).
You can however generally administer a medicament and a natural food supplement at the same time without having to fear severe complications. Mark the word natural, as many food supplements are not entirely natural but mixed with chemical substances otherwise found in medicaments.
If you only acquire products from a source in a country with strict food and drug regulations and enforcement, then you should generally be able to rely on the ingredient list reproduced on the product.
11) If your German Shepherd is likely to meet other dogs (in a dog park, kennel, or wherever) that may possibly be infected (by any disease really), consider to have your GSD vaccinated against the most dangerous diseases. In many states and countries various vaccinations are legally required anyway.
Do not vaccinate your German Shepherd unneccessarily against highly unlikely diseases though. Every vaccination bears a risk in itself, and it makes no sense to vaccinate your dog "against every disease on earth". Your local vet should know very well a) which vaccinations are legally required for your dog, and b) which vaccinations are "good to do anyway" in your geography. Consider the vet's suggestions carefully.
Note that vaccinations must always be done by a professional vet, because vaccinations must match your dog - or they may a) be ineffective, b) make your dog ill, or c) kill your dog! Do not attempt to use (cheaper) over the counter (OTC) vaccines or backyard vets! Save money on other things, never on vaccines.
Can you give back a bit today?