Dog Slipped Disc Surgery Cost – Full Guide

Dog Slipped Disc Surgery Cost

Has your dog experienced an injury causing a vertebral disc rupture? Or has it been diagnosed with disc degeneration? These may cause intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) or herniation, also called slipped disc. If your vet prescribes surgery, you may wonder about the cost.

A dog slipped disc surgery alone may cost $1500-$4000. But this range doesn’t include some mandatory procedures, the most crucial of them being diagnosis, which pushes the cost to $3000-$8000. With pre-op and post-op care, the cost can go as high as $14000.     

Evidently, canine slipped disc surgery is expensive for a pet parent. Let’s find out more about this procedure and analyze its cost breakdown. 

Factors Affecting Slipped Disc Surgery Cost for Dogs

Factors Affecting Slipped Disc Surgery Cost for Dogs
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Like most surgical procedures, slipped disc surgery in dogs can vary widely. The cost depends on the following factors: 

Severity of the Slipped Disc

In the early stages, a slipped disc can cause pain, limping, uncoordinated movements, etc. As things get worse, a dog may experience partial or total inability to walk or move. 

In worst-case scenarios, a dog may even lose the ability to urinate. Based on the severity of the symptoms, the cost of surgery and overall treatment will also increase. 

Size and Weight of the Dog

Slipped disc affects dogs with short legs, like Dachshunds. But large dog breeds like the German shepherd and labrador retriever are also prone to spinal problems like slipped discs. 

Larger and heavier dogs need more medicines, anesthesia, IV fluids, etc., compared to smaller dogs that weigh less. Accordingly, the overall cost of the surgery also increases.  

Age of the Dog

Typically, disc herniation in dogs gets diagnosed between the ages of three and six years. With age, the condition worsens – requiring more intensive care.

A dog’s age also affects its ability to recover from the condition and the effects of the surgery, besides having other conditions. Thus, IVDD surgery costs are higher for them.  

Surgical Facilities

Depending on the facilities of the hospital or clinic where you want to get the surgery done, the cost can vary widely. Any state-of-the-art vet hospital will quote you more. 

On the other hand, local clinics with only necessary and sufficient facilities will be less expensive. But then, they will likely not cover an all-in package with complete care.   

Geographic Location

The location of the vet hospital or clinic also plays a major role in dictating the cost of the surgery and care. In metro cities like Los Angeles or Miami, the costs are higher.

On the other hand, the cost of slipped disc surgery will be lower in places like Hickory and Green Bay. Associated costs, like vet fees, medicines, etc., will also be lower.   

Preoperative Testing and Post-Operative Care

For IVDD treatment and surgery, preoperative tests are crucial. Diagnostic imaging tests help locate the problem site. Physical, neurological, and blood tests are also mandatory. 

Once the surgery is completed, post-operative hospitalization, pain meds, physical therapy, etc., are also required. All of these, put together, contribute to the overall costs.   

Related: Dog ACL Surgery Cost and Treatment

Slipped Disc Surgery in Dogs: What Is It?

IVDD is a common spinal condition in dogs where joints get affected. The spine has discs acting like cushions between the vertebrae or backbones. Degeneration or injury can cause one or more of the discs to rupture, leading to a slipped disc or IVDD. 

There are two types of IVDD in dogs. In young or middle-aged dogs (3-6 years), Hansen Type I or intervertebral disc extrusion is seen. On the other hand, Hansen Type II or intervertebral disc protrusion is more common in older dogs (above 7 years). 

Short-legged breeds like the dachshund, pug, lhasa apso, or beagle are genetically predisposed to IVDD. It affects 19-24% of dachshunds, who make up 45-70% of the cases. But it is also common among large breeds that are prone to bone and joint issues.   

Canine Slipped Disc Surgery – Process and Aim

A slipped disc surgery aims to remove the ruptured disc from the spine. This helps relieve the pressure on the spinal cord, which is behind several problems – including hindered blood circulation, movement issues, and future disc problems, among others. 

First, diagnostic tests are performed to detect the severity and location of the ruptured disc. Then, the decompression surgery is performed to restore normal blood flow. After that, the dog remains under hospital care before its rehabilitation begins.   

Here’s a video that explains the process of the surgery.

Can Your Dog Recover from Disc Herniation without Surgery?

Slipped disc surgery is prescribed when the condition reaches a severe state where the dog suffers from immense pain or immobility. However, there are other non-surgical methods of treating disc herniation, especially when diagnosed at an early stage. 

Alternatives to IVDD surgery include: 

  1. Medicines
  2. Back bracing and support
  3. Physical therapy 
  4. Strength training
  5. Chiropractic care
  6. Neurological treatment
  7. PEMF, laser, and acupuncture

80% of dogs recover from this condition without surgery. However, it requires proper alternative treatments and a long recovery time. Plus, there remains a chance of IVDD recurring later without surgery. They may also be left with mobility issues.  

Risks and Complications Associated with Canine Slipped-Disc Surgery

Just like other canine surgeries, slipped disc surgery has its risks. Complications may start with the wrong identification of the exact location of the rupture. This can complicate the surgery and recovery. 

Complications can also arise during surgery, especially if the patient has other conditions, such as Miller-Fisher Syndrome. Fluid buildup or seroma is a possibility, as is an infection of the surgery site. 

Sometimes, patients may experience worsening of their symptoms and even spinal cord damage or myelomalacia. Treatments for myelomalacia and seromas can lead to seizures and spinal cord irritation. In some cases, dogs may present no improvement.    

Expected Recovery and Rehabilitation Process for Dogs After Slipped Disc Surgery

Post-surgery, a dog may take 1-4 weeks to recover. The success rate of IVDD surgery is about 90% in the early stages. It declines to 50% if diagnosed when the condition is severe and the surgery takes place immediately after diagnosis.  

Post-surgery in-home care is essential for the dog’s recovery. These include: 

  • Regularly monitoring the surgery site and its surroundings for redness, swelling, and signs of infection; 
  • Help with urination by manual expression of the bladder with proper technique as demonstrated by the doctor; 
  • Maintaining proper cleanliness and eating routines with the help of expert guidance;
  • Keeping the patient confined in a small, comfortable, and noiseless area for at least 6 weeks;
  • Taking the dog outside 4-5 times a day while on a leash for the purpose of defecation and not exercise;
  • Maintaining complete restrictions on movements and preventing interactions with other dogs or children, and
  • Administering medicines properly as prescribed by the vet. 

The rehabilitation process should include passive range of motion exercises and leg and joint movements to mimic walking. Muscle massage and stretching exercises are also important. These can be particularly helpful for dogs who can’t move.

Other rehabilitation treatments may include: 

  1. Laser therapies to reduce inflammation and enhance healing;
  2. Acupuncture therapy to reduce pain,
  3. Exercises for weight management, balance, coordination, etc.   

Related: TPLO Surgery for Dog Cost

Cost of Slipped Disc Surgery for Dogs

The cost of slipped disc surgery can vary widely, the average cost being $1500-$4000. Depending on your location and other factors, the surgery may cost as high as $5000. This is only the cost of the surgery. There are other associated mandatory expenses.

Before surgery, diagnostic tests like X-rays or other sophisticated techniques. These can cost between $1,000 and $3,000. The total cost, including surgery and diagnosis, can go as high as $8000. That still leaves you to consider factors like: 

  • Initial consultation
  • Physical examinations
  • Neurological tests
  • Blood work
  • X-rays/diagnostic tests
  • Anesthesia
  • MRI/CT scan
  • Pain medicine
  • Hospitalization 
  • Physical therapy
  • Followup tests

The all-inclusive IVDD surgery package can cost $8000-$10000 for small dog breeds, while it can be $10000-$14000 for larger dogs in a well-established hospital.  

Ways to Lower Slipped Disc Surgery Costs for Dogs

If a slipped disc surgery seems too expensive for your dog, you can try the following means to reduce the cost: 

1. Finding Low-Cost Clinics

Local vet clinics are often the best choice for pocket-friendly surgery options. It will be even more helpful if the clinic is located in one of the affordable cities. 

2. Exploring Financing Options

Pet loans are available to help pay the bills for the surgery. You’ll need a good credit score to get it. You can also get personal loans from your employer for the same.

3. Pet Insurance and Care Credit

Pet insurance and care credit cards go hand in hand. You can make upfront payments with credit cards and pay off the card balance using the pet insurance amount. 

4. Discussing Options with the Veterinarian

Talk to your vet regarding all loan and insurance options – and do not hesitate to ask for discounts available. Also, find out if surgery is your dog’s only road to recovery.  

Related: Luxated Patella of Dog – Surgery Cost

Dod Slipped Disc Surgery Cost: FAQs

Q: Is Dog Slipped Disc Recovery Without Surgery Possible?

A: Yes, recovery without surgery is possible for a dog with a slipped disc. Even dogs with weakness or paralyzed back legs can recover from it. But the recovery time will be much longer, and it may take 6-12 months before they can start walking. So surgery is recommended. 

Q: How Successful Is Disc Surgery in Dogs?

A: Disc surgery in dogs has a success rate of around 90% if diagnosed and addressed in the early stages. However, if the diagnosis and surgery take place when the condition is already severe, the success rate of dog back surgery declines to around 50%, as long as the procedure takes place immediately after diagnosis.   

Q: What Should You Do if You Can’t Afford IVDD Surgery for Your Dog?

A: If the cost of dog IVDD surgery seems unaffordable, you can look for financing options, low-cost clinics, pet credit cards, etc. Or, you can look for non-surgical treatment options that include pain medication, light exercise, nursing, dietary care, etc., though the recovery can be slow. 

Q: What Is the Life Expectancy of a Dog with IVDD?

A: If a dog with IVDD is treated in time and the dog goes through complete rehabilitation, it will likely have the life expectancy standard for its breed and age. However, if left untreated, the condition can get fatal. It can decrease the quality of life, cause paralysis, and even death.  

Q: What Is the Process of IVDD Dog Treatment Without Surgery?

A: Non-surgical treatment for dogs with IVDD includes cage rest and supportive care. Treatment without surgery also requires regular but light and safe exercise to ensure that the dog’s mobility is not hampered. Medical management is also required. 

Related: Dog Hip Replacement Cost – All You Need to Know

Slipped Disc Surgery – for an Improved Quality of Life

Slipped Disc Surgery - for an Improved Quality of Life
Image by iStock

Living with a disc herniation can be truly painful for your dog. If surgery is prescribed, you’ll likely want to follow your vet’s recommendation. Speaking to your vet about financial concerns and looking for loan and insurance options can help improve your fur baby’s life. 


Johann Chapuis

Johann Chapuis has assembled a fantastic team of licensed veterinarians, animal behaviorists, dog trainers, groomers, and walkers to write every article and offer the most accurate content on Being a pet lover and owner himself, Johann is sharing his experiences and his financial aptitude cultivated during his MBA with a specialization in finance and the numerous years he spent working as a business manager and entrepreneur.

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