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Cataract Surgery for Dogs

Cataract Surgery for Dogs

Cataracts affect your dog's vision by obstructing the passage of light to the retina, causing blurred eyesight and, over time, leading to blindness. In this article, veterinarians in Grants Pass discuss the factors behind cataracts in dogs and the surgical options for treatment.

Cataracts in Dogs

Dogs see the world through a lens similar to a camera, aiding their vision focus. A cataract clouds or opacifies the lens, blurring the image on the retina and hindering a dog's clear vision.

The Causes of Cataracts in Dogs

Inflammation in the eye, diabetes, retinal disease, or ocular trauma can all cause cataracts to develop in dogs. However, cataracts are most frequently observed in older dogs and are typically a condition passed down through generations.

Dog Breeds Most Likely to Get Cataracts

Several dog breeds, such as poodles, Boston terriers, miniature schnauzers, and American cocker spaniels, can develop cataracts.

Diagnosing Dog Cataracts

If your dog shows signs of vision issues, like frequently bumping into furniture, struggling to locate their water or food dish, or having cloudy eyes, contact your vet to schedule an appointment for your pup.

Your vet may recommend a Veterinary Ophthalmic Specialist (a pet eye specialist) for further evaluation and an official diagnosis of cataracts. This specialist can also provide the most appropriate treatment for your dog.

Treating Cataracts in Dogs

Currently, no treatments can address cataracts once they have formed. However, surgical removal can often help restore your dog's vision. It's worth noting that not all dogs are suitable candidates for cataract surgery.

Early diagnosis plays a crucial role in preserving your dog's eyesight. Regular wellness exams, scheduled twice a year, allow your veterinarian to examine your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend appropriate treatment before the condition worsens.

If your dog has been diagnosed with cataracts and is eligible for surgery, performing the procedure as soon as possible improves your pet's likelihood of achieving positive long-term results.

Cataract Surgery For Dogs


Every veterinary hospital varies, but in most cases, you will bring your dog to the hospital either the night before their scheduled surgery or on the morning of the procedure.

If your dog has diabetes, you will need to take extra care. Your vet will explain the post-operative care your dog needs before the surgery. Be sure to follow your vet's instructions closely.

Pre-Surgery Testing

Before the surgery, we will sedate your dog and perform an ultrasound to check for problems like retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). Afterward, we will conduct an electroretinogram (ERG) to confirm that your dog's retina is functioning correctly. If these tests reveal any unexpected issues, your dog may not qualify for cataract surgery.

The Surgical Procedure

Cataract surgery involves giving dogs a general anesthetic and a muscle relaxant to ensure the eye is positioned correctly.

The surgery utilizes a technique known as phacoemulsification, which employs an ultrasonic device to break up and extract the cloudy lens from the eye. This method is akin to what's done in human cataract surgery. In many instances, a custom artificial lens can be inserted in place of the

Post-Operative Care

Veterinary surgeons typically request that dogs stay overnight for monitoring, and they release them the following morning if everything appears normal. Many dogs regain some of their vision the next day, but it usually takes a few weeks for their vision to stabilize as their eyes adapt to the surgical procedure and the artificial lens.

Following cataract surgery, dogs need intensive care, which involves administering various eye drops multiple times daily.

The Risks of Cataract Surgery

All surgical procedures with pets or people come with some level of risk. Complications from cataract surgery in dogs are rare, but some complications seen by veterinary ophthalmologists post-surgery are corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye. Attending a follow-up exam with your dog's surgeon is essential for helping to prevent issues from developing after the surgery.

Recovery Time For Dogs Following Surgery

The recovery period after cataract surgery in dogs lasts approximately 2 weeks. During this time, your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) continuously and should only go for leash walks.

Your dog requires various medications, including eye drops and oral medicine. Following your vet's instructions diligently is crucial to ensure your dog's vision improves.

At the 2-week follow-up appointment, your dog's medication might be reduced, but some dogs may need to continue taking medication indefinitely.

How Much Cataract Surgery Costs For Dogs

The cost of your dog's surgery will depend on various factors, including your location, your individual vet, the complexity of the surgery, and your dog's condition.

What is the Rate of Success for Dog Cataract Surgery

Many dogs will regain some of their vision the day after the surgery, but it typically takes a few weeks for the eye to adjust to the surgery and the artificial lens fully. Cataract surgery for dogs has a high success rate, with most dogs experiencing positive results if the rest of their eye functions properly.

Approximately 95% of dogs recover their vision shortly after the surgery. Your veterinarian can provide a prognosis for your dog's long-term vision, but generally, 90% of dogs maintain their vision one-year post-surgery, and 80% after two years. To ensure long-term success, providing good post-operative care and scheduling regular visits to the veterinarian for eye examinations and monitoring throughout your dog's life is crucial.

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 having difficulties with their vision? Contact our Grants Pass vet today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.

Specialty Vets at Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic

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