Canine Knee Surgery on Both Knees at the Same Time

When your dog tears its cranial cruciate ligament, that is bad news in itself, but what do you do when your dog ruptures both CCLs at the same time? How do you care for the dog? How do you decide what type of surgery to treat it? How do you afford it? Do you have the surgical procedure on both legs at the same time, or do you do one knee, let it recover, then do the other knee? These are all tough questions, and I’ll be the first to admit, we were a bit overwhelmed when our dog first ruptured her CCL, but hopefully the information here on this page will help out for those rare cases when pets rupture both knee ligaments at the same time.

The first step to take if your dog is diagnosed with 2 torn knee ligaments would be restriction. When I say restriction, I mean putting the dog in some sort of crate or pen that will drastically restrict movement. You don’t want the dog to have room to run and jump as sad as that is to say. While confined, icing the dogs knees can help reduce swelling and inflammation – if your dog will actually let you apply ice.

As the dog is confined, you’ll be left with some more questions to answer – Should we have both knees repaired at the same time, or should we do one, let it recover completely and then do the other. And then the next obvious question that comes after that is, can we afford it? I’ll address these questions together because they can tie directly into one another. We’ll look at these questions considering 2 cases. Case 1 – We get both knees operated on at the same time, and, Case 2 – We get one knee operated on, then wait for it to heal and then get the second knee operated on.

Option 1 – Repair both CCLs at the same time
I’m calling this option 1 because I think that this option will be the all around best option for both the dog and the owner(s). In terms of time commitment, this option will require less time because the knees will be recovering together, rather than waiting for one to recover, then waiting for the other. This option, though drastic, will be less harsh on the dog. With this option, the dog will only be required to be confined for 2-5 months (depending on the type of surgery, the veterinarians recommendations, etc.). This will essentially equate to half of the time as the other option. And the final reason that I think this is the better option is that there is greater potential for savings. If both knees are operated on at the same time, chance are you’ll be able to talk your vet into doing 2 for 1, or at least the second at a 50% discount.

Option 2 – Repair one knee at a time
With this option, you’ll be looking at strict confinement not just once, but twice. This was one of the hardest things when our dog had her knee surgery. There are many things that could come into play when deciding which option is best, age, activity level, attitude, etc, but if you have an active dog, I think that repairing one knee at a time would be absolute torture because it would lengthen the amount of time that the dog is penned up in a confined space. Though the possibility is there, I don’t believe the potential for savings is quite as large in this instance, because by spreading the surgeries out by 3-5 months, you’re in essence taking your dog back for an entirely separate surgery, and the veterinarian will probably want to bill you as such. It’s always worth trying to negotiate the price down a bit, but I would anticipate that the vet would be less willing to cut the price in this instance.

As terrible as this situation would be, it does happen, so I hope that this information helps in making decisions about how to treat a dog who does encounter a dual CCL rupture.


  1. Sarah says

    Our Yorkie/Poodle mix had a double CCL repair 4 days ago. We were very apprehensive about having both knees done, but since he was unable to stand up it seemed the only way to go. He weighs 22 pounds and is 3 years old.

    He was in the doggie hospital for 2 days following the surgery. When we got him home, we had to help hold up his hindquarters for him to urinate. He would stand for only a couple of seconds, then sit down. After being home for two days he has begun taking small steps and is obviously in pain.

    One huge concern (to me!) was that he didn’t have a BM until this morning. I was wondering how on earth he would manage to squat to do his business, but thank goodness the little fellow was able to do so. He has been drinking lots of water, I assume because of the pain meds and/or antibiotics. His appetite is excellent and he is getting the “sparkle” back in his eyes.

    I’m dreading the point where he feels better and will have to be “corralled” or kept on a leash for 6-8 weeks. We got an old baby playpen down from the attic and have been using it to keep him safe if one of us can’t be in the room with him for a few minutes.

    So far, so good!

  2. Dominique Herbig says

    Our active two year old Pitbull mix went in to the vet a few weeks ago with a slight limp, he found that her right cruciate ligament had torn and she needed surgery. After the Xrays he found the left ligament also fraying and suggested we do surgery in a few months (We opted for the Nylon thread technique.) Sammy duly went in for surgery and had a horrible reaction to one of the medications- she had to be pumped full of cortisone and came home all shaved with no operation. It was decided to leave it for a few weeks while we figure out the best way forward. However, a week ago, in a burst of energy, she ruptured the left (less serious) ligament and couldnt put any weight on it. She went in this morning for surgery on both legs- I am dreading both the surgery and the rehabilitation process when she comes home. Any tips on how to make her the most comfortable? She’s obviously going to be immobile…

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