Hip Dysplasia (Hip Deformity)
Hip Dysplasia is hereditary. Of all the hereditary ailments of German Shepherds, the most common probably still is Hip Dysplasia (but meanwhile less than 1 in 5 dogs is affected). It's painful for your dog, and it's frustrating for yourself too. It can become apparent in adult German Shepherds of any age, often as young as two years.
The disease is orthopaedic in nature and will lead to an abnormal formation of the hip, which then causes looseness in the joints and cartilage damage. The result is another disease, Arthritis (see 8). It can make movements of your GSD much tougher and painful too.
Who Gets Hip Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease that passes down through a specific lineage of dogs. If you have two loose hip dogs mate with each other, the result is often a Hip Dysplasia stricken puppy. Of course, not all dogs with the disease suffer from it or show symptoms, so it can be hard to determine if your new puppy has a heredity even if its parents have been X-rayed and determined healthy.
There are some environmental factors too, including Obesity (see 25) and excessive proteins, vitamins and minerals in food - as is typical for enriched industrial dog food. Items and substances that are designed to make puppies grow faster have been shown to increase the risk of Hip Dysplasia and Arthritis (see 8) as well.
Hip Dysplasia will be indicated by a drop in energy levels, difficulty in standing or moving and lameness in your dog’s back legs. Your German Shepherd will stop wanting to use stairs, especially when going up, and will rarely want to stand up on its back limbs or jump up on anything. German Shepherds with Hip Dysplasia will start hopping with their back legs when walking, and they will show signs of soreness when they lie down, especially after exercise.
If your German Shepherd shows any of these signs, regardless of its age, get it to the vet for an X-ray as soon as possible.
Treating Hip Dysplasia
The attempts to treat Hip Dysplasia vary depending on the severity of the ailment. The more conservative non-invasive treatments include weight loss, pain medication, the top joint health supplement Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM, the Back and Hip Support Brace, and physical therapy and basic exercise routines to work the hips.
Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM is a clinically researched, freely available joint health supplement with a well over a decade long track record. Vets frequently prescribe it to improve the dog's mobility in cases of Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia (see 3), and Arthritis (see 8). It may also help with Panosteitis (see 7), Hind Leg Weakness (see 13), and Lumbosacral Stenosis (see 15). It has only positive reviews from virtually every dog owner who tried it - which alone makes it an impressive remedy!
If the disease has grown to become severe, surgery may be indicated. This could mean that the vet can delay or stop the spread of Arthritis too (see 8).
The only real way to know which treatment is best for your German Shepherd when you notice the early warning signs is to visit a vet and have the necessary X-ray and tests done to determine the existence and extent of Hip Dysplasia. The vet will then determine what works best to treat the particular issues of your dog.
In the final stages of Hip Dysplasia - other than putting the dog to sleep - there may be no other option than to provide your German Shepherd with the best dog wheelchair.
If the front legs and elbows are still strong, the fully adjustable and resalable standard Walkin' Wheels will allow your dog to run around with its hind legs in the wheelchair - like thousands of dogs around the world are "comfortably" doing.
However, if your dog's front legs are weak too, then your only chance is to make the investment in a customized quad cart that can support all four legs. You will need to consider this carefully though - not only because of the cost, but because having to use a quad cart puts a lot of stress on your German Shepherd.
Sorry that this topic doesn't end on a happier note, but that's because GSD Hip Dysplasia really isn't a happy thing to have. Neither for your dog, nor for you.