Is My Puppy Having Growing Pains?

September 21st, 2015 by Daniel Mudrick

Can dogs have growing pains? What does that mean, exactly? What can I do to help my puppy with the pain?

These are common questions for new puppy owners, who are dismayed by symptoms of “growing pains” in their beloved pooch.

We’re here to answer your questions!

Which Dogs Have Growing Pains? When?

Medium, large, and giant breeds are the dogs that most commonly experience growing pains as puppies. Although most of the pain happens in the first year of life, some dogs can even experience pain for up to two years, as their bodies finish growing into adulthood.

Some breeds that are particularly susceptible to growing pains are Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Basset Hounds, and German Shepherds. Of course, other dogs (even smaller breeds) can also have them.

What Exactly Are “Growing Pains”?

You should understand that growing pains are not a specific medical condition and do not constitute a diagnosis. Instead, they’re a symptom.

Puppy Growing PainsMost of the time, “growing pains” is actually a condition called “panosteitis”. This is a bone condition your puppy will likely outgrow in adulthood. Unfortunately, panosteitis is not particularly well understood. Experts think it could be linked to hereditary factors, allergies, infection, immune system, parasites, or hormones.

If your puppy has panosteitis, they may be in large amounts of pain. You’ll probably see them limping, sometimes to the point of disability. Your puppy might shift which leg is limping over time, as different legs become affected.

Obviously, if your pup is experiencing so much pain in their legs, they might not be enthusiastic to go on walks, run around, or play.

You should see your vet to have the growing pains diagnosed, and to make sure they aren’t indicative of a more serious condition. Remember – the earlier your vet catches the problem, the better chances of curing it or treating it.

Treating Growing Pains (Panosteitis)

While there’s no cure for growing pains (your dog simply has to outgrow them), you can treat the pain to make your pup’s life easier. Since the pain is so severe, pain management treatments can help your dog return to more normal activities of living while the condition lasts.

First, your vet needs to diagnose the pain to confirm that your puppy has panosteitis and not another condition. They’ll do this with an x-ray.

Once panosteitis is diagnosed, your vet will give you at-home recommendations and suggest treatment options. At home, you should let your puppy rest and restrict any strenuous activity. Give them supportive care.

In terms of medication and treatment, your vet will determine the best course of action based on your specific dog and their condition. Most dogs will need a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killer prescribed by the veterinarian – NEVER give your dog drugs that haven’t been okayed by a vet. Doing so can be fatal.

In some more serious cases, your vet may prescribe a stronger pain medication and/or in-patient care at the veterinary hospital

Most puppies get through growing pains without any lasting or permanent disability – so don’t worry about whether your furry friend will be able to run and play in the future!

If your puppy or young dog is experiencing growing pains, please book an appointment with us right away!

Check out our resources for puppy owners: Puppy Wellness and What New Dog Parents Need.

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About Daniel Mudrick

I'm the owner and founder of Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Clarkson Village Animal Hospital has always been a dream of mine, and by caring for one patient at a time, the hospital has continued to grow. During those rare times when I'm not at the hospital, I'm at yoga, hiking, gardening, and spending time with my family. I also enjoy reading to stay current on the most recent advances in veterinary medicine.

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