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Panosteitis in Dogs

Discussion in 'Dog Health and Nutrition' started by FEWill, May 12, 2010.

  1. FEWill

    FEWill PetForums Senior

    Sep 2, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Panosteitis in dogs is a disease that causes inflammation that involves several layers of your dogs bones and occurs in the mid section of their bone. It is often confused with Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy, also known as HOD, which causes inflammation and swelling in the growing region of the bone. However, it is slightly different, as it can cause lameness not only in one leg of your dog, but can affect more than just one leg as well as jumping back and forth between legs.

    It is characterized by bone proliferation and remodeling, and although it is usually a temporary condition, it can last as long as 18 months in some dogs. However, in the vast majority of cases, it will generally last somewhere between 2 and 5 months. Although the exact cause of this disease is still not fully understood: what is understood is that it can come and go frequently as well as change from leg to leg.

    The important aspect of this disease for owners to understand, is that although the cause is still not known and the treatment is considered symptomatic, the long term outlook with this disease is really quite good

    What dogs are affected?

    Panosteitis in dogs is most common among large breeds and will usually occur at a young age, generally somewhere between the ages of 6 to 18 months. Although it is not very common, it can also affect middle aged German Shepherds, but it will be in a series of bouts instead of a permanent condition such as hip dysplasia. It is a worldwide condition and seems to affect male dogs much more frequently than females.

    The breeds that are most commonly affected by this disease include German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers, Great Danes, Rottweilers, Bassett Hounds, as well as Golden and Labrador Retrievers.

    What causes the condition?

    Panosteitis in dogs to this date has no known actual cause, but there are several theories. It was first thought that this condition was the result of a bacterial infection but several isolated tests failed to reveal any real association to bacterial infections of any type. It also does not respond to antibiotics, which basically takes bacterial infections as the cause out of the equation. The second theory suggests that if bone marrow from an infected dog was injected into a healthy dog, they too would contract this disease, suggesting a virus of some type.

    It also was suggested that a high fever, tonsillitis, as well as any type of white blood cell issues that have become altered may also be the underlying cause. This would also infer that a virus is the trigger for the disease. However, what added more fuel to the fire that a virus is the cause is that Panosteitis in dogs seemed to first appear about the same time that the live forms of distemper medication was introduced into the general dog population.

    The main reasoning for this theory is that wild distemper virus can be isolated from a dogs bone tissue, suggesting the link between the vaccine and this disease. Although this is one of more widely held views, it has still not been fully confirmed and distemper virus has been around now for several years.

    Another theory is that it may have a genetic link, simply because it affects only certain breeds. However, there is a new theory that is gaining a lot of momentum; Panosteitis may be related to your dogs nutrition. There is some evidence pointing to protein as well as fat concentrations that may be too high as the actual trigger point. But at this time, it is simply another theory. The overall general consensus in the medical community is that it is a multi-factorial disease that has several potential causes.


    Panosteitis in dogs does have a few very distinctive symptoms that you can watch for. The first is the most obvious as it is a very sudden acute form of lameness that occurs for absolutely no reason. This lameness can last for several weeks and then just as quickly as it appeared, it disappears. However, what makes this disease stand out among some of the other possible causes of lameness in large breeds is its ability to shift from leg to leg.

    If you notice your dog suddenly going lame at a very young age, than appear to be fine only to have another limb affected, there is a very good chance they have developed Panosteitis. The most commonly affected bones will be the radius, ulna, femur, humerus, as well as the tibia. However, it may also affect your dogs feet as well as their pelvic bones to a lesser extent. When any of these symptoms occur in your dog, they will not want to perform any type of exercise and if it is severe enough, they may resist walking at all.

    One of the most telling symptoms however, is that when you suspect this condition and squeeze your dogs bones, it will be very painful for them. In rare cases, they may also have a fever or an elevated white blood cell count.


    Currently there is no specific treatment for Panosteitis in dogs, but it is important to understand that this is a very painful situation for your pet. Once you suspect that they have this disease, you will need to seek veterinarian help as soon as possible. Rimadyl can be given to your dog to help ease the pain as well as aspirin. However, under no circumstance should you ever give your dog aspirin unless it is specifically prescribed and then very closely monitored by your veterinarian. Aspirin can be toxic to dogs, and Advil can be lethal.

    You make take Advil daily for pain but there are several documented cases where even a quarter of an Advil has taken the life of dogs very rapidly. Antibiotics are not used in most cases simply because they have not produced any real results.


    There is no way to prevent this disease from happening in your dog, but it is comforting to know that it is considered to be a self-limiting disease that in the vast majority of cases will just have to run its due course. However, like many similar disease involving dogs bones, breeding animals should be screened to make sure that they are not carriers as this is still one of the theories. There are several brands of dog food that claim to lower the incidence of this and like diseases, but none of them to date have any real proof compared to regular dog food.


    Panosteitis in dogs is a very mysterious disease that can shift form limb to limb and last for several weeks. But the good news is that in almost every case it will eventually run its course and your dog will return to normal.

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