TPLO surgery cost

TPLO Surgery Cost

TPLO surgery cost typically ranges between $3,500 – $5,000. I show an estimate for one of our pups below where the total was $4,500, so right about in the expected range. Typically you’ll need to pay most of that amount up front – perhaps 80%.

Pet insurance can help, as explained below.

There are other alternatives to help with the cost as well (also discussed 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:

TPLO surgery cost - estimate from veterinary surgical center

So the TPLO surgery cost is estimated at $4,500, but the post-surgery costs are in the $500 ballpark.

Notice the “fine print” as well, where it mentions other subsequent rechecks, x-rays, etc. will all result in additional costs.

There are even more costs to consider in addition to those costs.

Key Takeaways

  • TPLO surgery is a common procedure to correct injuries to dogs’ cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).
  • The cost of TPLO surgery can vary depending on various factors, including the geographic location, the hospital’s pricing strategy, and the severity of the injury.
  • Insurance coverage and alternatives to TPLO surgery are available. They should be considered when making a decision about your pet’s healthcare.

What is TPLO surgery?

TPLO is an acronym for Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, which can be compared to an ACL tear in humans. We have extensive articles on TPLO surgery and TPLO recovery.

TPLO has been shown to have great success rates for patients with severe cranial cruciate ligament ruptures or tears – we’ve had two so far for our dogs and are on the brink of a third.

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: There may or may not be a cost associated with this. For both of ours, there was.
  • X-rays: Normally included in the quoted cost, but if something goes wrong during recovery, for example, more X-rays may be needed.
  • Blood work: Needed ahead of the surgery
  • Physical therapy: If you elect 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 far superior in terms of ease of use and the comfort of the pooch. Find them at Amazon or anywhere else. You can purchase one from your vet or your surgeon ahead of time.
  • Lick sleeve: Your dog will be wearing an e-collar for a while, but a lick sleeve provides some extra protection to ensure your dog is not able to lick the surgical area.
  • Crate: We found using crates preferable to isolation in a room. Our dogs are social and like to be near the other dogs, so we used crates throughout the house so the TPLO patient could easily be relocated to where the action was.
  • Chew toys: They can’t walk around, but they can chew! So give them something to pass the time away. Great time for some Kongs, or maybe even a Bullymake subscription.
  • Painkillers and antibiotics: These aren’t free! You’ll get some prescribed by your vet, but budgeting for some extra is not a terrible idea.
  • Follow-up visits with the surgeon: At least one, maybe two. You’ll know about these before you ever get to the surgery, so it’s no surprise. Still, though, it is best to be forwarned.
  • Follow-up visits with your vet: Same as the above. Your veterinarian must do check-ups to see how the pooch is doing.

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 and not waver.

Non-traditional medicine to help your dog recover

You’ll want to consider getting some painkillers 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.

Many dog lovers are 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:

GoFundMe for TPLO surgery

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: Reading through the description on that link, and looking closely at the receipts, you can see the total cost for this pup’s TPLO was around $7,400, so on the high side of the earlier estimates!

And don’t stop at GoFundMe – there are a lot of other crowdsourcing options these days.

TPLO surgery cost – recap

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 ballpark range is about $3,500-$5,000 but, as we saw, it can go higher.

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.

  • Aug 2021, first published
  • Sept 2023, updated