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Irish Wolfhound puppies and indeed puppies of any breed can be quite a handful, racing around the house and garden without any concern for their own wellbeing and Irish Wolfhound puppies are no exception. There will be numerous occasions over your puppy’s growing months (up to 12 months of age at least) where they initially appear to have hurt themselves, only to carry on running around like a lunatic a few seconds later. As already mentioned on the ‘Big Do’s and Dont’s Sheet’ (see http://www.bonaforte.com/irish-wolfhound-dos-and-dont/) Irish Wolfhound puppies need to be supervised and restricted in their activities and their diet to avoid strains, injuries or unpleasant medical conditions, but occasionally they will still develop physical problems.

The most common issue with puppies that owners worry about is lameness or the puppy limping on one or sometimes more than one leg. Often this is nothing more than the puppy having ‘overdone’ things, but any persisting lameness (puppy being lame for a day or more) needs to be dealt with. A lame puppy should be immediately rested (crated if necessary) and then taken to a vet for examination. When resting the puppy they must not be allowed to exert themselves, play with other dogs or be left outside unsupervised, ideally take the puppy outside on a lead for pee’s and poo’s. Lameness can be a symptom of several conditions, some of which are very serious and require urgent intervention, so NEVER delay in getting to the vets as soon as possible, especially if the puppy appears to be very unwell and/or in pain. Speaking to the puppy’s breeder or other owners is fine for general support and advice, but it is NOT a substitute for veterinary treatment!

If puppy is diagnosed as having panosteitis (more commonly shortened to ‘pano’ or some refer to them as growing pains). This is usually diagnosed without x-rays, but on some occasions x-rays and even MRI scans may be carried out to rule out other conditions (be aware that pano does not always show up on x-rays). Pano is not unusual in the Irish Wolfhound or any large breed and giant breed youngsters, Wikipedia has the following definition:

Panosteitis is an occasionally seen long bone disease in large breed dogs. The most commonly affected bones are the radius, ulna, humerus, femur, and tibia, though the foot and pelvic bones may also be involved. It manifests with sudden, otherwise unexplained pain and lameness sometimes shifting from leg to leg, usually between 5 and 14 months of age. Signs such as fever and weight loss, and symptoms such as anorexia, and lethargy can also be seen. The cause is unknown, but genetics, stress, infection, metabolism, or an autoimmune component may be factors. It has also been suggested that rapid growth and high-protein food are involved in the pathogenesis.

If pano is the diagnosis, don’t worry, as it is a self limiting condition, which means it will go away on its own in time, often without any further veterinary intervention, and the least threatening of the developmental orthopedic diseases. In some cases the vet may prescribe medication to make the dog more comfortable, such as NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and will almost certainly advise that the puppy be rested until the symptoms subside.

There is no known way to avoid the possibility of pano occurring, but certainly the risks can be reduced by following the advice on diet and exercise already given. Often it is caused by feeding too many calories than needed, or eating a poorly balanced diet. The condition can be stopped quicker by slowing the growth rate with an appropriate quality food in measured amounts.

The problem with pano symptoms and the reason we stress that the puppy must be seen by a vet, is that the same set of symptoms could also be caused by other conditions, including HOD/MO (hypertrophic osteodystrophy, also known as metaphyseal osteopathy), discospondylitis and osteomyelitis. If your puppy displays strong signs of being tired and limp, won’t eat or drink, has a temperature and is limping then any one of these conditions, plus a whole host of others, could be responsible and you must use your common sense and make a decision to seek treatment.

Please remember that pano is fairly common, will go away on its own and generally does not cause any long term problems for your dog. Just being aware that panosteitis exists and the importance of a correct diet can help.