Torn ACL in Dogs

ACL Surgery For Dogs – $995

ACL is short for anterior cruciate ligament (Technically a CCL in dogs – cranial cruciate ligament, because dogs walk on four legs instead of two).

ACL Injury in Dogs

Cruciate ligamant tears in a dog’s knee are quite common. Pet’s stand with their knees slightly bent, so there is more constant strain on the cruciate ligament then in human knees. Tearing this ligament causes instability in the knee joint that allows an abnormal motion leading to debilitating arthritis over time.

This is called a cranial drawer motion, as it mimics opening a drawer. Here at Helping Hands, we fix the torn ACL in dogs by simply replacing the ligament with a new one, which we call the lateral suture technique. This knee repair technique is also sometimes called the tightrope or extracapsular repair.

Dog ACL Surgery Options – Lateral Suture, TPLO & TTA

Currently, there are three different procedures to repair an ACL tear. The lateral suture technique, the TPLO or the TTA. Anytime there are three different ways to do anything, it is because not one of them is the best or the best way would be the only way. The good news is, they all work and have good success rates as long as you follow proper post op care.

We only offer the lateral suture technique at Helping Hands. Until the last decade or so, it was the only way to repair an ACL tear in dogs. It can be performed on all sizes and ages of dogs. It is performed by replacing the torn ligament with a false ligament on the outside of the joint.

The TPLO and the TTA techniques were developed somewhat recently as a stronger repair because, quite simply, if dogs can tear the ligament they were born with, then there is a risk of tearing the new one we put in.

The TPLO and TTA are performed with steel plates that are stronger than a false ligament. However, steel plates are very expensive and take more time to implant, thus part of the reason for the huge difference in price.

So, with the lateral suture technique, you have to be willing to assume a slightly higher risk that your pet could re-injure themselves. The implant may tear if they move in a way that caused the original one to tear, thus needing a second surgery. The larger the dog, the more weight is being put on the cranial cruciate ligament. The younger the dog, the more active it is likely to be.

So if you have that large, super active pup that will not slow down, or you simply want to reduce the risk of them re injuring themselves and tearing the false implant, then the TPLO or TTA may be the way to go. If you have a large, active dog and cannot afford the TPLO or TTA, the lateral suture will still work very well. We do it everyday. You simply have to assume a slightly higher risk and work a little harder at keeping your pet calm and quiet.

Recover from ACL Surgery for Dogs

The surgery itself is the easy part, the challenging part will fall on you to keep your dog somewhat quiet and still for 6 – 8 weeks post- op. The first 2 weeks require crate rest. A crate is the only way to ensure no jarring, jumping or pushing off motions from occurring. The post op care is the same no matter which procedure you choose.

I get the easy part of the job, the surgery, and you get the hard part of the job, recovery. If, you choose to come to Helping Hands, your dog will leave our hospital with a knee, good as new. It is you and your pet’s responsibility to keep it that way.

We perform the lateral suture technique on a regular basis with great success on all sizes and ages of pets. We know having choices is good but can also make the decision for what is best challenging.

Watch the video below to learn about the type of dog ACL surgery we offer:

The only additional fees you may incur would be for Bloodwork, Biopsies or E collars

Scheduling Surgery for a Torn ACL in Dogs at Helping Hands

While bloodwork ($60) is always suggested, as a cost savings, it is only required on dogs over 7 and cats over 9 years of age. If your veterinarian has run bloodwork within 48 hours of your pet’s procedure, please have them fax it to us or bring us a copy to save you this fee. *Biopsies ($125) If we are removing a growth, a biopsy is required to determine if it is cancerous or benign. If you choose to have a biopsy, the results will be faxed to your full service veterinarian for review and any follow up care. * E Collars ($15) Many animals chew or lick open their incisions after surgery. We STRONGLY recommend that every animal have an e-collar to help prevent this. If your animal opens his or her incision, you will be charged for closing the wound.

We are outpatient facility which means the pets go home the same day and are usually back to their old selves that night or the next day. While rare, if your veterinarian believes your pet needs post op monitoring, you can return to your full service veterinarian or a 24-hour facility for continued care at your expense. We are here to get your pet through the procedure and back into the hands of your full service veterinarian.


Meet some grateful pets who have had successful surgery for a torn ACL at Helping Hands:

Pickles – a senior rescue dog!

Roxy Mae – native Marylander who had surgery in July 2013

Big Dog
Little Dog


Helping Hands

1605 Rhoadmiller Street
Richmond, VA 23220

PH (804) 355-3500
FX (804) 355-3009