TPLO Surgery on Both Knees – Betty

8 year old yellow lab (named Betty) that was possessed with the “I love life way too much” syndrome. We did daily walks of three miles and were joined by another lab lover twice a week for five mile adventures. One day I noticed Betty really holding back, not interested in her walk and struggling to keep up. I assumed she was starting with the hip issues that we Lab lovers are all to familiar with but a visit to her vet revealed otherwise.

X rays revealed knee issues…… I never processed that dogs have knees. Anyways, a veterinarian orthopedic specialist was recommended. We met with the doc and were given a first class education on what was going on with our friend. One hour he spent with us answering every question, regardless how inane, and most importantly spoke to us in terms we could understand. Oh, and he drew lots of pictures to illustrate his points, very helpful.

We elected to have the tplo surgery performed having been well informed as to it’s recovery time and demands. We were also informed that the chances of her having to eventually need surgery on her other knee was way greater than 50%. Well we are in month five post op and her surgical knee is amazing but sadly the other knee is done. She had her first surgery in March and it is now August, we are trying to hold off as long as possible on surgery on the other knee because we want to give her repaired knee plenty of time to rebuild and strengthen. We are shooting for October for tplo surgery on knee number two. I expect surgery number two will be as successful as number one.

Advice to all, get a great orthopedic vet and do the surgery. My best friend, even though wounded on knee number two, is like a puppy again. They’re worth every penny.

19 thoughts on “TPLO Surgery on Both Knees – Betty

  1. Yes, I agree that once a knee/or knees go, surgery (whichever you choose to go with) is the best thing to do for most dogs. Kudos to your surgeon being so patient, informative and great over all.

    1. My little love Sadie (my border collie) tore her back right Acl 6 months or so ago. This week she had an accident trying to jump into the car without me (I always lift her now) and injured her other back left knee. I took her in and the doctor didn’t do an xray, she said that she believes it has torn, that there was wiggle in there and by the way she was walking she was sure it had torn. The dr is so wonderful and didn’t want to do the xray so I could save the money and have it go towards surgery. She also said that she didn’t like the way the back right leg was holding up and said she believes that the meniscus was in fact torn. A suspension she had from the xray from the first injury. We did a full set of later treatments on her after the first injury and she still limps.

      I’m a hard worker, but with all going on in my life I can not take on more work. I caregiver for my very ill mother (non paid) full time, I work full time and am in training there for another 4 months. Not to mention a letter came in the mail yesterday from my landlord, rents going up 125 dollars! I’m beyond overwhelmed and hate seeing my little girl in pain. Are there any financial support options to help. If I buy insurance for her would they work on her with a pre existing injury? I know she needs help, the therapy and laser treatments didn’t help, but I can not afford the surgery. I have horrible credit, no bank account and no money saved or the extra income to make the high cost payments. I have nothing to sell and no bills or “extras” to cut back on. Please, Does anyone have any advice or information?

      1. Kat,

        I received a reply to my letter of 2011. We had one leg done in Portland, Or which cost $3300 I believe, for the TPLO. The second went out about 6 months later and I had it done in Boise, closer to where I live, for $2400.

        Our Samoyed was 5 years old. 5 years later she is 10 now and doing very well, A little arthritis in the front, but the back legs are great. She did have a reaction to whatever drugs were given her, in that her hair has not come back in as thick as it was, especially for her bushy tail.

        In any event, it is expensive, but it does work. I would look into other procedures and there is a guy on line who says you don’t need all of this done to your dog. At least hear him out.


        1. who is the guy. My dog is a Dane/Shepard mix just turned 5yr. and is baring some weight on his leg, I am disabled and cannot afford this surgery. I am trying to find finacial help. I live in Northern Ky.

          1. Hey Kim,

            You have many options for financial assistance. Many people use crowdfunding (websites like or youcaring). But there are also veterinary fund assistance programs in place to help people. This page has a list of groups nationwide that can help with veterinary care ( You can also consider getting insurance for your pet. While it may not cover this issue since your dog already has it, for a low monthly fee (we’re talking $35 a month) you can get reimbursed 90% of your veterinary expenses. This helps save you from the heartbreaking decision of having to euthanize your best friend because you can’t afford a $5000 obstruction surgery. There are also veterinary credit accounts like CareCredit that do no-interest promotions for 6 months or a year, depending on the amount. There are many, many ways to afford the various forms of care your dog will need throughout his lifetime. ACL tears can be quite painful, so helping your dog however you can is definitely the right call. If your dog is bearing some weight, you can consider laser therapy or hydrotherapy to avoid surgery. It may be a partial tear, which gives you some options. Though partial tears almost always become full tears unless they are very very small. Sometimes non-weight bearing issues can be from other things like groin pulls (ilopsoaz strains) so it’s worth it to take your pup to a vet and see what they think, rather than to assume the worst. Good luck!

          2. Check out Tiggerpoz. This source castigates the entire industry for what he says is a waste of money. I was in contact a few years ago and felt he was full of it. I could see his advice about small dogs just needing rest and to be cared for, but how many people have this opportunity. Plus, you seem to have a pretty active mix, so his ideas may not work.

  2. Betty will be having the left knee operated on in two weeks. The doc examined her and determined she had a 50% tear that would eventually be a 100% tear, once torn they do not heal on their own. If the right knee is any indication Betty will be healed and ready for spring and summer fun.

  3. My labrador amber had a TPLO 7 weeks ago, shes due to see the surgeon monday so he can xray and possibly scedule the 2nd surgery. I am from a small town and my small town vet says to give it 6 months before going ahead with the 2nd surgery.The “big vet” says if we dont get her 2nd leg done it will make her arthritis on the front worse. I am so torn! $3800 surgery on a family with 1 income is enough let alone to add a 2nd surgery. Ever since amber had surgery her sister macy started limping too. I thought it was maybe a pain transference but we took her to the “big vet” and he said she needs a tplo aswell! what are the odds of that? Im researching non-surgical methods of healing and am gona give it some time. usually the scar tissue will build where it needs to to stabilize the bad joint. ive restricted macys activities for the last 3 weeks and and gonna give it another 6 weeks to see how her limping goes. they are both on cosequin and carprofen.

  4. Mandy, so sorry! About Amber AND Macy!

    How bad is Amber’s second knee? That is the main question. Thing is that if it’s not in a good shape, it is likely to go any time anyway. Jasmine’s second knee went three months into her post-op after surgery on her first one.

    Because the second knee was bearing more workload than it normally would, it makes it that much more likely to go also.

    Your surgeon is right about the arthritis. The longer the knee remains unstable, the more arthritis develops. While the busted knee can be fixed and full use of leg gained, the arthritis is there to stay.

    My instinct would say let the first knee heal before operating on the other. But the matter of fact is that the knee might make up its own mind about what’s going to happen.

    It all depends on how badly damaged the second cruciate is and whether/or how much arthritic it is at this time. Only people who saw the e-rays and other diagnostic results can really judge that.

    The TPLO IS very expensive. Extracapsular repair is substantially cheaper and it can work (worked for Jasmine, Rottweiler, for both of her knees). The orthopedic surgeon might not be likely to either recommended it or be able to do it (depends on whether it’s an old-timer or a young vet. Young vets likely learn how to do TPLO only). Your small-town vet might have experience with this surgery, why don’t you discuss with him.

    I can’t tell you want to do, I can only share my experience and point out there are more than one option.

    1. Thank you for your comments 🙂 Amber is OCD with ball chasing and her upper body was big and her rear end skinny, i spose shes been in bad shape for a while and we took her to the vet because she no longer wanted to get up or jump on the bed or the couch. weve stopped the ball chasing and after her tplo her back ends looking better. this is all new to us!my small town vet says straight up he cant fix it and he wouldnt attemp to because hes not an orthopedic surgeon. I told him yesterday what the “big vet” said about macy and hes gona take a look at her tuesday. he said let amber heal for 6 months and we can give macy adequan shots and keep her rested. i feel like im being cruel but my vet says im not. dogs bodies take care of themselves and their pain. Im holding off for now because of what i read on im pulled in different directions but this type of surgery or expense is nothing to rush into.

    2. I think it’s important to note that arthritis occurs in an injured knee regardless of whether surgery is performed or not. Arthritis after a CCL tear is absolutely inevitable. What isn’t inevitable is the pain- with the proper treatment and management you can minimize arthritic changes and keep a high quality of life so long as you understand that just like you surely have some mild arthritis somewhere in your body, your dog will be living with some as well.

      1. Hi Ala, I don’t think it’s THAT inevitable, particularly if the knee is treated early and particularly if the meniscus is preserved. Jasmine had extracapsular repair on both her knees, combined with stem cell therapy – this was three years ago now. Her arthritis didn’t get any worse than it was prior the surgeries, in fact it has improved.

        1. I don’t mean to say that arthritis occurs and makes life bad for the dog- just that it does inevitably occur. Arthritic changes are essentially what the body uses to stabilize the joint, and they begin as soon as the injury/instability occurs. Arthritis doesn’t always mean disability- just changes in the joint.

          1. Arthritis itself is merely inflammation of the joint. This can occur without a “mechanical” cause, such as result of natural aging of the joint, infection (e.g. Lyme disease) or autoimmune disease (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, though rare in dogs)

            Eventually, the situation will result in changes in the joint such as bone spurs/steophytes)

            Mechanical issues, such as unstable joint as in cruciate injury does start of the degenerative process. The main idea behind the knee repair surgeries is to stabilize the joint once again. A successful knee surgery will then minimize (or ideally prevent) the process.

  5. This may or may not be the best advice but in your heart of hearts you know your pet/best friend better than anyone, trust your gut! I’ve read a zillion opinions on what and what not to do to “help” our four legged offspring but ultimately you have to make the difficult decisions, surgery or conservative management or do nothing, I opted for surgery and have never doubted that choice. Our Betty has a fantastic ortho vet, he has never pressured us to make a decision one way or another he simply supplies facts and when asked he offers his opinion. If any doctor, veterinarian or human, makes you feel pressured to make a decision then you might think about finding someone new. As I said, trust your gut and find a great orthopedic vet.

    Some other contributor pointed out that no one mentions vets names, interesting. He offered his e mail address for anyone who wished further info. I will follow that example but add that I live in maryland, the DC area, and will be more than happy to indorse as well as recommend our “Dr. Amazing”. All one need do is ask.

    Remember, always trust your gut.

    1. Thank you wendy. I do like “big vet” guy and i feel like im cheating on my “small town” guy but hes ok with it and i keep him informed and try to take what they both say into account. id love surgery 4 both girls because i want them happy but my wallet says no and the dog breeder says wait. they are extremely happy loved girls! my angels. even the lady vet that checks me in says theres no rush so i will wait a few months. were not running or taking hour walks any more and the couches are gone from the house so no jumping. 🙂

  6. I recently had the second TPLO on my 5 year Samoyed. She had blown both tendons out in deep soft snow last Winter. Had one done at Cascade Vet Referral in Portland, Oregon in May and it cost $4300 all in, $300 over the high estimate.

    Just had the other leg done at West Vet in Boise (which is closer to my home in NE Oregon) for $2318 all in, and a superior job.

    The first was very successful and I expect the same of the second, as we are very careful in the post-op period.

  7. Betty is in week 10 of her 12 week recovery and she is amazing. She is up to 55 minute daily walks and she actually looks forward to them. When I sit down to put on my walking shoes she springs out of her bed and is raring to go. She really is acting like a puppy, it’s just amazing.

    Additional point. The first couple of days after surgery number 2 I just felt awful. I felt so guilty for putting her through it again but we pushed on and now she’s as happy as I’ve ever seen her. Tomorrow is her fourth underwater treadmill therapy, which she loves. I have no regrets but it was hard, I was not prepared for the guilt. Having said that, I would make all the same decisions.

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