What is panosteitis?
Panosteitis is a bone disease. The cause is uncertain, but theories include viruses, vascular problems, parasitism, allergies, and hormonal changes. None of these causes have been proven though. The disease usually affects large breed dogs, particularly German Shepherds. It is more common in males than females. The condition usually affects long bones such as the humerus or femur. These are the bones of the upper forelimb and upper hind limb. It may also affect the lower portion of the limbs. The disease may appear to improve, only to relapse. It is usually seen in dogs between 6 and 18 months old. It can occur in older dogs though.
How do I know if my dog has panosteitis?
Diagnosing panosteitis is best done by your veterinarian. The initial sign is sudden onset of lameness. The forelimbs are affected more often than the hind limbs. The lameness may shift from one leg to another. The dog may also go off food; be feverish and lethargic. The condition can last up to 9 months. The muscles of the affected limbs may be atrophied. Pain can be detected by pressing on the affected area of bone.
How can my veterinarian tell if my dog has panosteitis?
After taking a history and examining your dog, the veterinarian may be suspicious of panosteitis. To confirm the diagnosis the veterinarian may recommend x-rays. Panosteitis is usually simple to diagnose with x-rays. Taking x-rays requires the dog to lie perfectly still in an awkward position. For this reason your veterinarian may need to anesthetize the dog.
Can panosteitis be treated?
Yes, panosteitis is self-limiting and will get better with time. The lameness may reoccur or shift from one limb to another. By the time the dog is 12 to 18 months of age the condition should completely clear up. Treatment consists of exercise restriction and pain relievers. Your veterinarian has several possible medications to keep the pet comfortable while the condition runs it's course.
Is it preventable?
No one knows for sure. It is possible overuse of calcium supplement plays a role. Consult your veterinarian about the appropriate foods and supplements for your dog.