Luxating Patella in Dogs and Expected Surgery Costs in 2024

Written by Alanna Davis
Published: March 26, 2024
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Many pet owners will agree that when your pet isn’t feeling well, it can affect the well-being of your entire family. Thankfully, modern medicine has improved greatly over the course of time and veterinarians have helped preserve the health of countless animals across the world. Luxating patella is a common condition that dogs may develop at one point throughout the course of their lifetime. Although there are several steps owners and vets can take to treat this condition, surgical intervention is necessary sometimes. Let’s discuss how much luxating patella surgery costs in 2024, explore what recovery is like, and share ways that families can financially prepare for this procedure.

What Is Luxating Patella and When Is Surgery Necessary?

Veterinarian examining Puppy Shiba inu dog. check the body with a veterinarian.

Although some dogs have a mild luxating patella and only think of it as a nuisance, others may live in constant pain and have difficulties with mobility.

©Thirawatana Phaisalratana/iStock via Getty Images

Patellar luxation is a condition in which a dog’s kneecap dislocates from where it belongs. According to the Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center, “The patellar tendon sits in a groove at the end of the thighbone (femur) and attaches just below the knee onto the shin bone (tibia). Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap slides or pops out of place from the femoral groove when the knee flexes, causing the dislocation.” Depending on the severity, treatment can range from pain medication to surgery. Patellar luxation is categorized by grade, and surgery is only suitable for cases of grade three or four. Certain cases of grade two patellar luxation may be considered if mobility is greatly impeded.

How Much Does Luxating Patella Surgery Cost?

Close up of adorable healthy papillon dog looking to the camera, vet doctor writing prescription on the background

Dog owners have several options to offset the financial burden of surgery for patellar luxation.

©Di Studio/

Because this condition is somewhat common, many veterinarians offer surgery for it at their practices. However, the cost will vary depending on factors such as your location and the specific clinic you choose to go to. On average, surgery for a luxating patella will cost between $1,000 and $5,000 per knee. The cost of most surgeries will fall toward the middle of this range.

What Is Recovery Like After Surgery for Luxating Patella?

Pet dog owner in vet surgery waiting room reception

Your vet may recommend that your dog take joint supplements during the period of recovery.

©Juice Flair/

Every dog is different, and because of this, each dog’s recovery timeline will vary slightly. As a rule of thumb, dogs should avoid doing any strenuous physical activity such as running, jumping, or roughhousing for about three months directly following their surgery. During this time, owners may observe their dogs limping but this behavior should resolve around the four-month mark. While some dogs will be hesitant to put weight on their leg again, it is important to encourage them to use it. It is critical that they rebuild the muscle lost during the period of recovery.

Are There Alternatives to Luxating Patella Surgery?

hand of a doctor, veterinarian, listening to an akita inu dog, in clinic

Smaller dog breeds more often experience patellar luxation and it is largely viewed as a genetic condition.


While many dogs will experience a luxating patella at some point in their life, the severity can vary greatly. Dogs who have a grade one or two patellar luxation don’t always need surgery. This condition can be managed through physical therapy, oral medications, braces, and exercise. On occasion, this condition is able to resolve on its own, and further intervention won’t become necessary. Monitor your dog’s condition closely to see if they are responding to these alternative methods of treatment. As always, it’s important to talk to your vet about your dog in particular and form a plan that suits their specific needs.

What Happens if You Can’t Afford Luxating Patella Surgery?

Veterinary with a German Shepherd dog performing a recognition in the clinic

It is important to schedule periodic check-ups with your vet to assess your dog’s condition before and after surgery continually.


Individuals who have a pet insurance policy may be covered fully or partially for this procedure. However, many families don’t have this luxury, and they will have to face some sort of out-of-pocket cost. In these situations, it is recommended to shop around for prices for this surgery before settling on one veterinarian’s office. Some offices offer payment plans for these operations which allow families to pay off the procedure over a designated period of time. In addition, some veterinary schools run low-cost clinics that may offer cheaper prices on surgery for a luxating patella.

Final Thoughts

Knowing your dog is sick is a terrible, gut-wrenching feeling. However, it’s important to stay level-headed, even during times of medical emergencies. Patellar luxation is non-life threatening, and even cases of grade three or four luxating patella can be treated. Many dogs go on to live long, happy, and healthy lives after undergoing this surgery. Because of this, owners should take solace in the fact that their dog has a high chance of a full recovery.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © gorillaimages/

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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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