German Shepherd Dog Elbow Dysplasia

What Is Elbow Dysplasia?

Canine elbow dysplasia (CED) is a developmental orthopedic disease that affects the bones and joints in a dog’s elbow. This is a condition in larger dogs caused by the growth of tissue, bones, or other cells which creates a malformation on the elbow joint of the dog. It is thought to be caused by abnormal growth or development of the bones and joint cartilage in the elbow, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and lameness.

CED in german shepherd

While CED can occur in any dog breed, it is prevalent in larger breeds like German Shepherds. This painful condition often develops due to genetic inheritance, nutrition, and activity. It can be appear in early puppyhood and adulthood.

What Causes Elbow Dysplasia In Senior German Shepherds?

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), CED is a multi-factorial disease involving multiple developmental abnormalities of the elbow joint. Additionally, it is also believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can contribute to CED, leading to arthritis and other joint problems. Since elbow dysplasia is a genetic disorder, the risk is much higher for some dog breeds, especially German Shepherds.

Elbow Dysplasia In Senior German Shepherds causes

What Are The Signs Of CED In Senior German Shepherds?

  • Painwhen the dog flexes his elbow
  • Stiffnessafter exercise
  • Lamenessduring exercise
  • Trouble using the elbow(s)
  • Unnatural gait
  • Unwillingness or inability to exercise or walk
  • Plopping down to lay
  • Trouble shifting position
  • Whining and or panting
  • Elbows pointing in toward the body as opposed to pointing straight back

The Signs Of CED In Senior German Shepherds

It is important to keep in mind that larger dogs are also predisposed to other joint problems like arthritis. In some instances, what looks like elbow dysplasia might actually just be arthritis. A vet will want to look for signs of arthritis, as well as for signs of trauma to the elbow.

A tumor might also be causing the problem. Usually, it is only with an x-ray that a vet can determine if the issue is a result of dysplasia. Both legs will need to be looked at and a sample of fluid in the joint will also need to be examined.


How Is Canine Elbow Dysplasia Treated?


How the owner wants to treat this condition will vary based on the severity of the condition and the needs of the animal. Sometimes, surgery might be appropriate. Often surgery is best performed arthroscopically, but conventional open surgery can also be done. Depending on the individual dog’s elbow problem surgery may involve: Removal of any coronoid fragments and removal of loose cartilage.

Non-surgical treatments

In general, however, prevention is always better than treatment. In other cases, physical therapy and recommended activities could be enough to prevent this issue from becoming so grave that it negatively affects the German Shepherd’s life.

  • Keep them at a healthy weight.

German Shepherds are known for needing more exercise than other dogs. So regular and proper exercise can allow their bodies to develop in the proper proportions, and at the same time improve the mass of their muscles and bones to support their bodies.

If your dog is already showing signs of elbow problems, the intensity of the exercise requires extra attention. Weight-bearing activities like running and walking can put a lot of stress on your German Shepherd and make joint problems worse. Swimming is a great full-body exercise that doesn’t put too much stress on the joints.

Non-surgical treatments for CED in german shepherd

  • Give them proper nutrition.

German Shepherds need quite a bit of protein when compared to other dogs. You should feed them the protein comes from a healthy source like grass-fed meats or fish are great. Fish also provide them with omega-3 fatty acids which are necessary for the development of a healthy brain. They also need a good balance of carbohydrates which come from complex sources and fats to make sure they can enjoy the energy that they’re capable of.

  • Heat therapy

Physical therapy has been shown to prolong quality of life and preserve muscle mass. Among them, the relief effect of heat therapy is the most significant. Heat increases circulation, stimulates muscles, lessens pain and Increase local tissue metabolism and stretchability.

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  • Massage therapy

Massage therapy is a great way to encourage muscles and bones to grow properly, as well as for minimizing stress and discomfort that come with elbow problems. Massaging your dog on a regular basis is a good idea regardless of the breed, but German Shepherds benefit from regular massage quite regularly.