Panosteitis typically occurs in young, growing, larger breed dogs like Dobermans, Great Danes, Retrievers & especially German Shepherds; but it’s been documented in many breeds. There are many theories about why panosteitis occurs, ranging from infectious agents to nutritional causes to genetics, but none of these have been proven! The good news is that it’s a self-limiting condition, which means that affected dogs will ‘grow out of it’ without long-term ill effects! Even so, it can be a particularly painful & debilitating condition in the meantime.
If your dog develops panosteitis, you may observe the following:
A painful, shifting leg lameness lasting days to weeks with no apparent inciting cause
Between episodes your dog may be perfectly sound (not lame at all) until they become painful & lame in another leg. This episodic nature & the tendency for the lameness to come & go in different legs can be quite confusing for pet parents!
There are many causes for lameness that may require timely surgical intervention so it’s important to get a diagnosis whenever you have a dog with significant orthopedic discomfort or lameness. Remember, too, that dogs rarely actually cry when they are in pain. So if your dog is not moving normally, willingly, take them to your vet for an exam!
On physical examination your vet may be able to localize your dog’s pain specifically to one of the long bones in the leg. This type of pain is indicative of panosteitis.
In addition, radiographs (X-ray images) may show changes in the bone(s) that are characteristic of panosteitis. A bone with panosteitis can look variably fuzzy or mottled (darker or lighter).
Once you determine that your dog has panosteitis, what can you do? Even though the condition is self-limiting, you still need to make every attempt to keep your dog comfortable during episodes of inflammation, pain, and/or fever. Your vet will help you with a treatment plan to help your pet recover from this painful condition!
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