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Bone Overgrowth in Dogs

Hypertrophic Osteopathy in Dogs

Hypertrophic osteopathy is marked by abnormal bone enlargement due to increased bone formation. This condition is frequently observed in both humans and dogs and has been documented in a variety of animals including horses, cows, sheep, and other exotic species.

In dogs, hypertrophic osteopathy manifests as swelling primarily affecting all four limbs. Its onset is subtle, often resembling early arthritis, which can lead to misdiagnosis. Neoplasia, particularly common in older dogs, is a frequent cause of this disease, as neoplasia incidence increases with age in dogs.

Symptoms and Types

  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to move
  • Swellings at distal portions of limbs, especially forelimbs
  • Painful limbs
  • Edema on limbs
  • Decreased movement in joints due to swelling
  • Lameness


The precise cause of new bone formation remains unclear, but this condition has been observed in connection with several diseases, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Heartworm disease
  • Heart disease
  • Tumor of the urinary bladder
  • Tumor of the liver and prostate gland
  • Lung tumors metastasizing to the affected areas


Diagnosis involves your veterinarian gathering a detailed history, inquiring about the duration and frequency of symptoms. A comprehensive physical examination follows. Routine laboratory tests, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, are typically performed. While results are usually within normal ranges, they may vary depending on any underlying disease. X-rays of the bones can reveal new bone formation, aiding the veterinarian in localizing the disease. Additionally, your veterinarian may opt to take a bone sample for further evaluation, including investigation for the presence of tumors.


Treating the underlying cause upon diagnosis is a primary objective in resolving the issue. However, since the exact cause remains elusive, identifying and addressing it may not always be feasible. Your veterinarian will administer painkillers to alleviate discomfort and medications to diminish swelling at affected sites. In certain instances, surgical intervention may be necessary to excise the tumor mass.

Living and Management

Following guidelines and administering medication at the correct dosage and schedule is crucial for maintaining quality of life. Even after treating the primary cause, clinical symptoms may persist for one to two weeks. Additionally, it may take months for the bone(s) to return to their original shape, even with correction of the underlying disorder, as they are not typically fully reversible. Your dog may experience soreness and may require at-home pain management therapy. If a metastatic tumor is the underlying cause of hypertrophic osteopathy, the prognosis is typically very poor.

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