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Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

By: Dr. Cathy Reese

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Hypertrophic osteodystrophy, also referred to as HOD, is an orthopedic disease seen in immature large and giant breed dogs. The cause of HOD is unknown, but it may be linked to diet or an infectious disease.

Breeds most commonly affected include the Great Dane, Irish wolfhound, Saint Bernard, borzoi, boxer, Dalmatian, Irish setter, Weimaraner, German short-haired pointer, Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever, collie, greyhound, basset hound and some terriers. Signs usually develop between two and eight months of age.

What to Watch For

  • A slight limp or a severe lameness such that the animal holds the limb up
  • Swollen and painful carpus (wrist area), which may also be warm to touch
  • Fever, lethargy, depression, and lack of appetite


  • Your veterinarian will ask you many questions in order to develop a complete history of the course of the disease. These questions may include: When did the problem start? Which limb or limbs are affected? Have you treated the dog with any medication? What sort of response did the medication bring about?

  • Your veterinarian will also examine your dog completely to determine the source of the lameness and to check for a fever.

  • X-rays (radiographs) of the legs are taken to see the typical changes associated with HOD and confirm the diagnosis.


    Treatment includes the administration of pain relievers, such as deracoxib, aspirin, carprofen, or etodolac. If the dog is severely debilitated, he may require hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy and/or nutritional support.

    Home Care and Prevention

    Be aware of your pet's normal gait, appetite, and demeanor so that you can be aware of any changes. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the above signs of hypertrophic osteodystrophy.

    If you own a large or giant breed of dog, feeding a puppy food that is labeled for large- or giant-breed dogs may help prevent this and other orthopedic conditions.

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