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Panosteitis in Dogs (Growing Pains in Dogs)

What Is Panosteitis in Dogs?

Panosteitis in dogs, often referred to as pano, is a condition that impacts the long bones of their legs. Primarily affecting large-breed dogs under 2 years old, it’s commonly termed as growing pains in dogs. Despite its seemingly innocuous name, panosteitis can inflict significant pain, leading to pronounced limping when a dog’s bones are touched. Regrettably, it can manifest in multiple legs and migrate to different ones even after initial improvement.

Although panosteitis is a self-limiting ailment, meaning it will naturally resolve with time, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian. They can prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort until the condition abates. Here’s a comprehensive overview of panosteitis in dogs.

Symptoms and Types

The primary symptom of panosteitis in dogs is limping accompanied by leg pain. This pain often emerges abruptly and may dissipate swiftly. Typically, there are no visible signs of injury or trauma; your dog may simply wake up one day limping. Recognizing pain in your dog can be challenging. Applying gentle pressure to the long bones of their leg may elicit cries or the withdrawal of the leg due to pain. The discomfort can be severe enough to discourage the use of the affected leg.


Panosteitis in dogs resembles growing pains experienced by humans. While there’s a genetic predisposition to this disease, particularly among large-breed dogs like German Shepherds, no specific gene mutation has been identified as its cause. Typically observed between 6 months and 2 years of age, panosteitis can occasionally manifest in German Shepherds older than 2 years.

The condition affects the mid-shaft of long bones, leading to the production of bone inside the marrow cavity. Fortunately, it doesn’t impair the bone marrow’s ability to generate blood cells, and there’s no lasting damage to the bone marrow itself. High-protein diets might increase the likelihood of panosteitis in large-breed dogs, underscoring the importance of feeding your dog high-quality, large-breed puppy food to help mitigate its occurrence.


To diagnose panosteitis, veterinarians begin with a thorough examination of your dog’s medical history and a physical assessment. Key indicators often include being a young, large-breed dog experiencing sudden onset limping.

During the physical examination, the veterinarian observes your dog’s gait to identify affected legs. They then conduct an orthopedic evaluation by applying pressure to various parts of the legs, back, and neck to assess pain responses. Additionally, they manipulate your dog’s joints by flexing and extending them.

Dogs afflicted with panosteitis typically exhibit discomfort when pressure is applied to the long bones in their legs. Signs may include tensing up, vocalizing, or directing attention to the painful area when the veterinarian applies pressure.

X-rays serve as a valuable tool in diagnosing panosteitis in dogs. Normally, the bone marrow appears darker than the outer cortex of the bone. In panosteitis cases, the cortex bone may extend into the dark marrow cavity.

However, it’s important to note that signs of pain can manifest up to 10 days before x-rays reveal changes. Therefore, a normal x-ray doesn’t necessarily rule out panosteitis. Nonetheless, x-rays play a crucial role in eliminating other potential causes of bone pain in dogs, such as infections, tumors, or fractures.


The primary treatment for panosteitis in dogs involves administering nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate pain and inflammation. Additionally, restricting your dog’s activity is essential in managing the condition.

Recovery and Management

An episode of panosteitis in dogs typically spans a few weeks before resolving on its own. It may reoccur in different legs weeks to months later. Fortunately, once your dog reaches 2 years of age, panosteitis generally ceases without lasting inflammation or pain.

Panosteitis in Dogs FAQs

What can be administered to a puppy experiencing growing pains?

Decreasing the puppy’s activity level will aid in easing growing pains. Additionally, your vet may prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain reliever like carprofen to alleviate discomfort.

How can I determine if my puppy or dog is experiencing growing pains?

Puppies or young adult dogs exhibiting sudden limping without any known injury may be experiencing growing pains. It’s advisable to consult a veterinarian for confirmation.

For how long do growing pains persist in puppies and dogs?

Usually, each episode of growing pains lasts for 2-4 weeks. As your dog reaches the age of 2, growing pains typically come to an end.

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