How much does slipped disc surgery for a dog cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does slipped disc surgery for a dog cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does slipped disc surgery for a dog cost?

$2,000 – $4,000surgery cost
$5,000 – $12,000all-in treatment costs

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$2,000 – $4,000 surgery cost

$5,000 – $12,000 all-in treatment costs


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
Are you a vet clinic? Get new customers
Tamatha Hazen
Written by
Tamatha Hazen
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Ellen Russell, DVM, MPH

Dog slipped disc surgery cost

IVDD surgery costs $2,000 to $4,000 on average for the surgery alone. Diagnostic imaging costs $1,500 to $5,000. Additional bloodwork, anesthesia, hospitalization, and post-operative care bring treatment costs to $5,000 to $12,000.

Surgery treats severe herniated, ruptured, bulging, or slipped discs in dogs, especially for those in pain or unable to walk.

IVDD surgery costs
Procedure Average cost
Surgical costs $2,000 – $4,000
Diagnostic imaging $1,500 – $5,000+
Pre-surgical bloodwork $100 – $200
Surgical anesthesia $800 – $1,200
Hospital boarding $100 – $600
Post-operative care $500 – $1,000
Total treatment cost $5,000 – $12,000

Cost data is from current research and costs reported by Vety members.

A smiling veterinarian holding a dachshund.
A smiling veterinarian holding a dachshund.

IVDD surgery cost

Spinal surgery costs $2,000 to $4,000 and is the recommended treatment for dogs suffering from severe intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), also referred to as slipped or herniated discs. Surgery is a highly invasive procedure and is reserved for dogs with IVDD that have severe pain or have significant trouble walking.

Surgery removes the diseased disc material to relieve pressure on the spinal cord, restore normal blood flow and mobility, and reduce pain.

IVDD surgery takes 1 to 3 hours, depending on the dog's breed and age, as well as the complexity and location of the disc damage. Recovery typically takes 4 to 8 weeks, but can take even longer in more severe cases.

The following table describes the surgical treatments.

IVDD surgical procedures
Procedure Description
Hemilaminectomy
  • The most common surgery performed on herniated discs
  • Removes the articular facets (where the vertebrae connect) on one side of the vertebra to make room for the swollen spinal cord and nerve root
Pediculectomy
  • Also called a mini-hemilaminectomy
  • Less invasive and less destabilizing to the vertebrae
  • The pedicular bone is removed to create room for the spinal cord while preserving the articular facets.
  • Best performed when the disc herniation is slightly off to the side rather than straight upward
Dorsal laminectomy
  • Common for lumbar discs
  • Most invasive of all IVDD procedures
  • Involves decompressing the spinal cord by removing the entire top of the vertebra
Ventral slot
  • Reserved for neck discs using a throat side approach
  • A slot is drilled into the bones on either side of the disc then ruptured disc material is removed, allowing room for the swollen spinal cord to decompress.
Fenestration
  • Preventive procedure often done with decompressive surgery
  • Performed on the disc spaces near the herniated space
  • Involves cutting a slit in the soft area between vertebrae so that any disc material will herniate away from the spinal cord using the path of least resistance

A veterinarian and a vet tech examine a French bulldog.
A veterinarian and a vet tech examine a French bulldog.

Imaging

Veterinarians use several diagnostic imaging methods costing from $1,500 to $5,000 to diagnose IVDD. MRI is the most expensive but preferred diagnostic imaging. CT scans, with or without Myelography, are more readily available but less comprehensive.

IVDD diagnostic imaging costs - chart
IVDD diagnostic imaging costs - chart
IVDD diagnostic imaging costs
Imaging Average cost Description
X-rays N/A
  • X-rays are insufficient for IVDD detection and surgical planning
MRI scan $2,500 – $5,000
  • Preferred diagnostic tool
  • Takes cross-sectional images of the spinal cord and discs to show the exact location of the damaged discs
CT scan $1,500 – $3,500
  • Less costly and more readily available than MRIs
  • 3D x-ray with computer processing that allows the soft tissue to be seen
  • The scan may not detect the problem area if the disc material has not mineralized.
Myelography $800 – $1,500*
  • Less common since it involves injecting a dye within the layers of the spinal cord
  • Used in conjunction with a CT scan or other imaging

*Additional imaging is required.

Anesthesia

IVDD surgery is performed under general anesthesia costing $800 to $1,200 or more, depending on the dog's size and breed.

  • Toy breeds are at increased risk of anesthetic complications since they are more difficult to intubate and are more easily overdosed.

  • Dogs with short noses (brachycephalic), such as pugs and bulldogs, also have a higher rate of anesthetic complications because of their very narrow airway and higher difficulty breathing through their nose.

Hospital boarding

Dogs undergoing IVDD surgery are required to stay overnight for postoperative monitoring costing $100 to $600 per night. Care includes administering medications, wound care, and around the clock monitoring.

Post-op care

After surgery care costs $500 to $1,000 for most dogs. During this 4-to-8-week period of restricted activity or crate rest, dogs receive medications to help with swelling and pain management. They also commonly undergo physical therapy or alternative treatments such as cold laser to help regain strength and mobility.

A veterinarian examining a dachshund.
A veterinarian examining a dachshund.
Get free estimates from vets near you.

IVDD surgery success

The success of IVDD surgery depends on the severity of the disease when diagnosed. Dogs are given a clinical grade of symptoms, with grade 1 for mild cases and grade 5 for the worst affected. Grades 1 and 2 are often treated non-surgically, while grades 3 to 5 have better outcomes with surgery.

IVDD clinical grades and surgical success
Clinical grade Symptoms Improvement with non-surgical treatment Improvement with surgical treatment
1 Normal walk but in some pain 70% – 100% About 95%
2 Walking but weak and wobbly 55% – 100% About 95%
3 Unable to walk or stand unassisted 55% – 80% 80% – 90% will walk within 1-3 weeks
4 Paralyzed with no movement of affected limbs, with or without loss of bladder control, deep pain perception still present 40 – 80% 80% – 90% will walk within 2 months
5 Loss of deep pain sensation in toes of affected limbs. No movement in affected limbs and loss of bladder and bowel control is common. Less than 10% of dogs will walk again without surgery. 50% – 60% will walk fairly normally again but recovery can take 9 months or more.

Dog slipped disc FAQs

How much is slipped disc surgery for a dog?

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) or slipped disc surgery costs $2,000 to $4,000 for surgical costs alone. Additional costs for diagnostic imaging and bloodwork, anesthesia during surgery, hospitalization, and post op care increase the total treatment costs to $5,000 to $12,000.

What is Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)?

IVDD is a common disease of the joints of the spine. The discs, or cushions between the vertebrae, degenerate with age or because of genetic predisposition, causing herniated discs and compression of the spinal cord. Minimal compression leads to mild, temporary pain while severe compression can cause permanent paralysis.

There are two types of IVDD that dogs can get – Hansen Type I and Hansen Type II:

  • Hansen Type 1 is typical for dogs with shortened legs and is often characterized by a sudden rupture when jumping or landing.

  • Hansen Type II is typical of larger breeds and involves a slow bulging of the disc that gradually compresses the spinal cord.

What dog breeds are affected by IVDD?

IVDD is a disease that commonly affects dogs with short legs but regular-sized bodies, like dachshunds. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 dachshunds will suffer from the condition. Normal canine behavior like mild play or jumping off the sofa can cause slipped, pinched, herniated, or ruptured discs in these dogs.

Other chondrodystrophic (dwarfed) breeds of dogs that are affected by Hansen Type 1 IVDD include:

  • Basset hounds

  • Beagles

  • Chihuahuas

  • Corgis

  • French bulldogs

  • Lhasa Apsos

  • Pekingese

  • Poodles

  • Shi Tzus

Hansen Type II is a more chronic deterioration common in larger breeds, including:

  • Labrador retriever

  • Doberman

  • Cocker spaniel

  • German shepherd

Can a dog recover from a slipped disc without surgery?

Yes, a dog can recover from a slipped disc without surgery. However, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately to determine the severity of the injury and the best course of treatment. In some cases, a dog can recover from a slipped disc with conservative, non-surgical treatments, including:

  • Strict rest in a confined crate space for several weeks

  • Pain medication

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Physical therapy

Can IVDD be prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent IVDD in dogs. However, there are some things you can do to help minimize the risk, especially if you have a high-risk breed:

  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight

  • Avoid activities that put stress on the spine, such as jumping or playing fetch on hard surfaces

  • Use a harness instead of a collar when walking your dog

  • Feed your dog a diet rich in nutrients and low in processed foods

  • Exercise your dog regularly to keep their muscles strong and flexible to help support the spine

  • Support your dog's back and neck when lifting

  • Don't allow your dog to jump from high places

When to contact your vet

Recognizing the signs of IVDD is critical to a good outcome and early intervention can often reduce the need for surgery. If your dog breed is a high-risk breed, contact your local vet right away if they show signs of decreased activity, pain, or difficulty walking.


Find vet clinics nearby