Dog Cataract Surgery Cost 2024

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Bob Phillips
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Cataracts that affect dogs are a common cause of vision loss in man’s best friend, and can even lead to blindness if left untreated. If you’re looking for information about cataract surgery for dogs, as well as the cost, you’ve arrived at the right place.

In this article, we’ll look at dog cataracts, what causes them, treatments available, and, perhaps most importantly, the costs of surgery to correct them. As noted above, failure to treat cataracts in dogs can lead to vision loss or even blindness. With more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry and as a dog owner myself, I’ve seen how critically important timely intervention can be in order to ensure the well-being of your pet.

Key Takeaways

  • Surgery is generally the preferred method to correct cataracts in dogs.

  • The average cost of cataract eye surgery in dogs ranges from $2,700 to $4,000 per eye.

  • The majority of pet insurance plans cover cataract surgery for dogs.

How Much Does Dog Cataract Surgery Cost?

Dog cataract surgery costs may vary widely depending on various factors, such as the geographical location, pre-surgery procedures including additional tests or evaluations before surgery, post-surgery care which includes medications and follow-up evaluations. On average, the cost ranges from $$2,700 to $4,000 per eye. If both eyes need surgery, the total cost will be higher.

 

 

What Are Cataracts In Dogs?

Dog cataracts are the same as human cataracts: a medical condition that causes an opaque cloudiness affecting the lens of the eye and causing loss of vision. Cats and other animals can also occasionally develop cataracts.

In dogs with cataracts, the condition progresses through several stages, becoming increasingly worse over time without treatment. Older dogs are more likely to have cataracts than younger dogs.

Symptoms And Diagnosis

Symptoms of cataracts in dogs might include:

  • Excessive Blinking or Squinting: A dog with cataracts typically blinks a lot and squints its eyes
  • Reluctance in New Places: Your dog might seem unsure in an unfamiliar environment
  • Cloudy Eyes: Your dog’s eyes may have a milky or hazy appearance
  • Unequal Pupil Sizes: Your dog’s pupils may be different sizes
  • Trouble Seeing in Low Light: A dog with cataracts might struggle to see in areas that are dimly lit
  • Changes in Behavior: Your dog may exhibit withdrawal, reduced activity levels, or anxiety
  • Increased Clumsiness: You might notice your dog bumping into things and having coordination difficulty
  • Swollen or Bulging Eye: Your dog’s eye may look swollen or even  bulge outward
  • Redness of Eye Blood Vessels: Redness and/or inflammation of the whites of the eye
  • Unresponsive Pupil to Light: Check to see if your dog’s pupil doesn’t constrict when it is exposed to light

A veterinarian can diagnose cataracts in dogs with an eye exam. A light is used to assess the eyes, and blood tests may also be performed to try and identify any underlying conditions that caused the cataracts to develop.

Causes Of Cataracts In Dogs

Cataracts are an inheritable trait in canines, so if a dog is one of those breeds known to develop cataracts, there’s a higher than average chance it might have them.

Diabetes Mellitus, AKA sugar diabetes, can cause cataracts in dogs. Injuries to a dog’s eyes are another possible cause for cataracts because they can bring on inflammation that can cause cataracts. A dog’s age is yet another leading cause of cataract development and can appear suddenly without any underlying condition.

Treatment Of Cataracts In Dogs

Treatment options for cataracts in dogs include surgical along with medical management methods:

  • Medical Management: Some pet owners are able to manage dog cataracts with lifestyle adjustments along with eye drops. This will not cure the cataracts, but it might slow progression and help to maintain your dog’s eyesight.
  • Surgical Treatments: Cataract removal surgery is the only way to restore lost vision.

As the old saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine. In other words, be alert for signs and symptoms of cataracts in your dog, especially if it is a breed prone to them or has an underlying health condition that makes it more likely to develop them. The earlier cataracts are detected, the more timely the intervention can be to help save your dog’s vision.

What Is Included In The Dog Cataract Surgery Cost?

The total cost of dog cataract surgery generally encompasses multiple components:

  • Initial Exam: Your vet will do an assessment of your dog’s health overall, as well as the condition of its eyes.
  • Diagnostics: These tests help determine the extent of the dog’s cataracts.
  • Anesthesia: As administered during the cataract surgery.
  • Surgery: The cataract, meaning the cloudy lens, is removed.
  • Post-Op Care: This includes medications and subsequent follow-up visits.

Bear in mind that additional charges may be applicable depending on specific needs, location, and any complications.

Post-operative check-ups, which are necessary to ensure healing, are typically not included in the initial quote and might cost an extra $50-$100 per each follow up visit​​.

Real-World Examples Of Dog Cataract Surgery Costs

  1. Lemonade Pet Insurance: This pet insurance has reasonable premiums and covers 80% reimbursement for dog cataract surgery.
  2. .Trupanion: Well known for its congenital condition coverage, Trupanion’s monthly premium for dogs is about $60. They will cover dog  cataract surgery if it is a congenital or inherited condition.
  3. MetLife: MetLife offers affordable pet insurance premiums, and covers 80% of the cost of dog cataract surgery.

What Factors Affect The Cost Of Dog Cataract Surgery?

The cost of dog cataract surgery can vary widely based on various factors. Having a working knowledge of these factors will help give you an idea of what to expect, price-wise, besides providing valuable insight into making sure your pet gets the best care.

Here are some factors that influence the cost of cataract eye surgery for your dog:

  1. Type of Surgery: Traditional surgery or phacoemulsification (ultrasound-assisted) will affect the costs of cataract surgery.
  2. Location: Prices vary based on your geographical area and local veterinary clinics.
  3. Preoperative Testing: Eye exams, anesthesia assessments and lab tests will all add to expenses.
  4. Post-operative Care: Medications, potential complications, and follow-up visits  contribute to the total cost of dog cataract surgery.
  5. Breed and Size: Large breed dogs may have higher costs for cataract surgery because of surgical complexity and anesthesia duration.
  6. Severity of Cataracts: The worse and more advanced your dog’s cataracts, the higher the cost will be. If caught in the early stages, cataracts might require less invasive procedures.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dog Cataract Surgery?

Pet insurance may cover dog cataract surgery. However, the specifics will be based on your policy. Here are some key points to take into consideration:

  1. Pre Existing Conditions: Understand that preexisting cataracts might not be covered in your pet insurance policy.
  2. Coverage: Some pet insurance providers do offer coverage for dog cataract surgery, especially if it’s the result of a congenital or  inherited condition.
  3. Reimbursement: The amount reimbursed varies from company to company and policy to policy. Always check your pet insurance policy to see the conditions covered and reimbursement, too.

Hereditary And Congenital Conditions

Many comprehensive pet insurance policies provide coverage for congenital and hereditary conditions, including cataracts. For instance, Lemonade Pet Insurance will typically cover the cost of dog cataract eye surgery, excluding coinsurance and deductibles, provided the policy is in effect before symptoms appear​.

MetLife Pet Insurance will also cover cataract eye surgery under their policies that include hereditary conditions. The company advises pet owners to be sure and check for exclusions related to pre-existing conditions​​.

Even the best pet insurance providers that don’t generally cover hereditary and congenital conditions might still cover cataracts if they were caused by an accident or injury, which is possible.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Most pet insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions. If your pet is diagnosed with cataracts before you purchase the policy, for example, or shows symptoms of cataracts during the waiting period, the surgery might not be covered​​.

That being said, some pet insurers may distinguish between curable and incurable conditions. They might cover pre-existing conditions that have been considered cured for a specific length of time, like  respiratory infections or broken bones.

How Can I Save Money On Dog Cataract Eye Surgery?

Saving money on dog cataract surgery might be possible through a few different l strategies.

First of all, think about purchasing pet insurance that covers hereditary and congenital conditions, since this can significantly offset the cost of the premium. Many comprehensive pet insurance plans cover cataract surgery after coinsurance and deductibles, which could potentially save you much as hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This is why it’s wise to insure your pet early on, avoiding issues with exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

Another money saving tactic is by looking into financing options or payment plans that may be on offer by veterinary clinics. There are clinics that offer financing options and/or interest free payment plans that can help manage your premium cost over time. You might also look for veterinary schools in your area that offer discounted rates for procedures performed by students under supervision.

Yet another possible way to save money on pet insurance is to insure multiple pets. The majority of pet insurance providers will give a hefty discount when you purchase coverage for more than one pet.

What Breeds Are Typically Affected By Cataracts?

Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to developing cherry eye due to genetic predispositions and anatomical features. Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to develop cataracts, such as:

Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic dog breeds are characterized by shortened muzzles and flat faces, and are more prone to particular eye issues, including cataracts. These dog breeds often have large, protruding eyes that may put them at risk for  glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and cataracts.

If you’re considering adopting a brachycephalic dog, you really need to be aware of these potential health issues. Here are 10 brachycephalic dog breeds:

  1. Pug
  2. Shih Tzu
  3. Chihuahua
  4. Chow Chow
  5. Pekingese
  6. Lhasa Apso
  7. Bull Mastiff
  8. English Toy Spaniel
  9. French Bulldog
  10. Boston Terrier

Sporting Breeds

These sporting breeds tend to be more prone to cataracts because of genetic factors:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Siberian Husky

Other Affected Breeds

Many breeds of dogs may develop cataracts simply because there is more to consider than heredity. For instance, diabetic dogs are more likely to have cataracts than other dogs, regardless of breed.

Is Surgery Required For Cataracts?

Cataracts in dogs can sometimes be managed without surgery, however surgery is usually the most effective treatment. If your dog’s vision is affected, your vet will probably recommend cataract surgery to restore their eyesight. During the surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, which greatly improves vision.

Ongoing monitoring of the condition along with medication can be used to manage cataracts, but it won’t actually address or treat the problem. Some dogs are not good candidates for surgery. If your dog is elderly or has underlying health problems that make it a poor surgery risk, rest assured that it can and will adapt to blindness.

What Happens If Dog Cataracts Are Left Untreated?

If left untreated, cataracts in dogs may lead to progressive loss of vision. The cloudy lens of a cataract obstructs the light, which causes impaired or  blurred vision. Over time, this can have a detrimental impact on quality of life for your dog. While dogs typically adapt to total blindness, cataracts might cause discomfort besides increasing risk of other eye issues.

The sooner the issue of cataracts is addressed and treated, the better off your dog will be.

How Can I Prevent Cataracts In My Dog?

Although you can’t totally prevent cataracts, there are some steps you can take for the health of your dog’s eyes:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: To minimize risks of disease, always maintain a healthy lifestyle for your dog, including diet.
  2. Manage Any Underlying Conditions: Diabetes or trauma to your dog’s eyes may contribute to the development of cataracts, so manage underlying conditions.
  3. Regular Eye Examinations: Monitor your dog’s eyes and vision by regular veterinarian checkups.
  4. Monitor Any Changes: Take your dog to the vet if you notice that its eyes look bluish gray or cloudy.
  5. Be Aware of Inherited Risk: Be aware of inherited risk factors, like cataracts in the dog’s parents’ history.

FAQs

How much does a vet charge to fix dog cataracts?

While the cost of cataract surgery for dogs may vary, it ranges from $2,700 to $4,000 on average nationwide.

Factors that affect the cost include whether surgery is needed in one eye or both, local veterinary charges, and severity of the cataracts. Diagnostic tests such as blood work along with preliminary exams may add to the final cost.

What is the success rate of dog cataract surgery?

Dog cataract surgery is considered a routine eye operation with a high success rate of about 90% of surgeries having a favorable outcome. It’s considered a success when the dog is able to see well and maintain a normal intraocular pressure for at least one year post-op. Bear in mind that as with any surgery, individual outcomes might vary.

Is cataract surgery for dogs worth it?

The decision to pursue cataract surgery for your dog may hinge on several factors, such as the dog’s overall health, severity of the cataracts, as well as the impact on its quality of life. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Quality of Life: Think about how the cataracts are affecting your dog’s well being. If they struggle to find their way around or appear distressed because of vision loss, surgery might improve quality of life.
  2. Severity of Cataracts: If cataracts are significantly impairing your dog’s eyesight, surgery might be very beneficial. Dogs with advanced cataracts will often have blurred or even complete loss of vision, which can affect their daily activities.
  3. Health and Age: Assess your dog’s general health along with its age. Young, healthy dogs usually recover faster and better after surgery. This doesn’t mean that your older dog won’t benefit, but the success rate may be a bit lower.
  4. Post Surgery Care: After the cataract surgery, excellent post-op care is critical. Monitoring, medications, and follow up visits are needed for a successful outcome.
  5. Cost of Cataract Surgery: Cataract surgery for dogs may be quite costly. You’ll have to weigh the cost of the surgery against the potential benefits.
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