Arthritis in German Shepherds

GSD1 Arthritis in German Shepherds

Large breed dogs like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, and Great Danes are predisposed to certain bone and joint problems such as hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, and cruciate ligament rupture which could progress to osteoarthritis. These conditions will be discussed in brief below followed by recommendations for treatment.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia can occur at any stage in a dog’s life. The earliest symptoms of hip dysplasia, often characterized by instability and awkwardness in movement can be seen even in puppies. This early onset of hip dysplasia in large-breed dogs has been traced to inheritance of any of the parents’ characteristics which usually involve an abnormality in the hip joint. Abnormalities with the hip joint (a ball and socket joint) may vary. Hip dysplasia could stem from a misfit in the ball and socket joint (either the socket is too shallow or the ball is misshapen or too small).

Causes of hip dysplasia can differ and could involve a sudden growth spurt, over exhaustion, and obesity,


Osteochondrosis mostly affects 4-8 months old dogs. Although it could be an inherited disease, osteochondrosis is more often linked with underdeveloped cartilage typically in the elbow and shoulders. Problems in the normal development of cartilage in these joints lead to unevenness in the joint surfaces which can cause misalignment and other problems with joint structuring. Like hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis can occur due to a growth spurt and over nutrition.

Cruciate ligament rupture

Pain, swelling, instability in the knee joint, and lameness are just some symptoms of cruciate ligament rupture. This disease which leads inevitably to chronic arthritis of the knee involves a rupture in the anterior cruciate ligament in the knees. Traumatic injuries involving the degeneration (in mild cases) and a sudden tear (in severe cases) in the ligament are cited as the primary causes of such condition in large breed dogs.


Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis gradually progresses as the cartilage in the joint erodes. Extreme pain could signal the growth of bone spurs or osteophytes, calcium deposits in tensed and stressed areas in the joints. Wear and tear with frequent activity is more often associated with osteoarthritis.

Treatment for osteoarthritis

With mild cases of osteoarthritis, treatment often involves prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and/or steroids but since we are talking of large-breed dogs here, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs commonly referred to as NSAIDs are more effective. However, NSAIDs do not really provide an effective treatment to arthritis as they only provide temporary pain relief but do nothing to assist in the repair of the damaged joint. In developed or severe cases of osteoarthritis especially stemming from pre-arthritis conditions such as cruciate ligament rupture and hip dysplasia, surgery may be required to stabilize the joints.

Recent USA laboratory studies in 2006 as reported by “The New England Journal of Medicine”, showed that glucosamine chondroitin in combination, reduced arthritis pain in those suffering moderate to severe joint pain more effectively than NSAIDS. These same results are shown to be as effective in pets. Synflex Liquid Glucosamine is a leading brand when it comes to dietary glucosamine / chondroitin supplements for dogs. The once a day dosing of Synflex Liquid Glucosamine depends on the size and weight of your dog and the severity of his/her arthritis condition. The liquid form is superior in its ability to be absorbed by the body almost completely.

Another plus is the liquid form is much easier to give to your pet than pills. You can be certain with Syn-flex for Pets, your German Shepherd will be in top shape in no time. Please read more on Synflex and the types of joint diseases your pet may encounter at

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