Cataract Surgery in Dogs

If your dog has cataracts, it's a common eye condition that can cause blurred vision and eventually lead to blindness. However, surgery can often help restore your dog's vision. Our vets, in Stanwood, can provide more information about dog cataract surgery and what to expect if your dog needs it. 

What are cataracts in dogs?

Your dog's eyes have lenses similar to those of a camera. These lenses help to focus your dog's vision and improve their eyesight. A cataract is when the lens becomes cloudy or opaque, which prevents clear images from being focused on the retina and ultimately impairs your dog's vision. 

How can cataracts in dogs be treated?

Most Cataracts can be removed surgically and replaced with an artificial lens. However, not all dogs with cataracts are suitable for this surgery. Cataract surgery may be contraindicated in your dog if he or she has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation.

Early detection of cataracts is vital for preserving your dog's vision. During routine 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 with cataracts is diagnosed and deemed a good candidate for 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 about the cost of cataract surgery for your dogs,  please contact our office and come for a visit to get an estimate.

What is cataract surgery for dogs process?

Every veterinary hospital handles things differently, but generally, you drop your dog off the night before or the morning of surgery. While diabetic dogs require special attention, your vet will always provide detailed feeding and care instructions before surgery. It's important to obey your veterinarian's advice.

Pre-Surgery Testing

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

Surgical Procedure

  • Cataract surgery requires a general anesthetic. A muscle relaxant will also be administered to assist your dog's eye in sitting properly for the surgery. Phacoemulsification is used to remove cataracts in dogs. This procedure, like human cataract surgery, uses ultrasonic waves to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. After the cataract is removed, an intraocular lens (IOL) can be implanted in the eye to focus images clearly onto the retina.


  • Typically, the veterinarian performing your dog's ocular surgery will recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring following cataract surgery. Following surgery, intensive at-home aftercare will be required, including the repeated use of multiple types of eye drops.

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 if the rest of the eye is healthy.

Approximately 95% of dogs regain vision after surgery. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 90 percent of dogs with cataract surgery retain vision after one year and 80 percent after two years. Good post-operative care and regular eye exams and monitoring by your veterinarian are critical to long-term success.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

All surgical procedures for both humans and pets come with some level of risk. Even though corneal ulcers and elevated pressure within the eyes are rate complications of cataract surgery in dogs, some veterinarians have noticed these issues. It's important to schedule a follow-up examination within the veterinary surge to prevent any complications after the surgery. 

What is a dog's cataract surgery recovery time?

After cataract surgery, dogs need about two weeks to recover. During that time, your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and can only go on leash walks. You will need to give your dog eye drops and oral medications during this time. Following your veterinarian's advice is critical 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 Stanwood veterinarians.