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

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

The first question being…

“What is Legg-Calves -Perthes Disease?”

This is why…

In this article we wanted to take a moment and describe exactly 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 care he or she needs.

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.

And when called…

By one of these “alternative” names, we begin to get a better understanding of exactly what this disease entails (that is of course 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. Now this “misalignment” may be due to some type of genetic malformation, or it may be 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 literally rot away. You can only imagine how painful this condition can be…

The femoral head and neck of the bone…

May also begin to grate against the socket itself creating even further pain for you dog as well.

Now the good news is…

In most cases the femur will regrow 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 simply 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, many times the expense of such a procedure will put this option out of reach for many pet owners.

Mechanics of the pain…

Now because this condition may “resolve” itself on its own, its important for folks to realize that just because it may “cure” itself, this does not mean that your dog does not need 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 places as the hip joint has grown in deformed to accommodate the joint.

Femoral Epiphysis is another root cause of the pain, where a small fracture in the femur or the joint is causing the issue. If left unchecked, necrosis may well 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 effected limb or refusing to stand on a particular leg,

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

Affected Breeds

Small breed dogs are particularly susceptible to this condition, but there are a few bigger 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 to 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 is a sling that 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 spreading of infection then put your pet through physical therapy to help them to 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 be very beneficial to pain management, although not nearly so effective as surgery.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right 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

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