Very often puppies tend to suffer from growing pains, but it can affect any dog up until they are around 18 months old with larger breeds being more susceptible. Symptoms include lameness and limping with dogs looking uncomfortable on their feet often moving from leg to leg in an attempt to ease the pain.
Over time these growing pains usually resolves themselves, but in some dogs it can last much longer causing them a lot of discomfort making their lives miserable. There are several conditions that can result in a puppy or young dog suffering from this type of pain which typically flares up when they are around 4 months old and although uncomfortable our little canine friends seem to cope with things without too much in the way of veterinary intervention.
However, if you are at all concerned that something else might be going on, you should ask the vet to carry out a thorough examination in order to rule out any disorders that may be causing your dog's lameness and discomfort. There are quite a few conditions that could be responsible which includes Lyme's disease and although this typically affects their joints rather than their bones, unless a correct diagnosis is made, it would be hard to know the difference because the pain and lameness presents itself in much the same way.
The vet would examine your puppy, take a few blood samples and carry out x-rays in order to establish whether they are suffering from growing pains or some other infectious disease that affects their joints before recommending a treatment to make your pup's life more comfortable.
Apart from a condition called panosteitis, puppies can also suffer from hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) which is another condition that results in them developing “growing pains” and again it can make a dog’s life very uncomfortable. Other joint issues, where calcification becomes a problem and which affects larger breeds is a condition known as osteochondrosis (OCD). Young dogs in particular go lame and have to cope with quite a bit of pain.
With OCD, if the condition is in its latter stages a vet might recommend surgery, but in the majority of cases these “growing pains” can be effectively treated and managed with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines paired to a certain amount of rest. Sometimes a vet might also prescribe some form of pain relief to make a dog's life more comfortable until the growing pains subside.
Some owners like to give their dogs certain supplements which are thought to make their lives more comfortable when they are experiencing any form of growing pain. This includes supplementing their food with antioxidants and certain fatty acids. If you are in doubt, you should discuss things with your vet who would be able to recommend the best supplements to get your pet through a difficult and uncomfortable time.
As previously mentioned most puppies and young dogs get over their “growing pains” when they reach sexual maturity. However, some dogs suffer so badly that a vet might recommend putting them to sleep because their condition is so unbearably painful. Luckily, this is very rarely the case with most dogs getting over things in due course with the help of specific supplements and veterinary prescribed medication.
It is not known why some dogs suffer from growing pains whether they are caused by panosteitis, HOD or OCD more than others, and although all dogs could suffer from these pains, larger breeds tend to be the most affected. With this said, vets and nutritionists recommend puppies be fed a good well-balanced diet that suits their age and that overfeeding a dog could contribute to them developing growing pains as could over supplementing their diet with unnecessary things.
There are certain supplements which are thought to help dogs get through this stage of their lives which includes the following:
If you have any concerns and think your puppy or dog is more pain than they can handle, you should take them along to see the vet as soon as possible to rule out any other underlying causes for their discomfort. Once the vet has been able to make a diagnosis, they would then be in a better position to recommend a treatment should they feel this is necessary and they would certainly offer advice on the best supplements to feed your dog as well as prescribe some pain relief medication to make them more comfortable.