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Does Pet Insurance Cover Cruciate Surgery? Standard Policies & FAQ

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

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Does Pet Insurance Cover Cruciate Surgery? Standard Policies & FAQ

As pet owners, we try our best to keep our fur babies happy, healthy and loved. Not only do we give them cuddles and all the affection they want but we strive to give them the best pet foods, toys, bedding, and especially, the best medical attention. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict when an unforeseen medical issue will arrive with one of our pets. That’s why so many people turn to pet insurance to help.

One issue that many dogs suffer from when it comes to their health is cruciate injuries. You may not have heard this term used before but it deals with the ligaments inside your dog’s knees. These types of health issues are quite common in dogs and leave their owners wondering if their pet insurance will cover cruciate surgery and whether it’s standard with their coverages. While all pet insurances are different, most will cover cruciate surgery if you have carried the coverage for at least 12 months and the injury isn’t considered pre-existing.

To help you better understand cruciate surgery and what help your insurance coverage can provide, let’s take a deeper look. This will provide you with the information you need to speak to your insurance provider before you call to discuss your options when your beloved pet is suffering from knee pain.

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What Is Cruciate Surgery?

Dogs are known to be active animals. They love to run, play, and even get into things we don’t want them to. All this activity can have adverse effects. In dogs, the cruciate ligament helps keep their knee joints stabilized. These ligaments can become injured quite easily. Normally, a cruciate injury starts as a partial tear. This can cause your dog to be in pain, and can also eventually lead to lameness. The ligament can even completely rupture thanks to gradual degeneration.

german shorthaired pointer dog check by vet
Image By: New Africa, Shutterstock

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03 What Causes Cruciate Ligament Injuries?

While certain breeds are predisposed to cruciate injuries, they can happen to any dog. Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that can play a role in your dog suffering knee issues.


Yes, your pet’s weight is more significant to their health than most of us care to admit and is one of the leading causes of ligament damage. Carrying too much weight is damaging to their knees. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help keep this added strain off their knees and other joints.

Intermittent Activity

Exercise and play are important for your dog’s health. If your pet is one of those that only gets good exercise or activity occasionally, they are more prone to injuring themselves. When they exert their energy on muscles and ligaments that aren’t used to it, strains and tears can take place.


Just like us, our pets become more prone to health issues as they age. With cranial cruciate ligament disease1 being degenerative, it only makes sense that it could pop up in dogs as they enter their golden years.

Husky dog lying on vet table with doctor and owner near by
Image by: ressmaster, Shutterstock

Overall Bad Health

A dog that isn’t taken to the vet often is more prone to serious issues than others. Having a veterinarian help you monitor your pup’s overall health and well-being is crucial for knowing their risk factors for major issues like cruciate ligament troubles.

Born with a Predisposition

Unfortunately, certain dog breeds are born with a predisposition for cruciate ligament issues:

  • Akitas
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Mastiffs
  • Newfoundlands
  • Rottweilers
  • Saint Bernards
  • Stafford Terriers

For owners of these breeds, it’s important to keep a close eye on your dog’s health and report any weaknesses or signs of pain to your veterinarian immediately.

Pet Insurance Form on the laptop screen
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dogster paw dividerCruciate Injuries and Pet Insurance

Like with health coverage for us humans, pet insurance carriers are all different. In most instances, however, you’ll find that they are willing to cover cruciate surgery for your dog if certain criteria are met. Most pet insurance companies will not cover a pre-existing condition. This means if your dog is suffering from a tear or rupture of the cruciate ligament before you purchase the insurance coverage, they aren’t going to pay the costs for the repairs.

Knowing what’s covered is important, we recommend checking a few different companies to compare policies and find the one that best fits your needs.

Top Rated Pet Insurance Companies:

Another thing to keep in mind is that certain insurance providers only cover cruciate ligament surgery after you’ve carried out your policy for a required amount of time. This can change according to the pet insurance company in question but many require at least a year of coverage before they’ll pay for your pup’s treatment and surgery. You may also find providers who have issues covering these types of surgeries or treatments for dog breeds that are predisposed to cruciate ligament issues (see the list above). If you own one of these dog breeds, make sure you ask about their stance on this before you purchase a policy.

sick husky dog in vet
Image by: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

Is Cruciate Ligament Surgery Expensive Without Insurance?

Unfortunately, cruciate ligament surgery is a complicated procedure and requires a lot of special attention from your dog’s veterinarian. If you aren’t covered by pet insurance the costs can become a little steep. On average, one of these surgeries is estimated to cost around $3,500 to $5,000 and sometimes more due to your pet’s exact situation. These out-of-pocket costs can become quite difficult and are only one of the many reasons you should consider having a pet insurance policy to help.

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Final Thoughts

Seeing your pet in pain or suffering an injury is scary for any pet parent. When it comes to cruciate injuries, it can be downright heartbreaking to see an active dog unable to move as it once did. This is why it is so important to understand your pet insurance policies and coverages beforehand. Hopefully, the policy you choose will cover this injury and help your dog lead a better life once they recover.

Featured Image Credit:, Shutterstock

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