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The top 3 German Shepherd Joint and Hip Problems

Aug 02, 2013

German Shepherds have a long history of partnership with people.  Originally bred as working dogs, they were favored for herding sheep and defending them if attacked.  Known for their athleticism, intelligence, affection, and protective nature of their owners, they are also known for diseases that affect their breed disproportionately, because of poor practices by some breeders.

Sadly many of these great animals end their lives in pain, often unable to stand.  There are three common causes for that, which might appear the same to an untrained observer, but require different treatment regimes.

Hip Dysplasia / elbow dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is caused by a malformation of the hip joint that causes deterioration of the cartilage, eventually causing pain, arthritis, and debilitation.

In a dysplastic joint, the bones are too loose, and don’t fit snugly in the socket.  This allows the bones to move beyond their appropriate range of motion, causing bones to rub together.  Over time that causes inflammation, along with increasing discomfort.

hip dysplasia chart

 

Elbow dysplasia is the same problem at a different joint.  In either case, there are a few treatment options.  Diet can help reduce inflammation, and keeping a healthy weight will reduce the strain on the joint.  Warm and dry sleeping areas help manage the pain and inflammation as well, especially if arthritis has set in.  Pain medication can be used, although some dogs will have conditions that are contra-indicated for pain medication, and it is better to avoid for long term use.

The Assisi ™ Portable helps with Dysplasia by reducing pain and inflammation in the area, slowing deterioration and improving quality of life with effective pain management.  Many animals with dysplasia no longer need pain medication after using the Assisi™ Portable regularly.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Similar symptoms might occur with nerve degeneration as seen with dysplasia, however myeopathies aren’t happening in the joint, it’s the deteroriation of the spinal cord itself, causing muscular weakness and an unsteady gate.  It is not painful, but affects the quality of life, and often causes complete debilitation within a few years.

Degenerative MyelopathyMost treatment regimens focus on nutritional support and exercise.  Acupuncture, casts and braces, and physical therapy can also help.  Unfortunately there is not a lot to be done.  One website, www.offa.org even offers DNA testing for genetic markers that indicate predisposition for myelopathy.

Cases of nerve degeneration have been helped with the Assisi™ Portable.  Myelopathies are not inflammatory diseases, so the healing process is different than for dysplasia.  However cases such as Ranie’s, a Great Dane with degenerative myelopathy, show that great improvements can be made with tPEMF therapies.  Ranie was unable to walk without the characteristics of her condition, called “wobblers” syndrome.  Yet a few months later she could run as though she had never been affected.  Another case, Otis, a Black Lab experiencing muscle weakness, also has shown great improvement, and we have heard from many other vets at successful treatment of myelopathies using the Assisi™ Portable. In some cases, remission occurs, in others, the progress of the disease is greatly slowed.

Panosteitis

A dozen or so of the 130 breeds recognized by the AKC become affected with panosteitis.  A sudden lameness characterizes the disease, and diagnosis might include gait and motion analysis, comparison t other limbs, a verbal report from the owner, or x-rays.  An easy way to diagnosis for those with experience, is to pinch the middle of the affected bone, which will cause the dog to yelp or show discomfort.  Dysplasia, and other joint diseases would not cause such a reaction unless the area pinched was near the joint.

Panosteitis xray labeledPano, as it’s called, is a generalized inflammation inside the bones, particularly long bones.  It occurs specifically in the humerus, radius, and ulna of the foreleg, and the femur and tibia of the hind leg.  Generally it is a foreleg that first gives way with an onset of lameness.  The bone itself may become misshapen due to pressure from within.

The pain caused by Pano varies, but may make the dog unable to walk.  Most dogs will have more than one bone affected.  Often a particular leg will be lame for a week or two, and then shift from one leg to another.  Luckily there is no harm done if left untreated, although diagnosis by an inexperienced breeder or vet might come up with a wrong diagnosis.

As an inflammatory problem, Panosteitis might be greatly helped by PEMF therapy, improving recovery times for affected dogs.  The Assisi™ Portable has been demonstrated to greatly reduce inflammation and pain.  For show dogs, who need to perform, or Police dogs who need to work, the Assisi™ Portable might help get a Shepherd in pain back in the ring, or back on the job, without causing any dangerous side effects.

Inbreeding and health problems

The German Shepherd is the second most commonly bred dog in America, according to some sources.  This popularity has been the problem, as many breeders made poor choices in breeding certain lines too closely, causing the problems that have become so common today.  Like many breeds who have been bred too closely with their relatives, German Shepherds face not only joint problems, but a higher risk for epilepsy, heart disease, Von Willebrand’s syndrome, and bloat.


Common German Shepherd ConditionsEven mixed-breeds from the pound may be at risk, but at all costs, please avoid getting a Shepherd from a “puppy mill,” that might practice breeding techniques that will cause more animals to suffer in the future.

Please click here to contact us if you have any questions about the Assisi™ Portable and how it could help your pet.  If you have a Shepherd suffering with any of the above conditions, your vet can help decide if the Assisi™ Portable is right for you. Click here to visit our website.

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