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Dog cataract surgery costs

The essentials

  • Surgery is the only way to fix cataracts — The procedure removes the cloudy lens and places an artificial lens to help restore your dog’s vision. 
  • The cost of surgery can vary — Your location, your dog’s age, and their breed can all factor into the overall cost.
  • Expect to have long-term care after surgery — Most dogs will need daily eye drops and regular vet checks post-surgery to keep tabs on their eye health.

Cataracts are often a genetically inherited trait or a result of an illness, but they can also develop during the aging process or after an injury to the eye. Cataracts can be inconvenient to your pet, and unfortunately, they need surgery to fully resolve. 

The exact cost of surgery depends on factors such as how far the cataract progressed, but the general price ranges between $2,700 and $4,000. Here’s what you need to know about the surgery, and how to tell if your dog might be a good candidate for the procedure.

How much does cataract surgery for dogs cost?

Generally speaking, pet owners can expect to pay between $2,700 and $4,000 for their dog’s cataract surgery per eye. The exact price depends on how far the cataracts have progressed, as well as your geographical location since vet care costs vary depending on where you live. The price also depends on whether the condition has affected one or both of your dog’s eyes. 

Luckily, many pet insurance plans cover some or all the costs of cataract surgery. It’s important to note, however, that most policies won’t cover cataracts as a pre-existing condition — and if you sign up for a new insurance plan while your pet has cataracts, they likely won’t be covered for surgical removal later on. 

👉 If you think your pup is going to be predisposed to cataracts, it’s best to get them signed up for insurance early on so you’ll be covered in the long term. 

Other costs that may add to your dog’s cataract surgery bill 

In addition to the actual operation, you may be charged for other costs related to the surgery that aren’t surgical in nature. For example: 

  • Initial exam with an ophthalmologist. Once your primary veterinarian determines that your dog might be a good candidate for cataract surgery, your dog will need to visit an ophthalmologist to determine the scope. The exam usually costs between $200 and $300. 
  • Electroretinography (ERG). This procedure might be done before cataract surgery to ensure that the retina is working properly. Dr. Cahn notes that “Removing a cataract from an eye with a non-functional retina won’t restore vision.” An ERG can help determine whether cataract surgery would be the best option for your pet. Some clinics may include the ERG in the cost of the surgery, but if they don’t, look to pay an additional $500 to $900.
  • Pre-anesthetic bloodwork. Most vets require pre-anesthetic blood tests to make sure your dog is in good overall health before undergoing general anesthesia. 
  • Medications. Your vet may prescribe a combination of post-op pain medications, antibiotics, and eye drops that aren’t included in the initial bill. 
  • Follow-up visits. Your vet will likely schedule weekly follow-up visits and then gradually increase the time in between appointments if they’re doing well.  

👉 Pet insurance may or may not cover follow-up costs depending on your plan. It’s worth asking about post-operative cost factors so you know what to expect when it’s time to pay.  

How pet insurance can help with dog cataract surgery costs

Depending on the company and plan you select, pet insurance may cover cataract surgery as long as it isn’t a pre-existing condition. Unlike human insurance, most pet insurance plans require you to pay the entire vet bill upfront. 

Once you submit a claim, you’ll be reimbursed between 75% and 90% of the total cost in most cases. However, you’ll also have to meet your annual deductible before getting reimbursed. 

👉 If pet insurance isn’t an option, ask your vet about financing your pet’s surgery through a CareCredit credit card or see if they offer a payment plan.

Factors that impact the cost of cataract surgery in dogs

Dog cataract surgery averages around $3,000, but the actual cost can vary considerably based on your dog’s breed, size, and progression of their cataracts. Your location can also influence the total price you pay.


Certain dog breeds are more likely to need cataract surgery than others due to inherited genetic mutations. Keep in mind though that while genetic testing before breeding may help reduce inherited causes, any dog may develop cataracts due to trauma or illness. Some breeds that are more likely to inherit cataracts include: 

👉 Some pet insurance companies don’t cover congenital or inherited diseases. If your dog’s breed belongs to a high-risk group, make sure to ask if hereditary cataracts are covered before enrolling them in a policy. 


While the cost of the actual surgery stays the same, your dog’s size generally determines how much medication and anesthesia they’ll need. If you have a large dog, you’ll also likely pay more for any post-op medications.  

Condition of the cataracts 

Surgeries on early-stage cataracts tend to have better outcomes—and less expensive prices—than mature cataracts. The price also depends on whether the condition is in one or both eyes. 

Geographical location

Your area’s cost of living can influence your pet cataract surgery price. Calling a few local veterinary hospitals to receive an estimate can help you find the most affordable option.

Treatment for cataracts in dogs

Cataracts are surgically removed by a veterinary ophthalmologist using a technique called phacoemulsification to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the eye. In some cases, the lens is removed through a larger incision, known as a lens extraction. The surgeon then replaces the lens with an artificial lens that provides clearer vision.

Unfortunately, not all dogs with cataracts are suitable for surgery. If your pup has a pre-existing eye condition, such as retinal degeneration or glaucoma, surgery might not be a viable option for them. 

If they aren’t eligible for surgery, your pup will remain blind, but they can have a good quality of life, as long as their eye is not painful. If it is, then enucleation (surgical removal of the eye) should be considered.

There are many ways for dog owners to support a blind pup to help them adjust, such as keeping furniture in the same spots so they learn the layout of the house. You can train them with verbal versus visual cues, too.

👉 Lenticular sclerosis resembles a cataract but leaves a transparent, bluish tint on your dog’s eyes instead of a dense film. Unlike cataracts, lenticular sclerosis is a common aging change and doesn’t usually lead to blindness. 

What to expect with cataract surgery

Knowing what to expect on the day of the surgery can soothe surgical jitters for both you and your pet. Here’s what you should know for the upcoming big day. 

  • It might start the day before. If your vet requires pre-anesthesia bloodwork or additional testing, they may need your dog to come in for a separate appointment before the day of their scheduled surgery
  • Your pet probably shouldn’t eat at night. Your vet will give you detailed instructions on feeding your dog leading up to the morning of surgery, as they usually need to fast for a certain amount of time the day before. 
  • You might need to do a PM drop-off. Some veterinary hospitals may want you to drop off your pet the night before to avoid lateness on the day of the surgery so they can do the necessary testing. 
  • Pre-surgery testing. Before surgery begins, your veterinarian will run a variety of tests to check for issues such as glaucoma, uveitis, and luxation or a rupture of the lens, along with an electroretinogram (ERG) to confirm that your dog’s retina is working properly.

🚨 If your vet finds any issues during this testing phase, your pup may not be able to undergo cataract surgery.

  • The surgical procedure. Cataracts are generally removed with phacoemulsification, a procedure using an ultrasonic device that breaks up and removes the cloudy lens from the eye. Once the lens with the cataract has been removed, the veterinary surgeon can place an artificial (called an intraocular lens, or IOL) in the eye to help focus light onto your dog’s retina and restore clear vision.
  • Post-surgery steps. In most cases, your dog will stay at the vet overnight for monitoring following cataract surgery, or possibly longer. 
  • Recovery. The initial recovery period following your dog’s cataract surgery is about four weeks. They’ll need to wear a cone at all times to prevent rubbing or pawing at their eyes, and your vet will likely restrict your pup to leash walks (with a harness) only for exercise. They will also need medications and drops applied to the eye multiple times per day. 
  • Follow-up appointments.  You can count on routine checkups following surgery at your vet’s discretion. At first, your dog may visit as often as once a week, but eventually the time between becomes more gradual as long as they are healing as expected.
  • Long-term care. Most dogs continue to need eye drops, even after the initial recovery period. Following their return to normal life, regular follow-up vet visits might become part of their new routine.

👉 You will need to administer eye drops and oral medications to promote healing and prevent infection.

Benefits of cataract surgery for dogs

Your dog’s vision may be partially restored as early as the day after surgery, but typically it’ll take a few weeks for the eye to adjust to the artificial lens before vision is fully restored. Cataract surgery for dogs has a success rate of about 90%  a year after surgery and around 80% after two years. 

In addition to restoring your dog’s vision, cataract surgery also reduces their risk of developing painful secondary glaucomas.

Drawbacks of cataract surgery for dogs

While cataract surgery holds high success rates, some dogs aren’t suitable candidates for the procedure.  For example, diabetes mellitus causes cataracts in 75-80% of dogs within a year of their diagnosis. Some of these cases are so severe that they result in glaucomas, so veterinarians may recommend removing the eye instead of the cataract. 

🚨Your vet may also decide that cataracts have progressed too far for them to make a full recovery, especially if your dog is old or has medical conditions like kidney disease that would make surgery a risky endeavor. 

Complications from cataract surgery in dogs are rare, but all surgical procedures can come with risks. Post-surgery complications include corneal ulcers, pressure elevations within the eye, and retinal detachment. Pet owners need to take their dog for a follow-up exam with the surgeon to help identify and prevent issues from developing after surgery.

Surgery is the only proven cure for cataracts and the sooner your dog can get the procedure, the more likely they’ll have a good long-term prognosis.

Frequently asked questions

How can I get rid of my dog’s cataracts without surgery?

While some pet parents claim natural remedies like eye drops may help their dog’s cataracts, at the moment surgery is the only known and proven cure. If surgery isn’t an option, talk to your vet about ways you can treat them at home. 

Is cataract surgery for dogs worth it?

In most cases, yes. Assuming that the rest of your dog’s eye is in good working order, cataract surgery in dogs is a very successful treatment with approximately 85-90% of dogs regaining vision as soon as they recover. The sooner the better, however, since surgery is more successful—and less expensive—at earlier stages.

Can my dog live with cataracts?

Yes. Cataracts aren’t fatal, but there can be complications associated with cataracts that may be uncomfortable. These include vision loss, uveitis (severe inflammation of the eyes), development of glaucoma, or lens luxation. Cataract surgery might not be an option for older dogs with certain medical conditions.

How much does dog cataract surgery cost?

The average for cataract surgery in dogs is around $3,500, but can range from $2,700 to $4,000.

Can you prevent cataracts?

Your dog’s breed, genetics, and medical history all play a role in determining whether or not they will develop cataracts. Trauma also causes the condition, which often happens beyond the pet parent’s control. While it’s not possible to guarantee that your dog won’t develop cataracts, taking them to regular visits to the doctor and maintaining their overall health can play a crucial role in early detection and prevention of this progressive condition.