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dog cruciate ligament surgery cost uk

Dog Cruciate Ligament Surgery Cost UK - Average Costs

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Wondering about the cost of cruciate ligament surgery in your canine friend and what surgery entails? Look no further, our expert guide to cruciate ligament surgery average costs includes everything you'll need to know and answers to all of your questions.
a collie wearing a cone


Cruciate ligament injuries are prevalent among dogs, impacting their mobility and overall health. These injuries often occur due to sudden twists, excessive strain, or traumatic incidents affecting the knee joint.

This can lead to issues such as cruciate rupture. Dogs may exhibit symptoms like limping, swelling, and signs of pain, necessitating either conservative management or surgical intervention. There are a range of treatment options.

In the context of surgical intervention, understanding the associated cost of treatment is paramount, particularly for pet owners in the UK.

Financial planning becomes crucial as surgeries and potential follow-up care can be expensive. As a dog owner, you should be familiar with pet insurance plans, so that you can make informed decisions regarding both the health of your pet and your finances.

Recognising the costs involved in cruciate ligament surgery allows for better planning, ensuring the best possible care without compromising quality, and addressing potential long-term implications of cruciate ligament disease or injury in dogs.

What is cruciate ligament surgery?

a corgi sitting on a couch with a cruciate ligament surgery scar on his leg

Cruciate ligament injuries are common in dogs and can cause significant lameness and discomfort. The cruciate ligaments, located in the knee joint, are crucial for stabilising the joint and allowing proper movement. There are two cruciate ligaments in a dog's knee, the cranial (anterior) cruciate ligament (CCL/ACL) and the caudal (posterior) cruciate ligament, often leading to cruciate disease.

Causes of cruciate ligament injuries in dogs:

  • Trauma: Sudden trauma or injury, such as a sudden twist or direct blow to the knee, can cause cruciate ligament tears, particularly in breeds with a steep knee angle like the Labrador Retriever.

  • Degeneration: Over time, wear and tear on the ligaments may lead to gradual degeneration, making them more susceptible to injury, especially in cases of orthopaedic conditions like hip dysplasia.

Symptoms of cruciate ligament injuries in dogs:

  • Lameness or limping, particularly in one hind limb, indicating abnormal movement.

  • Difficulty weight bearing on the affected leg.
    Swelling around the knee joint.

  • Pain and discomfort, necessitating pain relief.

  • Decreased activity or reluctance to engage in their normal activity.

Surgical procedures for treatment:

Several surgical procedures are available to address cruciate ligament injuries in dogs, showcasing personalised and individual variation in the treatment options. The choice of surgery depends on various factors, including the individual bone structure, the severity of the injury, and the professional surgeon's preference. Here are some common surgical procedures:

Extracapsular repair:
This is one of the most common procedures. It involves placing a strong suture material outside the joint to stabilise the knee. The suture helps mimic the function of the original ligament and provides stability during movement. Over time, scar tissue formation supports the joint.

Cranial Closing Wedge Ostectomy (CCWO):
Cranial Closing Wedge Ostectomy (CCWO) is a surgical procedure commonly performed in veterinary orthopaedics to address certain angular limb deformities in dogs. It involves removing a wedge-shaped piece of bone from the affected limb's growth plate to correct the abnormal angular alignment. This procedure helps restore proper alignment, improve limb function, and alleviate associated joint pain.

Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy (TPLO):
TPLO alters the biomechanics of the knee joint. It involves cutting the tibia bone and rotating it to change the angle, reducing the need for the cruciate ligament. The bone is then stabilised with a double plate.

Tightrope procedure:
Similar to the extracapsular repair, the tightrope procedure uses a strong suture material. However, instead of placing the suture outside the joint, it is passed through bone tunnels inside the joint. This technique aims to provide better stabilisation and promote faster healing, minimising the risk of postoperative complications.

TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement):
TTA is another procedure that changes the biomechanics of the knee. It involves cutting the tibia bone and advancing the tibial tuberosity to alter the forces on the knee joint. A specialised implant is used to stabilise the bone in its new position, considering the individual patient's body weight and proper weight management to reduce the shift in weight and ensure weight bearing is distributed evenly post-surgery.

Surgery is often recommended for cruciate ligament injuries in dogs to restore stability and function to the knee joint. It's essential to consult with a veterinarian for an initial consultation to determine the most suitable surgical approach based on the specific needs of the dog, potentially involving specialist surgeons with high success rates.

Average costs of surgery in the UK

a labrador laying down in bed following surgery

The general average cost for cruciate ligament surgery for dogs in the UK is around £1,500 to £4,000 (as reported by Pet Help Reviews UK). The price of veterinary surgery varies according to the location of the vet, the availability of operative medication, post-treatment care, and demand.

To be more specific, the breakdown of costs by surgical type tends to go as follows:

  • Nylon suture procedure: £800 to £1,000 per knee

  • TPLO surgery: £2,000 to £3,000

  • TTA surgery: £2,000 to £4,000

  • CCWO: £3,000 to £4,000

Again, clinics set their own prices according to multiple criteria such as geographical location and demand for services (though we'll get into that below) so it's worth contacting your vet for more information.

For example,
Frank Pet Surgeons in Leeds charge around £4,250 to £5,000 for TPLO and CCWO surgery, reflecting the expertise of an experienced surgeon and the orthopaedic consultation process.

Factors influencing surgery costs

a dog getting his arm bandaged up by a vet

The most common factors influencing surgery costs are as follows:

  • Severity of the injury: The extent and complexity of the injury or medical condition, such as bone disease or rupture in dogs, significantly impacts the cost of veterinary surgery. More severe injuries may require additional time, expertise, and resources for successful treatment.

  • Dog's size and age: The size and age of the dog can affect surgery costs. Larger dogs may require more anaesthesia, larger surgical instruments, and extended recovery care, contributing to higher expenses. Older dogs may have additional health considerations that could influence the overall cost of the procedure.

  • Location of the surgery: The geographic location of the veterinary clinic or hospital can play a role in determining surgery costs. Veterinary care expenses often vary based on regional economic factors and the cost of living in a particular area.

  • Type of surgical procedure chosen: The specific surgical procedure chosen for the treatment of the condition is a major factor in cost variation. More complex surgeries, specialised procedures, or the use of advanced technologies and equipment, such as typical fracture repair or surgeries requiring a robust repair, may result in higher overall expenses.

Post-surgery care and associated costs

a close up image of a dog who has undergone surgery wearing an orange sleeve on his leg to aid recovery

Post-surgery care is crucial for the successful recovery of a dog after cruciate ligament surgery. Depending on the surgical procedure and your dog's overall health, hospitalisation may be required for a day or more. This allows veterinarians to monitor the initial recovery and manage any immediate postoperative complications.

Pain management is also an important part of the recovery process as your dog is likely to experience pain after surgery. The good news is that your vet will typically prescribe pain relief medication to help control discomfort.

You should always follow the prescribed dosage and remember to give your dog their medication on schedule.

After surgery and during the initial recovery period, dogs need to rest and avoid excessive movement.

This often involves confinement in a crate or a small, restricted area to prevent them from putting too much weight on the operated leg.

Physical therapy and controlled exercise are vital for rehabilitation and will most likely be recommended by your vet. These exercises help regain strength, flexibility, and proper alignment.

Rehabilitation may include controlled lead walks, underwater treadmill therapy (
hydrotherapy) and specific exercises to target muscle strengthening, considering the individual patient's needs and pain thresholds.

The costs associated with cruciate ligament surgery can vary widely based on factors such as the type of surgery, the size and breed of the dog, the geographic location, and the specific veterinary clinic.

Surgical costs often include preoperative examinations, the procedure itself, anaesthesia, postoperative care, and follow-up appointments.

You should also factor in costs for pain relief medications, antibiotic medications, and hospitalisation (if required).

Insurance and financial assistance

a corgi laying on a soft bed looking up at the camera. he has a bandage on his leg from surgery.

Pet insurance can play a crucial role in providing financial support for surgeries, including those related to a specific disease in dogs or cruciate ligament injuries. Surgeries, especially orthopaedic procedures like cruciate ligament surgery, can be expensive even if you've saved up.

Pet insurance, like that offered by Waggel, helps offset the financial burden by covering a portion of the costs, making it more affordable for pet owners.

With Waggel, you can set and change your excess and Claim Contribution every policy year making your pet insurance that little bit more adjustable - especially in times of financial uncertainty.

As pet owners, we know that accidents and sudden health issues can happen unexpectedly. Having a
pet insurance policy in place ensures that you have financial support when urgent surgical interventions are required, such as for traumatic injuries or acute medical conditions.

Certain health conditions, including orthopaedic issues like cruciate ligament injuries, may require ongoing care.

With a Lifetime policy from Waggel, you can rest assured that you can continue to claim for their condition (up to your chosen annual limit) each year, for the rest of their life. Simply put, pet insurance can provide coverage for both the initial consultation and follow-up treatments, ensuring continuous support for chronic conditions, providing they were not pre-existing.

Some people choose to put money away each month in the event of a pet emergency, but sadly, sometimes this amount still isn't enough to cover surgery costs. It can also leave your savings depleted. With pet insurance, you can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that you've contributed your chosen percentage to your pet's claim, and your insurer will pay the rest.


a jack russell sleeping on a soft blue bed

In conclusion, we believe the importance of understanding surgery costs for pet owners cannot be overstated.

Awareness of potential expenses, coupled with early consideration of pet insurance ensures preparation for any unforeseen medical needs, particularly surgeries like those for cruciate ligament injuries.

The decision-making process for dog owners should involve a thoughtful balance between preventive care, open communication with veterinarians, and financial planning.

Regular veterinary check-ups, the consideration of pet insurance, and a proactive approach to healthcare contribute to responsible pet ownership.

Ultimately, making informed decisions based on the best interests of your pet's well-being, along with an understanding of the associated costs, enhances the overall quality of life for your cherished canine companion.

All Waggel members can get 24/7 video veterinary consultations with Joii. Joii is an online vet care provider offering free advice to all policyholders. Whatever the time, whatever the issue - they're on hand to help.

If you're a pet owner in need of some top tips and advice, the Waggel blog is the place to go. We've got articles on all things pet, from
interdigital cysts in dogs, skin conditions, dog tooth abscesses and constipation - any question you need an answer to, we've got it.


Is surgery always necessary for a torn cruciate ligament in dogs?

Surgery is not always necessary for a torn cruciate ligament in dogs, as conservative management and non-surgical options, including alternative treatments for torn ligament injuries, may be considered based on the specific case, highlighting the importance of an orthopaedic consultation.

How long is the recovery period after cruciate ligament surgery?

The recovery period after cruciate ligament surgery in dogs typically ranges from several weeks after surgery to a few months, depending on the surgical procedure and the individual dog's response to treatment, with successful surgery outcomes being closely linked to the healing factor and rehabilitation efforts.

What are the risks associated with cruciate ligament surgery in dogs?

Risks associated with cruciate ligament surgery in dogs include infection, bleeding, anaesthesia-related complications, and potential long-term issues such as arthritis, with postoperative complications being a concern that requires careful management.

Can cruciate ligament surgery prevent future joint issues in dogs?

While cruciate ligament surgery can address the current injury, it may not necessarily prevent future joint issues in dogs, and ongoing care and preventive measures, such as maintaining a proper weight and gradual degeneration monitoring, are essential.

Are there alternative treatments available for cruciate ligament injuries?

Alternative treatments for cruciate ligament injuries in dogs may include physical therapy and weight management, although the effectiveness varies depending on the severity of the injury, underscoring the need for comprehensive treatment options exploration during the initial consultation.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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