≡ Menu

Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Legg-Calves-Perthes disease is one of those diseases that many folks probably know about, but few know the “official” name for the condition. This is why when a vet tells them their dog is suffering from Legg-Calves, it usually creates many more questions than answers. The first question is…

“What is Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease?”

This is why, in this article, we wanted to take a moment and describe precisely what Legg-Calves-Perthes disease is and hopefully shed some light on what it would be like to own a dog that has been diagnosed with this condition. This way, you’ll be better prepared to give your dog the necessary care.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease

Probably the first thing that you should know about Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease is that it is a disease that can go by many different names. Names such as:

  • Legg-Calves disease,
  • Avascular necrosis of the femoral head,

As well as aseptic necrosis of the femoral head. When called by one of these “alternative” names, we understand better exactly what this disease entails (that is, if we can remember our anatomy courses from high school).

You see…

Legg-Perthes Disease occurs when the femoral head of the leg bone no longer fits properly into the socket. This “misalignment” may be due to genetic malformation or just pure bad luck. At any rate, the leg bone will necrotize (die) around the ends where it does not fit into the ball and socket joint, leaving your puppy in agony. This occurs because the blood supply is cut off to the hip joint, and the bone will rot away. You can only imagine how painful this condition can be…

The femoral head and neck of the bone…

It may also begin to grate against the socket itself, creating even further pain for your dog. No, the excellent news is in most cases, the femur will regrow,w and the problem will have sorted itself out before the puppy’s first year of life is over; however, in some rare cases, pain relief is not enough, and the pet may have to be put down or surgical options can be employed. It should be noted that while surgery may often be the “best” solution, the expense of such a procedure often puts this option out of reach for many pet owners.

Mechanics of the pain…

Now, because this condition may “resolve” itself on its own, folks need to realize that just because it may “cure” itself, this does not mean that your dog does not require medical care throughout this natural process. This is why it never hurts to understand the “mechanics of the pain” that your dog will

The femur pressing against the coxofemural joint is the source of much of the pain that Perthes causes. The pain is also caused by the lack of cartilage or from cartilage in the wrong place, as the hip joint has grown deformed to accommodate the joint.

Femoral Epiphysis is another root cause of the pain, where a minor fracture in the femur or the joint is causing the issue. If left unchecked, necrosis may spread to the thigh bone and kill your dog.

Clinical signs and symptoms of Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Clinical signs and symptoms of Legg-Calve-Perthes disease include:

  • Blood flow problems to the legs leading to swelling,
  • Redness or pain to the touch,
  • Decrease in range of motion that your dog has in the joint,
  • Limping on the affected limb or refusing to stand on a particular leg,

As well as lameness in either hind limb could also be considered symptomatic.

Most Commonly Affected Breeds

Small breed dogs are particularly susceptible to this condition, but there are a few more giant breeds that may be in danger:

Treatment options for Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Your vet may want to start your pet on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to try and take the swelling down and ease the pain. They may also want your dog to rest for thirty days. If rest is a treatment path, they may fit your dog with an Ehmer Sling. This sling will hold the affected leg still and off the ground for the duration of the illness and presents a valid way to make a dog rest.

Then, once the…

Anti-inflammatory medication has had a chance to work, and depending on the severity of the problem, your vet may also want to operate. A femoral head Osteotomy is the most likely solution. In this surgical procedure, your vet will want to remove the necrotized bone to prevent any infection from spreading and then put your pet through physical therapy to help it mend and adapt.

Non-surgical patients may also…

Be put through physical therapy to aid the amount of movement they have in the joint. It can benefit pain management, although not nearly as effective as surgery.

Which brings us to…

We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may have Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease (or any other health issue), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs! This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Victoria N. April 12, 2022, 6:32 am

    Thinking on adopting a young poodle who has been diagnosed with perths disease
    and wondering if its curable with surgery. I googled exactly what the Vet would have to do, and was wondering “ABOUT” how much would the surgery cost?
    She has also been diagnosed with pancreatitis. Her current owner can’t afford these
    medical issues. I was also wondering since she is only about a year old, would surgery “fix” her forever? or would these 2 issues be on going forever? Hope to hear from you soon.
    Thank you, V/R Victoria

Leave a Comment