If you’ve recently adopted a large-breed puppy, you may find yourself both amused and astonished at how rapidly your little friend can grow into a four-legged giant. At the same time, however, your dog may struggle with growing pains that can literally produce bouts of painful lameness, a problem known as panosteitis.
Once you’ve cultivated a basic understanding of panosteitis, from how and why it occurs to the available veterinary treatment options, the more comfortable you can keep your beloved dog as it matures into an adult. Take a look at four key points all large-breed dog owners should know about panosteitis.
1. Panosteitis Accompanies Rapid Bone Growth
Panosteitis usually affects the long bones of larger, fast-growing breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, and Great Danes, usually appearing during the first two years of growth. This mysterious condition may stem from a combination of inherited traits, excessive protein consumption, or infections.
In panosteitis, the marrow inside the leg bones fills up with a kind of fibrous tissue called woven bone. Fortunately, this abnormal development doesn’t affect the marrow’s ability to produce blood cells. Eventually, the body replaces the woven bone with normal bone where necessary, dissolving any remaining woven bone in the marrow.
2. Panosteitis Can Cause Recurring Symptoms
Just as human teenagers can experience growing pains during growth spurts, puppies and young dogs with panosteitis typically suffer from bouts of acute pain in their leg bones. The pain may come and go, shifting from one leg to another. Your dog might go several weeks at a time with no symptoms at all between bouts.
The pain of panosteitis can cause obvious, debilitating lameness in growing dogs. Your dog’s leg bones may even develop so much sensitivity that merely touching an affected leg can produce sharp pain. Thankfully, the condition causes no permanent lameness, pain, or deformity, resolving itself as your dog’s growth slows.
Sometimes, other panosteitis symptoms occur alongside pain and lameness. An affected dog may lose its appetite, losing weight as he or she loses interest in food. Some dogs may develop a fever or appear lethargic.
3. Veterinary Diagnosis Can Determine Whether Your Dog Has Panosteitis
Since a variety of other leg issues besides panosteitis can produce pain and lameness, you’ll want to confirm your dog’s condition through a thorough veterinary evaluation. X-rays may show a cloudy substance inside your dog’s long bones, the classic sign of woven bone formation.
Your veterinarian will most likely schedule two sets of X-rays, one at the initial evaluation and the next a couple of weeks later. If the cloudiness has grown more prominent or severe between the two diagnostic visits, your dog almost certainly has panosteitis.
4. Treatment May Ease Panosteitis Symptoms
Currently, veterinary medicine can’t actually stop or reverse panosteitis as an inherent aspect of your large-breed puppy’s growth and development. However, your veterinarian can provide supportive care to ease the accompanying pain and lameness until the condition finally resolves itself. Added pain relief is very important in helping to heal and keep your pup comfortable.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce the discomfort of panosteitis. Never give your dog any over the counter NSAIDs meant for humans, that will be fatal for your pet. Instead, there are specialized NSAIDs that work safely for animals to give them excellent pain relief. Let your veterinarian prescribe the right dosage for your individual pet. NSAIDs can cause problems in dogs taking certain other medications.
You can help your young dog cope with panosteitis through smart home care as well. Try to restrict your dog’s activity as much as possible during painful bouts of the disorder. Feed your dog a balanced diet of food specifically for puppies. Ask your veterinarian about supplements that support healthy bones and joints.
If your not-so-little friend displays the symptoms of panosteitis, make an appointment for him or her at 1st Pet Veterinary Centers. We can run the necessary diagnostic tests and prescribe the right treatment to help your puppy get through those growing pains more easily.