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Panosteitis is a sudden, painful inflammation of the leg bones in growing dogs. It affects large-breed dogs, especially German Shepherds. It can occur in more than one leg at once, or it can move around, causing severe lameness from one leg to another. The pain can be so great that your dog may get a fever, stop eating, and lose weight.
Typically, an affected dog will have recurring episodes for an average of 2 to 3 months, at which point it will resolve on its own.
The underlying cause is currently unknown.
The most obvious symptoms are:
- Sudden lameness in one or more legs
- Reaction to pain when the affected bone is touched
Other signs may include:
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
There will be periods of pain and periods of improvement.
To properly diagnose your dog with panosteitis, your veterinarian will perform the following:
- Physical exam: checks if your dog shows pain when pressure is put on the bones
- X-rays: rules out other orthopedic issues and checks for an increase in bone density (the amount of calcium and minerals in the bones)
The goal of treatment is to minimize pain until the panosteitis goes away on its own.
Your veterinarian may recommend:
- Medication: painkillers and anti-inflammatories
- Rest: during episodes of lameness, don't exercise at all; between episodes, moderately exercise
- Proper diet: feed your pet tasty foods so it should want to eat
- Supplements: vitamins
The signs may come and go, and shift to different legs before it resolves completely.
Panosteitis can last from 2 to 5 months. If your dog has signs that last longer than 5 months, you should go to the veterinarian for a re-check.
There is no way to prevent panosteitis since there is no known cause.
Panosteitis always disappears without major treatment.
After it runs its course, there usually won't be any long-term side effects, and the patient will live an active, normal life.
Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM