How much does dog cataract surgery cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does dog cataract surgery cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does dog cataract surgery cost?

$3,500 – $5,600average total cost (one eye)
$4,300 – $6,600average total cost (both eyes)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$3,500 – $5,600 average total cost (one eye)

$4,300 – $6,600 average total cost (both eyes)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Ellen Russell, DVM, MPH
Written by
Ellen Russell, DVM, MPH
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tara Farmer

Dog cataract surgery cost

Dog cataract surgery costs $3,500 to $5,600 for one eye or $4,300 to $6,600 for both eyes. This cost includes a pre-surgery consultation, diagnostic tests, pre-and post-treatment medications, follow-up exams, anesthesia, and the surgery itself. The cost for dog cataract surgery also depends on your location and your dog’s size.

Dog cataract surgery cost (including exams, diagnostic tests, and medications) - Chart
Dog cataract surgery cost (including exams, diagnostic tests, and medications) - Chart
Dog cataract surgery & treatment costs
Procedure Average cost
Surgical costs and anesthesia $2,700 – $4,000 (one eye)
$3,500 – $5,000 (both eyes)
Pre-surgical bloodwork $200 – $300
Initial consultation appointment with recommended
pre-surgery diagnostics
$500 – $1,100
Pre- and post-surgery medications $70 – $150
Average total treatment cost $3,500 – $5,600 (one eye)
$4,300 – $6,600 (both eyes)

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What are cataracts?

Cataracts are cloudy opacities that occur in the lens of the eye. They can happen in both people and dogs and occur in one or both eyes. Cataracts block light from entering the eye, leading to blurry or hazy vision. As cataracts become larger and denser, they can ultimately lead to complete blindness.

Cataract surgery is the only available treatment option for cataracts in dogs, and only veterinary ophthalmologists perform the procedure.

A dog with cataracts in its eyes
A dog with cataracts in its eyes

What is dog cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery — also called phacoemulsification — involves removing the ocular lens affected by cataracts in one or both eyes.

In most cases, an artificial lens is placed in the eye to improve vision further. Even if an artificial lens cannot be placed, vision is still improved compared to dogs with advanced cataracts before surgery. Vision quickly improves within hours of surgery and continues improving over several weeks.

Cataract surgery in dogs typically takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on if surgery is performed on one or both eyes. The initial recovery period after cataract surgery is about 2 weeks, but regular follow-up appointments with the veterinary ophthalmologist are usually recommended for about three months.

What are pre-cataract surgery diagnostics?

Before cataract surgery, ophthalmologists recommend several specialized tests to ensure your dog is healthy enough for anesthesia and that the other parts of the eye are healthy enough for surgery. The total cost of these tests can range from $700 to $1,400.

Veterinarians do not recommend surgery if the rest of the eye is unhealthy because surgery will not improve vision. If your dog is diabetic, your vet will recommend additional diagnostics.

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Pre-surgery diagnostic test costs
Diagnostic test Average cost Description
Blood work $200 – $300
  • Blood work to evaluate organ function and to screen for abnormalities is recommended before anesthesia
  • Performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist or your regular veterinarian
Specialized tests for diabetic dogs (blood pressure, fructosamine level, glucose curve) $200 – $400
  • Diabetic dogs must be well controlled on their current insulin dose before surgery. This is evaluated by their symptoms, glucose curves, and fructosamine levels.
  • Diabetic dogs can have high blood pressure, posing potential risks during anesthesia. Blood pressure should be checked prior to surgery.
  • Performed by your regular veterinarian
Electroretinogram (ERG) $300 – $400
  • Determines if the retina at the back of the eye functions correctly and can still respond normally to light stimulation.
  • This test is not painful.
  • Performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist
Ocular ultrasonogram $200 – $300
  • Ultrasound to ensure the retina is still properly attached to the back of the eye
  • This test is not painful
  • Performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist

Cataract surgery success rate in dogs

Up to 80% to 90% of dogs recover their vision without major complications after cataract surgery. The earlier the cataracts are caught and treated, the higher the success rate.

For the highest chance of success, cataract surgery should be performed before cataracts are too advanced and cause irreversible changes to the eye. A veterinary ophthalmologist will guide you on the best timeline to perform surgery.

Complications after cataract surgery are rare but can include retinal detachment, glaucoma, infection, and problems with the incision, all of which can lead to permanent blindness. The veterinary ophthalmologist will discuss these risks with you and whether your dog has risk factors that may lead to a higher chance of complications.

A veterinarian examining a dog's eyes for cataracts
A veterinarian examining a dog's eyes for cataracts

Post-surgery care after dog cataract surgery

For the first two weeks after surgery, dogs require a lot of care and attention to ensure the highest success rate and avoid complications. However, you can expect to administer eye medications and return for follow up visits for several months after surgery.

Eye drops

After surgery, the veterinary ophthalmologist will prescribe an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory (steroid or non-steroidal), and, in some cases, an anti-glaucoma eye drop.

Immediately after surgery and for the following 1 to 2 weeks, you must apply drops about four times daily. The frequency of administering the drops will decrease per the ophthalmologist’s recommendation, but most dogs require daily eye drops for 2 to 3 months after surgery.

Oral medications

Dogs will receive oral pain medications, and in some instances, oral antibiotics, after surgery to control pain and prevent infection for 1 to 2 weeks.

Elizabethan collar (E-collar)

Dogs must wear an E-collar for 2 to 3 weeks post-surgery to prevent them from scratching or rubbing at their eyes, which could hurt the incision, cause infection, and lead to significant complications.


Dogs should avoid exercise, grooming, and swimming for several weeks after surgery. They should always be supervised and on a leash when outside.

Recheck appointments

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Expect to take your dog to the veterinary ophthalmologist for recheck visits several times after surgery to ensure everything is healing correctly. Rechecks are usually scheduled 1 to 2 days after surgery, then in one week, one month, and three months post-surgery.

Dog cataract FAQs

How do I know if my dog has cataracts?

If your dog has cataracts, you may notice that one or both of their eyes seem cloudier or grayer. They may also have more difficulty navigating around obstacles like walls or stairs, especially in the dark. Common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Cloudy or opaque white film on the eyes

  • Loss of vision

  • Changes in eye color or pupil size or shape

  • Hesitation when moving

  • Reluctance to jump or climb

  • Clumsiness or bumping into furniture

  • Rubbing or scratching the eyes

  • Squinting

  • Difficulty seeing in dimly lit areas

  • Watery eyes

Since cataracts usually happen over more extended periods of time, the changes you notice at home may be very subtle. Many owners only notice that their dog moves a little slower or are more hesitant when moving around or going up and down stairs.

Why do dogs get cataracts?

There are several causes of cataracts in dogs. The most common reasons include diabetes and genetics. Cocker spaniels, Bichon Frises, Boston Terriers, and Miniature Poodles are particularly prone to hereditary cataracts. Other reasons for cataracts include past eye injury, chronic eye inflammation (uveitis), or malnutrition as a puppy.

Do all dogs need cataract surgery?

Not all dogs with cataracts require surgery. In some instances, cataracts are mild and do not cause complete blindness. Conversely, if cataracts are too advanced, surgery may not be beneficial.

Other dogs may have too many risk factors for surgery, such as uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease, making the anesthesia and surgery too dangerous to justify.

It is important to remember that most blind dogs can live comfortable and happy lives. Cataracts usually happen slowly, and dogs adjust well to decreased vision over time. If cataract surgery is not an option for your dog, they can most likely still enjoy a high quality of life for several years.

What can I do to prevent cataracts in my dog?

Most cataracts are not preventable in dogs. However, if your dog has diabetes, it is essential to regularly check in with your veterinarian for eye exams and glucose (blood sugar) monitoring. Feeding your puppy a nutritious and balanced diet and promptly treating any issues with your dog's eyes are other ways to prevent cataracts.

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