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Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs… Symptoms, expectations and cost!

Typically, those of the large and giant breed varieties. This difficult-to-pronounce disease refers to abnormal growth of the bone in the earlier development stages of a big pup’s life. The problem is that it’s a painful disease; it can cause your dog to suffer from a fever, and they might even need hospitalization in some cases because it is that serious of a medical condition.


In some cases, because this disease can be life-threatening, its treatment can also be costly! This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet decided that we should include this medical condition in our list of common diseases found in dogs so that we could not only shed some light on what hypertrophic osteodystrophy is but also help prepare those who have a dog that has been diagnosed with this condition on what to expect.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy Defined

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) is believed to be a genetic condition that strikes when your dog is still growing. Think of it as extreme growing pains. Sometimes called Metaphyseal Osteopathy, this condition affects the long bones in the legs.

Typically only found in…

In giant and large breed dogs, HOD causes the metaphysis (the end of the bone) to suffer from a lack of blood flow. This means your puppy will have trouble forming new bone there and could suffer from necrosis in the joints and lots of painful swelling. This disease is categorized by temporary lameness in one or all four limbs, although it usually affects two bilateral limbs simultaneously. And if you want to start getting technical about it all, we should point out that the distal radius, the ulna, and the tibia are usually affected areas, which will become painful to the touch and swollen. Fortunately…

This is a self-limiting bone disease, so your pup will recover, provided you give him everything he needs. Now, if your dog is displaying any clinical signs such as:

  • Tenderness in the bones and joints,
  • Fever,
  • Tiredness and lack of appetite.

Then, you’ll probably want to take them to the vet.

The problem is…

These “symptoms” aren’t automatically indicative of suffering from hypertrophic osteodystrophy, which is why your vet will likely try to rule out other causes for these symptoms before ultimately deciding to take an X-ray of the bone plate on your dog. Dogs suffering from hypertrophic osteodystrophy will have bones that appear darker towards the metaphysis portions of the affected bones than that of “normal” dog bone X-rays.

It’s important to understand that HOD can strike giant dogs between the ages of 2 and 7 months old, and it’s not just something you’ll see in a very young puppy. This is because it is caused when the bone stretches and grows, which in some dog breeds can go on for several years. Plus, symptoms of the disease only present themselves once the elongated portion of the bone begins to die due to insufficient blood supply.


The troubling effects will go away on their own over time, but it may take weeks to do so – and for all that time, your beloved pooch is in agony. During this time, your vet may recommend that your dog stay in overnight care and may even suggest euthanasia due to how painful this condition can be for some animals.

Commonly Affected Breeds

Known breeds to be at risk are:

Large dog breeds can be at risk from this condition. It is best to ask your breeder about family history when you buy your pup to ensure that HOD is not in its genetic makeup.

Treatment options

Suppose your vet finds traces of HOD in the initial X-ray. In that case, they are likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to temper the condition and several pain medications, which can become expensive. Generally, your vet will likely start with a milder pain medication and may need to increase it up to opiate strength – so be warned that it might get expensive.

As mentioned before…

Your pet may need to be hospitalized and an IV drip inserted. In the worst circumstances, your vet may suggest that the dog be put peacefully to sleep. However, these cases are usually only limited to those who cannot afford the cost of care or when all pain-relieving methods simply aren’t working!

The one silver lining…

This condition is that it is a self-limiting disease. It will pass within a few weeks, and your pup will be as good as new. That said, however, you should beware that Vitamin C deficiency is a characteristic of this disease, but supplementing the diet with Vitamin C is not helpful since there is too much calcium in the blood.

Now, since this disease vanishes independently, your vet will concentrate on making your pet comfortable. It is simply a matter of hoping for the storm to pass and weathering it out. This brings us to where we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have hypertrophic osteodystrophy (or any other health issue), the first thing you’ll want to do is have them checked out by a vet ASAP! An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs! This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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