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Hi German Shepherd Maniacs, welcome to K9 SuperHeroes, and today we are looking at 7 Tricks Expert Owners Use to Avoid & Treat German Shepherd Hip Problems.
As a German Shepherd owner, you are extremely lucky to own one of the most intelligent, loyal, interesting, and loving breeds around.
However, they are one of the large breeds of dogs who are extremely prone to developing debilitating hip problems such as hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy.
Approximately 20% of all German Shepherds will develop a type of hip condition in their lifetime. If your GSD develops one of these conditions, it can cause pain, discomfort, and early death.
However, if you can diagnose & treat some of these problems early you can stop their development, reduce pain, make them more comfortable and ultimately give them a much better standard of life.
Today, we are going to look at these hip problems in some more detail, and then discuss what you can do to avoid and treat them all together.
What kind of German Shepherd hip problems are we talking about?
Hip Dysplasia – What is it?
Hip Dysplasia is a degenerative condition that develops in around 15%-20% of all German Shepherds. This condition can form as a puppy or develop later in life and can be accelerated by injury, obesity, and over-exercise.
It’s the result of a subluxation on the femoral head of the hip bone caused by a loose hip joint. The stress and damage are caused by the ball and socket which is partially dislocated resulting in the bone wearing and tearing against one another leading to inflammation, degeneration, and osteoarthritis.
- Decreased energy
- Trouble getting up
- Hind-limb lameness
- Poor range of motion
- Increased shoulder muscles
- Joint laxity
- Narrowed stance
- Pain or discomfort
- Problems running, jumping, or managing the stairs
- Swaying gait
- Joint grating
Degenerative Myelopathy – What is it?
According to The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation – Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that affects multiple breeds of dog. DM is an adult-onset disease that manifests at the later stages of life. It is characterized by progressive weakness and inability to control hindlimbs, ultimately leading to the involvement of forelimbs and complete paralysis.
This fatal, progressive, and the degenerative disease affects the spinal cord and sadly cannot be currently cured. A DM diagnosis is fatal. As an owner, the only thing you can do is make your GSD feel comfortable. Most owners elect to put the pup down within 6-36 months of diagnosis.
Symptoms of DM:
- Progressive weakness of the hind limbs
- Loss of muscle mass in the rear legs
- Difficulty rising from a prone position
- Knuckling of the toes
- Scuffing hind feet
- Stumbling regularly
- Wearing of the inner digits of the rear paws
- Tremors of the rear legs
- Worn nails
- Persistent early-stage symptoms
- Eventual front leg weakness from compensatory strain
- Mental stress and anxiety
- Organ failure
- Pressure sores on bony prominences of your dog’s body
- Inability to rise regularly
- Muscle atrophy
- Poor hygiene – soiled appearance
- Urinary and fecal incontinence
Let’s have a look at what the experts do to spot, reduce, and treat these diseases.
1.) Identify Early if they are going to be at risk for Hip Dysplasia or DM
This is key in treating hip problems. Most owners wait until there is already degeneration before taking action. There are many signs that it could be developing in your dog and there are techniques that can be used to diagnose before symptoms even begin, let’s take a look.
Watch How They Stand
Because Dysplasia causes pain and inflammation. When your GSD tried to stand and it appears slow and difficult, this could be a sign of dysplasia developing. It will be more noticeable in the morning or after exercise.
Watch How They Move
Hip Dysplasia will cause your GSD to walk or run abnormally. They may swivel their hips and bunny hop when they walk or run. When they bunny hop, they will move forward with both legs at the same time, rather than one at a time.
Watch Their Activity Levels
If they are suffering from dysplasia or DM, they are going to be in pain and you will notice a drop in their activity and energy levels. A good sign of this is a refusal to go up and downstairs and a hesitancy to go for walk.
See How They Respond To Touch in the Hip Area
Gently massage and feel around the hip areas, if your dog becomes aggressive, then it is likely that the hip joint is very painful, and is time you took them to a vet. Obviously, do not continue touching that area when they become aggressive.
Take Them to a Veterinarian
If you own a GSD you should take them to a vet as soon as you buy one, they should be able to check their hips at a young age to see if they may be susceptible to hips problems developing.
Then you should take them at least once a year for a check-up to be safe.
You should also be safe rather than sorry when it comes to potential symptoms. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, take them for a check-up.
A GSD DNA Test Can Determine German Shepherd Hip Problems In Their Genes
This is an awesome trick that all expert owners use. You can get a dog DNA test done which tells you of any inherited conditions and disease-causing genes. Once you have this information you can get ahead of any potential diseases and begin to treat from an early age. The most popular test is by EmbarkVet.com, learn more about Embark here.
2.) Make Simple Changes Around the House
Simple changes can be made around the house in order to reduce the everyday impact on your GSD’s joints & hips. Such a huge amount of joint & hip development takes place in the little things you do every day. Let’s take a look.
Stop Your GSD Slipping Around on Your Floor – If you have a wooden or tiled floor at home, your German Shepherd will be slipping around the place often.
This adds to impact on their joints but also results in their ball and socket joints moving in an irregular motion. It may not seem like a big problem, but if they are doing this every day for years and years, it will add up.
The best way to reduce this without having to put carpet everywhere is simply by making sure there are plenty of rugs around the house. Especially underneath their beds or close to where they get up or like to sit.
Don’t Let Them Jump on and off Your Bed and Sofas – Similar to the floor, this is something that adds up over time. Every time your dog jumps off a height it will cause an impact on their hips and joints.
The best course of action is to not allow this whatsoever (it’s more hygienic too). If your dog already does this a lot, you can train them to stop rather easily, it just takes a little time to get them in the habit of not doing it.
Invest in an Orthopaedic Bed – Every GSD owner should be investing in an orthopedic bed for their dog. These beds lessen the chance of your dog developing bedsores from prolonged periods of laying down, they reduce any current joint pain, reduce stiffness, encourage healing, and help hold heat to allow circulation to increase.
The memory foam will help support their joints & hips into a natural position, rather than a hard bed or floor.
Take a look at the amazing orthopedic beds created by MyKopeks.com which are great for large breeds like German Shepherds. Learn more about MyKopeks.com here.
3.) Pain Medication When Necessary
Pain reduction is key when treating hip dysplasia. Vets will prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) which will most likely be meloxicam and deracoxib. However, these drugs can cause serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding. So, they cannot be used for long periods of time.
DO NOT give your GSD Tylenol or Ibuprofen, these drugs are extremely toxic and can result in serious organ damage.
Even though the scientific evidence is not released yet, CBD and hemp products are growing in reputation for a number of reasons, one of those is pain relief for prolonged bouts of pain.
As an owner, this may seem like an uneasy new method to consider. Do some research about what owners are saying, and check out companies like Pet Releaf that make CBD products just for pets.
4.) Correct Nutrition and Weight Management Drastically Reduce The Chances Of German Shepherd Hip Problems
Your GSD’s nutrition is the second biggest factor after genetics that will contribute to their overall health. Just like humans, they need the correct nutrition and are required to maintain a healthy weight. These two areas also are essential in maintaining hip & joint health.
Weight- Large breeds like German Shepherds will put extra pressure on their joints, increasing dysplasia development.
If your GSD is overweight this will increase the pressure, make sure you get them down to their ideal weight which will lessen the pressure and any pain & discomfort. But do not do this at the expense of the correct nutrition.
Nutrition- GSD’s need a precise balance of protein, carbs, fiber, and fat. Something you won’t find in most grocery store food brands to the honest.
Low-quality foods are usually packed with fillers and artificial ingredients and not the nutrition that your dog needs.
Such a diet like this will leave your dog at high risk for infections, high risk for potential allergies developing, poor coat quality, and an increased chance of hip dysplasia.
Most of the protein content should come from meat. So always check the real meat and or meat meals, chicken meals, turkey meals, lamb meals, etc. Avoid meat from
You’ll notice that the low-quality foods, mainly list things like grans and fillers and corn and grains and this provides very little nutrition for your dog and should be avoided.
Also, check out our blog on 11 Proven German Shepherd Diet Tips.
It can be hard to find out what food is the best quality and what quantities are ideal for maintaining a healthy weight. You can solve this headache with high-quality delivery food service, I know a lot of German Shepherd owners who use MyOllie.com, they use the highest quality food and develop tailored meals specifically for GSD’s. You give them their size, age, and weight and they will do the rest for you and is delivered straight to your door, click here to get 50% off your first order with them.
More cost-effective options
If you cannot afford a food delivery service, it can be challenging to know which foods to trust and buy which are more affordable.
From us talking to literally thousands of German Shepherd owners, there is a real range of different companies who make great food and bad food. There are 2 that companies that owners generally seem to be very happy with:
Royal Canin German Shepherd Food for Adults – You can buy this from Amazon here.
Royal Canin German Shepherd Food for Puppies – You can buy this from Amazon here.
Victor Hi-Pro Plus – You can buy this from Amazon here.
5.) Health & GPS Monitors Let You Track Your German Shepherds Hip Problems and Health
These are very useful tools and are becoming extremely popular with owners and veterinarians as they help you monitor a variety of different areas in your dog and give you the data straight to your phone.
These monitors track the mobility and pain of your dog. As well as their stress, anxiety, and overall fitness. This makes it very easy for you and your vet to see changes in their behavior & health.
GSD owners have found these extremely useful in detecting hip & problems as you can see a reduction in your dogs’ movement and mobility over a period of time.
6.) Laser Therapy to Treat German Shepherd Hip Problems
Many Vets will offer some type of laser therapy. This is a non-invasive, pain-free, surgery-free, and drug-free treatment that is very popular in dealing with joint & hips problems in large dogs.
Laser treatment for dogs employs deep-penetrating light to promote a chain of chemical reactions known as photobiostimulation. This process helps relieve pain through the release of endorphins, and it stimulates injured cells to heal at an accelerated pace.
Google specialist laser therapy center’s in your area, ask your vet if they provide this service, and also do your own dog laser therapy from home with the handheld Dog Med Laser, check it out here at DogMedLaser.com
7.) Supplements are Key To Reducing The Chances of German Shepherd Hip Problems
This is a big one that the vast of GSD owners don’t do often enough in the fight against hip dysplasia.
All GSD owners should be using a joint & hip care supplement on a daily basis, regardless of age.
Make sure you get your dog onto supplements ASAP as they are kind of like having thousands of little vets working inside your dog to keep their joints well lubricated and healthy.
Even for dogs already experiencing these problems, they can have great pain relief and mobility improvement qualities.
Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM are the main ingredients you should look out for in a joint-care supplement such as the Maximum Joint Protection Supplement for German Shepherds.
Even though Degenerative Myelopathy cannot be treated effectively just yet. You can make their life more comfortable if they are suffering.
Hip Dysplasia is a lot easier to treat and as you can see there are all sorts of techniques that be used to reduce its development.
If you are looking for more awesome German Shepherd information, download our FREE German Shepherd Expert Owner’s Manual.
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Thank you for reading.