Abnormal bone mineralization in a puppy fed an imbalanced raw meat homemade diet diagnosed and monitored using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry

J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2021 Nov:105 Suppl 2:29-36. doi: 10.1111/jpn.13118. Epub 2019 May 29.


A 4-month-old male Old English Sheepdog was presented for evaluation of a raw meat-based homemade diet after a 1-month history of progressive lameness. Marked dietary deficiencies were detected, which included calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. Hypovitaminosis D and hypocalcaemia were diagnosed by serum analysis. Evidence of severe diffuse osteopenia was noted on survey radiographs. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) was used to quantify bone mineral content and density and compare to published reference ranges. The puppy's initial bone mineralization was markedly subnormal, with bone mineral density 66% lower than expected, and bone mineral content 40% lower than expected. Subsequent DEXA scans were performed at intervals during the puppy's recovery to document the rate of bone re-mineralization and guide therapeutic recommendations. Marked improvement was achieved within 4 months through exercise control and feeding of a diet appropriately formulated for large breed puppy growth and development. This report reinforces the necessity of thorough dietary history and highlights the potential for malnutrition in pets fed homemade and raw meat-based diets. Use of DEXA has rarely been reported in clinical cases, yet can be a valuable tool for diagnosing and monitoring cases with abnormal bone mineralization. Further studies using DEXA to track bone mineralization in healthy puppies are encouraged to develop a more robust reference range of bone mineralization in growing dogs of varying sizes, weights and ages.

Keywords: DEXA; bone; calcium; dog; homemade diet; hypovitaminosis; mineralization; vitamin D.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / veterinary
  • Animals
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones
  • Calcification, Physiologic*
  • Diet* / veterinary
  • Dogs
  • Male
  • Meat