Panosteitis (“growing pains” or “pano”) is not especially difficult to diagnose. It most commonly affects young, rapidly growing mid-sized to large-breed dogs, especially those with large leg bones, causing lameness that alternates between limbs.
A veterinarian presented with a growing dog with shifting lameness will take a thorough history and conduct a complete physical examination. Dogs with panosteitis normally show signs of pain when their lower legs are palpated. Radiographs (X-rays) are the gold standard for diagnosing panosteitis. The long bones of an affected dog’s limbs show characteristic opaque, patchy areas on film; these may be present even in legs that do not seem painful. The initial data base often will include blood work and a urinalysis, to assess the dog’s general state of health. Dogs with long-term lameness – especially if the symptoms are progressively worsening - should be evaluated for other developmental orthopedic abnormalities, because panosteitis typically resolves on its own over time.
Panosteitis causes severe, acute pain. Fortunately, it usually lasts only a few weeks and causes no permanent disability.