A condition where the dog’s kneecap, also called a patella, dislocates or luxates/shifts away from the normal position is called a luxating patella and is one of the most common five genetic problems that smaller dogs have to deal with.
This is why your beloved pet might have difficulty moving. The solution most vets will recommend to address this type of issue is a procedure called luxating patella surgery.
How much does luxating patella surgery for a dog cost?
Usually, the surgery for each affected knee will cost somewhere between $1,500 and $4,000. The actual expense will ultimately depend on the veterinarian, the severity of the issue, and your geographical location. Aside from the actual cost of the surgery, you will also have to consider long-term medications for the pet, which shouldn’t cost more than $50 per month.
One member on this City-Data.com forum thread said they were charged $2,500 plus the costs of x-rays and blood work before surgery.
Colorado Canine Orthopedics and Rehab has a variety of prices for their procedures. The cost to surgically repair medial patella luxation (MPL) is $1,980 or $2,980 if both knees are done at the same time. These fees do not include consultation charges before surgery as well as pre-operative blood work and post-op X-rays that need to be performed on your dog. They will, instead, include pre-surgical x-rays, anesthesia, nerve block, monitoring, and medications to take home.
Luxating patella surgery for a dog details
Some estimates include pre-surgical blood work and anesthesia fees, post-surgical care, and medication costs. In some cases, you may be able to get physical therapy as well from the hospital that performed the surgery.
Animals with severe symptoms are generally the ones that require surgery, but in some instances, a board-certified veterinarian may recommend surgery for animals who have milder problems. The veterinarian will grade each case using one of four different levels: I (mild), II (moderate) III (severe – needs treatment and monitoring), or IV (treatment necessary).
Check out the table below to get a clearer picture of the four stages of the illness:
|I||The patella can manually move out of place but will usually return to its natural position randomly. A dog often shows little to no discomfort and won’t limp.|
|II||The patella can displace with no intervention when the joint extends, but it should also return to the normal position randomly.|
|III||The patella easily displaces when extending, but in order to move it back into its natural position, help is needed.|
|IV||The patella is permanently displaced, which leads to a lot of pain for the dog. You will notice the dog dogs will shift their weight to their forelimbs in order to move around, Instead of placing weight on their knees.|
According to TopDogHealth.com, dogs with injuries that fall within the I to III range will have a non-steroidal pain relief drug prescribed and be put on a weight management plan. This will usually be enough to help alleviate the discomfort. Surgery is usually not an option unless they are showing lameness or their injury falls in category IV which would require surgery because it might result in permanent disability if left untreated.
When surgery is necessary, there are a few different options. One procedure called trochlear modification involves creating grooves in the femur so that the patella will stay in place. Another surgical approach includes repositioning and attaching the ligament to the tibia crest on the opposite side of luxation.
The recovery period of your dog will depend on the severity of their injury and how old they are. Usually, they’ll be able to resume full physical activity within six to 10 weeks.
Any additional expenses to consider?
The vet will need to thoroughly explore your pet before surgery is considered. Blood work, CT scan, and x-rays are needed during consults in order for the best-case scenario to be determined. After feeling the kneecap and going through the x-rays, it should be easy to determine what type of treatment will work the best for your pet.
Physical therapy after surgery is a necessity, not an option. However, some hospitals are more expensive than others and some don’t include it in their initial price quote.
Important things to consider
Your dog shouldn’t exercise or move intensely for up to six weeks after getting this type of surgery.
Any way to spend less?
For milder knee issues, if you want to avoid surgery, you have up to 5 different treatment alternatives:
- glucosamine and chondroitin dietary supplements;
- walking your dog on short distances daily;
- changing the dog’s diet;
- vitamin C to help strengthen the ligament.