Ways to help your puppy with growing pains

Updated: Mar 8

Learn about Panosteitis and how to ease your puppy’s growth pains with controlled dog Hydrotherapy in a heated swimming pool.



What is it and why does it only affect puppies?


Commonly referred to as ‘growing pains’ Panosteitis is an inflammation of the leg bones, which ultimately causes lameness. Shifting from one location to another the pain can phase from worsening to improving over a few days lasting up to a few weeks. Panosteitis occurs during growth and so affects puppies up to 2 years of age. It is said that Panosteitis is caused by pressure created by the growth rate within bones, hence being named ‘growing pains’.


Because larger breeds have greater amounts of growing to do in such a short space of time it is more commonly found in larger breeds and strangely found to appear more often in males than females.

Cute puppy with growing pains looking sad.

Signs and symptoms

  • Lameness

  • Non-weight bearing (lifting the leg up entirely)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Lethargy

  • Fever

  • Painful to touch


Diagnosis: vets first


Although Panosteitis has been found to be of non-concern to health in later life it is a painful condition and can interrupt those all-important puppy experiences. Seeking veterinary advice will rule out any other issues that have similar signs and symptoms such as bone diseases and give you insight into how to manage Panosteitis. A touch test paired with background information is usually enough to diagnose Panosteitis, but in some cases, an X-ray may be required.

Puppy wrapped in a furry blanket after a hydrotherapy session

What does treatment look like?


Unfortunately, there is no exact cure as it generally resolves itself before the age of 2. Treatment relies heavily on pain relief through veterinary advice and the management of exercise and nutrition. Providing your puppy with a balanced puppy diet (high energy, moderate protein and calcium levels) is thought to aid prevention and manage Panosteitis, along with supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.


Playing, walking and running on hard surfaces can apply pressure on the bones and joints and so reduced exercise with low impact can help manage and prevent further inflammation. This is where hydrotherapy plays an important role in Panosteitis management.


Further treatment: extra cuddles (if you can possibly fit any more in)



How can hydrotherapy help?


As mentioned, exercise on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time can increase the pressure within their bones, but puppies need those all-important experiences and exercises throughout the day so what do you do? Swim! With hydrotherapy, the water is warmed to around 29-31 degrees which are known to reduce pain and inflammation and increase blood flow around the body aiding growth. During your puppy’s swim, their muscles will build and bones will strengthen as they push against the resistance of the water. The buoyancy provides a spa-like experience alleviating the impact and pressure on your puppy’s bones and joints giving them time to completely relax and enjoy their swim. 


A large dog receiving hydrotherapy treatment in a Dog hydrotherapy pool

For larger breeds like our puppy star Flossie (8 months old) growing can have its complications. As the bones and joints develop they have a great amount of pressure building due to their size. Usually, puppies will fully develop between 12-18 months but for our larger fluff balls, this can take a little longer, meaning exercise can be cut short for the majority of their puppy stages.

With hydrotherapy your puppy will be able to experience a new safe environment that is designed to reduce strain on their bones and joints, building confidence with swimming and strength whilst meeting new people during their important stages of growth.  




Here at Fit4dogs, we have put together a brand new Water Pups puppy water confidence program, initially to get your puppy confident in and around the water at a calm step-by-step pace, gradually building confidence until they are confident enough to swim. Then we are able to start them with some gentle swimming sessions to help with those growing pains. Drop us a message or give us a call to find out more about our Water Pups program which includes private access to our great A.C.E. puppy training videos and PDFs to help you start your puppy training right now.


We are here to help your puppies grow up as happy and healthy as can be.



If you have any concerns about Panosteitis or if your puppy is suffering from growing pains, please contact a member of the Fit4dogs team via our website www.fit4dogsuk.com or e-mail - info@fit4dogsuk.com





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