Helpful Tips To Help You Find The Right Veterinary Knee Surgeon For You and Your Dog
Has the time come for your dog to have knee surgery? If so it will be important to find the right surgeon for both you and your dog. There are several factors to consider as you research the ideal clinic to operate on your furry friend. This article will review a few key research tips to keep in mind as you explore veterinary surgeons near you.
Primary considerations when choosing a surgeon for your dog’s knee surgery:
- What certifications should your surgeon have?
- What type of postoperative care does the clinic offer?
- What type of knee surgeries does the clinic offer?
- What payment options are available for you?
What Certifications Should Your Veterinary Surgeon Have? Being Board Certified VS Other Credentials
“Board-certified” is a distinctive credential that means that following veterinary school, a veterinarian has chosen to continue their education through extensive training and rigorous examinations in a particular field of study, such as surgery. Here at Animal Surgical and Orthopedic Center (ASOC), all of our doctors are board-certified veterinary surgeons.” (1)
Typically, this training is a twelve month program, followed by at least three years of residency in a focused area of animal care. These certifications are awarded by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), at which point the veterinarian is awarded diplomat status.
There are in total forty-one different types of board certifications available to veterinarians in fields of focus ranging from radiology, dental, to surgeons.
Similar to human allopathic doctors, veterinarians may choose to further their education in order to perform more specific procedures, such as knee surgery. ‘Board Certified’ is a credential that animal doctors receive when they elect to narrow their specialty through continued education in a very specific field of veterinary care:
So, should it matter if your animal doctor is board certified? If it would matter to you that a human doctor is specifically trained as a knee surgeon, then likely it should matter if your animal doctor has the specific qualifications to operate successfully on your dog.
Dog knee surgery is an intricate process that does require specialty training, so be mindful to ensure that your veterinarian is ‘board certified’ before moving forward with an operation for your dog.
Postoperative Care In The Clinic:
- Is the clinic staffed 24/7?
- Will your pet need an overnight stay?
There are several different types of knee surgery available for dogs, and depending on the type of operation your dog needs the postoperative care procedure will vary. Before scheduling your dog in for knee surgery be sure to find out what type of post operative care your dog will need, if it is necessary to spend an overnight in the clinic, will this clinic be staffed twenty-four hours a day?
Not all dog knee surgeries require overnight stay in a clinic, in which case you will need to set your home up for postoperative care. If, however, your animal will be staying overnight, you will want to make sure that they are monitored throughout the night by clinic staff to ensure that the wound remains clean, that vitals are checked regularly, and to ensure that no complications arise.
Once you know whether your dog will need to stay overnight after surgery be sure to find out if the clinic provides a twenty-four hour staff presence on sight. This will mean finding out what type of knee surgery the clinic does offer and what type of postoperative care is necessary.
What Type Of Knee Surgery Options Does the Veterinary Clinic Offer?
As you look for the most suitable clinic and surgeon for your dog’s knee surgery you will want to consider the different types of surgery available and if your veterinarian is able to perform the best choice for your dog’s needs. There are three primary surgery options for ACL tears in dogs:
- Lateral Suture
For many years lateral suture surgery was the only option available for ACL tears in dogs, and because of this it is likely that more veterinary surgeons will be available to perform this option. The advantages of choosing this traditional approach is that it can be performed on dogs of all sizes and ages.
There are a variety of knee surgeries available for dogs, it is just a matter of finding the right fit for you and your dog.
Lateral suture surgery essentially is replacing the torn ligament with a prosthetic ligament on the outside of the dog’s knee joint. The disadvantage to this option is that if a dog was able to tear the natural ligament then there is the potential to tear the artificial one as well.
The next available, and more recent evolution in dog knee surgery is TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). This more recent development in dog knee surgery is generally more expensive than lateral suture surgery, but tends to have greater longevity. TPLO involves less risk for re-injury, however it is a more extensive surgery.
TPLO surgery involves shortening the shin bone of the dog, changing its angle slightly and inserting a metal plate and screws in the knee joint itself. The postoperative care is still similar to lateral suture, and you can expect your dog’s down time to be roughly six weeks.
The final option that you will have is TTA (tibial tuberose advancement), involves changing the length of the tibia (or shin bone), changing its angle slightly, and inserting a titanium implant. Generally, the implant involved in a TTA procedure is lighter by comparison to the stainless steel used commonly in TPLO surgery.
All three primary knee surgeries available for dogs should be done by a board certified veterinarian, and as the owner you can expect a similar postoperative recovery timeline.
So, if you know that your dog will need knee surgery, and are still unsure what the best option will be, the difference in cost may be the deciding fact.
What Is The Cost Of Lateral Suture Surgery, TTA, And TPLO? Does The Veterinary Clinic Have Payment Options Or Do You Need To Pay Upfront?
Lateral Suture surgery is generally significantly less expensive than TPLO or TTA surgery and you expect that the difference in pricing will range from $2000-$3000. Many clinics will offer a variety of payment methods that will give you the opportunity to pay the surgery over the course of several months. This, however, is not always the case so please be sure to find out if your surgeon requires payment up front or if you will have the option to make monthly installments.
Depending on where you live, the level of experience of each surgeon, and a few other factors, cost will vary. Generally lateral suture surgery will cost around $1200, whereas TPLO surgery will range from $3000-$5500, and TTA surgery will land somewhere between $2200-$3500. All of these prices will be subject to the market value of your specific location.
When calculating the best knee surgery option for your furry friend, be sure to get a quote that includes any blood work, X-rays, and medication that may be needed after surgery and be sure to find out if the clinic offers a payment plan.
What Experience Does The Veterinary Surgeon Have and Do they work with dogs of all sizes?
It is worth finding out how long your veterinary surgeon has been performing each surgery. In order to be board certified they will have needed to complete at least three years of residency, plus you will want them to have a few years of experience before operating on your dog.
Furthermore, it is important to ask if your surgeon of choice operates on dogs of all sizes as some will focus on certain sizes and breeds. The needs of a German Shepherd will be quite different from that of a small lap dog.
Find The Right Fit For Your Dog’s Knee Surgery
Spend some time calling around to different veterinary clinics near you to find out who offers what type of surgery, if they are board certified, if they have sufficient experience with your dogs breed and size, as well as what type of postoperative care they offer.
Naturally, you will want to compare prices based on credentials and find out what type of payment plan they offer. Thorough research ahead of time will likely make the surgery go more smoothly as you find the right fit for you and your dog.