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Limping 10-Month Old Doberman-Shepherd Puppy

September 23, 2010
large breed puppy panosteitis

Puppy in Pain

Karl doubted he was in the right place.  The 10-month-old black and tan mostly Doberman Pinscher-German Shepherd puppy sat on the ceramic tile floor and turned his nose to the side.  He did not want to look Doc Truli in the eye.  Karl was a strong, sleek, beautiful puppy.  Except for his right front leg.

From across the veterinary examination room, Doc Truli could see Karl’s right front leg did not touch the floor.  The puppy sat with his right leg crooked and flinched in pain if anyone reached toward the foot.

“Doc, he’s been limping for a few days now.  We thought he injured his leg, but wouldn’t it be getting better after a few days?” said Karl’s person.

“He should feel better if a sprain or injury caused the limp.  Karl’s in severe pain, and I think I know why,” said Doc Truli.

After checking Karl’s paw, including pressing on the toes to determine a splinter or stinger wasn’t stuck in his pads, Doc felt up Karl’s leg.  He didn’t show any specific pain on first examination.  The second time Doc felt his foreleg, he yelped and pulled away.  We let Karl walk up and down the hallway.  He barely put weight on the right leg.  Nothing seemed broken, nothing was out-of-place, no wounds or injuries showed.  Something was hurting this puppy.

“Let’s take some x-rays.” said Doc Truli.

The two long bones of the dog forelimb in an x-ray

Can you see a white area in the middle of the top bone?

x-ray of the elbow and distal humerus long bone of a puppy

There's another lesion hidden here, too!

Major Reasons a Large Breed Puppy Will Suddenly Become Lame for No Reason

OCD, HOD, and panosteitis


Osteochondritis dissecans, OCD, is a condition in which the cartilage (chondro-) lining the bones (osteo) becomes irregular and flaps or chunks of the cartilage fracture off the bone or form moving, painful flaps.  OCD looks like gauges out of the peri-articular cartilage (by the joints).  The propensity for OCD is inherited.  These are surgical or arthroscopic procedures to help, but there is no cure at this time.

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) is also an inherited condition in which the growth plates do not form properly.  They look wavy and “doubled” on an x-ray.  There are no treatments or cures.  HOD is so painful and debilitating, puppies are often humanely euthanized and not live with the pain.

Panosteitis was Karl’s problem.  “Pan” means “all” and “osteo” means bone, then “itis” means inflammation.  So all-bone-inflammation.  Basically, panosteitis is inflammation of the marrow of the long bones (radius, humerus, ulna, femur, tibia, usually).  Panosteitis affects large breed dogs.  It is sort-of like growing pains in very tall humans.  The good news:  puppies grow out of panosteitis by 1 to 1 1/2 years old.  The bad news: it hurts like crazy until then!

Most puppies with panosteitis will actually stop eating because they are experiencing so much pain.  Karl had lost 5 pounds and was skinny.  He couldn’t afford to lose any more weight.

Check these x-rays and you’ll see what the panosteitis looks like!

White fuzzy bright area in the middle of the gray bone marrow

The white fuzzy area is abnormal

The white area stretching from the top to the bottom of the bone is the panosteitis area

See the white area in the center of the bone? Inflammation!

Pain Control for Panosteitis Puppies

Prednisone.  That’s all Western medicine has.  Steroids.  Karl felt better, still limped, but gained weight and ate well on his prednisone.

Possibly, if research into alternative medicine advances, homeopathy, herbal remedies, acupuncture, and Class IV therapeutic laser could help.  At this time, these modalities have not been studies in panosteitis.

A further note for vets reading this, or nerds, or perhaps you are fortunate to be both: are you thinking fungal?  Karl lives in an area of the US with little environmental fungal pathogens.  You would not be wondering wrongly, though, depending on the area in which you live.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2010 6:09 pm

    oh i love alternative medicines, they are usually effective but with lesser bad side effects compared to conventional medicatio :


  1. ACL/MCL/CCL ?s - Page 2 - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums

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