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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 younger, growth, 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 he or she might even need hospitalization in some cases because it is literally that serious of a medical condition.


In some cases, because this disease can be life threatening, the treatment for it can also be really expensive as well!  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet decided that we should include this medical condition in our list of common disease 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 effects the long bones in the legs.

Typically only found in…

Giant and large breed dogs, HOD causes the metaphysis (the end of the bone) to suffer from lack of blood flow. This means your puppy will have trouble forming new bone there and could suffer from necrosis in the joints, as well as lots of painful swelling.

This disease is categorized…

By temporary lameness in one or all four limbs, although it usually effects two bilateral limbs simultaneously. And if you really want to start getting technical about it all we should point out that its the distal radius, the ulna and the tibia that are normally 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 to do so.

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 him or her 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.

Now it’s important to…

Understand that HOD can strike giant dogs while they are still between the ages of 2 and 7 months old and it’s not just something that you’ll see in a very young puppy. This is because it is caused when the bone stretches and grows which is some dog breeds can go on for several years.


Symptoms of the disease then only present themselves once the elongated portion of the bone begins do die as a result of not receiving an adequate 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 which time, you vet may recommend that your dog stay in overnight care and may even suggest euthanasia due to just how painful this condition can be for some animals.

Breeds which suffer from this condition

Known breeds to be at risk are:

  • The Alaskan Malamute
  • The Akita
  • The Boxer
  • The Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • The Dalmatian
  • The German Shepherd Dog
  • The Golden Retriever
  • The Great Dane
  • The Irish Setter
  • The Irish Wolfhound
  • The Labrador Retriever
  • The Newfoundland
  • The Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer
  • The Wiemaraner

And large dog breeds can be at risk from this condition. It is best to ask your breeder specifically about family history when you buy your pup to ensure that HOD is not in its genetic make-up.

Treatment options

If your vet finds traces of HOD in the initial X-ray, they are likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to temper the condition, as well as several pain medications which can become expensive.


Your vet will likely start with a milder form of pain medication and may need to increase it all the way up to opiate strength – so be warned that it might get expensive.

As mentioned before…

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

The one silver lining…

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

Now since…

This disease vanishes on its own your vet will concentrate all of their efforts on making your pet comfortable. It is simply a matter of hoping for the storm to pass and simply weathering it out.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be 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 for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right 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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