By Daniel A. Degner, DVM, Diplomate ACVS


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bulletYoung large breed dogs that are 6 to 18 months old
bulletCommon breeds affected
bulletGerman Shepherds (most common)
bulletGreat Danes
bulletDoberman Pinscher
bulletGolden retriever
bulletLabrador retriever
bulletBasset hounds



bulletEosinophilic panosteitis
bulletEndosteal proliferation of new bone


Clinical Presentation

bulletAffects the shaft of long bones
bulletTop of the ulna (front limb)
bulletLower part of humerus bone (front limb)
bulletCentral radius bone (front limb)
bulletCentral femur bone (thigh bone)
bulletUpper end of tibia bone (hind limb)
bulletLameness is frequently of sudden onset
bulletMay be mild to severe
bulletLameness usually lasts 2 to 3 weeks, but not longer than 5 weeks; therefore if your petís lameness has been going on from a solid period of time that is greater than 5 weeks, your pet likely has another condition
bulletThe lameness may have a recurrent pattern
bulletThe lameness may shift from one limb to another
bulletThe affected bone is painful to touch
bulletSome dogs can show signs of
bulletElevated white blood cell count


Signs on Radiographs (x-rays)

bulletIf the disease is early in its course no abnormalities may not be seen on the radiographs; if the radiographs are repeated in 2 weeks the problem usually can be seen
bulletIncreased density in the marrow cavity of the affected bone can be seen
bulletThe wall of the bone becomes thicker due to new bone formation on the inner and outer layer of the bone
bulletTwo to three months later the bone normalizes and the bone looks normal on radiographs again
bulletIn the radiograph below take note of the grey spot in the marrow cavity (denoted by the arrow) which is eopan



Microscopic Signs

bulletThere usually is no inflammatory component of panosteitis
bulletThe main change seen is fibrosis of the marrow (scar tissue develops)
bulletWith time the fibrous tissue changes into bone, hence the increased density as seen on the radiographs
bulletNew bone formation on the inner and outer part of the bone can be seen



bulletPotentially an unidentified viral infection



bulletSelf-limiting disease that has a spontaneous recovery
bulletRepeated bouts of this disease are about one month apart
bulletProblem usually does not recur after 12 to 18 months of age
bulletTreatment is supportive
bulletAnti-inflammatory medications
bulletIf the pet is systemically ill, then intravenous fluid therapy may be needed for rehydration

All illustrations, photographs and text are Copyright © 2003 Vet Surgery Central

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A Secondary Source of Information on Panosteitis follows:

Encyclopedia of Canine Veterinary Medical Information  


Panosteitis is a spontaneously occurring lameness that usually occurs in large breed dogs. German Shepherds seems to be particularly predisposed to this condition. Due to this, it is possible that the disease may have genetic causes. Some veterinarians feel that this disease may be induced or worsened by stress.

Affected dogs are usually in the 5 to 14 month age range and male dogs are more commonly infected than female dogs. The disease has been reported in dogs as young as 2 months and can occur in young mature dogs. The lameness tends to occur very suddenly, usually without a history of trauma or excessive exercise. In most cases one or the other front leg is affected first and then the problem tends to move around, making it appear that the lameness is shifting from leg to leg. There are often periods of improvement and worsening of the symptoms in a cyclic manner. This makes evaluation of treatment difficult since many dogs will spontaneously recover with or without treatment and then relapse.

X-rays usually reveal that the bones have greater density than is normally found. If pressure is applied over the long bones, pain is usually present. The X-ray signs do not always match the clinical signs.

In most cases, the worst pain lasts between one and two months but may persist in a cyclic nature for up to a year. Analgesic medications like aspirin can be be helpful. In severe cases, corticosteroids may provide relief.

Currently, a common rumor is that low protein, low calcium diets may prevent this condition. It should be noted that the energy level of low protein/calcium diets is often lower as well. If this is the case, a puppy will eat much more of the diet in order to meet its energy needs, resulting in higher total calcium consumption. It may be preferable to feed a puppy diet and restrict total quantity to keep the dog lean than to use a low protein/low calcium adult dog food.

This condition is self limiting, meaning that it will eventually go away, with or without treatment. Pain control can go a long way towards helping your pet feel more comfortable and should be used, though.

The above information is authored by Dr Michael Richards, DVM and produced by TierCom, Inc. Opinions expressed are those of Dr. Richards.