Legg-Calve-Perthes Syndrome (LCP) causing lameness in dogs

Donny the sweet, chubby 1-year old pug visited us for his regular check-up. During his physical examination, it was noticed that he had abnormally low muscle mass in his hips and that he would limp very subtly on his right hind leg. A musculoskeletal exam revealed pain in his right hip.

Pictured Above: Donny the pug post surgery.

Donny was booked in for hip x-rays which revealed that his right hip joint was abnormal and the source of his pain. He had a condition called Legg-Calve-Perthes Syndrome, also known as LCP.

What is Legg-Calve-Perthes Syndrome (LCP)?

LCP is a painful condition that affects small dog breeds. It occurs when the blood supply to the head of the femur bone is disrupted, causing the bone tissue to die. Over time, the affected bone becomes brittle and can collapse, resulting in pain, limping, and arthritis in the affected joint. This is exactly what happened to Donny.

Pictured Above: Donny’s X-ray reveals damaged bone at the head of his right femur.

LCP is most commonly seen in miniature and toy poodles, Yorkshire terriers, and miniature schnauzers, although other small breeds may also be affected.

What causes LCP?

The exact cause of LCP is not fully understood, but genetics, trauma, and hormonal imbalances have been suggested as possible factors.

What are the symptoms of LCP?

  • Limping
  • reluctance to use the affected leg
  • pain when the affected hip joint is touched

If left untreated, LCP can lead to severe pain and loss of mobility, making it difficult for the dog to perform daily activities.

You should seek veterinary advice if you see your dog:

  • limping
  • reluctant to walk
  • sitting down repeatedly during walks
  • sore after walks or runs
  • or licking their joints

It is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible so a physical exam and x-rays can be performed to diagnose LCP or other causes of lameness.

What are the treatment options for LCP?

  • Surgery to remove the affected bone. The procedure is called a Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO)
  • Or, surgery to replace the hip joint with an artificial joint.

Donny had an FHO surgery performed here at Lynbrook Vet. This procedure involves the removal of the head of the femur which is the source of pain. Patients recover quite well after surgery and are pain free after their recovery period, which is the purpose of this procedure.


Pictured Above: Description of the FHO surgery where the femoral head is removed.

Pictured Above: Donny’s x-ray before and after his FHO surgery. You can see how the damaged ball of the femur has been removed.

The Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO) procedure restores mobility to the hip by removing the head of the femur, leaving just an empty socket. The muscles of the leg will initially hold the femur in place and, over time, scar tissue will form between the acetabulum and the femur to provide cushioning that is referred to as a ‘false joint’. This instantly alleviates the pain and discomfort the patient had been feeling from the damaged ball joint.

Little Donny visited us one week later and had been climbing stairs and jumping on furniture like the cheeky pug he is! He has made an excellent recovery and we are very pleased with his results.

What can I do to help prevent LCP from developing in my pet?

  • feed a balanced diet
  • provide regular exercise to prevent weight gain
  • avoid injuries to the hip joint and hence help maintain your dog’s musculoskeletal health.

Additionally, if you have a small breed dog that is at risk for LCP, it may be beneficial to have regular veterinary check-ups to monitor for early signs of the condition.

In conclusion, Legg-Calve-Perthes Syndrome is a painful condition that can affect small breed dogs. If you suspect that your dog may be experiencing symptoms of LCP, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms of LCP and improve your dog’s quality of life.


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