Cataracts in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment


A cataract involves an opacity inside the lens of the eye of a dog, which causes him to experience blurry vision. If his cataract is small, it will not likely disturb his vision too much, yet cataracts have to be observed because the denser and thicker they become, the more likely it is that they’ll cause blindness.

What is the cause of dogs and cataracts?

Cataracts may develop from old age, disease, and eye trauma, yet inherited conditions include the most typical cause. Cataracts might be present at birth or they’ll develop when the pup is young, between 1-3 years old. In addition, a high-incidence of cataracts often is attributed to diabetes.

How to tell if your dog is developing cataracts

If your pup’s eyes appear bluish-gray or cloudy, it’s recommended that you take him to the veterinarian for an examination. Although, be aware, it is natural for a doggy’s lens to become gray or cloudy with age. This condition, referred to as nuclear sclerosis, does not place a pup’s vision in as much danger as a cataract might, and treatment is not generally suggested. But, all cloudiness in your dog’s eye is an indication that you should take him to the veterinarian.

What will happen if the cataract is left untreated?

Untreated cataracts might “luxate” or slip from their tissue holding them in place, and free them to float around inside the eye where they may settle and block regular fluid drainage. It might cause glaucoma, which may lead to permanent blindness. A cataract also may start to dissolve after time, and cause painful, deep eye inflammation.

Which dog breeds are susceptible to cataracts?

Although dogs of all breeds and ages may develop cataracts, they’re more typically discovered in Boston Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Standard and Miniature Poodles, Silky Terriers, Bichon Frise, Havanese, American Cocker Spaniels, and Smooth Fox Terriers. Dogs who have diabetes also are especially susceptible.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

A preliminary exam of the eye by your vet will inform you whether or not you’re dealing with a cataract or some other condition which causes eye cloudiness. You then should consult with a vet ophthalmologist to figure out the extent of the cataract and which measures you should take to manage the issue.

How to help preserve your dog’s vision

In the majority of cases, cataracts can’t be prevented, yet there are measures you can take to make sure your dog’s vision is preserved, particularly if they’re caused by a medical condition such as diabetes.

  • Regularly examine your pup’s eyes.
  • Take the pup to the veterinarian if her eyes appear bluish-gray or cloudy.
  • Take the animal to the veterinarian if you have suspicions that he’s experiencing trouble seeing.
  • If you can, figure out the medical history of the pup’s parents, because cataracts often are inherited.
  • Be alert to all conditions your pet has which might lead to cataracts, like eye trauma or diabetes.

Cataracts: How can they be treated?

Vision loss that is caused by cataracts often can be restored through an operation. A vet ophthalmologist can surgically extract the lens and substitute it with an acrylic or plastic lens. Generally, cataract surgery has an excellent success rate, yet your vet will have to decide if your pet is a suitable candidate for surgery. In addition, the treatment will require extensive post-op care.

Tip: If your dog has an underlying condition like diabetes, treating that underlying condition might lessen the odds that cataracts are going to develop.

How to care for your dog after a cataract operation

After an operation, your dog will need to use a protective collar until the eye has healed. You will have to keep her relaxed in a serene environment, and she also will need eye drops several times throughout the day for a couple of weeks.

What is involved in cataract surgery for dogs?

Even though it’s stressful for you and your dog, canine cataract surgery is usually uncomplicated and conducted on an outpatient basis (which means she will be able to return home the same day).

  1. Your pup will be placed under general anesthesia, and the surgical professional will cut a tiny incision into the dog’s eye.
  2. Then, the surgical professional will use a technique referred to as phacoemulsification, where he’ll use a tiny ultrasonic hand-piece which breaks up the dog’s cataract and aspirates it out of his eye. 3
  3. Next, the surgical professional will insert an artificial lens inside the dog’s eye in order to restore his vision.

The canine cataract surgery success rate is around 90 percent. Many dogs regain almost normal vision, even though most remain somewhat far sighted. The majority of pets’ vision continually improves over the week after the operation.

How much is dog cataract surgery?

The price of dog cataract surgery averages $3,500. This figure includes the preliminary exam, ultrasound and ERG, anesthesia, surgery, use of the operating room, hospitalization, medications and post-op check-ups. However, surgical costs vary based on your service provider and location. Your furry friend and bank account can also reap the rewards of finding the best pet insurance.

How to decrease the cost

Obtaining pet health insurance when your puppy is young is the best method of planning for health problems throughout the dog’s life. If you get insurance while your pet is young, there are fewer pre-existing conditions, bringing the cost down for you. Plus, having insurance before diagnosis helps minimize unexpected costs for cataract surgery and a plethora of additional pet health costs. It isn’t as pricey as you may think. However, you have to have an active insurance policy in place before diagnosis of the condition to be covered.