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 eye lens. 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). Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

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.

Disclaimer: Information regarding insurance company offerings, pricing and other contract details are subject to change by the insurance company at any time and are not under the control of this website. Information published on this website is intended for reference use only. Please review your policy carefully before signing up for a new pet health insurance contract or any other contract as your unique circumstances will differ from those of others who may be used for example purposes in this article.
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September 14, 2020 6:48 am

Reading these stories propels me to mention the option of crossing the US / Mexico Border for cataract surgery. I live in Ensenada and have two dogs. My new rescue, Gladys, was just diagnosed with cataracts. I regret not asking the cost, but I am confident, based on my experience that it’s a fraction of the price. My other dog, Guinness, has had four surgeries in Ensenada, without consequence. Each procedure cost between $60-220. This price does not include the cost of Pathology ($50 per test result approx) or X-rays (around $50), which are added to the vet services. Most Vets are bilingual and is in Ensenada and a good resource.

Theresa V.
September 22, 2020 5:50 pm
Reply to  Michelle

Do you have a recommendation for an ophthalmology surgeon in Mexico for an animal?

August 11, 2020 7:05 pm

My Yorkie is about 13 years old to 15. He’s a rescue. When he was found, he had already lost most of his teeth and had blurred vision. Now, he seems completely blind on one side and partially sees in the other. I don’t know if I should take him for surgery. 1) cost (like the other post I also live near UC Davis and yes the cost is like $6-8,000 for each eye…ridiculous…cheaper if I fly somewhere with him to have surgery!!
2) risks: what if he dies from it?? I’ll hate myself and be devastated. I want him to have a better quality of life.

What should i do???

Apiffany Gaither Billings
August 12, 2020 4:56 pm
Reply to  Julia

If cost is prohibitive, are you able to look into something such as Care Credit that allows you to pay the charges off in installments versus on the spot? I have personally had to do this with one of my dog’s surgery in the past. Also, a loss of vision does not have to decrease his quality of life. There are ways to train and to allow dogs who are visually-impaired to adjust to their new lifestyle.

Lisa Tonkin
July 27, 2020 6:00 pm

I live in West Virginia. Does anybody know of a veterinarian in West Virginia that does cataract surgeries at a reasonable price? I can’t afford $4000 for surgery and I love my dog. He’s like my child. Please, somebody, help me or tell me what I can do. My Boston terrier has lost his eyesight, pretty well most of it.

August 24, 2020 4:25 pm
Reply to  Lisa Tonkin

You can try a gofundme fundraiser. Even if it gets you to 50% of the total, it would be good. I only donate to animal medical needs and there are a lot of people like me!

Barb Maclennan
August 23, 2020 1:38 am
Reply to  Lisa Tonkin

Spokane Washington eye clinic says it’s $2,600 for one eye. My Maltese has cataracts and is 15 years old.

June 6, 2020 11:16 pm

My name is Daniel. My boy Joe is a miniature pinscher/Jack Russell. He was diagnosed with diabetes on Tuesday. I went home where there are three apartments. The man in the last apartment was having a problem with somebody and the police were there. He owns two Great Danes and a German Shepherd that are very, very aggressive. I came home around noon, the police went into my apartment without my permission and put the two Great Danes and the German Shepherd in my apartment. They nearly killed my dog and now my dog is permanently blind and is in very bad shape. I didn’t get even an I’m sorry from the police that came in my place without permission or anything and put those dogs in there and didn’t even help me out with the vet bill.

Rachel innarella
March 4, 2020 5:56 pm

How much does it cost for my dog Yorki terroir 6 lbs he’s 15 years old

Apiffany Gaither Billings
March 5, 2020 1:50 pm

We recommend talking with your vet for an exam and estimate for your dog.

Debra Mattox
February 20, 2020 7:41 am

My dog needs cataract surgery but really can’t afford it. My heart is breaking knowing that I can give him his site back by this procedure but unreachable. Does anyone know of surgeons that do this for cost in Alabama. Debbie
July 21, 2020 9:49 am
Reply to  Debra Mattox

Our 3 yr old schnauzer has the same issue. We can’t afford $3000 surgery. I live in Northwest Florida, any advice?

Cortney S
January 28, 2020 3:27 pm

My dog goes in for her tests to see if she is fit for surgery tomorrow. I am a nervous wreck, and I can’t find any pet owners’ posting success stories of their elderly dog’s surgery. I’ve been digging through websites, forums, product reviews, and everything searching for some good news. My dog is a 15 year old (female) chihuahua. She only occasionally runs into things, and her left eye is much worse than her right. Although, her right eye is starting to fog now as well. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, but apparently not doing anything can also cause glaucoma and other more painful problems. Can anyone give me some good news, I’m afraid the specialists near my area don’t want to tell me about other options because they aren’t as profitable… And because this surgery is risky for older dogs, and can cause a lifetime of problems, I’m even more worried about the outcome. I can’t live without my dog, and the problem this gives is absolutely draining me. If she dies during surgery or something from it, I will feel like I drove her to her death, but if I do nothing the possibility of her being in pain the rest of her life would destroy me.

Ildifonzo Corral
January 7, 2020 12:41 am

Do you know of any Vet that will do low cost cataract surgery in the San Antonio, Texas area, thx

December 2, 2019 8:39 pm

Just commenting to point out an error. This page notes that cataracts are a “film” and located behind the retina. A cataract develops when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy and dense (it’s the lens itself). It’s located behind the cornea and iris, but is in the anterior chamber of the eye — in front of the retina.

Ellen Cassata
October 23, 2019 3:20 pm

Do u know of any place that does low cost cataract surgery on dogs?

August 1, 2019 2:20 pm

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
August 7, 2019 11:03 am
Reply to  Holly

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
June 17, 2019 2:23 pm

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
June 18, 2019 8:20 am

Have you gotten quotes from other vets in your area?

March 9, 2019 4:35 am

My dog is 14 years old will catarte surgery be dangerous to her at her age

Kimberly Alt
March 11, 2019 9:07 am
Reply to  Gwen

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
March 3, 2019 9:57 pm

Where is somewhere that I can get it done for around 2,000?

V.J. Daniels
April 17, 2019 1:30 pm

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
May 13, 2019 10:16 am
Reply to  V.J. Daniels

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
February 10, 2019 9:07 pm

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.

February 7, 2019 9:01 pm

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-

February 29, 2020 10:21 pm
Reply to  Melissa

I would have just one eye done to be less expensive

March 16, 2019 1:49 am
Reply to  Melissa

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
April 17, 2019 1:32 pm
Reply to  Farida

Where was that???

Kimberly Alt
February 8, 2019 1:19 pm
Reply to  Melissa

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?)?

Tyler’s Momma
April 23, 2020 2:18 am
Reply to  Kimberly Alt

…hello, I have a 9lb Yorkie “Tyler” he’s almost 12 yrs old (June 2020). I got pet insurance “VPI Pet Insurance” when he was 8 wks old, I filed all the appropriate claims for visits, shots, meds, dental cleaning etc. and got a percentage reimbursement. The monthly payment was close to $80.00 dollars for major coverage , which I figured would be wise to have in case he were to get cancer or be in an accident.? But after 10 yrs of pet insurance, when I called and inquired about coverage for cataracts, I was told that it was hereditary in Yorkshire Terriers and wouldn’t be covered (basically anything hereditary). Soooo, being royally pissed off I cancelled the policy! If I would have know this from the beginning, I could have put $80.00 a month in a savings account and over 10 years I could have used the money ($9,600) to get his eye surgery and he wouldn’t be blind! My advice is cover all your pet health questions in the beginning and DEFINE MAJOR coverage. I’m heartbroken for being unaware and HE’S MY EVERYTHING . Good Luck

Nancy Oetzel
January 27, 2019 4:53 pm

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.

Cortney S
January 28, 2020 3:30 pm
Reply to  Nancy Oetzel

Can you tell me more about what happened? My dog is 15 years old and is possibly a candidate for surgery. I’m absolutely terrified, and don’t think I can live without my dog. I feel like if my dog suffers from glaucoma from me doing nothing I will have failed her, but the risk of her dying now from surgery is absolutely horrifying for me.

Lyndley Hillebrand
April 24, 2019 4:12 pm
Reply to  Nancy Oetzel

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.

Kimberly Alt
January 28, 2019 9:56 am
Reply to  Nancy Oetzel

I’m so sorry for your loss, Nancy. You may find this article helpful.

January 26, 2019 10:54 pm

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?

H. Reid
January 31, 2019 12:09 pm
Reply to  Betty

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!…

Kimberly Alt
January 28, 2019 9:52 am
Reply to  Betty

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.

Sarah Smith
January 14, 2019 4:13 pm

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
June 17, 2019 2:13 pm
Reply to  Sarah Smith

Where is it $3,500? Everyone near me (Reno, NV) wants $6,100 – $7,500 including UC Davis!

Joanne johnson
November 15, 2019 8:14 pm

Cornell university quoted approx. $3500 on their website. They are located in Ithaca, NY

September 7, 2020 1:53 pm
Reply to  Joanne johnson

Purdue in Indiana and U of Wisconsin both $2700.

October 6, 2019 9:38 am

Have you considered asking for help with surgery costs on social media? Lots of people are glad to donate in these situations.
The cost of cataract surgery for both eyes in Birmingham Alabama is $3500. I had it done for my 11 year old Dachshund but he died 2 months later due to diabetic complications. Even though it took me a while to pay off the credit card bill from surgery, it was so heartwarming to see him run and play again after he regained his sight!

June 21, 2020 10:51 am
Reply to  RMoon

RMoon, Can you tell me where you had your dog’s cataract surgery done? My dog has cataracts from diabetes and would love to give him his sight back. Thanks.

January 5, 2019 4:38 pm

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.

February 16, 2019 10:58 pm
Reply to  Tom

Way too old! Don’t risk it and not worth it!

Nancy Oetzel
January 27, 2019 4:54 pm
Reply to  Tom

My little yorkie died from the anesthesia, went into cadiacte

June 5, 2019 3:46 am
Reply to  Nancy Oetzel

Sorry to hear that 🙁 did they test the kidney and heart before anesthesia?

Virginia Kuhn
February 10, 2019 9:10 pm
Reply to  Nancy Oetzel

Oh Nancy, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. I’m so sorry.

Kimberly Alt
January 7, 2019 9:17 am
Reply to  Tom

You should speak with your vet.

October 7, 2018 5:52 am

Is the $3500 average cost for cataract surgery per eye or for both eyes?

Kimberly Alt
October 8, 2018 12:27 pm
Reply to  Dori

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.

March 15, 2018 10:55 pm

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
March 16, 2018 10:43 am
Reply to  Michelle

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
January 23, 2018 4:42 pm

I would to get dog insurance for my min pin who is 17 years old because she has cataracts. How much is health insurance?

April 6, 2018 4:46 pm
Reply to  Diane Diaz

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 !

Kimberly Alt
January 24, 2018 9:16 am
Reply to  Diane Diaz
Lucky\'s mom
August 29, 2017 4:56 pm

Poor Nacho! I have pet insurance thankfully so if this ever happens to my little Lucky girl she’ll be covered.