Young puppies are expected to be full of life and energy. They are enthusiastic about playtime, walks and exercise. Puppies will often follow you wherever you go, can disrupt your nap or quiet time in their excitement to show you something new, and be always ready for playtime and fun. When puppies and young dogs are lethargic and demonstrate pain and lameness in their legs, a visit must be made to your veterinarian promptly.
“A puppy that becomes acutely down and out with no specific signs causes extra concern because our expectation is that they are young, vibrant animals. There are two diseases that are only seen in puppies and young dogs that cause pain and lameness in multiple limbs and lethargy. They often have a fever and decreased appetite,” advises veterinarian Christie Long.
Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) usually affects puppies between 2 and 8 months old. It is a developmental disease of the bone that occurs when blood supply to the bone’s growth plates is disturbed. This disturbance can impede production of bone, cause weakening and microscopic fractures.
Panosteitis is another condition that could be present in puppies and young does, suggests Dr. Long. It typically occurs in large and medium-breed dogs that are younger than two. “Hypertrophic osteodystropy produces similar signs in even younger dogs, but the pain is localized in the region at the end of those bones and the joint itself. These animals often have joints that are very warm to the touch and swollen,” she indicates. Dr. Long further shares that both diseases have been extensively studied. Doctors are still looking for a specific cause and suspect that not feeding foods formulated specifically for large-breed dogs can be a contributing factor in patients with HOD.
Household breeds commonly affected by hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) include: Saint Bernards, Doberman pinschers, German shepards, Weimaraners, Great Danes and Irish wolfhounds. Hazel Gregory’s Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy or a Blood Infection shares her experiences with the challenges of identifying HOD while eliminating blood infection in her Great Danes.
Pain and lethargy in your young dog or puppy should be taken seriously and treated promptly by a veterinarian. Dehydration and serious complications can occur if treatment is delayed. Be sure to visit your family veterinarian speedily. During the visit with your family veterinarian, you’ll be asked questions about your pet’s current habits. Your vet will ask about appetite and eating habits. Other questions will include weight loss, fatigue, or lack of energy that you’ve noticed in your puppy. Your vet will examine your puppy or young dog for fever, swelling and check for pain in the legs. The doctor will determine if the discomfort or pain is severe and will pinpoint the location of pain in your dog’s bones. During your visit, your veterinarian will talk with you about treatment recommendations for your puppy or young dog.