ACL surgery cost for dogs can be prohibitive for a lot of people. Unfortunately, the panic to get your dog well again could end up costing you more than it needs.
One of the biggest joys of owning a dog is watching them run, fetch a ball, or leap into the air to catch a Frisbee.
There’s no denying how much happiness dogs bring into our lives. Watching a dog in pain is no fun. Witnessing a dog limp around and not enjoying every moment of life is even worse.
In this post, we will breakdown ACL surgery costs for dogs with quotes from reliable, trustworthy veterinarian clinics.
We’ll give you practical ways to lower ACL surgery costs for dogs and discuss whether your dog really needs to have surgery or not.
If someone told you that you could avoid $3000 ACL surgery with the guarantee that your dog will eventually recover, would you believe it?
Important Side Note: ACL vs CCL in Dogs
It’s important to note that what is commonly referred to as an ACL injury in dogs is actually called a CCL injury. CCL stands for Cranial Cruciate Ligament. In dogs, it’s the CCL that tends to tear.
The CCL is an important stabilizer of the knee. It helps keep the knee moving in a healthy manner and provides support for load-bearing. The knee joint (or the stifle) depends on the CCL for healthy movement.
How Much is ACL Surgery Cost 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.
Generally speaking, the costs can range anywhere from $1000 to $5000 or more.
In some cases, that doesn’t include the added costs of blood tests, pain medication, antibiotics, or any of products you might need to purchase for at-home care.
Those items include e-collars, a sling, a safety gate to keep your dog from tumbling down the stairs (or bounding up the stairs).
What ACL Surgery is Best for Dogs?
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.
Lateral Suture Technique
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.
Cost of Lateral Suture Surgery in Dogs
The cost of lateral suture surgery starts at around $995.
In some cases, dog owners can find low-cost veterinarian clinics who work hard to keep costs as low as possible. The ACL surgery cost for dogs is high! You have a right to shop around.
More on Low Cost Veterinarian Services Below
TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy)
As mentioned earlier, ACL surgery cost for dogs can range widely from $1000 to $5000 OR MORE.
Do not feel that you have no other alternative than to choose the most expensive option. In the unlikely event that you feel pressured to sign on for any type of surgery, wait.
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…
TPLO surgery can cost anywhere from $3000 and up, depending on the size of your dog, whether the dog has implants, the severity of the injury, etc.
This type of ACL (or CCL) surgery for dogs involves drastically changes the dynamics of the knee. It’s a lot 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.
Cost of TPLO Surgery for Dogs
The cost of Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy can cost anywhere from $3000 to $5000 or more, depending on the clinic..
Remember that the cost of ACL surgery for dogs includes a lot of extras including:
- use of surgical room
- surgical supplies used by the surgeon
- the surgeon’s fee
- IV fluids
- Overnight hospitalization
- Medications (pain, antibiotics)
- follow-up care
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.
More on low cost veterinarian services below…
Talk to the Veterinarian About Conservative Management
If you keep reading, you’ll find more information on conservative management of ACL injuries in dogs (below).
Talk to your veterinarian about this possibility.
It may take 12 weeks or more for your dog to recover WITHOUT surgery.
Although surgery might address the problem over the long-term, your veterinarian might have options for conservative management that do not involve a $3000 (or more) vet bill.
TTA Surgery (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement)
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.
Cost of TTA Surgery for Dogs
Generally speaking, you could be facing a bill of $2000 to $3000 or more.
Tight Rope Technique
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.
Cost of Tight Rope Surgery for Dogs with ACL Injuries
Although the overall costs seem much lower than some of the other methods described here, the long-term maintenance and care may increase costs over time.
The surgical procedure is itself can cost anywhere from $750 and up, depending on several factors including the extent of the injury, size and health of the dog, and the clinic performing the surgery.
How Can I Cut Down on ACL Surgery Costs for My Dog?
There are a few ways to get the price available. For example, you can:
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…
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: Pay My Provider.
Look for Low Cost Veterinarian Services
A low cost veterinarian service is an excellent way to lower ACL surgery costs for dogs.
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).
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.
Some Low Cost Veterinarian Service Options
Location: Richmond, VA
1605 Rhoadmiller Street, Richmond, VA 23220
phone: (804) 355-3500 fax: (804) 355-3009
Monday-Friday – 7:30am – 5:30pm
Helping Hands provide outpatient surgeries and dental work only. Their mission is to offer quality care at affordable prices.
Northline Low Cost Veterinarian Clinic
Location: Houston, Texas
Northline Low Cost Pet Clinic, 51, Tidwell Road, Hawthorne Place, Houston, Harris County, Texas, 77076, United States
South Suburban Low Cost Veterinarian Services
This clinic offers a variety of services at low costs to customers.
For more information on their surgical services, visit South Suburban Low Cost Veterinarian Services.
Conservative Management – At Home ACL Management
Unfortunately, ACL surgery costs for dogs is often too high for the average dog owner. In that case, consider talking to the veterinarian about at-home management options.
If you’re considering at-home management options, keep in mind that you will, essentially, be acting as “nurse”. 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 Restricted Activity
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.
Sharp, sudden movements can quickly undo all of the progress you’ve made so far!
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.
If you can find a professional dog massage therapist, go for it. 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 quality (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.
As mentioned above, there are many posts you can read about how to do it correctly.
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.
Give it a Rest!
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.
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I am not a veterinarian and I ask that all clinical-related questions be directed to a professional.
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