How Much Does Dog Cataract Surgery Cost?

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Dog sleeping with glasses onHas your dog been diagnosed with cataracts? If so, are you worried about the cumbersome cost of canine cataract surgery? It can be expensive, for sure. And if left untreated, this progressive condition can lead to total blindness, so it’s a necessity for your pup’s quality of life.

But just how much does dog cataract surgery cost? And how can you reduce your financial burden for unexpected illnesses like this? Here, we’ll give you the info you need to know about dog cataract surgery, the associated costs and how you may proactively reduce your financial risk for pet vet procedures.

What Are The Causes Of Canine Cataracts?

This condition is usually inherited, and several breeds are more susceptible, including golden retrievers, Siberian huskies, American cocker spaniels, miniature poodles, miniature schnauzers and Boston terriers. But several other causes and risk factors can result in cataracts. These include:

  • Old age
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Electric shock
  • Inflammation of the eye’s uvea (uveitis)
  • Abnormally low levels of calcium in the blood (hypocalcemia)

What Are The Signs Of Cataracts In Dogs?

Like with human cataracts, dogs develop a cloudy white or gray film over the center of their eyes, just behind the retina. Obviously, this is a tell-tale sign, but there are other symptoms to consider, including:

  • Chronic eye redness
  • Eye socket inflammation
  • Bulging of one eye compared to the other
  • Noticeable vision problems, especially in dimly lit conditions
  • Squinting
  • Pawing at eyes

How Do You Treat Dog Cataracts?

If you notice any of the symptoms above, it’s important to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible (especially if your dog’s breed is predisposed or elderly). Your vet will ask for a health history, including the onset of related symptoms, and do a thorough physical exam, focusing on your dog’s eyes. Your vet may also do blood tests and a urinalysis to determine if any diseases could be causing your dog’s condition. If your dog’s diagnosis is diabetes-related cataracts, your vet will first start treatment of this disease to get it under control.

Most likely, your regular vet will refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist, who specializes in eye disorders. There are several advanced diagnostic tests the ophthalmologist uses to determine the severity of your pup’s condition and if he needs surgery. These can include:

  • An eye exam using a slit lamp biomicroscope and indirect ophthalmoscope
  • Ultrasound or electroretinography (ERG) to examine your dog’s retinas
  • CAT scan to visualize all areas in and around his eyes

If your veterinarian recommends cataract surgery, it’s important to act swiftly. There are limited medications, including topical eye ointments or eye drops, which can postpone the need for surgery, but cataracts will not go away without surgery. And cataracts in dogs can progress rapidly.

What’s Involved In Dog Cataract Surgery?

Although stressful for you and your pup, dog cataract surgery is usually uncomplicated and performed on an outpatient basis (meaning, he can be home with you the same day). Your dog will be put under general anesthesia, and the surgeon will make a small incision into the eye. Then, the surgeon uses a technique called phacoemulsification, in which he uses a small ultrasonic handpiece that breaks up the cataract and aspirates it out of the eye. Then, the surgeon inserts an artificial lens into your dog’s eye to restore his normal vision. The dog cataract surgery success rate is approximately 90%. Most dogs regain near normal vision, although many remain slightly far sighted. Most pets’ vision continues to improve over the week following surgery.

How Much Is Cataract Surgery For Dogs?

The cost of cataract surgery for dogs averages $2,700-4,000. This estimate includes the preliminary examination, ERG and ultrasound, surgery, anesthesia, operating room use, hospitalization, initial medications and postoperative checkups (usually up to 90 days). Surgical costs, however, can vary pretty widely based on your location and service provider.

How Can You Reduce The Cost?

Getting pet health insurance when your dog is young is the best way to plan for health issues throughout your pet’s life. If you sign up while he is young, there are far fewer preexisting conditions which brings the price way down for you. And, having pet insurance before diagnosis can help minimize unexpected expenses for dog cataract surgery and a host of other pet health expenses. It’s not as expensive as you might think. But, you must have an active pet insurance policy in force prior to diagnosis for that condition to be covered.

There are some very reputable pet insurance companies that can help offset most of your pet’s health unexpected health expenses. Our top recommendation is Healthy Paws for their excellent coverage and service. Read one Healthy Paws customer’s testimonial about her experience with her pup, Nacho, who required cataract surgery.

Nacho’s Cataract Surgery Story

Pet Parent: Maryanne
Pet: Nacho, a two-year-old, medium-sized mixed breed
Covered diagnostic tests and treatment: Cataract surgery, including blood work, anesthesia, IV fluids, hospitalization and pre- and post-op medications
Claim cost: $2,667.98
Healthy Paws reimbursement: $2,359.86
Maryanne’s out-of -pocket expense: $308.12 (savings of $2,359.86)

Healthy Paws is amazing! Nacho, our rescue dog who’s only 2-years-old, needed surgery for a cataract that was causing him to go blind. I wasn’t sure if any of the cost would be covered, but thankfully Healthy Paws covered 90% of the surgical expenses. I submitted the claim on Monday and received my check by Saturday!

On top of their quick resolution, Healthy Paws contacted us a week later to follow up on Nacho’s recovery. We were so surprised at their thoughtful gesture! I’m happy to say that Nacho is doing well. I can’t give Healthy Paws enough praise. They are extremely professional, thoughtful and caring. They treated our dog like their family member, rather than just being another insurance claim. Thank you Healthy Paws. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for pet insurance. Hopefully, you’ll never need to go through a major health problem with your dog, but if you do Healthy Paws will be there for you!

Visit Healthy Paws Website

How Does Cataract Surgery Give Dogs A New Lease on Life?

Watch the video below to see how one “dumpster dog” got much-needed relief from cataract surgery.

Is Dog Cataract Surgery Worth The Cost?

For sure, if you don’t want your dog to suffer from a debilitating loss of vision. You love your pup and don’t want to see him suffer from loss of eyesight, just as you wouldn’t wish that for any family member. Sure, the surgical costs are high, but with pet insurance, you will be covered when the vet asks you to fork out a ton of money to give your dog a higher quality of life in the long run.

Are you concerned that your dog may need cataract surgery? What are his symptoms?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets).

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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My diabetic miniature schnauzer was 10 years old, went totally blind due to cataracts within a week, had cataract surgery for $3700 for both eyes (Ocean Springs, MS) after surgery eye drops were another $600 – $800. He could see and was so very happy and at 8 weeks post op, he died of a blood clot due to surgery. It happened in a flash with NO prior warning signs whatsoever. We drove like crazy getting him to the emergency clinic and they tried CPR but told us it was a blood clot and they could keep trying to revive him but he would be brain damaged. The loss of one of my babies nearly killed me. My only surviving baby is his brother who is now 11.5 years old and needs the same surgery and yes he is diabetic as well. No Pet insurance. Do I proceed with surgery? Do I run the risk of letting his eyes explode? Do I do the unthinkable and have him put to sleep. My heart is breaking. When this baby is gone I will never again own another pet. I’ve had baby schnauzers since 1977 and my heart cannot take losing another baby. Any advise on the surgery?
Nicole Voropaeff
Hi Holly… if it were me, I wouldnt. My baby has PRA and the start of cataracts and has been slowly loosing his vision over the past three years. This year he has gone through some neurological episodes lately that have left him with 95% of his vision gone. He can see about 3″ distance out of one eye. I will say…the doctors are right, they can still live a great quality of life and they do compensate rather well for their blindness. My input would be… dont put him down, he will manage if he looses his sight. But I get not wanting to do the surgery. If you choose not to do it and he goes blind, at least you will still have him and he will still have you.. so even if he cant “see” you he will still be happy. <3
Donald Moradian
UC Davis quoted me $1.300 -$1,700 per eye just three years ago. When I called last week, the receptionist(with an attitude!)quoted me $7,500!! So much for the quality moderate cost care UCD used to provide! I’m heartbroken. Who does it for around $3,500?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Have you gotten quotes from other vets in your area?
My dog is 14 years old will catarte surgery be dangerous to her at her age
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I suggest speaking with your vet about the risks associated with the surgery for your dog. Sorry to hear your dog may need the surgery. I wish you all the best.
Paulina Dabrowska
Where is somewhere that I can get it done for around 2,000?
V.J. Daniels
We have a 8 lb. Silky Terrier that is totally blind , and cannot afford much. Would REALLY appreciate any information on LOW cost cataract surgery. THX
Veronica Rothwell
My dog Lady is 10 years old she is a Yorke Poo weighs 81/2 lbs she has cataract in her eye more in the right eye that the left I would like info. On an inexpensive surgery
Virginia Kuhn
Omg, I can neither afford the insurance or the surgery since I am now on a fixed income I don’t want to lose my baby girl.
Hi there:
I was a cat owner for 20 years and finally, after my son’s begging to get a dog for seven years, I finally decided to “look” (not buy) for a pup. I fell INSTANTLY in love with this little guy and HAD to take him home. He is almost two (got him at 10 weeks old) and he is so much more (love-wise) than we could have ever imagined. We bought pet insurance just two weeks after taking him home. We just got back from the pet ophthalmologist this week where we received an estimate of $5,300. Upon speaking with our pet insurance (we got major medical plan) they told us he is NOT covered for cataracts and if we receive any financial help it would be $525. at best.
We DO NOT have Healthy Paws but certainly wish we knew of them. Obviously we can’t change now due to the diagnosis in place.
We are devastated as we cannot afford this and this would take us years to pay off. Our little guy is a fetcher, playful, jumps and runs to catch balls and losing his sight would completely hinder any kind of play he enjoys at his young age. His eyes are clouded over already but surgery would fix him at this time. Does anyone know of anywhere that could do this for a more affordable rate? Or any kind of help that can be offered in this case?
This dog means the absolute world to us… it was instant love at first sight.
Thank you-
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Oh no Melissa, I’m so sorry. Do you mind me asking what pet insurance you signed up for? I think our readers would like to know and we’d like to do more digging into this as well to make sure we are presenting accurate information in our pet insurance reviews. Did the insurance company give a reasoning as to why cataracts wouldn’t be covered for your dog (i.e., did someone point out an exclusion in your policy?)?
I have a small dog 7 lbs and now is 12 years old white pure multies . She had to have a knee surgery.3 places were charging me $3,390.00 $3,200.00I $4,400.00 without spending the night at the hospital . I took my dog to Fox lake animal hospital for the knee surgery and she stayed overnight and I was charged 980.00 $ 20.00 for her medications and $20.00 for the collar. Very happy with them I will try to search it and give u the info
V.J. Daniels
Where was that???
Nancy Oetzel
My girl died she was 10 years old, I thought I was helping her but feel now I killed her, I should have never taken her for surgery, I’m totally lost and very depressed over the loss.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry for your loss, Nancy. You may find this article helpful.
Lyndley Hillebrand
Did she pass during cataract surgery? You were trying to give her the gift of vision again. You’re girl loves you forever. I to have been thinking about taking my boy for the surgery but he is 13. So much life still in him because we make his food at home. I want to give him sight again because I know he would be a completely different dog. I just worry not if cost but of his age and weather or not he can come back after anesthesia.
Hi, my pet is an 15 yrs old female Pekingese, she has cataracts in both eyes, is safe to anesthesia her at this age? And I noticed she has this eye problem a year ago, before her eyes didn’t show any sign..if is safe total anesthesia, can she still apply for pet insurance in order to do it faster in time?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Betty, I suggest asking your vet about the risk of the surgery for your dog. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t be covered through a new pet insurance policy and would be considered pre-existing since it is in your pet’s medical records.
H. Reid
Hi! I would tell you not to do the surgery! Your dog is aged! Surgery for cataracts can lead to secondary glaucoma! This happened to my 11 year old Boston Terrier… Very high cost thereafter and my dog still had to have the eye which had surgery removed because of poor response to glaucoma treatment! She was not in pain before and was happy with the restricted vision but I wanted to give her a chance!…
Sarah Smith
I really appreciate your information that dog cataract surgery costs around $3,500 and has a success rate of 90%. My dog has both cataracts and a tumor on the side of his ribs. If the success rate for tumor removal is as high as it is for cataract surgery, I think I will start looking into pet hospitals who offer those surgeries.
Donald Moradian
Where is it $3,500? Everyone near me (Reno, NV) wants $6,100 – $7,500 including UC Davis!
My small dog is 17 years old and has cataracts in both eyes. The left is is the worse. Is this surgery recommended or is he too old for the anesthesia.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
You should speak with your vet.
Nancy Oetzel
My little yorkie died from the anesthesia, went into cadiacte
Virginia Kuhn
Oh Nancy, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. I’m so sorry.
Sorry to hear that 🙁 did they test the kidney and heart before anesthesia?
Way too old! Don’t risk it and not worth it!
Is the $3500 average cost for cataract surgery per eye or for both eyes?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I believe it is for one eye only. However, if your dog needs surgery on both eyes, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll cost $7,000. The $3,500 includes the preliminary exam, ERG and ultrasound exams, hospitalization, initial meds, surgery, anesthesia and operating room use. Some of these items would not need to be charged twice (anesthesia, operating room use, hospitalization, etc.). Also, price will vary based on location and the person doing the procedure. So it could be $3,500 for both or it could be more or less. In the end, it’s always good to get an estimate from the person conducting the procedure.
Can you get pet insurance if you have no knowledge of your dogs history? We got my dog after a family friend had passed away. We have no information on her. The vet she had been going to won’t give us information because we aren’t listed as her owner.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Yes, you can still get pet insurance for the dog. Many owners who adopt dogs from shelters do not know the dog’s history and are still able to purchase insurance. Often the insurance company will require a physical with a licensed veterinarian be conducted within a specific time to provide them a current stance on the dog’s health. This will help them determine any health issues.
Diane Diaz
I would to get dog insurance for my min pin who is 17 years old because she has cataracts. How much is health insurance?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way because everyone would wait until their dog was sick in order to purchase insurance. They also do not cover pre-existing conditions. The insurance companies require a complete medical exam and often a one or two years waiting period for dysplasia if they weren’t insured as a puppy. I adopted my Lab at 2 years of age and purchase insurance through Healthy Paws immediately for him and it has been worth it !
Lucky\'s mom
Poor Nacho! I have pet insurance thankfully so if this ever happens to my little Lucky girl she’ll be covered.