ACL surgery costs for dogs can be high, but there are ways to help reduce overall price.
Variables that affect the cost of acl surgery include:
- the severity of the injury
- the type of surgery chosen
- geographical area (rural vs urban clinics)
- and whether there are underlying conditions affecting the dog.
This post is designed to help you understand the types of surgical options, their prices, and the options you may have in keeping those costs as low as possible.
How Much is ACL Surgery for Dogs?
Determining ACL Surgery Cost for dogs is difficult because it depends on where you live, the types of services you purchase, and – most importantly – the type of surgery that is recommended.
There are 4 main types of ACL surgery used on dogs.
Each surgery has its own unique benefit depending on the severity of the injury, how many prior injuries the dog has had in the past, what you can afford, and what the veterinarian or orthopedic surgeon feels will have the best outcome.
The prices below may vary from clinic to clinic and may be different depending on your geographic location.
Lateral Suture Technique – $1000
The lateral suture procedure involves the placement of a strong suture (monofilament) from the lateral fabella to the tibial crest.
When this type of suture is applied it helps to maintain normal range of motion in the knee.
This type of surgery is considered best for dogs under 40 pounds and is thought to offer long-term stabilization and excellent prognosis.
TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) $3000 – $4000
This type of ACL (or CCL) surgery for dogs involves a change to the dynamics of the knee joint.
This is more in-depth than the lateral suture technique because it alters the actual angle (grade) of the knee.
It will take your dog about 12 weeks to recover from this surgery and may require post-surgery physical therapy care (an additional cost).
You have the right to do your research and shop around. ALSO, there are times when letting nature do the healing is entirely appropriate. More on this later…
Rural veterinarians tend to be less expensive than urban ones. However, there are several low-cost veterinarian clinics available in big cities like Houston and New York.
TTA Surgery for Dogs (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement) $2000 – $3000
This surgery actually changes the bone structure while avoiding the injured ligament on the knee.
Essentially, this procedure takes away the need for the CCL ligament to do its job.
A linear cut is made along the front line of the tibia bone. Then, that cut bone is pushed forward and a spacer is slipped into the space. After that, a stainless steel metal plate is attached.
This stabilizes the bone and keeps the femur from sliding forward.
Tight Rope Technique $800 and up
This state-of-the-art surgical technique involves drilling small holes into the knee bone. After that, a specific medical-grade material vertically and laterally threads the knee.
The post-operative routine must involve active involvement from the dog owners and will require physical therapy.
Mobility exercises are vital for the success of this surgery over the long-term.
How to Get the Best ACL Surgery Price
#1 Ask to Pay in Installments
Most veterinarian clinics will expect the full price of surgery up front; however, in some cases you might be able to negotiate a better deal.
Ask for a contract whereby you agree to pay a specific amount each month until the bill is paid in full.
If that doesn’t work, ask about…
#2 Care Credit
Care credit is an option for many pet owners facing expensive ACL surgery costs. It’s a type of credit card with perks that can really help out in a time of need.
For more information on Care Credit, visit: Animal Pet CareCredit
#3 Look for Low Cost Veterinarian Services
A low cost veterinarian service is an excellent way to save money.
Low cost does not mean low quality. The way these clinics keep costs down is by keeping their services simple.
That means they offer only the services you need, with none of the extras. In other words, dogs are sent home after surgery rather than spending a night (hospital overnight costs).
Depending on the age and overall health of your dog, this could be risky. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and consider the risks of things like infection or other complications.
Low cost clinics aren’t necessarily available for emergency services and, for the most part, they will refer you and your dog back to your regular veterinarian for follow-up care.
Emancipet Non-Profit Pet Clinics
Emancipet provides low-cost veterinary care for dogs and cats. Primary services include spaying and neutering, deworming, vaccinations, dental cleaning and checkups at very low prices.
Nonprofit clinics like Emancipet generally don’t offer surgerical procedures except on a case-by-case basis.
Theoretically, if you brought your dog to a nonprofit like this, you would save hundreds of dollars on routine care which could put you in a better financial position for more expensive surgery.
Home Management of ACL Injuries
ACL surgery costs for dogs can be prohibitive. If that’s the case, talk to the veterinarian about at-home management options.
If you’re considering at-home management options you will need to maintain all exercises, ensure your dog is receiving adequate rest, and make sure to follow up with veterinarian progress appointments.
If your veterinarian approves at-home care, the first thing you’ll have to endure is a restriction of your dog’s activity. In some cases, this could mean 8 weeks or more of restricted activity.
Crating for ACL Injuries in Dogs
You will need to keep your dog crated for optimal rest, especially when you’re not going to be home.
You may be able to carefully hold a small dog on your lap, but crating is best for deep sleep and comfort.
The worst thing that can happen is for your dog to jump suddenly from your lap, attempt stairs, or suddenly lunge for a toy.
Massage is not recommended during the acute stage of any injury. Even when you think your dog is on the mend, be very careful when massaging around the knee (stifle) joint.
A professional dog massage therapist is preferred, but if you prefer to do it at home, make sure to read this post on how to safely massage your dog.
Knee Brace Options
If the veterinarian recommends it, consider purchasing a top quality knee-brace for dogs with ACL (or more accurately, CCL) injuries.
The benefit of a properly fitted dog acl knee brace is the ability to keep the joints in place while healing takes place.
The downside of wearing the brace too often may be the under-development of other important muscles and ligaments around the joint.
It’s always best to discuss this option with the veterinarian.
Physiotherapy for Dogs with CCL Injuries
Physical therapy for dogs with CCL injuries typically involve exercises that keep the joints range of motion healthy while healing.
Physical therapy for dogs is typically advised after TPLO, TTA, and Tight Rope surgery.
Cold therapy is used to soothe pain and decrease inflammation.
Passive Range of Motion Techniques
This technique helps to stimulate blood flow which promotes healing. This also helps to prevent the muscles from weakening from lack of exercise.
Slow & Controlled Walking
Specific exercises that involve gentle walking exercises will be incorporated into any physical therapy program.
Gradually Increase Activity
With the advice of the veterinarian or physical therapist, treatment will eventually include the slow climb to more advanced exercises.
This is a slow process and should never be rushed due to risk of re-injury.
At the end of the day, we just want our dogs to be happy and healthy again, free to run and play. He/she WILL get to that point, it just takes time.
Don’t have the money for surgery? Talk to the veterinarian about managing the injury at home. Your veterinarian understands ACL surgery costs for dogs and will want to help.
Remember that the recovery time is going to be slow. It requires patience, practice, and follow-up care whether you choose a surgical option or not.