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Cataract Surgery for Dogs

In dogs, cataracts are a fairly common eye condition. They can result in blurred vision and eventually blindness, but surgery can often help restore vision. Today, our San Gabriel veterinarians talk about canine cataract surgery and what to expect if your dog needs it.

What are cataracts in dogs?

Your dog has a camera-like lens in each of its eyes. This lens helps focus your dog's vision so they can see better. A cataract is a cloudiness or opacification of the lens that impairs your dog's vision by preventing a sharp image from being focused on the retina.

How can cataracts in dogs be treated?

In dogs, cataracts are frequently removed surgically and replaced with a prosthetic lens. Not all dogs with cataracts, though, qualify for this procedure. Having a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation may make cataract surgery in your dog contraindicated.

Early detection of cataracts is critical for preserving your dog's vision. During routine twice-yearly wellness exams, your veterinarian can check your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before they become more serious.

The sooner a dog diagnosed with cataracts and deemed a good candidate for surgery can undergo surgery, the better their long-term outcome.

If your dog is not a candidate for surgery, rest assured that it will have an excellent quality of life despite being blind. With a little practice, your dog will quickly adapt and navigate their home environment using their other senses.

If you're wondering how much cataract surgery is for dogs, please contact our office and come for a visit to get an estimate.

What is cataract surgery for dogs process?

A dog is typically dropped off at a veterinary hospital the night before or the morning of surgery. However, every hospital handles things differently. Despite the fact that diabetic dogs require special care, your veterinarian will always give you specific feeding and aftercare instructions prior to surgery. heed the advice of your veterinarian.

Pre-Surgery Testing

  • Prior to surgery, your dog will be sedated and an ultrasound will be performed to rule out any complications such as retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). To ensure that your dog's retina is in good working order, an electroretinogram (ERG) will be performed. Unfortunately, if these tests reveal any unexpected problems, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery.

Surgical Procedure

  • Cataract surgery necessitates the use of a general anesthetic. A muscle relaxant will also be administered to help your dog's eye sit properly for the surgery. Cataracts in dogs are removed using phacoemulsification. This procedure, like human cataract surgery, uses ultrasonic waves to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. Following cataract removal, an intraocular lens (IOL) can be implanted in the eye to focus images clearly onto the retina.


  • The veterinarian performing your dog's ocular surgery will usually recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring after cataract surgery. Following surgery, intensive at-home aftercare will be required, including the use of a variety of eye drops on a regular basis.

Will my dog be able to see after cataract surgery?

Many dogs regain some vision the next day, but it usually takes a few weeks for the eye to adjust to the surgery and the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is considered a highly effective treatment with a large success rate if the rest of the eye is healthy.

After surgery, about 95% of dogs regain their vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 90 percent of dogs who have had cataract surgery still have vision after a year and 80 percent after two. Long-term success depends on proper post-operative care, regular eye exams, and close veterinarian supervision.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

Surgical procedures involving animals or humans all carry some level of risk. Although corneal ulcers and intraocular pressure elevations are uncommon complications of cataract surgery in dogs, veterinarians have seen corneal ulcers and intraocular pressure elevations. To avoid complications after surgery, take your dog in for a follow-up exam with the veterinary surgeon.

What is a dog's cataract surgery recovery time?

Dogs need about two weeks to recover from cataract surgery. During that time, your dog must always wear an E-collar (cone) and can only go on leash walks. During this time, you will need to give your dog eye drops and oral medications. It is critical to follow your veterinarian's advice for your dog's vision.

A 2-week follow-up appointment may result in a reduction in your dog's medication, but some dogs will require medication indefinitely.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog suffering from cataracts? To schedule an examination for your dog, contact our San Gabriel veterinarians.

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