Panosteitis - Pano

When I was about 5 1/2 months old, I started to limp a lot. The limping was always worse after walks and play sessions. My parents were very worried about me. They thought that I might have that terrible disease called dysplasia, or maybe OCD...

They brought me to the vet to have x-rays done. The vet said that I only had something called panosteitis, also known under the name of "puppy limp", "growing pains", "long bone disease", "shifting leg lameness" or simply "pano".

The vet put me on a bit of a diet so that I'd lose a bit of weight. This would reduce the stress on my legs and ease the pain. He also told me not to play too hard or run too much, and made me take daily doses of vitamin C (which is believed to help bone development). And when I really limped a lot, my parents were told to give me a Bufferin tablet. But then I had to be very careful, because Bufferin would hide the pain, but not cure the problem.

The following information was collected from various books, Web pages and email messages that my father received...

Simply said, pano is the inflammation of the membrane surrounding the long bones in the legs of adolescent pups. It is very common in larger breeds, and the only way to accurately diagnose it is with x-rays. Onset can be from 5 to12 months (occasionally later) and last until 18 months or more. Though it is uncomfortable for the puppy, he almost always grows out of it within a month or two. The lameness is not necessarily be limited to one leg, and this can be easily noticed as the limping seems to shift from one leg one day to another the following day. There is no cure as such for pano, but the disease will disappear more quickly is the puppy's weight is kept low, exercise is limited and the puppy is switched to adult formula dog food.

Here are a few additional definitions:


panosteitis (^) acute shifting lameness of growing dogs, deep bone pain, self-limiting


Panosteitis (Commonly called "long bone disease," "wandering lameness," or simply "pano.") Generally seen between 5-12 months of age, it is caused by excessive bone production on the long bones. Dogs will generally grow out of the problem, but it is a painful condition. Pano is, for unknown reasons, common in GSDs. If the dog is x-rayed during a bout of pano, lesions on the growth plates will be visible. However, pano leaves no lasting ill affects on a dog. Diet is thought to play a role. High protein puppy diets may make the puppy grow too fast and increase the chance of the pup experiencing pano (sometimes described as "growing pains"). Pano is also called "Shifting Leg Lameness" as it can show up in any leg and may come and go without warning. Pups usually completely outgrow Pano by 18 months. Enforced rest is usually prescribed. Painkillers are contraindicated since the pup will play more without pain, and may exacerbate the condition


Panosteitis (puppy limp): Also called pano, this is an inflammation of the membrane covering the bone and is relatively common. Rest, quiet, and sometimes a vet-approved painkiller are generally recommended for the puppy. Some vets recommend a reduced protien (usually an adult mixture) diet. This can strike anytime between 6-18 months of age and rarely lasts past two years of age. If the limping goes from leg to leg (i.e., one day the dog limps on the right rear leg and the next it limps on the left front), it is very likely pano. Pano can also be diagnosed via x-rays. Fortunately, lasting effects are uncommon, and most puppies outgrow it. It is not known what causes pano, the belief is that there is either a hereditary link, perhaps just a predisposition toward, causing pano.


Press Release - Panosteitis is an Orthopedic Puzzlement
by Dolores Holle, DVM

Morristown - Panosteitis, a disease of unknown cause, has been reported in a variety of large and giant breed dogs. It causes pain and lameness in young, growing dogs, most often those between five- and 12-months old. It is reported to occur more often in males than females, and may appear in just one limb or all simultaneously.

The disease most often affects the shaft portion of the long bones. These are the radius, ulna and humerus of the front leg, and the femur and tibia of the hind leg. The lameness that accompanies panosteitis can vary from mild to severe. The dog may exhibit signs that vary from a subtle lameness to a reluctance to bear any weight on the limb. Panosteitis may appear to cause a shifting leg lameness. That is, lameness occurs and resolves in one leg, but is followed by the appearance of lameness weeks later in a different limb. Lameness also could recur in the same limb, but involve a different bone within that limb.

Typically, palpation of the affected bone elicits a pain response from the dog. X-rays may rule out other causes of lameness or confirm the diagnosis. Increased areas of density, representing the formation of bone within the marrow cavity, may appear on diagnostic films. No relationship has been found between the severity of the lesions on x-rays and the severity of the lameness. Symptoms can begin before radiographic changes are evident, and resolve long before radiographic changes resolve.

Dogs usually respond readily to a short course of treatment with an analgesic, such as aspirin or phenylbutazone. I have used words like typically, usually, and so on, to describe panosteitis, because there are exceptions to the general rule. For example, panosteitis, or a disease which is clinically and radiographically indistinguishable from it, has been seen in dogs as old as five years.

In my experience, the later episodes of panosteitis have occurred in German Shepherds. The possibility of panosteitis as a cause of lameness in these dogs should not be overlooked when the signs don't match the classical presentation of this disease.

Dolores Holle, V.M.D. is attending veterinarian and director of canine health management at The Seeing Eye, the world's oldest dog guide school. The Seeing Eye, a philanthropy, celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. Since its founding in 1929, it has matched nearly 11,000 specially bred and trained Seeing Eye dogs with blind men and women from across the United States and Canada.