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Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease in dogs – treatment options, physiotherapy and tips on how you can actively support recovery.

The last article already dealt with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. You’ve learned what the condition means, common symptoms, causes and commonly affected breeds. Today’s article is about how to treat Legg-Calvé-Perthes, how physical therapy can help, and what you can actively do as a dog owner to best help your dog recover.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment is always individually dependent on the severity of the disease. Conservative treatment by means of sparing, pain therapy and physiotherapy can be attempted over a short period of up to three months if no irreversible damage has yet occurred. However, it remains to be considered that already existing damage in the joint remains.

In many cases, therefore, surgical treatment is preferred. Possibilities here are, on the one hand, the removal of the femoral head (and neck). This is the so-called femoral head resection. In the area where the head of the femur used to be, a connective tissue and very stable connection between the femur and the pelvis is formed. This surgical method is very promising, especially in small to medium-sized dogs.

Alternatively, a hip joint replacement, i.e. an implatation of an endoprosthesis can be performed. Endoprosthesis is chosen especially for large and heavy dogs.

In any case, femoral head resection is the less expensive option and also less invasive.

Physiotherapy for Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease

Regardless of whether surgical treatment or conservative treatment is chosen, physiotherapeutic support is indispensable.

Physiotherapy goals

  • Pain relief
  • Preservation and promotion of joint mobility
  • Muscle building
  • Promoting physiological (healthy) movement patterns and confidence in the affected walk
  • Relief of overloaded structures

What forms of treatment can be used in canine physiotherapy?

  • Massages can be used to relieve tension in the overstressed areas caused by the protective posture. Through this we also achieve pain relief. Heat therapy, for example, can also be used here as an adjunct.
  • Passive movement increases joint mobility and supports physiological movement patterns.
  • Laser therapy and electrotherapy can be used to promote the healing process and reduce pain.
  • The active movement training is also an important component, which can also be carried out by the dog owner at home after professional guidance. Hereby we promote healthy movement patterns, strengthen the musculature and the confidence in the affected run.
How to support your dog in everyday life
  • Make sure your dog can’t slip in the house or apartment. You can temporarily line areas where he moves frequently with runners, for example.
  • The walks should be very short in the first weeks and slowly increased. Please follow the recommendations of the treating physician.
  • It’s important to keep your dog on a leash. He should walk at a pace if possible.
  • Wild play, tight turns and short stops are taboo and poison for your dog. Therefore, you should also be very careful about contacts with other dogs.
  • Make sure that other dogs do not ride on him.
  • Jumps are also taboo. For the car, you can resort to dog ramps here.
  • When climbing stairs, you should make sure that your dog walks as few stairs as possible and if only slowly and deliberately. You can support him with a stretcher.
  • An orthopedic bed is suitable for lying on, as it relieves pressure on the joints.
  • Make sure your dog is not suffering from obesity.
  • With nutritional supplements you can support your dog well in the recovery phase.
  • You should perform the exercises from the movement training regularly and in consultation with your treating physiotherapist. They accelerate the healing process enormously. Please do not experiment here arbitrarily, but stick to the exercise concept of your therapist.
  • Let the therapist show you massage techniques to massage your dog at home and relieve tension.

Have you heard of or had any experience with Legg-Calvé-Perthes? Feel free to share them with me in the comments!

All the love, your Tina



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