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Panosteitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize panosteitis and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. Many times the diagnosis is presumptive and response to treatment is the only way that the presence of the disease is actually "confirmed." Tests or procedures that your veterinarian may wish to perform include:

  • Orthopedic examination After taking a detailed history concerning the lameness problem, your veterinarian will usually ask to see your dog walk and trot before beginning a thorough palpation of the affected limb(s). Panosteitis will usually produce pain on deep palpation of the bone (usually the mid-portion of a long bone). The forelimbs are more commonly involved than are the rear limbs. Observing pain on deep palpation of the bone will make your veterinarian consider this disease as being more likely than osteochondrosis (OC) or osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) (both of which usually produce joint pain) or hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) (which usually produces pain at the growing ends of the bone).

  • Radiographs (X-rays) Radiographs are usually taken of the affected area to help confirm the diagnosis of panosteitis and exclude other problems, such as a bone cyst. Radiographic changes with panosteitis are often extremely subtle or even absent. It is not uncommon for the X-rays to show the "classic" changes seven to ten days after the problem first starts, by which time your pet may be pained in a different bone or lame in a different limb altogether.

  • Repeat radiographs Your veterinarian may wish to take radiographs of the affected area seven to ten days after the initial examination to confirm the diagnosis. Radiographic evidence of panosteitis may be present at this time, even if the initial radiographs appeared normal.

  • Nuclear scanning or nuclear scintigraphy These tests may be performed, but are rarely required to diagnose panosteitis.

  • Blood work There are no consistent blood work abnormalities in affected dogs.

    Treatment In-depth

    Treatment for panosteitis may include the following:

  • Rest, supportive care and painkillers are usually the mainstay of treatment for panosteitis. The most commonly recommended medication is aspirin, preferably buffered or Maalox-coated (ascriptin). These drugs help to lessen the pain of bone inflammation and can be given with food.

  • Warning You should be aware of the possible side effects of aspirin, particularly gastrointestinal upset associated with vomiting, diarrhea, bloody or dark colored stool, inappetence (avoiding food), or just not feeling right. Consult your veterinarian and stop the medication immediately if any of these signs occur.

  • Other anti-inflammatory medications, such as Rimadyl® or Etogesic®, may be recommended by your veterinarian. Do not give a painkiller without first consulting your veterinarian.

  • Steroids should probably be avoided in young dogs.

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