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Cataract Surgery for Dogs

Cataract surgery for dogs is a common and effective procedure to restore vision loss due to cataracts. Just like humans, dogs can develop cataracts, which cause the lens of the eye to become cloudy and impair vision. Understanding the ins and outs of this surgery can help pet owners make informed decisions about their dog's health.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are opacities that form on the lens of the eye, causing vision impairment. They can occur due to genetics, diabetes, aging, or trauma. If your dog has cataracts, you might notice cloudiness in their eyes, difficulty seeing dim light, or bumping into objects.

Diagnosing Cataracts in Dogs  

If your dog shows signs of vision problems, such as bumping into furniture or having difficulty finding their food or water dish, or if their eyes appear cloudy, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination.

If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has cataracts, they may refer you to a Veterinary Ophthalmic Specialist (pet eye specialist) who can conduct tests to confirm the diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment for your dog.

Cataract Surgery for Dogs

The procedure for dog cataract surgery involves several steps: 

Drop-Off

Every veterinary hospital is different; however, in most cases, you will drop your dog off either the night before the surgery or the morning of the cataract surgery.

Dogs suffering from diabetes will require some special management. Your vet will advise you on caring for your dog before cataract surgery, so follow your vet's instructions carefully.

Pre-Surgery Testing

Before the surgery begins, your dog will be sedated, and an ultrasound will be performed to rule out any complications, such as retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). An electroretinogram (ERG) will then be performed to ensure your dog's retina usually functions. Unfortunately, if any unexpected issues are discovered during these tests, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery.

Surgical Procedure

Cataract surgery on dogs is performed under a general anesthetic. A muscle relaxant is also administered to help the eye come into the correct position for the operation.

Phacoemulsification is a technique for removing cataracts. This procedure uses an ultrasonic device to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the eye and is identical to the one used in human cataract surgery. In most cases, replacing the old lens with an artificial one explicitly designed for dogs is possible.

Post-Surgery

Typically, the veterinarian will recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring and return home the following day if all is well. While many dogs will have some vision restored the very next day, it typically takes several weeks for vision to stabilize as the eye adjusts to the surgery's effect and the presence of the artificial lens.

Following cataract surgery, intensive aftercare is required, including multiple daily applications of several eye drops.

Is cataract surgery worth it?

Cataract surgery in dogs is generally worth it if your dog is otherwise healthy and suffering from significant vision loss due to cataracts. The surgery can dramatically improve your dog's vision, allowing them to enjoy a better quality of life. Before deciding, consult a veterinary ophthalmologist who can evaluate your dog's overall health and the extent of cataracts.

What is the success rate of dog cataract surgery?

The success rate of dog cataract surgery is quite high. Approximately 90-95% of dogs regain functional vision after the procedure. However, the success rate can vary depending on the dog's overall health, other eye conditions, and the surgeon's expertise.

How long does cataract surgery take for dogs?

Cataract surgery for dogs typically takes about 30 to 45 minutes per eye. However, the total time at the veterinary hospital will be longer due to pre-surgery preparation and post-surgery recovery monitoring.

Your Dog's Vision After Surgery

As long as the rest of the eye is in good working order, cataract surgery in dogs has a high success rate. About 95% of dogs regain their vision after the procedure. The long-term prognosis for your dog maintaining vision after surgery is approximately 90% at one year and 80% at two years postoperatively. Successful long-term outcomes depend on good post-operative care and regular visits to the veterinarian for eye examinations and monitoring.

How much is cataract surgery for dogs?

The cost of cataract surgery for dogs can vary widely depending on the location, the veterinary clinic, and the case's complexity. It's best to contact your vet regarding the cost of the surgery.

Your Dog's Recovery Process After Surgery

After cataract surgery, dogs typically have a two-week healing period. During this time, your dog must always wear an E-collar (cone) and should only go for leashed walks.

Your veterinarian will prescribe several medications, such as eye drops and oral medications, which must be given to your dog according to their instructions to ensure the best outcome for your dog's vision.

Your dog's medication may be adjusted at the two-week follow-up appointment, but some dogs may need to continue taking it permanently.

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 showing signs of cataracts? Contact our Torrance vets to book an examination for your pup.

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