How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds?

Today we are going to talk about how to prevent hip dysplasia in German Shepherds. According to data collected from the Orthopedic Animal Foundation, this disease has an incidence of 20 percent and affects a wide variety of breeds. Next, we go into the details of this pathology.

how to prevent hip dysplasia in german shepherds

What is Canine Hip Dysplasia

The canine hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint. The head of the femur does not fit completely in its cavity, causing lameness and pain in the animal as it creates wear and tear on the joint.

Also, it is considered a multifactorial disease, but genetic predisposition is the greatest risk. It is a progressive, painful form and may affect one or both hips.

Now that you know what this ailment is, let us see what the symptoms are.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms that can alert us that our pet suffers from possible hip dysplasia are:

  • Pain on palpation
  • Limp
  • Walking and jogging with swinging hips
  • Joint stiffness
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Muscular atrophy
  • Does not want to get up or move
  • Changes in mood

Whenever you have questions about your German Shepherd’s health, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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At What Age Can Hip Dysplasia Develop in German Shepherds?

Dysplasia may occur in dogs at any stage of their life, but it is true that puppies are more likely than adults to suffer. It is a disease in which other factors intervene that we will analyze later.

This ailment in young dogs usually appears between 5 and 6 months of age and is marked by a significant limp.

German Shepherds are not considered dysplasia-free until they are two years old and problems are no longer seen on follow-up radiographs.

What Factors Influence the Appearance of Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds?

Now, let us see what the most common causes are.

Two factors are generally involved:

  1. Genetic condition of the parents: if the parents suffer from dysplasia, the puppy will have a greater predisposition to suffer from it. If, on the other hand, the parents do not have this genetic condition, this does not mean that the puppy cannot suffer from it, but it will be less likely to surface.
  2. Height and weight of the animal: If the animal has a poor or inadequate diet and does not perform enough physical exercise, it can become overweight, and it is very likely that it can be diagnosed with this disease.

Use a good dog leash for German Shepherds when bringing them out to exercise.

What Breeds Are More Prone to Hip Dysplasia?

Due to the importance of genetic predisposition, there are breeds of dogs that are more sensitive to developing this illness. They are as follows:

  • Argentine Dog
  • Saint Bernard
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Basset Hound
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Presa Canario
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For small breeds they are:

  • French bulldog
  • English bulldog
  • Pugs

Remember that even if your pet is not on the list, it can suffer from hip dysplasia. In the next section, we will look at the different classifications of hip dysplasia.

How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds – Levels of Dysplasia

According to the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) we can classify dysplasia into different categories or grades:

  1. Grade I: minimal alteration with small subluxation and few degenerative changes.
  2. Grade II: marked lateral subluxation of the femoral head, where 25-50% is outside the acetabulum.
  3. Grade III: 50-75% of the femoral head is outside the acetabulum, so there are important degenerative changes.
  4. Grade IV: dislocation of the femoral head with flattening of the acetabular margin and the femoral head; this is a very important degenerative change.

How Can We Prevent Dysplasia in German Shepherds?

It is very important to know how to prevent this ailment. The first and the most important of all:

Do not breed or encourage breeding between dogs predisposed to dysplasia or showing signs of it.

Here are some tips that can help prevent this joint disease:

  1. Feed the puppies only with quality feed and without any other supplements, except for the “chondroprotectors”.
  2. Limit the amount of food given, especially for dogs between 3 and 8 months. It is desirable that they do not have a “chubby” appearance that can affect their joints (especially the hip) before it is fully developed.
  3. Avoid sudden or prolonged exercises in young animals. A moderate exercise will promote the muscle development necessary for joint stability but without overloading the joint.
  4. Regular visits to the vet for general check- ups, especially to check the condition of the joints and their development.
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In conclusion, we now know how to prevent hip dysplasia in German Shepherds. More importantly, prevention and veterinary check-ups are key to ensure the wellbeing of our dogs.