Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

1 December 2016 | Dog Advice

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in Growing Dogs

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy is a bone disease of the front limbs which affect young, fast growing, large breed of dogs. These young dogs normally start suffering from a noninfectious painful swelling of the growth plates in the leg bones, it actually affects males more commonly than females. In this case the most severely affected bones of this disease are those that grow most rapidly. You would generally have swelling around the metaphyses, and bone deposition, which causes widening of the metaphysis.

The affected puppies could also develop signs of diarrhea and pneumonia at the same time. While the cause of Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy is currently unknown, it is however suspected to be a hyper-reactive response to vaccination.


  • They may show lameness and a reluctance to move
  • Dehydration
  • Warm, swollen metaphysis
  • Fever may come and go, going up as high as 106 degrees
  • Diarrhea
  • They may be lethargic and refuse to eat
  • Weight loss
  • Possible pneumonia


Unfortunately, there is currently is no definitive explanation of the cause of this disease. Please see possible suggestions below:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Disease is vitamin C
  • Excess of protein and calories in the dogs diet


Diagnosis is generally performed by looking at the history, symptoms, thorough physical exam showing pain and swelling at the growth plates, and by having radiography imaging of the legs which is crucial for this type of diagnosis.

Available Treatment

Unfortunately there is no known cure for this disease, but majority of dogs should recover on their own after one or two incidents. Please also keep in mind that this disease can last for up to weeks, and puppies may be left with permanently bowed legs.

Please note that dogs which cannot move or stand should be hospitalised with bed rest, nursing staff will make sure to turn them often to give them better comfort. If the puppy gets dehydrated, fluid therapy will be provided. A simple feeding tube can be inserted if your dog is unable to eat themselves. Your veterinarian will most probably provide the puppy with anti-inflammatory treatment to relieve the puppy from any pain symptoms.

Management and Living

If the puppy allows you, he/she should be walked on a leash when suffering episodes. Any other physical activity, such as running and jumping around, should not be allowed. The suffering puppy should be rested in a small confined, padded and relaxing area when not walked. Their diets can remain the same but supplements such as Vitamin C should be avoided. If they start showing any  signs of spitting up blood, weight loss, bloody diarrhea or any other alarming change please make sure to call the vet immediately to seek advice on managing the situation.

Breeds at risk of Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy


Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

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