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Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) causes lameness and extreme pain in young growing dogs, usually of a large breed. Some experts say that there is a relation between vaccination and the appearance of the condition as a reaction to it. If this is the case, is will usually happen a few days after vaccination and with extreme symptoms that seem to be worse than those related to the "average" cases.
HOD usually causes an acute lameness that will sometimes affect all four limbs simultaneously. Dogs will appear to stand in what is described as a "hunched up" stance or they may totally refuse to stand up, the pain being too severe. They may have a fever but this is not always the case. They will usually have painful swellings around the lower joints on the legs; affected dogs may be so ill that they will even refuse to eat for days!
In the worst cases (fortunately the less) puppies will die from this disease; others may suffer permanent disability but the majority will recover. Yet it is a fact that the disease is so painful and stressful to the affected puppy that many owners elect to euthanize it rather than watch it suffer, despite the reasonably good chance for long term recovery, with an appropriate treatment.
It must be outlined that Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy may resolve spontaneously in as little as a week or so, in some cases or it may become a recurrent, cyclic infection that goes on for a long time, in others. Whatever the case may be, if there are severe secondary bone changes, surgical correction of these may be necessary to ensure normal future function of the limbs.
To diagnose the disease, X-rays are needed and indeed they usually show very specific clinical signs that can some times be mistaken for a bone infection from a septic condition. The fact is that there is some clinical evidence that viral or bacterial infections may underlie some cases of HOD as canine distemper virus has been found in the affected areas in some dogs. Blood tests will also show variations and there can be high white blood cell counts, while the alkaline phosphatase levels are often too high.
Some experts believe that this condition may also be the result of excessive dietary levels of calcium or protein, as it happens with many other bone and growth related conditions. Whether this is truth or not is still to be proved; same with the theory that Vitamin C intake increase may prevent the condition from happening.
To my best knowledge HOD is not a very common disease in Bullmastiffs, although some cases have been diagnosed in puppies pertaining to some specific bloodlines and families; therefore, before you purchase your puppy you ought to clearly ask the Breeder if this condition has been known to affect previous puppies born in his/here kennel. Fortunately enough no case of HOD has been detected in any CASTRO-CASTALIA Bullmastiff so far.
(Original text written by Christina of Lima-Netto and Federico Baudin specifically for this web page and protected with Copyright. Not even whole can be reproduced not partially by any way, without Castro-Castalia's express assent in writing)
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