Legg Perthes or Legg-Calve-Pathes disease, Perthes disease or Legg’s disease, is a condition that involves the spontaneous disintegration and collapse of the top of a dog’s thigh bone (the femur) where his knee connects to his hip. The cause of Leggs Perthes is unknown. It tends to occur most often in puppies or toy breeds of dog and is believed to have a genetic component. For an unknown reason, the blood flow to the upper femur is cut off and causes the bone and surrounding cartilage to degenerate and die. The affected hip joint becomes disfigured, loses its structural integrity and causes the dog extreme pain. Finally, the femur completely collapses and the leg is no longer able to bear weight. Therefore, you will notice a gradual hind-end lameness in your puppy that progressively grows worse. Obtaining a diagnosis from a veterinarian of Legg Perthes will not be difficult nor require a huge array of tests.
Other symptoms to look out for: limping; pain upon flexing, extending or after physical manipulation of the hip or hind leg; reluctance to run, jump or play; weakness; exercise intolerance; atrophy of the thigh muscles; irritability; chewing or licking of the affected hip; audible clicking or snapping coming from the hip during movement. If you suspect your puppy is suffering from Legg Perthes, you should visit your vet for confirmation.
As an owner, there is nothing you can do to prevent your puppy from Legg Perthes, other than to spay or neuter your dog to prevent the disorder from being spread. Breeders should not mate dogs that produced affected offspring.
Dogs affected by Legg Perthes can live a long and healthy life. They will have certain restrictions on physical activities, but that’s about it.
Legg Perthes can also affect cats, but to a much lesser extent and is much more prevalent in dogs.