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Hip Dysplasia in the German Shepherd

german shepherd hip dysplasia

German Shepherds like other large dog breeds are prone to hip dysplasia. Although this if they suffer from it is irreversible, it is possible to help prevent it and limit your dog’s pain.

Like all large breed dogs, German Shepherds are at serious risk for hip dysplasia. An estimated 19% of German Shepherds will develop hip dysplasia, but some cases are worse than others.

Hip dysplasia is a congenital disorder in which the hips are too loose and the dog suffers pain in the femur. Dogs inherit this condition from their parents, this is why it is so important when acquiring a German Shepherd puppy to make sure that he is free of this congenital disease.

But if our German sheepdog suffers from hip dysplasia, the symptoms and consequences of this ailment can be improved or worsened through training and activity levels. Usually hip problems have already developed by 4 months and get worse over time. In some cases, an injury to the hip can also initiate the dysplasia process, even if the dog does not have the hereditary predisposition. Because they are very active dogs, German Shepherds are at particular risk for these hip injuries.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in the German Shepherd

There are several symptoms that can indicate that your German Shepherd is experiencing pain or laxity in the joints , which may indicate that he has hip dysplasia. German Shepherds are very active and playful dogs, so a disinterest in the game can mean that they are in pain. Some of the warning signs may be:

  • That the dog has an increase in weight
  • Pain in the hip area
  • Trouble standing up
  • Limp
  • Support one leg when walking
  • Running or walking with a “bunny jump”, using both legs together
  • Problems or doubts when running
  • Reduced activity
  • Hesitation going up or down stairs
  • Being aggressive, especially if the hip area is touched

If you see one or more of these symptoms, contact your vet for an X-ray to examine your dog’s hips. Your dog will probably need to be sedated for the procedure, but an X-ray is the best way to diagnose dysplasia.

Prevention of German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia

If you have a German Shepherd, especially a puppy, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of hip dysplasia , or at least its severity. Taking good care of a puppy’s joints can make a huge difference in the future of a dog with hip dysplasia.

The first step is to find a responsible or certified breeder . German Shepherds with hip dysplasia should never be bred, so verifying that the breeder has the corresponding certificate for the German shepherd puppy you want to acquire can be the best guarantee to prevent your future pet from suffering from dysplasia. Police dog trainers, for example, are always very careful to select lineages without dysplasia.

During the first months German Shepherd puppies grow very fast, often eating too many calories, if their hips do not grow and strengthen at the proper rate and according to their weight it can lead to the onset of dysplasia.

It is important to control the diet of your German Shepherd puppy , controlling the quality and quantity of the portions of his diet. Your vet may recommend the use of adult food rather than high calorie puppy food. Throughout his life, be sure to keep your dog’s weight in a healthy range as obesity complicates joint problems.

There are also some behaviors that can help prevent joint damage . German Shepherd puppies need a lot of moderate exercise, but most people only have time for one strenuous outing per day. Try to break up your puppy’s activity into several short walks rather than one very intensive one, and avoid rough play or long periods of running. Jumping can also cause problems, so do not allow your puppy to jump up and down regularly, just as it is good to avoid going up and down stairs whenever possible.

Treatment of hip dysplasia in the German Shepherd

Since hip dysplasia worsens over time, treatments attempt to delay development, relieve pain, and / or improve mobility . Here are some tips that can relieve the symptoms and pain caused by hip dysplasia in your German Shepherd dog, but don’t forget that the best advice can be given by a veterinarian who has examined your pet.

  • The first step may be to help your German Shepherd lose weight on a low-calorie diet, so it puts less pressure on the joints.
  • Moderate exercise is best for dogs with dysplasia. Short walks and swimming are great ways to build muscle to support loose joints.
  • Your vet can prescribe anti-inflammatory or pain reliever medications.
  • A special diet with supplements to maintain joint health can make a big difference.
  • A warm bed can help your dog sleep better and ease pain.
  • If you have slippery floors, it’s best to provide some traction so your dog doesn’t slip and re-injure his hip.
  • In some cases, surgery is the best option. Some puppies with severe dysplasia may be recommended for less intensive corrective surgery. In other cases, adults with severe arthritis and joint damage may need a hip replacement or surgery to remove the head of the femur.

German Shepherds are wonderful and very active dogs, who often have a great quality of life, even with hip dysplasia. By following the tips we’ve listed and using a few preventive strategies, you should be able to avoid the worst symptoms of dysplasia. And do not forget that the best advice and / or prescription will always be that of a veterinarian who has observed your dog.

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I love the animals. Reading and writing about them, their customs, their peculiarities or the attention they require is exciting, and I also believe that it makes us better people. I share articles that solve the questions that dog caregivers face on a daily basis.

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