How Growing Pains Affect Dogs
Panosteitis (“growing pains” or “pano”) is fairly common in young, rapidly growing mid-sized to large breed dogs – especially those with large bone structure. Panosteitis usually affects the long bones of the legs and seldom involves more than one leg at the same time. Once a particular bone has been affected, pano probably will not reappear in that same bone again. As a result, affected dogs may limp on one leg for a period of time, stop limping, and then become lame on a different limb.
Symptoms of Panosteitis
Panosteitis is extremely painful and can rapidly become debilitating. The symptoms usually to come on suddenly. Owners of affected dogs may notice one or more of the following signs:
- Sudden lameness, usually in one leg at a time (acute onset)
- Shifting lameness, from one limb to another
- Loss of appetite (inappetence; anorexia)
- Pain on palpation of the legs
- Reluctance to rise
- Reluctance to engage in normal activities
- Exercise intolerance
- Whimpering or other vocalization when rising, moving or being touched
The sudden onset of panosteitis, and the obvious suffering that it causes to affected dogs, can be enormously distressing for concerned owners. Fortunately, panosteitis is not difficult to diagnose and normally can be well-managed medically.
Dogs at Increased Risk
Panosteitis occurs in many breeds. However, it seems to strike large-breed and large-boned dogs more frequently, especially the German Shepherd Dog and the Great Dane. Basset Hounds are also overrepresented. Dogs between five and twelve months of age are at increased risk, because this is a period of rapid growth, although panosteitis can affect dogs as early as two months and as late as five years of age. Males are more commonly affected by panosteitis than are females; the reason for this predisposition is unclear.