Updated: 2021, Jun 7

How Bone Diseases are Affecting Growing Dogs and Puppies?

A lot of people like to be a dog owner, but most of them do not know what kind of responsibility that actually is. You should be educated on what kind of issues or diseases could your dog possibly suffer from, and do everything to prevent that. As in humans, the dog can be a victim both of heart and kidney problems, but of bone issues as well. Bone diseases could develop at any age, though most people think that dogs suffer from conditions such as arthritis and osteoarthritis, in later stages of life. On contrary, puppies, as well as growing dogs in general, can have joint or muscles problems, which could later develop into more serious conditions. So, taking this into consideration, if you are an owner of a dog that is still growing, you would want to know what can occur and how to prevent it.

How Bone Diseases are Affecting Growing Dogs and Puppies?

Which Diseases can affect Growing Dogs?

If you notice that your dog is limping quite often, and decreased the range of motion, your dog might suffer from some kind of bone disease. As soon as you suspect that something is not right, you should take your dog to a veterinarian, so he can conduct X-Ray testing, and detect what might be a problem. There are few possible conditions that a puppy or a growing dog could develop:

  • OCD is a condition in which there is a flaw on cartilage surface, mostly affecting shoulder, but hip, knee and elbow as well. It often goes along with constant pain and limping. As a part of the treatment, medications are prescribed in order to reduce inflammation.
  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy might be the most common in growing dogs and puppies and it represents inflammation in growth plates of long bones. The symptoms that go along are appetite loss, swelling, and mild fever. Though this one usually does not leave any permanent effects, as it is directly caused by growing, in rare cases it can leave a dog with deformed legs.
  • Elbow dysplasia is a condition that is usually caused by abnormal growth that occurs in elbow area.
  • Hip dysplasia can develop if hip joint is not formed correctly. This one is basically caused by the unequal growth of socket and ball, and as one is bigger than the other it cannot fit. Symptoms that go along are mostly lameness in the hip area and constant pain. This disease is most common in large breed growing dogs, and can actually be caused by genetics, so it is important that dogs with hip dysplasia are not used for breeding.

If veterinarian detects that your dog suffers from some bone disease, he will prescribe medications and probably a therapy in order to treat it. Only benefit here is that, as dogs are still growing and bones are not yet completely formed, it is easier to heal and return back to normal shape.

Bone Disease

How to Treat Bone Disease?

As already mentioned, growing dogs and puppies are in threat of developing a bone disease, either caused by genetics or as a following to some more serious issue. If your dog is diagnosed with one, after veterinarian visitation, there are things that you should be doing in order to treat it:

  • Talking about OCD treatment there are 2 basic ways: non-surgical and surgical. As of non-surgical, it includes weight control as well as moderate exercise, along with medication, often non-steroidal that has been prescribed. If this method does not work, after 2 months surgical one is often considered. It is a microsurgical procedure of removing cartilage that has been affected. Till now, there is no a united conclusion on which method is more effective in the long term. It is important to say that even if the disease has been treated, the affected dog could later develop osteoarthritis.
  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy as already mentioned is one of most common bone disorders in young and growing dogs. Balanced diet is a big part of HOD treatment, including both reduced calorie intake and some supplements that contain essential nutrients, especially Vitamin C. Corticosteroids are often prescribed as well, and as off prognosis, some dogs leave with no permanent consequences, while the ones that do not respond to therapy, might be left with deformed legs.
  • If your dog suffers from elbow dysplasia, surgical treatment is currently a most common way of resolving it. The best result could be if that surgery is conducted in the early phases of the disease, where osteoarthritis has not yet developed. There are also non-surgical ways, like taking non-inflammatory drugs, weight and calorie reducing as well as low impact exercise, but it has not been proven that non-surgical treatment is in any way more effective. One more way is to select supplements to keep dog joints healthy.
  • As of hip dysplasia, few factors are taken in consideration when treatment is prescribed. First, some dogs could live with this condition, though limiting the motion range. Other than that, non-surgical treatment could be conducted on those to limit consequences including non-inflammatory drugs and weight control. Surgical treatment is recommended when disease keeps on progressing and there is a possibility that it might affect other joints as well. In this case, surgical intervention is usually performed on leg joint, to release tension from the hip one.
Hip Dysplasia

How to Prevent Bone Disease?

If your dog is not yet diagnosed with any type of bone defection, then good. There are few things you might want to do in order to maintain that, especially if you are an owner of a puppy or a growing dog:

  • Cut down on carbohydrates as the excess of those could cause rapid growth and weight problems. Choose proper diet for dogs.
  • Do not expose your dog to heavier exercise until growth plates are formed, and avoid any type of limb injury.
  • Do not let your dog sit on the hard concrete surface, and try to cover slick floors as well, as falling or slipping can be a great factor in bone disease development.
  • Also though some might not expect this, to not over-vaccinate your puppy, as it has been proven that some of the vaccine components could affect bones.

See also: Keep Your Dog Strong and Healthy with Hydrotherapy


Having a dog is a beautiful thing, and often a part that is most interesting is training your dog and spending time with it while it is a puppy. Though this period of life also carries certain threats, that are indicated as possible disease development. Bones and joints could be most affected, as during this phase those are developed, meaning that few defections could happen, and if your dog is diagnosed with one, you should follow the treatment procedures, so that your dog heals from it, with as many consequences as possible. If your dog does not suffer from any of previously mentioned conditions, that is really good and you might want to do everything to prevent it in future as well and secure a pleasant friendship that you have with your dog.



Sam Kramer is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Six Sigma Green Belt Certified, and Certified Sports Nutritionis

View All