German Shepherd Dog Growing Pains – Understanding and treating Panosteitis

Dog owner question

"Hi, I have a lovable German Shepherd Dog who sometimes limps and is in pain, but has no visible injuries. What is this and what can I do?"

Veterinary answer

Hi! What you describe is very similar to panosteitis, which is common in fast-growing, large-bodied dog breeds such as the German Shepherd.


Panosteitis, sometimes called growing pains, is a temporary condition involving inflammation of the inner tissue of the long bones (the medullary canal). It most commonly occurs between 5-18 months of age and can occur in either leg, often alternating between legs.

Panosteitis is generally characterised by sudden onset of lameness of variable intensity. It often comes and goes suddenly and sometimes for seemingly no reason.

The exact cause of panosteitis is not known, but genetic, nutritional and immune factors are suspected.

The disease is usually diagnosed by X-rays, which show typical changes in the bones that indicate inflammation.

Although panosteitis can be painful in dogs, it usually resolves completely once the dog stops growing!

Treatment is aimed at relieving pain and inflammation, often achieved with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your vet will also probably recommend limiting your dog's exercise to prevent panosteitis worsening, especially if your dog is in pain.

It is important to note that the symptoms of panosteitis can be similar to other more serious problems such as hip dysplasia or bone tumours, so it is important to consult your vet for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment!

At the same time, I can assure you that panosteitis, although it can be frightening for owners, almost never causes permanent damage and dogs can lead completely normal lives once the condition has passed.

I hope this has helped to clarify the situation a little. We are always here if you have any further questions!

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