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None of us like to think about our dogs aging, but it’s a fact we all must face. One symptom of aging is vision deterioration. While mild vision loss is normal and nothing to be concerned about, cataracts are another story. They can cause your dog pain and could lead to total blindness. Cataract surgery for dogs can cost between $2,700 and $4,000. Is it worth the price? And are there ways to save?   

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts affect dogs and humans in much the same way. You can recognize it by an opaqueness or development of spots in the eye. Degradation of proteins in the lens blocks light from reaching the back of the eye and causes vision to become blurry. This typically happens as the eye ages, but it can also be caused by a genetic disorder, trauma, or diabetes. Untreated cataracts can cause inflammation in the eye, leading to significant pain.

If you recognize any of these symptoms in your dog, bring them to the vet for an examination. You may be referred to an ophthalmologist — an eye specialist — for a full diagnosis.

Which breeds are at risk of cataracts?

Any dog can develop cataracts in old age. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to cataract formation, including:

●      Poodles

●      Miniature schnauzers

●      Boston terriers

●      Havanese

●      Golden retrievers

●      Siberian huskies

If your pooch belongs to one of these breeds, be sure to bring them to your veterinarian for regular checkups. Your vet should be able to recognize early signs of cataract development. It’s also a good idea to invest in a dog insurance policy while they’re healthy. That way, cataracts developed later in life won’t be excluded from coverage.2

How To Treat Cataracts in Dogs

Dog cataract surgery is the only sure way to treat them. Some products, such as Lanosterol eye drops, claim to reduce or even cure cataracts in dogs. While cheaper than surgery, the science is flimsy. Multiple studies have failed to find any evidence that Lanosterol can restore lens clarity.3 If you’re considering trying one of these products, consult your vet first.

How does cataract surgery for dogs work?

Removing cataracts works the same for dogs as it does for humans. After an initial exam, your pooch will be placed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will then apply ultrasonic waves to the affected lens. This technique, known as phacoemulsification, emulsifies the cataract and makes it easier to remove. The surgeon then replaces the lens with an artificial one, called an intraocular lens.4

Your dog will need some time to recover, which may include an overnight stay at the hospital. They’ll be given a cone to wear to prevent scratching and eye drops to mitigate irritation for at least 10 – 14 days.4

So How Much Is Cataract Surgery for Dogs?

This is one of the more expensive procedures your dog might require. Cataract surgery for dogs costs an average of $2,700 – $4,000. This includes:

●      Examinations

●      Testing and diagnostics

●      Anesthesia

●      Surgery

●      Post-surgery treatments

●      Hospitalization  

Although costly, the price is worth it. Cataract surgery for dogs has a long-term success rate of 85% to 90%.4 That means most dogs regain their vision and experience normal intraocular pressure for at least a year after surgery. There are potential complications, such as retinal detachment or scarring, but these rarely occur.5

Is the Cost for Dog Cataract Surgery Worth It?

If your dog has cataracts, surgery is their best chance at regaining their vision and treating any pain they might be suffering. Likewise, a pet insurance policy is the best way to save. For example, a policy with an 80% reimbursement rate and a $500 co-pay could reduce a $4,000 surgery bill to just $800 out of pocket.2

To find out how much a custom policy could save you and your pooch, get started with a free quote from MetLife Pet Insurance.1

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 ”Failure of Oxysterols Such As Lanosterol to Restore Lens Clarity from Cataracts,” Scientific Reports

4 ”Cataract Surgery,” College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU

5 ”Cataracts,” Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital