Knee surgery for pit bull and alternatives

by Ryan
(Holbrook, Ny)

My two year old pit started limping occasionally on her left leg about 3 weeks ago. We took her to the vet and she thinks she tore a ligament in her knee.

The vet put her on pain meds and recommended x rays (we couldn't afford them at the time). Now she is limping on both legs and having trouble walking. We are taking her to the vet tomorrow for x rays.

Does anyone have any information about knee surgery? Are there alternative options to getting surgery? I read about certain vitamins that may help her. Does anyone know anything about this? Please help!!!!!

Thank you, Ryan

Gale's Reply:

Hi Ryan:

I did some quick research on this since I haven't had any direct experience with any of my dogs having knee surgery. Here's what I found.

Knee surgery is a very common surgical procedure for dogs. In fact, it's done 5 times more often for dogs than for humans. In 2003, over a million dogs had an ACL repair procedure.

The cost can vary greatly depending on the type and extent of damage to be repaired and the customary charges for the area in which you live. I found online estimates ranging from $1000 to $5000. I've heard of this surgery costing as much as $7500.

What I found to be shocking is that the effectiveness is not what you might hope. Insurance companies are starting to questions the efficacy of knee surgeries because at least one study has shown that only 20% of dogs receiving knee surgery actually improved within 6 months of the procedure. Be sure to ask your vet about the success rate of any procedure she recommends.

Alternatives: Depending on the extent of the problem, there may be other solutions. These won't necessarily repair current damage. But, they may keep your dog mobile and relatively pain free.

1. External Knee Brace
2. Injectable Adequan (requires a Rx)
3. Oral chondroprotective supplements like Glucosamine and Chondroitin
4. Pain meds as prescribed by your vet.

There are probably other possibilities that my research didn't uncover. Be sure to ask your vet about these an any other alternatives she can offer.

Good luck with this and please let us know how things turn out.

Comments for Knee surgery for pit bull and alternatives

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Jan 14, 2011
knee surgeryu
by: flacowgirl

I compete in agility and train basically everyday. My friend has a Border Collie that torn his knee ligament completely. She had surgery done and 7 months later he was fully recovered to competition level again. You would never know this dog had a problem. He came home in a cast which he wore for several weeks, then after it was removed, we swam him daily in a friends pool to help him recover. This is a great success story and I know that not all cases turn out good. Its a hard decision, but being careful and following the physical therapy guidelines are very important for a chance of a full recovery. I hope you have success in whatever method you choose.

Jan 14, 2011
Additional Comments
by: Gale

Ryan, there are some additional comments for you on Facebook

Jan 14, 2011
surgical assistant
by: Maria

I worked 2 years at a veterinary clinic and would assist the specialty surgeon when he would come in to do knee and hip surgeries. We had a few Pitbulls that required knee of them had to have both knees done. And both recovered beautifully with full use restored.

Jan 16, 2011
Fawn's knee surgery
by: Karen

Our pit-mix Fawn had a broken leg as a young dog before we adopted her. At age 6 she was diagnosed as having a luxating patella: where the knee cap slides to one side or the other causing her to lift and carry that leg (same leg that had been broken). Our vet recommended a surgeon in a nearby town & she had the surgery. It was a little complicated because to correct the problem entirely, a wedge of bone was removed in addition to the knee surgery. She did well, was hospitalized 4 days. The hardest part was having to keep her quiet and on a leash every time she went outside. No jumping, running, playing, etc., all those things pitbulls love most, for 5 months. Today, at 9 years of age, she runs and plays like she always did. The surgery was difficult and the recovery period long, but Fawn has had no problems since.

Jan 16, 2011
Fawn's surgery (2)
by: Karen

I forgot to say that Fawn took a series of Adequan injections but they did not help. Her surgery cost between $2500-$3000 and we would do it again.

Jan 17, 2011
by: Ryan

Thank you everyone for all your comments!!!

Jan 22, 2011
by: Red Stueckrad

My pit just had her stiches removed two weeks after surgery. Have to keep her from running for at least four weeks. I live in the Chicago Area and paid $2800 for a specialist to do the surgery.

Mar 14, 2011
Just got knee surgery
by: Shannon

I have a one yr old Pit. She just had her knee surgery on Feb. 11. The hardest is keeping her from running and jumping. I have a feeling we will be redoing because I cant for nothing keep her settled. She just had the bandages taken off two days ago and has been crazy since haha I live in the DC area and had it done in Woodbridge VA the cost was 1089.00 for the surgery and the three days they kept her but now the physical therapy runs about 80.00 every two weeks. Good luck

Mar 14, 2011
knee surgery
by: Anonymous

Thanks shannon. We ended up getting the surgery. We have the same problem as you....we just cant keep her from running and jumping. It has been about three weeks since we got the surgery. She still limps a little but is doing much better. We do her physical therapy at home. Thanks for your help!!!!

May 12, 2011
Knee surgery
by: Anonymous

I just had knee surgery on my 3 yr old pit and she is doing great! I am so impressed with the outcome of this surgery. I spent $1286.00 on her surgery at Dr Higdons Animal hospital in dalton ga. I would do it time again to have her be this happy!

Jan 11, 2012
Just had knee surgery 3 weeks ago
by: Harriet

My service-dog in-training is presumed to be an AmStaff (aka Pit Bull). Presumed, because she's a rescue. Anyhow, she tore the ligaments in both of her rear legs, most likely while rough-housing. First one leg, which she limped on for a few days. It looked like she was feeling better, but she really was overloading the other rear leg - and then that one ruptured. So we took her in to be examined by our regular vet. She doesn't do knee surgery, but gave us recommendations. I took my dog to two other vets with knee surgery experience as well as a separate certified canine physical therapist - so I got opinions from both those who would financially benefit from the surgery being done if I picked them to do it as well as from someone with no stake in the matter. They all said the same thing: Do the surgery. So we went with the left rear leg about three weeks ago. She's already improved dramatically! Of course, we're being strict on her activities through rehab. The surgery cost us about $2,000 (which I couldn't afford, I have a GoFundMe site) for the first leg. Total including rehab and the second leg should run about $4,400. I would say, be sure that the surgeon you use has plenty of experience. Prices do vary according to the type of knee surgery done, internal encapsulation seems to be the least expensive rather than bone-altering surgery, but see what your surgeons think will be needed.

Sep 20, 2012
Knee surgery and recovery and brace
by: myrsklan

you mentioned a knee brace do you know where we can purchase one?
We have a 4 year old pit who is needing surgery we are waiting to hear from vet when we will be doing this.
To those of you out there who have done this what is recovery like for these poor guys?
Thanks for any info you can give us.
you can email us at

Jan 16, 2013
upcoming surgery
by: Anonymous

my old family rednose just blew out her knee running through the house- she will be 1 yr old next week. at first i shied away from surgery- i read the same website saying only 20% of surgeries were successful, this is the same website that wants to sell you supplements. everyone else, including those in this posting, has had great success. i am looking forward to having my dog back!

Jan 06, 2014
re-occuring knee trouble
by: Mark

My three year old pit had knee surgeryabout a year ago. Recovery was about a 6 month period. I noticed that after recovery anytime she got out and played hard (she loves to run the fence with the neighbors dogs) she would limp. It got to the point that I would put her in a pen during the day and only let her out for bathroom breaks. If she was roaming yard freely and I heard her barking (which meant she was running) I would run outside and get her into the house. I came home from work the other day to find that my wife had let her out, I could hear her barking as soon as I pulled into drive. Bella came around the side of the house holding the same leg off the ground. It's been three days now and she still won't hardly put her leg down. Looks like another trip to the vet. It hurts me to see her not being able to run and play because I know she loves it so.

The pit I had prior to Bella was Roxanne She had the same trouble. She tore her knee at 12 , had the surgery, and and ended up re-injuring it. Of course by that time she had been diagnosed with a mass cell tumor close to her heart. I still miss her.

Jun 26, 2014
knee surgery for pitbull NEW
by: Glen

yes my pitbull 2 years are we had her ACL repaired by year ago and now her her right one is acting up now and shes babying that one .The first one cost 2800 I call her my money pit but love her my best friend.

Jun 26, 2014
knee surgery for pitbull NEW
by: Glen

yes my pitbull 2 years are we had her ACL repaired by year ago and now her her right one is acting up now and shes babying that one .The first one cost 2800 I call her my money pit but love her my best friend.

Jun 26, 2014
knee surgery for pitbull NEW
by: Glen

yes my pitbull 2 years are we had her ACL repaired by year ago and now her her right one is acting up now and shes babying that one .The first one cost 2800 I call her my money pit but love her my best friend.

Jun 30, 2014
Just got the diagnosis. . . . NEW
by: Matt

My pit bull has been limping for the last couple of days, so today we went to the vet.

The doctor felt the leg and, within about ten seconds, said "it is a torn ACL which will cost $3500." No scans, no additional review, nothing.

I'm not a vet, so maybe the doctor is right. Maybe it is that easy of a condition to diagnose. However, the last pit bull I had had the same diagnosis at one point, and was better after rest within four weeks, and lived a long, full life after that. No arthritis, no pain, no issues.

Since the dog is doing to be in "rest mode" with or without the surgery, I'm thinking of giving her a few weeks before decding on the surgery to see if she improves. Has anyone else done this?

Oct 06, 2014
Knee surgery NEW
by: Laurie

Just took my Pitt to the vet today because he was slightly lame on his left leg, I insisted on x-rays because this is the first time any Pit i have owned has gone lame on their rear leg or legs. I did have a Pit once who had acute bone degeneration and poor little girl had to be put down.
I was fearing the worst for the Pit i have now but the x-rays showed both knee caps are not centered but off to one side. The Vet assured me all cartilages are fine and it's just a matter of deepening the groove on the bone so the knee cap sits in place correctly. Lets hope so! I suppose what i'm saying is, we all know how tough Pits are as a breed and how they don't whimper or yell if in pain (Generally) but any sign of lameness in any limb get an x-ray quick, it could save further damage to your dogs joints and save you lots of money in unwarranted surgery costs due to prolonged inaction on an owners behalf..

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