Common Surgical Procedures in Dogs

Four Minutes
Dec 08, 2023

Dog surgery can be a scary situation for pet owners. You'll likely have lots of questions on top of concern for your pet's health. However, understanding common dog surgeries can help pet parents feel more prepared.

Here are some common dog surgeries you can learn more about to be prepared in case your pup needs one someday.

Spaying and Neutering

Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures to remove a dog’s sex organs. For spaying, this means preventing female dogs from getting pregnant, while neutering prevents males from impregnating female dogs (and may take away their urge to breed).

In addition to preventing surprise puppies, studies have shown these elective procedures can result in longer lifespans. Plus, the hormonal changes from the surgeries can result in decreased aggressive behavior and your dog being a little more relaxed.1,2

Spaying and neutering surgery for dogs can cost between $340 and $1,500.but MetLife Pet Insurance’s add-on Preventive Care plan can cover costs associated with spaying or neutering.

TPLO/CCL (ACL) Surgery

A dog’s cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is a band of tissue that helps stabilize a dog’s knee. At least, that’s what it does for a healthy knee.

When a dog’s CCL tears or ruptures, it’s similar to when a human tears their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). A torn CCL in dogs is relatively common and typically occurs due to trauma or wear and tear.

A damaged CCL won’t heal on its own and requires surgery. Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery has a high success rate and costs between $750 and $5,000.4

Symptoms of a CCL injury can include:

  • Limping, walking on tip-toes, or walking on three paws
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying position
  • Difficulty jumping or going up steps
  • Muscle atrophy

Many dogs can put weight on the leg within a few weeks, but bones take about 12 – 16 weeks to fully heal.5

Luxating Patella Surgery

A luxating patella in dogs is essentially a dislocated kneecap. Patellar luxation may occur due to trauma, but it can also be caused by genetics. It’s most commonly found in small or miniature breeds.

The condition varies in severity, and surgery is recommended to repair the issue once it’s advanced past the first grade of severity, meaning the kneecap can no longer go back into place on its own.

Luxating patella surgery can cost between $1,000 and $5,000 per leg.6

Symptoms of patellar luxation can include:

  • Lameness or difficulty moving
  • Pain
  • Arthritis and swollen knees

Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a genetic disorder in the hip joint that results in the ball and socket grinding against the pelvic bone, which affects a dog’s mobility. Risk factors can include genetics, breed (larger breeds tend to be more at risk), and age, since older dogs are more likely to develop hip dysplasia from wear and tear over the years.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia can include:7

  • Limping
  • Avoiding activity
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Trouble sitting or lying down

Medication and other treatments are available, but sometimes, surgery is the best option for your dog. Hip dysplasia surgery can cost up to $7,000, between consultation, pain medications, anesthetics, and the procedure itself.8

Recovery time can take up to 12 weeks — like in the case of an orthopedic surgery, such as a total hip replacement — but some dogs can recover in as little as six weeks.9

Lipoma Removal

Lipomas are fatty masses or tumors that develop under a dog’s skin. They’re typically benign, so don’t be alarmed by the word “tumor.” Lipomas are one of the most common lumps and bumps found on dogs.

Overweight dogs, senior dogs, and certain breeds are most likely to develop lipomas.

Lipoma removal surgery can cost between $200 and $600.10

Hernia Surgery

Hernias in dogs are common and mainly appear in puppies. Other hernias are caused by traumatic injuries or straining. Hernias can be painful, and most require surgery.

A hernia occurs when the wall of the abdominal muscle tears, resulting in internal organs, tissue, fluids, or blood leaking into other parts of the body. Most hernias need dog hernia surgery to repair, which can cost more than $2,000.11

Symptoms of a dog hernia can include:12

  • Visible bulge or swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Cramping

MetLife Pet Can Reimburse Surgery Costs

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Cataract Surgery

As dogs get older, they can develop cataracts in their eyes. You’ll notice this if your dog’s eyes have an opaqueness or spots on the eye.

Age isn’t the only cause of cataracts — genetics, trauma, and diabetes can also cause cataracts to develop.

Cataract surgery is required to fully treat the condition, costing between $2,700 and $4,000.13 After a vet determines your dog has cataracts, your pup will be placed under general anesthesia. Then, the surgeon applies ultrasonic waves to the affected eye lens, making the cataract easier to remove. The lens is then replaced with an artificial one.

Stenotic Nares Surgery

Stenotic nares surgery for dogs is performed on certain breeds prone to respiratory problems that can become life-threatening.

Breeds typically requiring stenotic nares surgery suffer from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). This condition results in abnormalities of the upper airways in dogs. These airways include the stenotic nares, which refer to nostrils that are small or narrow and restrict airflow.

Stenotic nares surgery involves removing part of a dog’s nostrils and increasing the size of the nostril. This makes breathing easier for the dog. The procedure can be completed using a laser or a scalpel.

Stenotic nares surgery costs between $500 and $2,000.14

Cherry Eye Surgery

Cherry eye in dogs occurs when a dog's third eyelid (yes, they have one!) prolapses, making the tear gland swell. It results in a visibly enlarged, cherry-like polyp at the corner of the dog’s eye. Once the gland is exposed, it can become infected and irritated.

Certain breeds are more likely to develop cherry eye than others.

Cherry eye surgery is required to fix the condition and involves the veterinary surgeon putting the gland back in place. The procedure can cost between $300 and $1,000.15

Bloat Surgery

Bloat in dogs is different from the bloating humans occasionally experience. In dogs, it can involve life-threatening twisting of the stomach.

Bloat, also called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), mainly occurs in large, deep-chested dogs.

Symptoms of bloat can include:16

  • Restlessness
  • Drooling
  • Swollen stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Pacing
  • Retching
  • Collapse
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

If your dog’s stomach is twisted, a vet will perform emergency GDV surgery. Dog bloat surgery can cost between $2,000 and $7,500.17

Eye Removal Surgery

Eye removal surgery, also called enucleation, is typically used as a last resort if a dog’s eye is diseased or irreversibly damaged. Enucleation for dogs can cost between $475 and $2,000.18

Enucleation is sometimes necessary if your dog is dealing with certain health problems, including:

Eye removal surgery in dogs might seem extreme, but it can actually improve your dog’s quality of life if other methods or treatments aren’t working. It can also stop the spread of diseases, like cancer, and lessen pain.

Recovery takes 10 – 14 days for the surgical site to heal. Your vet may schedule an appointment to check on post-operative care during that timeframe.

Ear Hematoma Surgery

A hematoma in a dog’s ear is a swollen blister on the inside of the ear. It’s firm to the touch and forms when blood vessels pop and cause bleeding between the skin and ear cartilage. Ear hematomas result from trauma, foreign objects, or excessive head shaking or scratching. Dogs with longer or larger ears, as well as blood clotting disorders, may be more prone to hematomas.

Signs of hematomas in the ear can include:19

  • Discoloration in the ear
  • Swelling in the ear
  • Head shaking or ear scratching
  • Distortion of the ear shape
  • Avoiding being touched near their ear

Ear hematoma surgery may be recommended for larger hematomas, and involves draining the blood from the hematoma and sutures to close the open space. The procedure can cost up to $2,000 or more.20

Protect Your Dog With Pet Insurance

Dog surgery is something pet owners will likely face at one point or another, even if it’s just for a spay or neuter.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your pup is protected. A dog insurance policy can help cover surgical procedures and surgery-related costs, including blood work, physical exams, and other routine veterinary care.

Get a free quote today from MetLife Pet Insurance, winner of the 2023 Pet Independent Innovation Awards Program's “Pet Insurance of the Year” Award.

We Can Help Cover Vet Bills While You Focus on Your Dog’s Care

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.


1 “Why you should spay/neuter your pet,” The Humane Society of the United States

2 “Will My Spayed Or Neutered Dog Live Longer?,” Caring Hands Veterinary Hospital

3 The Cost of Dog Parenthood, Rover

4 ACL Surgery in Dogs Costs and Healing Treatments, K9 of Mine

5 “TPLO Surgery in Dogs - Preparation, Recovery, and What to Do if They Jump,” New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care

6 Patella Luxation Surgery Cost, Hepper

7 Hip Dysplasia in Dogs, Merck Veterinary Manual

8 Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery Costs, Tumwater Veterinary Hospital

9 “Fixing Your Dog's Hip - Dysplasia Surgery Cost,” New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care

10 What Is the Cost of Dog Lipoma Surgery, Hepper

11 What is the Cost of Dog Hernia Surgery, Hepper

12 Hernias in Animals, Merck Veterinary Manual

13 Cataract Surgery for Dogs, Argyle Vet Hospital

14 Stenotic Nares Surgery, PetKeen

15 According to a Review of 2023 Internal Claims Data

16 Bloat, Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus in Dogs, VCA Animal Hospitals

17 Pet Emergency Statistics, Preventive Vet

18 Enucleation Surgery for Dogs,

19 Dog Ear Hematoma, Canine Journal

20 How Much Does Dog Ear Hematoma Cost, Pet Keen

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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