Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease in Dogs

This disease is commonly seen in miniature, toy, and small-breed dogs and usually affects dogs that are five to eight months old.  It is very common in Yorkshire Terriers.  Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease involves the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur and results in disintegration of the hip joint.  The specific cause is unknown. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Lameness in a hind limb (usually two to three months onset)
  • Carrying the affected limb up
  • Pain when moving the hip joint
  • Muscle wasting in the thigh of the affected limb

A thorough medical history, physical exam, and x-rays are required to diagnose this disease.  Surgical intervention, called a Femoral Head Osteotomy or FHO, is required to treat Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease.  The FHO surgery removes the femoral head and neck so a false joint can form from scar tissue.

Strict adherence to the post-operative instructions is imperative.  Daily exercise and maintaining an ideal weight after the post-op period are strongly recommended for the ongoing comfort of the patient.  More than 95% of dogs that undergo the FHO surgery will have 100% use of the affected leg.

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