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What Every Owner of a Growing Large Breed Puppy Should Know

In part 1 of this 2-part series on bone diseases in growing puppies, Dr. Karen Becker discussed angular limb deformities.

In today's follow-up, she explains three other common bone diseases: panosteitis, hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).

By Dr. Becker

Today in the second half of my 2-part series, I want to discuss three common bone diseases in puppies and young dogs:

  • Panosteitis
  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD)
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)


Panosteitis is a common condition in several large breed dogs.

It typically occurs between 6 and 18 months of age, and more often in males than females.

Symptoms can last from two to five months, but can actually go on for as long as 18 months in certain breeds.

Breeds that are predisposed to panosteitis include German shepherds, Great Danes, Dobermans, Golden retrievers, Labradors, Rotties and Basset hounds.

The cause of panosteitis is unknown, but there have been lots of cause-and-effect theories debunked over the years, including bacterial and viral infections.

Most vets agree that because the condition primarily occurs in large, heavy-boned, giant breed dogs, there are probably components of genetics, growing pains, nutrition, and metabolism involved.

Acute sudden lameness that isn't a result of trauma is the most common symptom of panosteitis. Lameness can be intermittent and move from leg to leg. This shifting leg lameness can range from a mild limp to the dog choosing to not bear weight on the leg at all to avoid significant pain.

Episodes can last for two to three weeks or can continue for months at a time. The dog may show hesitance to walk, run, jump, or exercise. If the affected bone is squeezed, the dog will exhibit pain as well.

Some dogs run a low-grade fever during episodes of panosteitis. Others have elevated white blood cell counts. The condition typically affects the radius, ulna, humerus, femur, and tibia, but once in a while the condition can affect the foot and pelvic bones as well.

In addition to observing a dog's symptoms, x-rays are used to confirm a diagnosis of panosteitis.

In the early stages, the condition can result in a slight increase in bone density in the center part of bones. Midway through the course of the disease, the bones can appear irregular and blotchy, with a rough exterior. As the condition clears up or resolves, the bones can remain somewhat blotchy looking, but otherwise take on a more normal appearance..........

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