Note: We do not currently have a health liaison for this disorder. If you would like to volunteer, please contact and we will be happy to answer any of your questions. For a description of the position, please click on disorder health information liaison or health information reviewer.

Thank you to Darlu Littledeer for putting together this article for SCARF.

Panosteitis literally means “inflammation of all bones”. It is a disease of the fatty bone marrow which causes secondary changes to the long bones. Affected dogs exhibit intermittent lameness in one or more legs, either simultaneously or sequentially. Lameness in one leg may last for days to weeks, then another leg may be affected. This cycle of lameness typically lasts three months. There can be multiple cycles, with months in between. The disease generally disappears by the time the dog is two years old.

Canine panosteitis occurs spontaneously in young, large breed dogs, especially German Shepherds. It has also been reported in the Bassett Hound, Scottish Terrier, Great Dane, St. Bernard, Doberman Pinscher, German Shorthaired Pointer, Irish Setter, Airedale, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Samoyed, and Miniature Schnauzer.

The disease has also been called juvenile osteomyelitis, enostosis, and eosinophilic panosteitis.

Signs and Symptoms

The main sign of canine panosteitis is sudden lameness in one or more legs in a young dog, with no history of trauma. The average age of onset is 5 - 12 months, although it has been reported in dogs as young as two months and as old as five years. It is more common for males to be affected than females, and in females, the panosteitis often occurs with the first estrus.

The lameness is caused by pain, which can range from slight to severe, with lameness also being minimal to severe. Affected dogs may also be depressed and lose their appetite.


The exact cause of panosteitis is unknown. Genetics seems to be a factor, especially in German Shepherds where the disease is especially prevalent. Other suggested causes include diet, stress, infection, and metabolic or autoimmune problems. High calcium, high protein, and/or high calorie diets have been suggested as a cause, but there does not appear to be general agreement on this.

Risk Factors

Panosteitis in related dogs (genetics) and diet may be risk factors.

Diagnostic Tests

Panosteitis can be a difficult disease to diagnose. The lameness can shift from limb to limb. X-rays can show changes in the middle of the long bones, but the x-rays can be difficult to interpret if taken at early or late stages of the disease. There is typically pain when the shaft of the affected bones is pressed firmly.

Treatment Guidelines

Note: Treatment of animals should only be performed by a licensed veterinarian. Veterinarians should consult the current literature and current pharmacological formularies before initiating any treatment protocol.

Conventional Treatments: Pain killers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to relieve the pain. If these are not effective, corticosteroids are sometimes used.

Alternative/holistic: Some suggest using fish or salmon oil, borage oil, and bromelian as anti-inflammatory agents.


Panosteitis will eventually go away, with or without treatment. Therefore the aim is to keep the dog comfortable.

The Suggested Links (below) have additional advice on diet and other management tips.


  1. Timothy M. Lenehan, David C. VanSickle, and Darryl N. Biery. Chapter 49, Canine Panosteitis, in Textbook of Small Animal Orthopaedics. University of Pennsylvania. four bonesrating
  2. Panosteitis, in The Merck Veterinary Manual, Developmental Osteopathies in Small Animals. four bonesrating
  3. Panosteitis, in Provet Pet Health Information 2 bones

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Support Groups

There is no specific email support groups for this disorder. However, there is an orthodog group on yahoo which offers support for panosteitis. 2bones 2bones

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