What is ... ?: 

Panosteitis ("pano") is a relatively common disease which causes pain and lameness in young  (6 to 18 months), medium to large breed dogs. There is inflammation in the long bones of the front and hind legs (humerus, ulna, and radius of the forelimb, and the femur and tibia of the hindlimb). The cause of this disease is unknown; diet and heredity may both play a role.
The lameness will appear suddenly, for no apparent reason. It may be difficult to decide which limb is affected, as the lameness may shift from limb to limb over time. Eventually the clinical signs of this disease (pain and lameness) will go away, but some of the changes to the structure of the bones may be permanent.

How is ... inherited?: 


What does ... mean to your dog & you?: 

Lameness will appear suddenly, for no apparent reason, and may shift from limb to limb. In the early stages, your dog may experience loss of appetite, fever, lethargy and weight loss.  Pain may be mild or severe.
This disease generally resolves over time. During the episodes of pain and lameness, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help alleviate the pain, and restricted exercise for your dog.

How is ... diagnosed?: 

Your veterinarian will suspect panosteitis based on the history of lameness which developed suddenly and was not caused by trauma, your dog's age and size, and physical examination - the long bones of your dog's front or hind limbs will be sore when examined.  Your dog may appear to be lame on different legs at different times, instead of the lameness being confined to a single limb - this is called "shifting lameness." X-rays are necessary to rule out other diseases or injuries, and to confirm the diagnosis of panosteitis.

How is ... treated?: 

This disease is generally self-limiting; bouts of lameness usually last about 1 to 3 months and generally cease entirely by about 2 years of age. Treatment consists of drugs to alleviate pain and lameness, as well as restrictions on your dog's activity.

For the veterinarian: 

There are 3 radiographic stages (the first is seen infrequently):
i) medullary radiolucency due to bone marrow degeneration;
ii) hazy, granular increased radiopacity beginning in the area of the nutrient foramen and spreading throughout the medullary cavity (new endosteal bone and a thin layer of periosteal bone are secondary changes); and
iii) a return to normal appearance, although some bones have residual thickening of medullary trabeculae and cortical deformity.

Breeding advice: 

Dogs affected by panosteitis should not be used for breeding, even when the clinical signs of pain and lameness have gone away. Not enough is known about the inheritance of this condition to make breeding recommendations for close relatives of affected dogs.


Johnson KA, Watson ADJ, Page RL. 1995. Skeletal diseases. In EJ Ettinger and EC Feldman(eds). Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, p. 2089-2090, 2116. WB Saunders Co., Toronto.

Ackerman L. 1999. The Genetic Connection: A Guide to Health Problems in Purebred Dogs, pp.126-127. AAHA Press,Lakewood, Colorado.

What breeds are affected by ... ?