Slipped Disc Surgery for a Dog Cost

Last Updated on January 6, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

A lot of dog owners will at some point be faced with locomotor problems of their dogs. When the pet has difficulty moving, it doesn’t climb the stairs or gets out of bed as before, it looks like it is in a lot of pain, makes noises when it walks, doesn’t lift the leg when it urinates, it could be a problem with the spine.

As in humans, between the vertebrae, there is an area occupied by a structure called the intervertebral disc – hence the notion of “disc herniation”, one of the forms of intervertebral disc damage in dogs.

The spine is made up of vertebrae, of a bony, hard nature. They have an intervertebral disc between them. It is circular in shape, with a lipid content in the center, slightly deformable. The intervertebral disc ensures shock absorption and mobility of the vertebrae, relative to each other. Over time, for various reasons, the intervertebral disc may lose its integrity or properties.

When the intervertebral discs rupture, it can cause extreme pain and a loss of feeling. The symptoms often progress over time, but in some instances, they may occur suddenly such as with IVDD (intervertebral disc disease). Your vet is likely to recommend surgery and medication if this were to happen.

Intervertebral disc disease (slipped disc) dog surgery cost

The price of surgery to repair a slipped disc in your dog will vary depending on the problem and area where it occurred. Neurolocalization is a classification system for determining the degree of damage to your dog’s spinal cord and where it occurred. There are two regions: cervical vertebral 1-5 and lumbar 4 through the sacrum. Also, like with any other surgeries, the place where you live, the vet, dog breed, pre, and post-operatory needs will affect the final price.

If we take into consideration all the pre-surgery tests then the complete treatment would cost anywhere between $5,200 and $10,500. If more treatments and specialist opinions and interventions are necessary, expect to pay more than $17,000 plus the monthly medication that is around $190 without pet insurance.

You might also like our articles about the cost of dog x-rays, luxating patella surgery, or hernia surgery.

According to Embrace Pet Insurance, the prices could go very high if advanced imaging tests are taken into consideration. The cost of a sophisticated imaging technique is anywhere between $1,500 and $3,700 and you will have to pay $1,800 to $4,500 for the surgical procedure alone.

The cost of treatment for IVDD can be quite high, with estimates ranging anywhere from $2,800 to more than $7,000. The DodgersList.com website has created a price list that includes all medical expenses associated with this condition such as the surgery, the associated test, post-operatory therapy, and even the overnight stay at the hospital.

People who responded to a blog post about dogs with IVDD had different answers regarding the cost of this type of surgery. One had to pay around $7,300 including the recovery expenses, while others noted that they were charged anywhere between $6,200 to more than $9,500.

According to the members of the City-data forum, the cost of dog surgery for a slipped disc is more than $5,000.

What are the extra costs?

Your vet will diagnose your dog through a physical exam to look for symptoms of IVDD. This can be determined by breed and confirmed through X-rays or other tests as necessary, depending on what’s going on in the pet’s spine. Anyway, you’ll need to budget for additional tests if the symptoms indicate that more than one type test will be needed. These could include:

  • CT Scan that costs more than $1,200;
  • Serum chemistry which costs around $110;
  • Blood work that costs $260;
  • Urine analysis costing around $50;
  • Ongoing prescription medication to relieve the pain after surgery that is almost $170 per month;
  • Physical therapy after the surgery completes which is more than $70 per day;
  • Spinal X-ray costing more than $160;
  • Spinal tap that is around $1,000.

How does a dog with IVDD manifest?

The signs are diverse. They can vary in intensity, from the pet avoiding certain movements or a slower movement to paresis and paralysis.

It may no longer want to jump, run, climb stairs, or play. It might show pain when it is lifted or it may have difficulty urinating or defecating. In severe cases, paralysis sets in.

This condition can be perpetuated, depending on the severity of the injuries, or, through treatment, restriction of movement, and patience, it can return to the state in which the pet can move without problems. Be careful, however, because over time the problem may reoccur, in the same places or in others, at the level of the spine.

Treatment plan

Intervertebral DIsc DiseaseThe best treatment protocol for your dog depends on the severity of your dog’s illness. If your dog has mild pain, where it might keep its head down and does not want to move much, but can still stand and walk on its own, conservative treatment will be all it needs to get back to normal. Pain medications, muscle relaxants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will work to reduce pain, muscle tension, and inflammation.

If your dog has more severe pain, can no longer stand or walk, but still shows signs of perception and deep response to pain, your veterinarian may recommend emergency surgery. A veterinary neurologist will be able to surgically repair the herniated disc and remove the pressure and discomfort your dog feels.

If your dog is unable to sit and walk and cannot feel deep pain, your veterinarian will talk to you about care. If your dog has no signs of perception or response to deep pain, surgery may not completely solve the problem. Your veterinarian will talk to you about how to take care of a partially or completely paralyzed dog. While no one wants to see their dog paralyzed, a quick search on social media about paralyzed dogs will show you that not only can they live a normal life, but they can do things as well as a fully capable dog.

Recovery process

The recovery period is variable and with many possible complications. Recovery is also dependant on the possibility that the herniated disc be multiple, in which case it affects several discs. Patience! This is the essential word for loving “parents”. Recovery can take between 5 weeks and 3 months.

If you have a puppy that jumps in and out of bed, that “fights” with other dogs, that runs a lot or that goes up and down many stairs and is also a “predisposed” breed, then be careful! Go to a professional veterinarian from the first signs of pain or more difficult movement.

IVDD Affected Breeds

In general, this illness affects breeds that are longer than tall, with a long spine and short legs, including:

Can a dog recover from IVDD without surgery?

According to VCA Hospitals, the possibility to recover from IVVD without surgery greatly depends on the stage of the disease. The signs of a herniated disc vary quite a bit, with five different degrees. The first degree is characterized by different types of discomfort, by unbearable pain in the spine. The next three degrees of the herniated disc in dogs show us, progressively, loss of sensitivity, impaired movement, urinary or fecal retention, pain, and other neurological signs. Grade V of the herniated disc is the most severe and practical, no nerve signal passes the affected point, observing paralysis and intense pain. In this situation, surgery is required.

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