Over feeding your puppy can cause hip dysplasia. Here is an article about what hip dysplasia is.
Hip Dysplasia is nothing more than Canine arthritis that can sometimes occur early in life. Hip Dysplasia among German Shepherds being 40 on the list of commonality. Hip Dysplasia occurs in different levels of severity. Dogs with Dysplasia are graded as Mild, Moderate or Severe depending on the amount of changes to the hip joint.
In dogs, a femur that does not fit correctly into the pelvic socket, or poorly developed muscles in the pelvic area. Large and giant breeds are susceptible to hip dysplasia, and Cocker spaniels and Shetland sheepdogs are also known to suffer from it. Cats are also known to have this condition, especially Siamese. German Shepherds do not have a corner on the market the only reason they are thought to have it more so than any other breeds is that German Shepherds are radio-graphed and checked more often than any other breeds.
If a dog shows arthritic changes only in one hip joint, the cause is likely NOT hip dysplasia. If only one hip is affected, and the other is normal, the cause is likely due to trauma when the puppy was in the rapid growth stages. Even running through the house and sliding into a wall can be enough to damage the hip. Once the hip joint is bruised, the body makes more synovial fluid (joint fluid) to try to cushion the bruised tissue. This causes greater separation of the joint surfaces, and this in turn can cause a cycle of ever worsening trauma to the hip. The result is early arthritis which may be mis-diagnosed as hip dysplasia.
In dogs, the problem almost always appears by the time the dog is 18 months old. Richard Pitcairn theorizes that the hips of young dogs are weakened by heavy vaccination. The defect can be anywhere from mild to severely crippling. It can cause severe osteoarthritis eventually.
Some dogs that move badly (walk funny) have great hips, and some dogs that move beautifully have bad hips! Therefore,you can not determine if a dog has hip dysplasia or not unless a correctly positioned hip x-ray is taken. These hip x-rays can be submitted for evaluation, and if found to be free of dysplasia, they are 'certified' by either the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) in Columbia, Missouri (age requirement is 24 months old), or they may be submitted to the Deutscher Schaeferhund Verein (SV) in Germany (age requirement of 12 months old). There is a 3rd type of hip x-ray done called the PennHip by the University of Pennsylvania that requires the dog be 'put out' under a general anesthesia, and then they use a fulcrum to attempt to dislocate the hips. I feel this a cruel painful technique and personally do not want this technique used on any of my dogs. I always avoid any kind of general anesthesia and any kind of surgery if possible, I know of to many puppies that die of the anesthesia.Not to mention the cutting and infections.
The rate of growth directly affects the hip joint status. Puppies that grow too quickly are doing so because they are being feed too much. The chart below shows how free feeding (letting the puppy eat all it wants) GREATLY affects how many puppies develop hip dysplasia. It is likely that the same percentages would also apply to elbow dysplasia as well. In nature, puppies NEVER get to eat as much as they want. They are always hungry. The pack may have a good meal one day, and not even get to eat the next. This is why the puppies are genetically programmed to 'wolf down their food', as in the wild they never know when (or if) the next meal is coming. Do not feed your puppy more just because it acts hungry!!!! The results of the study are shown here. We at Von Warfeburg advocate feeding your new German Shepherd puppy carefully monitoring the amounts of food so the puppy grows more slowly, and we advocate the addition of glucosamine to the diet to encourage healthy joint development.
What is the ratio of Hip Dysplasia in "German" German Shepherds? In 1966, when the program was started, the Dysplasia ratio was 26%. At first glance it might look like they had a higher ratio of Hip Dysplasia than the American dogs, but in Germany the x-ray MUST be submitted for grading. The owner has no choice, as the Veterinarians permitted to do the x-rays are REQUIRED to submit ALL x-rays taken. When you add this to the fact that a greater number of the eligible dogs do get x-rayed in Germany (remember, they can't breed or enter a show with out hip certifications, so a higher percentage get x-rayed), the German dog started out in about the same place as the American dogs.
What is the ratio for Hip Dysplasia in the "German" German Shepherd today? The current ratio is 7%! The average "German" German Shepherd will show 10 to 15+ generations with EVERY dog in the pedigree certified against Hip Dysplasia. While no breeder can eliminate all risk of Hip Dysplasia, the Germans have done a much better job than the Americans due to the mandatory x-ray requirement.
Free feeding as much as the puppy wanted to eat any time, tests done with 24 dogs.
Dysplasic Normal %Normal 16 8 33% 18 6 25%
For more a more in depth analysis of hip dysplasia click HERE.