PET HEALTH

How Much Does Dog Cataract Surgery Cost? Vet-Reviewed Insights

Four Minutes
Nov 13, 2023

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 shouldn’t be cause for concern, cataracts are another story. They can cause your dog pain, and if left untreated, could lead to total blindness. But can dogs have cataract surgery? Absolutely.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about cataract treatment for dogs. We’ll break down the causes, cost of the surgery, what cataract surgery entails, and recovery time.

How Much Is Cataract Surgery for Dogs?

The cost for dog cataract surgery is between $2,700 and $4,000. This is one of the more expensive procedures your dog might require.1 This cost includes:

  • Examinations
  • Testing and diagnostics
  • Anesthesia
  • Surgery
  • Post-surgery treatments
  • Hospitalization

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts in dogs are when the lens of their eye becomes cloudy or opaque. Cataracts affect dogs and humans in much the same way. You can recognize them by an opaqueness or the 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. Cataracts typically happen as the eye ages, but genetic disorders, trauma, or diabetes can also cause them.1

Cataracts are a progressive condition, and symptoms worsen as time progresses. Untreated cataracts can cause inflammation in the eye, leading to significant pain. Smaller cataracts don’t usually cause significant vision loss. However, as the cataracts become thicker, your dog may become completely blind in one or both eyes.

What Causes Cataracts in Dogs?

There are a number of factors that can cause cataracts in your dog. It’s important to know your dog’s potential risks and stay on top of any pre-existing conditions. Some common causes can include:2,3

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Disease
  • Trauma
  • Electric shock
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Hypocalcemia

Which Dog Breeds Are at Risk of Cataracts?

Dogs of all breeds, genders, and ages can develop cataracts. However, genetics are often the primary cause. Dogs between 1 and 3 years of age are most commonly affected, but cataracts may even be present at birth.

Here are some breeds that are more genetically predisposed to cataract formation:3

If your pooch belongs to one of these breeds, be sure to bring them to your veterinarian for regular checkups. Your vet can screen for 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.

Cataracts Can Be Scary. Vet Bills Don’t Have To Be.

Find Out More

What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts in Dogs?

Symptoms of cataracts can include:4

  • Cloudy eyes
  • Apparent blurry vision
  • Bluish-gray eyes

If your dog has a diabetes-related cataract, other symptoms may also appear, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst

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

dog having eye inspected at vet's office

What Do You Need To Know About Dog Cataract Surgery?

Before cataract surgery, your vet will perform preoperative scans to test the retina function and make sure there’s no lens rupture or retinal detachment. If your dog’s retina and lens look otherwise healthy, they’re a good candidate for the surgery.1

Removing cataracts works the same for dogs as it does for humans. After the initial exam, the veterinary surgeon will put your pooch 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 removes the lens and replaces it with an artificial one, called an intraocular lens.5

As with any surgery, there are potential complications, such as retinal detachment or scarring, but these rarely occur.6

Cataract surgery for dogs has a long-term success rate of 85% – 90%.5 That means most dogs regain their vision and experience normal intraocular pressure for at least a year after surgery.

How Can You Help Your Dog Recover From Cataract Surgery?

Often, the vet will recommend your dog stay overnight for monitoring. Once they’re released from the animal hospital, they’ll need time to recover at home.

Following surgery, your dog must wear a protective collar until their eye heals. You’ll also have to give them eye drops to mitigate irritation several times per day. The recovery process usually takes 10 – 14 days.5

While your dog’s vision should return the day after surgery, it can take weeks for it to fully settle. Have patience with your dog, help guide them as they get used to the new lens, and give them lots of love and encouragement. After all, recovering from surgery is hard work.

Can Cataracts Be Removed From Dogs Without Surgery?

Dog cataract surgery is the only certain way to treat cataracts. Some products, such as Lanosterol eye drops, claim to reduce or even cure cataracts in dogs. While cheaper than surgery, the eye drops are new and still in clinical studies. If you’re considering trying one of these products, consult your vet first.

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 dog cataract surgery cost to just $800 out of pocket.5

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

Help Protect Your Dog at Any Age

855-270-7387

 Dr. Hunter Finn

Dr. Hunter Finn is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. America’s favorite veterinarian owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends.

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

1 “Cataract Surgery For Dogs: What You Should Know,” Argyle Veterinary Services

2 “Canine cataracts,” Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine

3 “Cataracts in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

4 “Signs Your Pet May Have Glaucoma or Cataracts,” Animal Emergency & Referral Associates

5 “PRE-OPERATIVE CATARACT SURGERY INFORMATION,” Michigan State University Veterinary Medical Center

6 “CATARACTS,” Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

7 “Non-Surgical Option Looks Promising for Treating Cataracts in Dogs,” Innovative Veterinary Care, 2023

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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