How Much Does Luxating Patella Surgery Cost?

Written by: Staff

A luxating patella, one of the five most common genetic problems found in smaller dogs. is a condition where the kneecap (patella) dislocates or shifts (luxate) from its natural position.

Because of this, your dog may have a hard time moving its legs because of this condition.  As such, your veterinarian may recommend luxating patella surgery to address it.

Brought little Lucy home from the vet af by thejennyevolution, on Flickr
Brought little Lucy home from the vet af” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by thejennyevolution

How much does luxating patella surgery for a dog cost?

The cost of surgical treatment will depend on the vet, where you live, and the severity of the problem.  On average, each affected knee can cost $1,500 to $3,500.  On top of the surgery, your dog will also require long-term medications, which can add another $20 to $50 per month.

According to one member on this forum thread, they were charged $2,500, plus the costs of blood work and x-rays prior to the surgery.

Colorado Canine Orthopedics and Rehab lists its prices on its official website.  The cost for medial patella luxation (MPL), which includes the pre-surgical x-rays, anesthesia, monitoring, nerve block, post-operative x-rays the day of the surgery and go home medications will cost $1,980 for a unilateral MPL or $2,980 for a bilateral MPL.  These prices won’t include the consultation, pre-operative blood work and post-operative x-rays.

Luxating patella surgery for a dog overview

The estimates above should include the pre-surgical blood work, the anesthesia, post-surgical care and medication.  In some cases, a hospital may provide the physical therapy as well.

Only severely affected dogs will require surgery, but in some circumstances, mildly affected dogs may benefit as well.  Because the disease is so variable, a board-certified veterinarian will use a grading system, ranging from I to IV, to describe the condition.  See our table below to see how each grade is described:

IThe patella will manually displace but will return to its normal position randomly. A dog often shows very little comfort and won't limp.
IIThe patella will displace by itself when the joint extends, but it will return to its natural position, again, randomly.
IIIThe patella easily displaces when extending, but in order to move it back into its natural position, help is needed.
IVThe patella is permanently out of place, causing a lot of pain for the dog. Instead of placing weight on their knees, dogs will shift their weight to their forelimbs in order to move around.

If your dog falls within the I to III range, then your vet will more than likely prescribe a non-steroidal pain-relieving drug and a weight management plan to help alleviate the discomfort and prevent it from worsening in the future, and surgery will be the last option.  Surgeries, according to, will depend on the severity of the luxation, the anatomical abnormalities and if your dog is showing lameness.

As for surgery, if your dog were to need it, your vet has a few options.  One procedure, referred to as a trochlear modification, involves creating a groove in the femur to hold the patella in place.  Another surgical approach involves repositioning the patellar ligament and attaching it to the tibia crest on the opposite side of the luxation.

The recovery period will greatly depend on the severity of the problem, your dog’s age and the diagnosis.  On average, a dog will be able to use the affected leg within six to 10 weeks.

What are the extra costs?

Before the surgery is considered, blood work, a CT scan and/or x-rays will be required during a consult to determine the best case scenario.  After feeling the kneecap and studying the x-rays, your vet should be able to make an educated guess as to which treatment option is best.

Physical therapy is highly recommended after the surgery, and while some hospitals may include it in their billing price, some don’t.

Tips to know

After the surgery, your dog will be restricted for the next six weeks and shouldn’t exercise or participate in vigorous exercises.

This condition is most common among the Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, Boston Terrier, Pekingese and Jack Russell Terrier.

How can I save money?

If your dog’s knee diagnosis is very mild, Dr. Mark, a veterinarian from Brazil, recommends six alternative treatment options if you don’t want to consider the surgical option:  changing the dog’s diet; walking your dog several short distances daily; offering glucosamine and chondroitin dietary supplements; acupuncture; and/or adding vitamin C to help strengthen the ligament.

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