Remedy to Ease Joint Pain in German Shepherds

by Susan Leisure, Demand Media
    Deutscher Schäferhund: the German shepherd dog.

    Deutscher Schäferhund: the German shepherd dog.

    German shepherds are amazing dogs to watch. Their bodies seem to glide over the ground as they run. Unfortunately, these loyal and protective dogs are prone to joint pain caused by hip dysplasia and arthritis. Surgery, medication, supplements and exercise are some means of easing the dog's joint pain.

    Hip Dysplasia: A Common Joint Disease

    Like several larger breeds, German shepherds are prone to a specific joint disease, in addition to arthritis as a result of regular wear on joints. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease whereby the bones in the hips don't fit together perfectly; a leg bone may be misaligned or may sit outside of the hip joint. As a result, over time, the bones in the joint rub wrong, and all of the cushioning in the joint wears away. As hip dysplasia progresses, your German shepherd may have pain walking, getting up and trying to get comfortable when attempting to lie down.

    Aggressive Treatment: Surgery

    The most aggressive treatment for a canine companion diagnosed with hip dysplasia is surgery. A few dysplasia surgeries exist, depending on the severity of the dysplasia and the significance of the arthritis. Most vets are not trained to do dysplasia surgery, so you'll likely need a referral to a veterinary surgeon. Hip dysplasia surgeries are expansive, requiring a 6- to 8-week recovery time. But it offers the best long-term remedy to ease joint pain caused by hip dysplasia.

    Medical Relief for Pain

    If your dog's joint pain isn't caused by hip dysplasia or if surgery isn't an option, you can ease his pain with medication. Your vet may prescribe Rimadyl, Metacam, Tramadol or other anti-inflammatories and painkillers, depending on your pup's specific needs and medical condition. Some medications, like Rimadyl, can cause damage to your dog's internal organs, which testing will discover.

    Natural Relief for Pain

    You can ease your German shepherd's joint pain to a small extent by supplementing his diet. The two most important supplements for joint support are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. While these supplements won't cure any damage caused by dysplasia, arthritis or injury, they will help your pup's body repair damaged tissues in the joints. Natural anti-inflammatory supplements like omega-3s and vitamin E can help, too. If you decide to add a natural supplement to your pooch's diet, talk to a veterinarian or pet nutritionist first to get the right combination and dose of supplements.

    Don't Delete Exercise

    When your dog's joints hurt, he may be reluctant to move around much. As a result, his muscles may weaken and he may become overweight, putting even more pressure on the sore joints. Once you get your pup's pain under control, you need to keep him moving with exercise. One of the best forms of exercise for dogs with joint pain is water therapy. Certified therapists use either a water treadmill or a pool to exercise dogs. Exercise will help to keep your dog's muscles strong and his body lean without the impact on the joints that comes with walking or running.

    About the Author

    Susan Leisure is the director of an animal welfare organization and owner of a holistic pet supply store in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a master's degree from Emory University, and is currently completing a degree in clinical pet nutrition.

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