Cost of Dog Knee Surgery – Are There Options to Reduce the Cost?

Dealing with a torn cranial crucial ligament in your dog is never an easy thing, and when you add in the high cost of dog knee surgery, it can become a very stressful situation for both the dog and the dog owner. When you begin to research the type of surgeries available to treat the injury, you’ll find the following primary surgery types which can range anywhere from $750-$3,000 depending on the type of surgery, the size of the dog, etc. Common surgery types used to treat a torn cranial crucial ligament in a dogs knee:

Each of the above types of surgeries is great in its own application, however the size and weight of your dog may disqualify it from receiving one or more of the particular types of surgeries. For instance, a large dog, such as a Rottweiler probably will not be eligible to receive a Traditional knee surgery strictly due to its size and weight. Most vets will probably recommend TPLO or TTA surgery for a dog this size, and unfortunately, TPLO and TTA are two of the more costly surgery types due to the fact that they are more invasive and involve cutting of the bone in the knee joint to create a new angle of the knee joint in order to reduce the amount of stress on both the joint itself and the surrounding ligaments.

Cost Reducing Options

At the end of the day, if your dog needs surgery, there really isn’t a way around it, though I have heard of some dog owners who have just not had the ways or means to cover the cost of dog knee surgery so they simply chose to use conservative management as their way of “treating” the injury. The reason that I put “treating” in quotes is because choosing not to repair a torn knee ligament will leave the knee unstable and it will really reduce the dogs quality of life in most cases – especially if the dog is overweight. Should you elect to avoid the cost of surgery by going the conservative management route, here are some things that may help you:

  • Limit the dogs activity
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many dog owners will just forget about the injury all together after time. The dog may seem to be better, but chances are the injury is still there and the dog has just found a way to cope with it. Make sure you restrict or limit the dogs activity after it suffers a torn cranial cruciate ligament.
  • Manage the dogs diet
    If the dog was overweight when the injury occurred, chances are the weight was a contributing factor in the torn/ruptured knee ligament in the first place. Putting the dog on a weight management diet can drastically improve the dogs quality of life (though many dogs will seem miserable when their food intake is limited) weight loss can definitely help improve mobility and recovery because the knee joint will have less force on it.
  • Anti-Inflammatory medications
    Though this may be an option, it’s not recommended in cases where the dog owner has elected not to get a knee surgery for the dog. Giving anti-inflammatory medication to a dog with an untreated torn knee ligament may give the dog the false sense that the knee is actually better and more stable than it actually is, causing the potential for more injury.

Though most wouldn’t consider not treating a torn knee ligament as a treatment option, it is in fact the only option for some people out there, strictly due to the cost. If you ever find yourself in this circumstance, you could always try to negotiate with your veterinarian – they may be able to work with you on the price.


  1. Liz says

    Yes, but in my opinion, only a rigid orthopedic brace will do the job. You should have a Physical Therapist do the casting and assessment of the brace, to make sure it fits properly, and is doing what it is supposed to be doing. That is, a Physical Therapist who is Certified to work on dogs.

  2. Tim says

    I have a 3 year old german shepherd who has just done the crucial ligament in her knee. The surgey we are doing costs $3500 AUD and is something along the lines of putting some form of plate in there to make it move differently so she does need the ligament anymore. She is a very active dog that loves playing ball. now after the 6 to 12 week recovery period do we still have to restrict her activity. As she loves playing and i dont want to see her be bored and feel useless. I cant afford it but will now be working double shifts 7 days a week to try and cover the cost. Does anyone know the success rate of this surgery amd will it affect her life span????

    • says

      Hi Tim,

      It all depends on how the surgery works out. It is different in every case. Our dog went back to being almost fully active. I say almost because even though she could run and jump, her run would occasionally have a hitch in her step. Best of luck to you and your dog.

  3. dawna lee says

    Our 11 year old Border Collie cross just recently “blew out” her knee and requires knee surgery. This of course is costly and she has aged so much i the last 6 months that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. How long is the recovery period? She has taken to chewing one of her elbows at the front and even with treatment she can’t seem to stop. Will she now start chewing the surgery sight. I wonder if it is a logical choice for an aging dog?? I also wonder if she will ever be able to do the things she loves most, bring the kids to the bus stop (running), babysitting, playing ball………

  4. Mark says

    I have a 4 yr. old, 64 LB English Pointer that is bred to hunt quail and pheasant. She is an athlete thru & thru. In Dec. 2009 she ruptured her left ACL hunting. The surgical cost was estimated to be $3,300.00. Having just been laid off my job, there was no way to cover the cost. We took the conservative approach — anti-inflammatory med and glucosimine on a regular basis. In due time, we would increase the level of activity (the dog only knows 2 speeds – fast and faster). Last week, she blew out her right ACL hunting. She is able to get around and I am treating the injury conservatively as before but have added med for pain. I remain unemployed; Cannot afford to do the surgeries; Unable to hunt with her again this season. Therefore, I am considering having her put down. Any thoughts?


    • says

      Mark –

      Sorry to hear about your situation, that is a terribly tough predicament. If your dog isn’t in pain, on a daily basis, I think that putting her down would be extreme. I understand that her current and new life is nothing like what you and her would want it to be, but sometimes things have to change – teach her to be a mellow house dog. If that’s not an option, maybe you could find a local agency or family who could help with the surgery or foster your dog out. Just a thought.

      Best of luck

    • Glenda Smith says

      Dear Mark, I understand how you feel. I just said today that is how I felt, between a rock and a hard place with my decision about our dog Sasha, Husky and very active. Our vet is charging 940.00 for the extracapsular surgery, the most common. However, since he weighs 75# and so active, it may not last long. It is so hard to know what to do. We can’t afford it either but my son is working and I have some income. We may borrow part and just bite a bullet and use money we don’t really have, like other bills going unpaid. He is just 3 years old and I can’t stand to think of putting him down. I am worried about letting him have surgery, too. But try to work something out with the ve on payments or something. Or see if there is an organization in your area to help owners with pets that have medical needs like this. I pray you will find the help you need. And whatever you do, I know it will be ok…May the Lord give you the comfort you need.

  5. Liz says

    I would NOT put down a 4 y.o. English Pointer! She can be rehabilitated for much less than the surgery costs. Find a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT), and get a consult. I would brace whichever knee is worse, for starters. If one of the ACL’s is a partial tear, the dog can recover. Look online for a CCRT.

  6. Glenda says

    Maybe you can get help through CareCredit. Vets use them as well as Dentist, etc. Payments would be low and no interest. Or the Vet might let you pay him along. There ould be organizations in you area that help with medical prolems. I pray you will be able to work it out and keep your dog. I know it is a very hard thing to go through. We are looking at surgery tomorrow and evertime I look at him I feel so bad because he doesn’t know what is going to happen to him and the weeks of recovery will be hard, he is so big and active. Rock and a hard place is where I am too. May the Lord bless you in your situation, too. He cares about animals, too.

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