by Jill Swedlow
HYPERTROPHIC OSTEODYSTROPHY HOD stands for hypertrophic osteodystrophy. I'm
no expert on this one as it's one of the few problems my dogs have not had to
endure (knock on wood!!!!!). I don't believe that the cause is known. The
symptoms are (usually) very elevated fever, up to 106 sometimes, inflammation of
the pastern joints (the joint above the foot in the front legs) with tremendous
pain. The joints will feel hot to the touch and pressure will elicit a painful
reaction. Some times the dogs will just lie there not moving, in less severe
cases they'll move around but in great pain. Sometimes the pain is so intense
they lie there and scream. Unfortunately this disease if often not properly
diagnosed by vets as few have seen it. There isn't much known yet about
treatment either. I had a friend who's bitch had the lie-there-and-scream kind,
and since there was little to lose, they used an injectible form of an analgesic
called Banamine (a horse medication) which gave her immediate relief.
Intravenous dosage of vitamin C and (I believe, but am not sure here) cortisone
is often given. One thing many breeders say to do is immediately reduce the
protein content of the food. Down to 17-18%. In mild cases this is often enough
to take care of it. This is almost exclusively a problem that affects puppies
between the ages of 4-7 months of age.
are the symptoms. (1) Elevated temperature. If over 103, treat like HOD at least
until you get to the vet for an x-ray. (2) Pastern joints are hot to touch and
painful to pressure. (3) Dog does not want to get up and move or moves with
If you even SUSPECT HOD do the following: (1) Immediately give 2000 mg of
vitamin C orally. (2) Go to the vet and insist that x-rays be taken of the legs.
This is the only way to diagnose HOD. (3) Give IV Banamine. (Deduce dosage by
the dosage given for horses, usually by 1000 lbs.) If Banamine is not available,
give butazolidin. Give IV vitamin C if possible. Give IV cortisone. (4) The dog
should be put on a wide spectrum antibiotic to prevent secondary infection. It
is these infections that cause death in HOD. Mainly pneumonia because the dog
only lies around. If you're puppy DOES just lie around, make sure he is moved
from side to side periodically during the day if he's not doing this himself.
(5) Reduce protein in diet to 21% or lower. (6) Continue vitamin C orally at the
rate of 2000mg am & pm.
If caught early (first sign of lethargy and fever) and treated as above,
recovery time should only be 2-3 days. However this does not mean your puppy is
out of the woods. Relapse, up to 21 days post HOD, is still possible. Keep the
puppy quiet (indoor play only) and don't stress him in any way. This means no
shows, no car rides (except to vet), no nothing until the 21 day period is over.
After that, all being well, he may resume life as normal.
Since HOD only occurs during the fastest growth phase, it seems reasonable to
assume that this is somehow linked to fast growth. Another reason to KEEP
DIETARY PROTEIN LOW!!!!! The best cure is prevention:
(1) Keep pup on low protein until at least 1 year of age. 23% or lower. (2) Give
oral vitamin C daily, 500-1000 mg am & pm. (3) DO NOT, REPEAT DO NOT!!!,
supplement food with anything that will throw the balance of the food off.
Especially increasing calcium, vitamin D, or phosphorous. This means no added
yogurt (except perhaps a tablespoon), no eggs, no cottage cheese or dairy
products. No Calcium/D/phosphorous supplement tablets. If you MUST add other
foods to the kibble (I admit, I am one who does) make it NO MORE than 10% of the
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD), or a Blood Infection (Septicemia)
by: Hazel Gregory
My first experience with HOD, "Hypertophic Osteodystrophy" was back in
1962 with a Great Dane litter. The best thing I can say about that long. sad and
frustrating ordeal is that the learning experience for myself as well as for my
vet (Dr. D. Burke, Ft. Worth, retired), has been undeniably valuable down
through the following years. The hopelessness of that situation led me to
believe that as a serious dog breeder the need for a better understanding of the
nutritional needs, and the chemistry of a dog's make-up as well as genetics was
of utmost impedance. Thus a long and diligent study of animal and human
nutritional needs Is to this day a constant searching; a study of both medical
and Mother Nature's facts and theories. I do believe it was this serious study
of large, fast growing dogs' nutritional needs as compared to the commercial dog
foods available, over the years, has perhaps saved my Great Danes from a repeat
episode of HOD as described in veterinary medical publications. Unfortunately
that long (20 year) dry spell was soon to end.
It Is my hope that this true story will help dog owners and veterinarians
recognize that the symptoms of HOD and what I call Pseudo-HOD, a blood
infection, or Septicemia, are quite nearly the same. My proof of this claim is a
story that needs to be told.
My story starts back in September of 1984, the weekend of the Dallas/Ft. Worth
Kennel Club's Dog Shows and the Great Dane Specialty. My husband and I lived
about a two hour drive due west of Dallas. I had puppies to sell and I had
buyers that wanted us to meet on that dog show weekend. Fortunately I had a
friend in Dallas that had room at his home for me and my pups. The Dallas Great
Dane Club's Specialty party was to be at his home and I was looking forward to a
My friend had told me that his prize female puppy was sick with HOD. His vet,
Dr. Chipper Wilkerson, said it was a classic case - but the prescribed treatment
didn't seem to help much. I hadn't seen a case of HOD since the 1960's We
discussed the pain, high fever, diet and the helplessness of coping with HOD. I
couldn't believe HOD was back again. That weekend my friend's puppy was rushed
back to the vet and although they did all they could the puppy died. My friend's
disappointment and sadness was obvious, but like most dog people he knew one bad
to learn to hang in there and move on. That weekend I had sold several of my
puppies to good show homes. Four of the puppies had gone home with their new
owners; one to Dallas, one to Houston, one to Alaska, and one to Wisconsin.
Three puppies came back home with me. One of these, a male, was to be lead and
house trained for his new owner.
The following Wednesday, while working with the male puppy, I noticed he didn't
act up to par. I reasoned that he hadn't quite recovered from the stress of the
weekend trip and strange surroundings. Thursday the puppy was not any better but
was still eating, had no temperature, but was playing less. Friday morning the
puppy was sick-sick - completely down. with a raging fever. I rushed him to the
vet where I had to leave him as I was to be gone for the weekend on a judging
assignment. The veterinarian, Dr. Aleta Pierce in Stephenville, Texas, had just
opened her new clinic. She was young, eager to succeed and had a brilliant,
inquisitive mind. I felt confident that the puppy would be fine and that I would
get a call on Monday to come and get him. Monday I did get that call. Dr. Pierce
said, "it took a high dose of antibiotic by IV to bring the temperature
down but he would be fine now." The pup's temperature was gone, he was
eating, had bright clear eyes, looked and acted fine except he couldn't walk.
His rear just collapsed when lie tried. Dr. Pierce said, "he'll be OK. In a
few days he'll be stronger and able to walk, He's had more than enough
antibiotics to get whatever caused the problem. Take him home to rest and he'll
get better." I did just that. The pup ate well and his eyes were clean he
would struggle to stand but fell over when trying to walk. His hind legs just
would not work. By Wednesday the puppy's fever was back again; full force! I
took the puppy back to Dr. Pierce and left him there.
The next day Dr. Pierce talked to her professors at Texas A&M Veterinary
School; she then called me to come to the clinic because we needed to talk. Dr.
Pierce said A&M suspected HOD, her first case. The X-rays she took were
inconclusive at the point. Note: X-rays usually are at this early stage. My
reaction was Instant. From what I had learned HOD is not contagious. HOD is a
nutritional chemical imbalance. I explained to Dr. Pierce about my friend's HOD
puppy and my puppies being at his kennel. My previous experience with HOD and
these current events were very different. Could them be a connection or is this
Just coincidental? We talked about the calcium-phosphorus blood serum ratio It
was normal. I asked her if this could be a spinal infection. Her antibiotics
treatment had brought the fever down even if only temporarily. I suggested
trying Chloromycetin. I had learned years ago that Chloromycetin was the only
antibiotic that crossed Mother Nature's natural barrier that protects the brain,
the spinal cord, mammary glands, and bone marrow. Dr. Pierce said, `with the
rear end being affected it could be a myelitis, at this point the lab tests and
the X-rays are inconclusive. If it is myelitis is the drug to use. We'll have to
make periodic -blood tests to watch for a possible blood eclasia, which is
unlikely but a necessary precaution when using this drug." (Since then I
have been Informed that a blood eclasia does not occur in dogs. only humans.) If
this treatment isn't successful and it is HOD, more X-rays will prove such as it
progresses. Note again, early stages of HOD do not show joint swelling - Fever
and joint soreness comes first.
I left the puppy and Dr. Pierce started him on Chloromycetin; the dosage to be
25mg per pound of body weight, three times a day. The puppy stayed in the clinic
through the weekend. Dr. Pierce called on Monday and asked that I come in to see
what I thought. It was amazing; the puppy was running around the clinic acting
and looking like he had never been sick. Dr. Pierce said, "the
Chloromycetin did it and (was to keep him on it for ten days to 2 weeks after
which he would be fine." He was, but this puppy was only the beginning of
more HOD -troubles to come.
Within the week I received a phone call from the puppy buyer who lived in
Houston. Her puppy, "Beau" was from a different litter and was also
with me that Dallas weekend; he was approximately two months older than the
other puppy. I sold Beau as a top show puppy; his pedigree was excellent. It was
a great home for this puppy. I kept his litter sister, my Daria Jane, ten years
young, fat and healthy to this day. This new puppy owner said her puppy started
acting sick shortly after they got home from Dallas. They had treated him with
antibiotics; he improves for a while but then gets sick again. He lies around a
good deal and he cries if pressure is applied to his joints; at this point he
can hardly walk, and his new owner is very concerned, Her vet, Dr. A. Senske In
Houston, Texas, suspects the beginning of HOD but his X-rays are not conclusive
yet, he would X-ray again In seven days. I told her about my sick pup and
suggested she start her puppy on Chloromycetin, which, she did. Beau showed
signs of feeling better while on the Chloro. He was only on the Chloro two or
three days when his 2nd X-rays were taken. The X-rays were sent to a radiology
lab to confirm Dr. Senske's diagnosis, again a classic case of HOD. Dr. Senske
said to stop using the Chloro as It can't help since HOD is a nutritional
(mineral) Imbalance. The new owner was very upset as she liked this puppy. Her
husband, an orthopedic specialist, told her "as bad as the puppy's legs are
he will never be right." Dr. Senske's prognosis was also very discouraging.
I was frantic! By this time I was convinced that we were dealing with an
infection that produced the same symptoms as HOD. I wanted the puppy treated
with Chloromycetin. I offered to refund the purchase price if she would meet me
half way between Houston and Dallas and return the puppy (an eight hour round
trip for both of us), she agreed. When we met to make the exchange I was handed
a copy of the lab report that had arrived that morning. We were stunned! It did
confirm Dr. Senske's diagnosis of HOD but it also said, "New findings
suggest hematogenous (blood) infection as a cause. Do not treat as prescribed
for HOD, use antibiotic instead. WOW - I knew I was on the right track!
I brought Beau back home, took him to Dr. Pierce and began the Chloromycetin
treatment. It required three series of ten days on and ten days off before we
were sure that the infection was defeated. This was the recommended treatment
when a chronic situation is suspected. Beau had a serious case. He had been
treated with other antibiotics before HOD was suspected which I learned later
usually suppresses the infection but will not cure it. Chloromycetin is the drug
that works. All Beau's joints were much more swollen than the first puppy's and
it took a long time before returning to normal.
Periodically during Beau's recovery Dr. Senske and I discussed this case. He was
as surprised as I was regarding the lab report and will confirm the facts of
this case as well as other similar cases he has since treated. A copy of this
lab report was also sent to Dr. Chipper Wilkerson. He was equally amazed and
also supports this form of treatment.
This Great Dane Beau grew to his full potential; finished his AKC championship,
produced fine puppies and never showed any negative after-affects of his so
called HOD. Note; a month later a litter brother to my friend's bitch that had
died came down with so-called HOD. This dog was cured with Chloromycetin also.
Two other puppies, litter mates to my puppy, the one in Alaska and the one in
Wisconsin, had the same HOD symptoms several months later. When I received their
owners frantic telephone calls I sent out copies of the lab report. Both dogs
were cured after treatment with Chloromycetin. Remember all these dogs were
exposed to my friend's bitch that died of HOD.
Periodically through the years I have received many telephone calls from people
all over the country who heard that Hazel Gregory knows how to cure HOD. All the
calls have been word of mouth reference through Great Dane people. Usually their
dogs are in terrible condition by the time they call me and their vet is willing
to try "whatever it takes." These vets and owners have all been
astounded by the positive results attained when Chloromycetin is administered.
Several vets have called me because they were skeptical but agreed to try the
Chloromycetin treatment after we talked; I usually sent a copy of the lab report
to them. Later on they all but one acknowledged successful results. This vet
refused to treat as I suggested. He could not accept what I told him and said he
didn't like to use Chloromycetin. This is a comment I often hear when talking to
veterinarians. The puppy's owner said the vet did prescribe half the required
dosage for five days only. That helped a little but wasn't enough. After the
five days the puppy went back down and eventually had to be put to sleep.
More recently I have heard from an Irish Setter breeder. She had two different
dogs diagnosed as having HOD. She was told by a friend to call me. Her vet
willingly started the treatment as suggested, again with successful results. One
of the puppies had a more severe case and had to receive two series of
treatments. This Irish Setter breeder showed me her dog at a recent dog show.
She said his legs had large knobs and swollen joints before treatment. When I
saw him his legs were fine; he was a beautiful dog. This lady, Shirley Murray,
and her husband Roy, are well known respected breeders and professional
handlers. They, as well as many others, have encouraged me to write this
article. It seems that the-dreaded symptoms of so called HOD are continuing to
occur randomly on not only Great Danes but on different giant, large and medium
size breeds. More often than not those afflicted dogs' prognosis leads to a
painful, hopeless heartbreaking end.
The reason I call this terrible disease Pseudo-HOD is because as I see it, the
symptoms are the same as real HOD but the cause and treatment are totally
different. At the end of this article Is a copy of the lab report I have
previously referred to from the Houston Veterinary Radiology Clinic dated
10-22-84. signed by Dr. C. B. Quick, DVM, M.S. I think this report proves I am
correct regarding antibiotic treatment with reference to a blood infection. Also
see Ref. ~3.
Notice the antibiotics list does not emphasize that Chloramphenicol (generic
name for Chloro) is the drug of choice. But remember the Mother Nature barrier
-Chloramphenicol is the only one listed that gets to the core of the infection -
the bone marrow where blood is made. As I see it, the preliminary use and
periodically changing of different antibiotics creates a see saw effect and
possible chronic condition. Then as the infection hangs on the joints become
inflamed and calcium deposits start to build up on the outer extremities of the
long bone just above the joints. When this happens, the pup is well into the
disease, perhaps 1-2 weeks. X-rays are then taken and HOD is diagnosed. HOD,
medically speaking, is listed under the heading of "Disease of Undetermined
Etiology" (see Ref. #7) which basically says they don't know the cause or
cure of HOD.
Veterinarians are advised that treatment should be directed toward controlling
fever and reducing pain using analgesics and/or corticosteroids. Prognosis is
grim. Antibiotics are used only to control possible secondary infections such as
With Dr. A. Senske's help I have obtained several pertinent veterinary medical
documents on HOD research and findings. These are dated back to the early 70's,
80's, and into the 90's. Actually very little scientific help is available that
shows consistent facts and findings that work or help. They all basically have
the same conclusion. Medical science does not have any scientific proof as to
the cause or treatment of HOD (see Ref. 47). All these documents are listed in
the References. Over the years whenever I received a phone call asking about HOD
I have always suggested the same treatment and diet. It always works - I only
ask for a follow up progress report. So far I've had 99% success. The treatment
I recommend is;
1.Always work with your veterinarian
* Do not give Vitamin 0 supplements while on antibiotics.
2.Start immediately on Chloramphenicol 25mg per one pound body weight 3 times a
day for 10 days - 2 weeks.
Example: a 40 lb. pup gets 1 gram 3x day - do not underdose.
3.For fever and Inflammation use only as needed Ascriptin and/or Phenylbutazone.
* try not to use any cortisone shots or pills.
* give plenty of rest in crate or x-pen with soft bedding and water always
* do not force exercise - only free choice.
1.Mix and feed twice a day - AM and PM - same time always Continue with your
regular good quality dog food - protein should range 20~25%, fat should range
8-10% Add small amount of tasties (chicken is good)
2.Important - add to each feeding 2-3 Tbs. Tonic
To mix tonic formula use equal amounts each of pure Apple Cider Vinegar and
Example: 1 pint Apple Cider Vinegar 1 pint Honey
NOTE: slightly warm honey (not hot) mixes easier with warm vinegar - store at
* do not free feed dry dog food
* do not force feed
* do not feed fancy high powered - high fat - high protein -low roughage (stress
type) dog food.
Although it has its purpose a simple basic healthy diet is always best.
Stay with this kind of diet plus the tonic which is an old time recipe used for
years as an arthritis remedy (see Ref #8).
Remember the old saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." IT
WORKS! This over all general tonic is the best formula I've found in raising
fast growing large bone dogs. The Apple Cider Vinegar helps keep the calcium
intake in a soluble state so it can be more easily absorbed into the system. It
also helps dissolve and flush out acid crystals that build up in the muscles and
A must read for dog breeders Is Dr. D. G. Garvis's book on Vermont Folk
Medicine. This book was my start in learning how to appreciate the many benefits
of natural foods and healing. Up `til then my studies were more concentrated on
vitamin and mineral requirements and supplements. I can't Imagine raising Great
Danes without the help of Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey Tonic. All our dogs -
youngsters, oldsters and in betweens - even my husband and myself have a daily
shot with a glass of ice wafer. It tastes like Apple Cider - GOOD!!
Good Luck and God Bless. HAZEL GREGORY
In the foreseeable future this subject will be addressed with more in depth
considerations regarding unanswered questions. Much is yet to be learned and
explored regarding HOD. In the meantime I hope this article will be of some help
to our dogs and their owners.
Any questions or inquiries regarding this article are most welcome. Copies of
the documents listed are free with $4.00 each for postage and handling. The
book, Vermont Folk Medicine by D, C. Jarvis, MD, Is $6.00 plus $4.00 postage and
handling. Thanks again.
1 Watson ADJ, Blair 8. 0., Farrow BRH, at al: Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in the
dog. Aust. Vet 4 49 (9): 433439,1973,
2. Crondalen 4: Metaphyseal Osteopathy (Hypertophic Osteodystrophy) in growing
dogs: A Clinical Study. 4 Small Animal Practice 17(11): 721435,1976.
3. Watson ADJ; Hypertophic Osteodystrophy: Vitamin 0 deficiency, overnulcition,
or infection. Aust. Vet Pract 8(2): 107- 108,1978.
4. Woodard 4: Canine Hypertophic Osteodystrophy, a study of the spontaneous
disease in linermates. Vet Pathol 19 (4): 337-354.1982.
5. Alexander 4W, Roberts RE: Symposium on orthopedic diseases. Vet Clin North Am
[[Small Anim Pract] 13 (1): Feb. 19a3.
6. Lewis PD, McCarthy RJ. Pechman RD,: Diagnosis of Common Development
Orthopedic Conditions in Canine Pediatric Patienis, he Compendium. Small Animal
Vol 14, #3, pg 287-297, March 1992.
7. Textbook of Veterinsrisn Internal Medicine Vol 2 - 3rd Edition. Sec. Xv Joint
& Skeletal Disorders, Chapter 121, Skeletal Diseases, pg 2391, by Stephen 4.
8. Vermont Folk Medicine by D. C. Jarvis, MD. publ.