Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs

What is Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy?

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy, commonly abbreviated HOD, is a bone disease known under many different names, including metaphyseal osteopathy, osteodystrophy II, skeletal scurvy, and Moller-Barlow's disease. Hypertrophic osteodystrophy can be very painful for the dog and causes severe lameness – often in more than one limb.

What is the cause of Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy?

The cause of Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is not yet known. Some experts suggest that it is caused by some form of bacterial infection, while others believe that it might be the result of vitamin C deficiency (inadequate production of vitamin C). Improper nutrition has also been linked to Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy. Dogs with Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy show a low blood level of vitamin C, but we still do not know if this is the cause of the disease or a result of the disease.

Dogs at risk of developing Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is a disease seen in young dogs that grows very fast. It is more common in large and giant dog breeds, but it can affect other dogs as well. The typical HOD patient is 3-6 months of age at the onset of the first symptoms. More males than females fall ill with Hypertrophic osteodystrophy.

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs

A dog suffering from Hypertrophic osteodystrophy will usually display symptoms of mild or moderate swelling of the growth plates in the leg bones. The condition is painful for the dog. The radius, ulna and tibia are most commonly affected. (The ulna is the long bone that goes from the wrist to the elbow, and the tibia is the long bone that goes from the hock to the knee.) In most dogs, HOD affects both legs simultaneously.

Other symptoms of Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) are lameness and reluctance to walk. An affected dog can become lethargic and lose its appetite. Some dogs develop a fever that comes and goes, sometimes rising up to 106 degrees.

In a dog suffering from Hypertrophic osteodystrophy, the symptoms of HOD can come and go. In a dog where the bony involvement is very serious, HOD can lead to permanent structural changes. Hypertrophic osteodystrophy can also be lethal for dogs. 

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy treatment for dogs

The treatment of Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is usually limited to supportive care that makes the disease more bearable for the dog. Hypertrophic osteodystrophy can cause a lot of pain and efficient painkillers suitable for dogs are recommended, such as buffered aspirin or carprofen (Rimadyl). Most vets will also prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic.

In serious cases, steroids can be necessary to alleviate the pain. The problem with steroids is however that they weaken the immune system of the dog, and this is naturally a problem since some experts believe that Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is caused by bacteria.

A dog suffering from Hypertrophic osteodystrophy will often benefit from strict rest on a bed that is both warm and comfortable. If your dog is reluctant to eat, try giving it its favourite food – preferably one that is rich in nutrients.

Some dog owners report that their dogs benefit from vitamin C, but the efficiency of vitamin C in dogs suffering from Hypertrophic osteodystrophy has not been scientifically proven.  

Skeletal and muscular disorders in dogs: (click for more info)
Canine hip dysplasia
Congenital vertebral anomalies in dogs
Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs
Elbow dysplasia in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteopathy in dogs
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome in dogs
Luxating patella in dogs
Masticatory muscle myositis in dogs
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM) and Extraocular Myositis (EOM) in dogs
Osteoarthritis in dogs
Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs
Panosteitis in dogs
Spondylosis in dogs