Has your vet diagnosed your dog with cataracts? Surgery is typically the first response if a dog is deemed healthy enough for canine cataract surgery.
If left untreated, it’s likely that your dog will go completely blind. This type of surgery can improve your dog’s life, but just how much will it cost? There are ways to pay for your dog’s cataract surgery even when you’re on a tight budget.
First, how can you help a dog with cataracts?
Like humans, dogs have a lens over their acts to help focus on objects, just like you would with camera zoom. Cataracts in dogs is a serious and potentially painful illness since it impairs vision, leading to complete vision loss.
Cost of Dog Cataract Surgery
Cornell University estimates that the cost of cataract surgery for dogs is around $3,500. There are certain factors that can change this estimate.
For example, your vet may have cheaper or higher rates depending on the region where you live. If there any complications, such as the dog’s age, it may be more difficult to perform the surgery.
What Causes Dog Cataracts
Some breeds are predisposed to cataracts and other eye problems. For some reason, these breeds include Siberian Huskies, American cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, miniature poodles, miniature schnauzers, and terriers.
There are a few other things to note about this disease in dogs. If your dog is older and predisposed to diabetes, then it’s likely they’ll have issues with cataracts as well.
There have been some reports that electric shock collars cause cataracts as well. If you notice inflammation over your dog’s eyes, then it’s likely they are developing some kind of eye problem.
In any case, you’ll need to take your dog to the vet or a dog ophthalmologist to get a full diagnosis.
Symptoms of Dog Cataracts
Just as humans develop a cloudy spot in their eye, you’ll notice a white spot in your dog’s eye that will continue to grow.
It will look like a gray or white film that spreads across the eye from the center. This film stretches out from just behind the retina. However, there are some other signs that you should look for.
These symptoms include:
- Persistent eye redness
- Inflammation around eyes
- Bulging of one eye
- Vision problems
- Constant pawing at eyes
While you can help dogs by cleaning their eyes and wiping away tears before they form into a crust, you will likely need to get cataracts surgery once your dog begins to develop a white spot. Your vet can provide a guide on how to prevent some common issues for dogs with poor vision.
How Do You Treat Dog Cataracts
If you start to notice some of the symptoms above in your dog, then it’s a good time to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. These folks are trained to look for these signs and can prescribe some helpful medication to reduce early problems.
Your vet will likely ask for a history of your dog’s health. If you know the health of the dog’s parents, you can bring along their medical records to note where the parents may have had issues with cataracts.
Your vet will probably need to perform blood tests and urine analysis to determine what diseases are present and what could be causing your dog’s vision to worsen.
For example, your dog may have diabetes cataracts. In these cases, vets will recommend will look at treatment options for diabetes as well.
To determine whether your dog needs cataracts surgery, you’ll probably need to see a veterinary ophthalmologist. These doctors specialize in dog cataracts and other canine ee problems. Your dog’s eye doctor will likely perform an exam under a slit lamp and biomicroscope to see if there are cataracts present.
In addition, an ultrasound or ERG may be used to examine your dog’s eyes further. These scans will look closely at your dog’s retinas.
The CAT scan will also look at all of the areas around your dog’s eyes to make sure that there aren’t any other problems. However, CAT scans are typically not part of the diagnosis. Basically, if cataracts are present, they’ll be found in the eye exam.
Some vets have found natural ways to treat cataracts. This vet explains below:
What are the Stages of Cataracts in Dogs
Once you start to see the opaque spot start in your dog’s eye, you’ll notice that it ranges in size, starting very small. In this stage, it’s called an incipient cataract.
This is the first stage, and during this time, the veterinary ophthalmologist may be able to treat with ointments and medication instead of surgery.
Cataracts that have more solid white color in the eye are considered to be juvenile cataracts. This is more serious and will cause blurred vision.
After this stage, the next one involves the entire covering of the lens, meaning that it’s completely cloudy and all vision is typically lost. When this happens to your dog, it’s called mature cataracts.
If your dog doesn’t receive treatment, then cataracts will turn into hyper mature cataracts possibly, which is caused by a lack of fluid and protein to the dog’s lens.
This type of cataract varies in the strength of opacity and vision loss. Depending on the age and breed, it can take several years for a mature contact to turn into hyper mature cataracts.
Senile cataracts are the next stage. This is mostly due to the dog’s age, usually starting after the age of 6 or later.
There are some cataracts that never fully develop beyond a small spot that causes a little percentage of vision loss. If untreated, it’s possible that these small cataracts can spread, but it depends on the age and breed of the dog.
Diabetes and Dog Cataracts
If your dog breed has a history of diabetes, then it’s likely you’ll have to deal with cataract problems as your dog gets older.
This is because diabetes causes high sugar levels in the blood, which has a negative effect on other organs. Insulin is typically used to help treat diabetes in dogs, just like in humans. This helps turn glucose into fuel.
However, if untreated, diabetes will cause a lot of damage to your dog’s blood vessels, nerves, heart, kidneys, and eyes. This includes the development of cataracts.
If you notice signs that your dog is thirsty all of the time or if his parents had a history of diabetes, you should get a blood test for your pup and talk to your vet about options to prevent cataracts.
What Breeds are More Prone to Dog Cataracts
Although any dog can be susceptible to cats, especially if they frequently get eye infections or have problems with tears, there are a few dog breeds that experience this more than others.
These are some of the reasons why those breeds are more likely to need dog cataract surgery.
While this is a beautiful dog, it’s prone to a number of health conditions, which lead to hair loss and itchy skin problems. This is especially true for areas of the husky’s face. In addition, these conditions worsen around the eyes and cause dryness, which can lead to cataracts in the eyes.
These amazing little dogs have wonderful personalities, but they have a ton of health problems. The most consistent condition reported by pug owners is eye-bulging, which is one of the first signs of cataracts. It’s in the dog’s nature to develop this disease, which means that owners have to pay careful attention to their pup’s eyes and catch it before it spreads.
While this is a very proud and athletic dog, the boxer is one of the high-risk breeds for developing lymphoma problems. This cancer can grow cancer in the skin and in all the lymph nodes. While you can try to treat with radiation, many dogs are not able to survive the surgery or radiation treatment. One of the side effects of this disease is cataracts.
Cute and fluffy, poodles are one of those breeds that just likes to be the center of attention. However, they are susceptible to tearing and cataracts due to glaucoma. Some of the severe cases of cataracts eventually lead to this serious eye disease.
The Boston Terrier
The “Cherry Eye” problem suffered by Boston Terriers is very commonplace. It’s typically in the genetics of the breed, so if parents had issues with cataracts and cherry eyes, it’s likely that yours will as well.
While this dog is typically spunk and a delight to be around, they do have an issue with developing diabetes. The miniature style of this breed seems to have more issues with diabetes than the larger schnauzers.
Dog breed doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll have to deal with cataracts with your pooch. However, it’s something that you should prepare for the right healthcare plan.
What Happens in a Dog Cataract Surgery
While surgery can be stressful for your furry friend, cataract surgery is actually pretty successful and less complicated than many other surgeries. The doctor must be careful when operating not to damage the eye, but your dog won’t feel anything.
The first part of the process is anesthesia. Your dog will be put under general anesthesia, making your pooch unable to feel anything.
The vet then makes a small incision at the affected part of the eye. Using a procedure called phacoemulsification, the doctor will use an ultrasonic tool that separates the cataract and passes it out of the eye.
An artificial lens is then placed on your dog’s eye to restore his vision back to normal. Nearly all of these surgeries are successful, and your doggo is ready to go home with you the same day.
Dogs are able to see normally in a few days, though many will still have slightly blurred vision for the first week.
How Can You Reduce Costs of Dog Cataracts Surgery?
One thing that some dog parents do is invest in pet health insurance. There is a small payment each month that gives you access to more costly pet healthcare help.
Pet insurance has become increasingly popular because it allows you to invest in your pet’s health and lower the price considerably for larger surgeries.
While it may seem like a simple surgery, an experienced surgery is still necessary to pull out the cataract carefully and replace with an artificial lens.
If your doctor believes that you can prevent cataracts from forming using eye drops and preventing your dog from pawing at his eyes, you may be able to avoid costly surgeries. However, typically if you notice the white in the eyes, these dogs are only going to lose their vision more.
What Dogs Are Eligible for Cataracts Surgery?
It’s true that some dogs are not good candidates for cataracts surgery. This is because they may be too old or not in the best shape for eye surgery. Some dogs may suffer more after having the surgery performed.
Most dogs need to be older than the age of 8 and have a history of cataracts in their family to have it performed early on. Otherwise, it may be performed as long as the dog isn’t developing cataracts from old age. This means that it’s likely
cataracts will continue to come back.
If you want to prevent your dog from losing his vision, then you’ll need to act fast. Cataracts in dogs typically set in fast, and within a few months, your dog could be completely blind.
There are different ways to prevent and slow its development, but surgery is typically recommended for any patients that are already showing a cloudy eye. You should contact your vet as soon as you see any symptoms for dog cataracts.