TPLO Surgery – Cost
You can expect to pay between $3,500 – $5,000 for TPLO surgery. Typically you’ll need to pay most of that amount up front – perhaps 80%. Pet insurance can help as explained below.
You can expect the cost of the surgery to include the events that take place the day of the surgery such as the IV, blood work, anesthesia, pre and post-op x-rays, pain meds, antibiotics, e-collar, and the stay in the hospital.
These costs are all usually baked into the quoted surgery price but, of course, you’ll want to go over the estimate line by line to be sure.
Here’s an estimate we got this week for Rocket’s upcoming TPLO. Note there are separate costs for the post-surgery efforts that are listed separately from the cost of the surgery itself:
Notice the “fine print” as well where it mentions other subsequent rechecks, x-rays, etc will all result in additional costs.
There are costs to consider in addition to those costs.
What is TPLO surgery?
TPLO is an acronym for Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy.
This surgical procedure alters the slope of your pet’s tibia bone to reduce any possible strain on the knee. The outcome of the procedure is an adjustment to the tibial plateau angle within your dog’s knee, altering the bio-mechanical nature of the knee to ensure correct, pain-free function for the remainder of your dog’s life.
TPLO surgery has been shown to have great success rates for patients with severe cranial cruciate ligament ruptures or tears.
Successful TPLO surgery will repair your dog’s knee joint to the point where it’s almost as good as new.
Costs in addition to TPLO surgery cost itself
The evaluation leading up to, and after, the TPLO procedure can add a good bit to the total cost. There will also be costs associated with preparing your home, preparing the recovery area for the pup, and any medicine, compresses, etc that are needed throughout. These costs are often overlooked.
- Initial evaluation
- Blood work needed ahead of the surgery
- Physical therapy – if you elect for additional therapy for your dog during the recovery process, this will be an additional cost
- Sling – you may be given one when your pup comes home but if not, you’ll want to buy one. We’ve gone through two TPLO surgeries with our dogs and the sling was a huge help. You’ll see and hear that you can just as easily use a towel or a bed sheet. In our experience, the sling was a far superior in terms of ease of use and the comfort of the pooch. Find them at Amazon or anywhere else. You can probably purchase one from your vet or your surgeon ahead of time as well.
- “Lick sleeve” – you dog will be wearing an e-collar for awhile but a lick sleeve provides some extra protection to ensure your dog is not able to lick the surgical area.
- Confinement area (crate preferably)
- Chew toys and other distractions
- Pain killers and antibiotics
- Follow-up visits with the surgeon
- Follow-up visits with your vet
If things don’t work out…?
There is a small chance something will not work as expected.
The odds are low, but it happens.
If corrections are needed, or if there are any post-operative complications that need to be addressed, you can expect to foot the bill for them if they are a result of you failing to follow the recovery plan.
An example of when you would be expected to pay is if your dog re-injures the leg by jumping off the couch within a specific timeframe.
An example of when you would not be expected to pay is if the TPLO plate screws do not hold the plate in the correct position and need to be adjusted.
Either of the above is a huge inconvenience for you, more pain and stress for your pup, and is going to cost somebody something. The key point here is to follow the recovery plan exactly and to not waver from it.
Non-traditional medicine to help your dog recover
You’ll want to consider getting some pain killers for your pup – the surgeon will certainly prescribe some but many recent patients are opting for medical marijuana or CBD, so they are worth looking into and, of course, can be an extra cost.
Read what the American Veterinary Medical Association has to say about it.
Note there can be up to a 30 day waiting period for this so if you go this route, you’ll want to start early.
Follow on surgery
It’s worth mentioning that it is not at all uncommon for a dog with a successful TPLO to need another one for the other leg. As the pup gets back into pain-free recklessness, which we love to watch, they stand a high chance of causing a similar injury on the unimproved leg.
If another TPLO surgery is needed, the above amounts will serve as a reference for what to expect the second time around.
With the prospect of a second TPLO, or perhaps even ahead of your first, it may be worth considering pet insurance.
Pet insurance can help offset the cost of TPLO surgery
Like any other insurance, you can’t expect insurance to pay for pre-existing conditions so seeking out pet insurance after diagnosis will not help. If you have larger, active dogs, it may be worth considering the cost of pet insurance against the somewhat likely need for TPLO down the road (along with the other insurance benefits, of course).
How to raise some money for TPLO surgery
A recent trend is others helping you to pay for the TPLO.
There are lots of dog lovers out there, many with a few extra bucks.
Some folks have had luck with GoFundMe efforts.
Here’s one where over $7,000 was raised:
My thought there – no harm in trying! That’s a case of 471 people all sending in a few bucks…very cool.
You can read more about it here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/kai-ccl-tear-surgery
TPLO surgery cost – conclusion
We hope we were able to shed a bit of light on the subject of how much you can expect to spend on your dog’s TPLO surgery.
The cost is not insignificant but the benefits, in our opinion, are well worth it.
Just keep in mind that the estimated price is most of it, but not all. There will be other expenses. And if it makes sense for you, a close look at pet insurance is time well spent.
Lastly, don’t skimp on your dog’s recovery from TPLO as doing this can waste the time and money you have put into the TPLO surgery to begin with.