Panosteitis is a canine disease about which very little is known. It seems to occur almost at random (although German Shepherds as a breed tend to produce the most cases) and has a tendency to vanish and return with seemingly little provocation. The disease manifests as a sudden lameness in one leg without any preceding trauma, strain, or any of the problems usually associated with lameness. Typically, it will appear first in one of the front legs and then without warning shift to another leg (leaving the initial area) with no predictable pattern.
Because of the mysterious nature of the disease, it often either goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed. However, recent studies have shown that X-Rays will almost invariably reveal a greater than usual bone density in animals that carry the disease. Why this problem formulates is still anyone's guess, but at the very least, it does serve as a useful diagnostic tool. Another symptom besides the dog's obvious behavior that indicates tenderness in the affected leg is the response of pain when light pressure is applied to the long bones in the leg. If fractures have been ruled out and this kind of pain still exists over a long period of time (such as two to three weeks), then the most likely culprit is panosteitis.
Panosteitis usually appears in dogs that are between 5 and 14 months old, with a tendency to occur more often in male dogs. Once the disease manifests, the pain will remain present for a period of around one to two months, but it may continue its bizarre pattern of coming and going at "whim" for up to an entire year. Usually treatment is confined to pain management, but there is some speculation that diets that are low in both calcium and protein might help to counteract the increased bone density and thus relieve the disease. The problem with this, experts warn, is that such a diet will usually lead to the need for a puppy to eat more than he or she usually would to attain the same level of energy from a more balanced diet. This could ultimately result in obesity or heart problems which are considered to be much more serious conditions than panosteitis, painful as it may be.
Thankfully, panosteitits is a "self-limiting" disease, which means that it will eventually go away just as suddenly as it appeared, and no currently known treatments seem to have a significant effect on how quickly it does go away. As such, if your dog does fall prey to the disease, you should focus your efforts around managing his or her pain and ensure that he or she still gets the required daily amount of exercise rather than worrying about a more long-term solution.