SlimDoggy Health Check: Skeletal Disorders Part 2

Share Button

Dog Skeleton Today we continue our SlimDoggy Health Check series by taking a closer look at some additional skeletal issues that may befall our pets. We already covered some of the most common, Osteoarthritis and Dysplasia in Part 1.
Let’s take a look at:

  • Luxating patella
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Panosteitis

Luxating Patella in humans is sometimes called a “trick knee”. This is when the patella, or kneecap dislocates or moves out of position. The knee joint is made up of many moving parts that all have to work in harmony. The patella floats as it does to allow movement and to keep the muscles and bones working together. If the ridges that hold the patella in place, but still allow it to move when the knee bends, are malformed or injured, a Luxating Patella may develop.
It occurs more frequently in smaller dogs, but may affect a dog of any size. You will likely see symptoms and know that something is wrong with your dog as an acute episode can be quite painful and your dog will typically yelp in pain and then hold up the offending leg. It may last only a short period of time, or they may be lame for several days. You may also notice them ‘skipping’ a step – bypassing the injured leg. It may occur intermittently with the dog being fine in between episodes. Untreated, the condition worsens over time, arthritis is likely to set in and your dog may become unable to use the limb.
Diagnosis can usually be made through palpitation by your vet and is graded in its severity. It’s important to treat as 15-20% of dogs with it eventually rupture their cranial cruciate ligament – a much more serious orthopedic condition. Treatment options for Grades 3 & 4 is usually surgery to correct the problem. Less serious Grades can be aided through diet and exercise – another important reason to keep your dogs weight down.

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD or OD) is a condition that also occurs in humans. It is caused by abnormal cartilage development and the diseased cartilage separates from the underlying bone. Cartilage is the connective tissues between bones it is softer and more flexible than bones and provides a protective layer between them. It typically occurs in larger dogs, including the German shepherd, Golden and Labrador retriever, Rottweiler, Great Dane, Bernese mountain dog, and Saint Bernard. A genetic component is suspected.
Symptoms include lameness, swelling, pain and muscle wasting. Your vet may diagnose the condition using xrays, CT scans and MRI studies. Like other joint disorders, OCD can vary in severity and treatment will be based on the injury, your dogs age and overall health. Your vet may prescribe moderate treatment including anti-inflammatory medication, a diet and exercise program if your dog is overweight. If the condition is advanced or a serious tear to the cartilage, then surgery may be required. The prognosis for recovery depends on the location of the OCD and early treatment (before arthritis sets in).
Panosteitis is a painful condition that affects the long bones of dogs. It is typically found in adolescent, larger breed dogs and may be referred to as ‘growing pains’. While it is quite painful for the dog, it typically resolves itself as they grow into adulthood. Symptoms include a sudden lameness of unknown origin that may shift from limb to limb as it may affect all limbs. It may also come and go with long periods of remittance. Your dog may also develop a fever and loss of appetite. Your vet may diagnose the condition with xrays and since the condition is self-limiting (your dog will outgrow it) treatment consists of keeping your dog comfortable with proper diet, exercise and anti-inflammatories or pain medications as needed.

Additional Reading:

Luxating Patella
Knee Problems In Your Dog Patellar Luxation
Treatment Options For Your Dog’s Luxating Patella
Osteochondritis Dissecans or OCD in Dogs
Osteochondrosis, Canine
What is panosteitis?
Bone Inflammation (Panosteitis) in Dogs

Share Button


  1. we see all these at work, ocd and pano we see mostly in young animals. Lux patella’s we see all through out the dogs life.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Gambler’s Push Up ChallengeMy Profile

  2. I know all too ‘up close and personal’ on the lux patella from my own knobby knees. Can’t imagine having my pup deal with it. Because Sam is so ‘spring-loaded’ most of the time, I try to keep a good eye on any limping or excessive licking that might indicate an injury. Knock on wood we’ve been lucky so far. Hopefully when this 9 1/2 year old ‘outgrows’ his puppyhood he won’t be quite as rambunctious about bouncing thus reducing possible injuries. Paws crossed!
    Monika recently posted…Leader of the PackMy Profile

  3. This is such an interesting topic.
    Earl Lover recently posted…Dog Cooling Mat FailMy Profile

  4. Do you have a post that shares best practices for keeping your dog’s joints safe?

    We avoided lots of jumping while Honey was growing on the advice of her breeder. We get daily exercise and she has a good diet. But is it worth restricting her running to soft surfaces, for instance? Or are there other things we should watch out for?
    Pamela recently posted…Pictures That Raise More Questions Than They AnswerMy Profile

    • Pamela, we did a post recently on foods for healthy joints ( that can give you some guidance. And then exercise of course exercise of course. Weight-bearing like running, walking are important – but absolutely do them on dirt or softer surfaces – pavement is killer on joints. We also did a series on hind leg strength – doing hills, Labby Limbos, etc. that help keep the muscles supporting the joints strong – just search for ‘hind legs’ in our search bar. Good to be thinking of that now while Honey is young.
      mkob recently posted…Exercise for IndependenceMy Profile

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I wonder if Sampson’s ACL injury had anything to do with this Patella? I also sometimes have knee pain and wonder if my Patella has a mind of its own. Food for thought.
    Jodi recently posted…Keeping Your Pets Safe on 4th of JulyMy Profile

  6. This has been such an interesting series!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…The Annoying Little Sis-FurMy Profile

  7. I give the boys joint supplements with glucosamine. What do you think about this added protection?
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Darling Collars from Darla Jane’sMy Profile

  8. Hi Y’all!

    Hmmm…that is some great information. Have to bookmark this page.

    By the way, Jack, would you like to stop by and answer Flea’s question on today’s post.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…A Few Thursday BarksMy Profile

  9. So many more reasons to keep our dogs’ waistlines visible!! Thank you for all this information on skeletal issues; let’s hope our pups will never have to deal with any lameness and/or muscle wasting.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…What to do when you see a dog left in a hot car! #hotcardeathMy Profile

  10. Thank you for covering luxating patella. So far Luke is doing well with his. We keep him very lean and have him on joint supplements, and also keep him very active. So far so good.
    Jan K recently posted…Happy Independence Day & #52Snapshots “Patriotic”My Profile

  11. Thunder had Panosteitis as a young dog (5 months to the day). He was Beagle size and just when I thought he would never grow he grew all at once and so had “growing pains”. We were actually on vacation when it started and had to find a local vet to see him. He was pretty ill and due to the shifting leg lameness, they thought it could be Lymes but he tested negative. The vet settled on pano by process of elimination. We followed up with the Orthopedic vet on staff at our vet’s and he confirmed (it will not show up on xrays until after the fact. The ortho vet confirmed by physical exam and watching gait). Thunder got pain meds but it resolved quickly thank goodness. It was bad for a time (he could not walk it was so painful).
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Independence Day 2015My Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.