Cataracts can result in blurred vision and eventual blindness for your pooch, but surgery may be able to help to restore your dog's vision. Here, our Union City vets share a little about cataract surgery in dogs.

What are cataracts in dogs?

Your dog's eyes contain lenses, just like the ones found in a camera. This lens enhances your pet's vision, allowing them to see with clarity. The lens of your dog's eye can become cloudy or opaque, which can impact their vision by preventing a clear image from reaching the retina.

What is the treatment for cataracts in dogs?

In many cases, veterinarians can surgically remove cataracts in dogs and replace them with an artificial lens. Regrettably, this procedure may not be suitable for all dogs with cataracts. If your dog has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe inflammation of the eyes, cataract surgery may not be possible.

It is critical to detect conditions such as cataracts early in order to save your dog's vision. During your dog's regular, twice-yearly wellness exams, your veterinarian will thoroughly examine their eyes for any signs of cataract formation. If any are discovered, they will be able to prescribe appropriate treatment to keep the condition from worsening.

Performing the surgery as soon as possible after your pup has been diagnosed with cataracts will greatly improve the long-term outcome for your pet and greatly improve their quality of life.

If your dog isn't suitable for surgery, rest assured that, although your pup will remain blind, they can still enjoy a great quality of life. Dogs are very adaptable creatures and with a little practice, your dog will adapt and be able to navigate their home environment well by using their other senses to guide them. 

Can dogs have cataract surgery?

Yes, cataracts can be removed from dogs. Every veterinary hospital is different though. But in most cases, cataract surgery for dogs involves the following:


When it is time to take your dog to the vet, you will be notified. The surgery will most likely be performed either in the morning or the night before. Your veterinarian will give you detailed feeding and care instructions prior to surgery, ensuring that diabetic dogs receive the special attention they require. It is critical to strictly follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

Pre-Surgery Testing

Prior to surgery, we will sedate your dog and perform an ultrasound to rule out any complications, such as retinal detachment or lens rupture. We will perform an electroretinogram (ERG) to ensure that your dog's retina is functioning properly. If these tests reveal any unexpected problems, your dog may not be a suitable candidate for cataract surgery.

Surgical Procedure

In dogs, cataract surgery is done under general anesthesia. A muscle relaxant will also be given to help the eye sit in the proper position for the procedure.

The procedure of phacoemulsification is used to remove cataracts in dogs. This procedure, which is similar to cataract surgery on humans, uses an ultrasonic device to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. Following the removal of the cataracts in dogs, an artificial lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL) can be implanted in the eye to allow images to be focused clearly onto the retina.

Cataract surgery for dogs typically takes around 1-2 hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the case. It is important to follow post-operative care instructions provided by your veterinarian to ensure a successful recovery for your pet.


Following cataract surgery, your dog will typically be required to stay overnight for monitoring, as advised by the veterinary surgeon. Once your dog returns home, they will require extensive aftercare, which includes administering various eye drops several times per day.

What is the dog cataract surgery success rate?

Dogs typically experience some improvement in their vision the day after the surgery, although it may take a few weeks for their vision to fully stabilize as their eye adapts to the surgery and the artificial lens. Dogs who undergo cataract surgery have a great chance of experiencing positive results, especially if the rest of their eye is functioning well.

When dogs recover from surgery, their vision is usually restored, with about 95% of them regaining their sight. Your veterinarian can give you a long-term prognosis for your dog. In general, most dogs retain their vision after surgery, with 90% remaining after one year and 80% after two years. After surgery and throughout your dog's life, it is critical to provide proper post-operative care as well as regular visits to the veterinarian for eye exams and monitoring. These measures are required to achieve successful long-term results.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

Every surgical procedure involving pets or people carries some level of risk. Vets have seen corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye as potential complications of cataract surgery in dogs, though these are uncommon. To avoid complications following surgery, bring your dog to the veterinary surgeon for a follow-up exam.

How long is dog cataract surgery recovery?

Dogs typically experience a healing period of approximately two weeks following cataract surgery. Your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and can only go for leash walks during that period. During this time, your dog will require a range of medications, such as eye drops and oral medications. To improve your dog's vision, it is crucial that you diligently adhere to your vet's instructions.

Your dog's prescriptions may be lowered based on the findings of the two-week follow-up appointment, but some dogs will require lifetime medication use.

How much is cataract surgery for dogs?

The cost of cataract surgery for your dog will be determined by several factors, including your location, the size of your dog, and overall health. A detailed estimate for your pet's cataract surgery will be provided by your veterinarian.

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 vision problems, or showing signs of cataracts? Contact Reelfoot Animal Hospital for an appointment today.