Panosteitis, sometimes called “pano,” is an orthopedic disease causing inflammation in the long bones of the legs in young (5-18 month old) dogs. Usually large dogs are affected, but it can occur in any breed including the Australian Shepherd. Affected dogs will be lame in one or more limbs, usually in the forelegs but hind legs may also be involved. Lameness may occur first in one leg, then another. If multiple legs are affected at the same time the dog can have great difficulty moving around. Some dogs have fever or loss of appetite. This is a very painful disease that requires treatment. It can last for days or months. Fortunately, this disease is limited in nature and will ultimately go away on its own; treatment is aimed at maintaining quality of life for the dog during the illness. If untreated, the dog may lose muscle mass. In rare cases other bone diseases may develop.
Panosteitis is generally considered to be inherited. Having panosteitis should be treated as a severe fault; even though affected puppies almost always recover it is painful to the dog and a significant management issue for the owner. Do not repeat breedings that produce it. Affected dogs, if bred, and their first-step relatives (parents, offspring, and full or half siblings) should not be bred to dogs that had panosteitis or who have near relatives who were affected.