Hypertrophic Osteopathy in Dogs: A Closer Look

by | Jul 30, 2021 | Uncategorized

Some diseases in dogs can cause other complications. This can be said with hypertrophic osteopathy, an abnormal bone growth that occurs along your dog’s limbs. 

Early detection of the disease and its underlying cause is crucial to treatment. Read our blog to find out if your furry companion is suffering from hypertrophic osteopathy in dogs.

What is Hypertrophic Osteopathy?

Hypertrophic osteopathy describes the abnormal growth of soft tissue that lines the outside of the bones in the limbs. The bone formation spreads rapidly, beginning with the paws and gradually makes its way to the leg bones. This disease can affect all four limbs.

The abnormal bone growth primarily stems from an underlying health condition that could put your dog’s life at risk. Depending on the root cause, it could be pulmonary, thoracic, or infectious.

But where do these bone formations come from, you may ask? Even though the cause of the condition is still unknown, it usually starts due to a disruption of the nerve signals that interferes with the blood supply to the covering of the bones (also known as periosteum). When this happens, it can trigger the growth of a new bone. If undetected or untreated for a long time, it can threaten your dog’s life and well-being.

Hypertrophic osteopathy affects dogs of all sizes and breeds. However, it is common among older dogs over eight years old. It also usually targets larger dog breeds such as Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers, and Dobermans.

Causes of Hypertrophic Osteopathy in Dogs

As mentioned earlier, hypertrophic osteopathy in dogs can arise due to an underlying medical condition. Depending on the severity of the disease, it could be benign but other serious conditions could threaten your dog’s life.

The most common root cause is a lung tumor. Other factors that could contribute to the disease include primary amputation of osteosarcoma or the removal of bone tumor. Other possible causes of hypertrophic osteopathy in dogs include:

  • Diseases in the chest
  • Conditions in the abdominal cavity
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Bone tumors that spread to the lungs
  • Chronic infections (can be bacterial, parasitic, or viral)

Signs & Symptoms of Hypertrophic Osteopathy

Spotting the signs early can help your dog receive the care it needs. So keep an eye out for the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to move
  • Swelling in the paws or limbs
  • Pain when palpated or moved
  • Lameness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Coughing
  • Blood in urine

Not all symptoms can be spotted right from the get-go, however. But as a dog owner, you should pay attention to body language and take action when your dog needs help. When that happens, seek help from your vet immediately.

Treatment for Hypertrophic Osteopathy in Dogs

Like any other dog disease, hypertrophic osteopathy needs to be detected early to be treated properly. After all, when the condition is diagnosed at its initial stage, it can give your dog a better chance at recovering quickly.

Since hypertrophic osteopathy is a secondary condition that arises from an underlying illness, the treatment should target the root cause. Your vet will determine the underlying disease then create the right treatment plan.

Hypertrophic osteopathy is a treatable condition and various treatment options are available. These include:


If the underlying cause is a tumor, your vet may recommend surgery to remove the masses that trigger the abnormal bone growth. So for example, if the underlying cause is primary lung cancer, the masses in the lungs need to be removed. Early detection increases the likelihood of your dog’s recovery through surgery.


In some cases, your vet can also perform a vagotomy on your dog’s nerves. The affected nerve is associated with the bone changes caused by hypertrophic osteopathy. During this procedure, your vet will cut the vagus nerve found inside the stomach. 


Aside from surgical procedures, your vet can also provide medication, depending on the type of hypertrophic osteopathy. If the infection is bacterial, fungal, or parasitic, your pet will be prescribed antibacterial or antifungal medicine. 

To help soothe your dog’s pain, your vet may also recommend analgesics or painkillers. Make sure to follow the prescription of your vet to ensure a speedy recovery.

Things You Can Do To Help Your Canine Friend

In some cases, hypertrophic osteopathy could make a comeback even after going through treatment. By closely observing your pet and taking them to the vet immediately once you notice anything suspicious, you can prevent the condition from returning.

Even the smallest changes or improvements could influence your dog’s recovery, so make sure you keep your vet in the loop during check-ups. 

It also pays to keep your home safe and quiet to create an environment conducive for recovery. Plenty of rest is essential to dogs in recovery. It also helps to keep your dog properly hydrated so it can avoid dehydration and other conditions that could compromise its health. 

Keeping Your Dog Healthy to Avoid Disease

To help your dog fully recover from hypertrophic osteopathy, it needs your help. By informing yourself about the causes, signs, and treatment, you can address the condition before it turns into something worse. Taking proactive steps to ensure your dog is healthy and happy can go a long way in helping your pet enjoy a better quality of life.

For more tips and advice on your dog’s health, visit our blog today.


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