Cataracts can result in blurred vision and eventual blindness for your pooch, but surgery may be able to help to restore your dog's vision. Here, our Riverside County vets share a little about what to expect when your dog goes in to have cataract surgery.
What are cataracts in dogs?
Your dog's eyes contain lenses, just like the ones found in a camera. This lens enhances your pet's vision, allowing them to see with clarity. The lens of your dog's eye can become cloudy or opaque, which can impact their vision by preventing a clear image from reaching the retina.
What is the treatment for cataracts in dogs?
In many cases, veterinarians can surgically remove cataracts in dogs and replace them with an artificial lens. Regrettably, this procedure may not be suitable for all dogs with cataracts. If your dog has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe inflammation of the eyes, cataract surgery may not be possible.
It is crucial to detect conditions like cataracts early in order to preserve your dog's vision. During your dog's regular twice-yearly wellness exams, your veterinarian will thoroughly examine their eyes for any signs of developing cataracts. If any are detected, they will be able to recommend appropriate treatment to prevent the condition from worsening.
Performing the surgery as soon as possible after your pup has been diagnosed with cataracts will greatly improve the long-term outcome for your pet.
If your dog isn't suitable for surgery rest assured that, although your pup will remain blind they can still enjoy a great quality of life. Dogs are very adaptable creatures and with a little practice, your dog will adapt and be able to navigate their home environment well by using their other senses to guide them.
Can dogs have cataract surgery?
Yes, cataracts can be removed from dogs. Every veterinary hospital is different though. But in most cases, cataract surgery for dogs involves the following:
You will receive notification when you need to bring your dog to the veterinary hospital. The surgery will most likely take place either in the morning or the night before. Your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions on feeding and care leading up to surgery day, ensuring that diabetic dogs receive the special attention they need. It is important to diligently adhere to the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
We will sedate your dog prior to surgery and perform an ultrasound to assess for any potential issues, such as retinal detachment or lens rupture. We will perform an electroretinogram (ERG) to check the functionality of your dog's retina. If any unexpected problems are revealed by these tests, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery.
In dogs, cataract surgery is performed under a general anesthetic. A muscle relaxant will also be administered to help the eye sit in the correct position for the operation.
The procedure of phacoemulsification is used to remove cataracts in dogs. This procedure, which is similar to cataract surgery on humans, uses an ultrasonic device to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. Following the removal of the cataracts in dogs, an artificial lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL) can be implanted in the eye to allow images to be focused clearly onto the retina.
After cataract surgery, your dog will typically need to stay overnight for monitoring, as advised by the veterinary surgeon. Once your dog comes back home, they will need thorough aftercare, which involves administering various eye drops multiple times a day.
What is the dog cataract surgery success rate?
Dogs typically experience some improvement in their vision the day after the surgery, although it may take a few weeks for their vision to fully stabilize as their eye adapts to the surgery and the artificial lens. Dogs who undergo cataract surgery have a great chance of experiencing positive results, especially if the rest of their eye is functioning well.
As soon as dogs recover from surgery, their vision is typically restored, with approximately 95% of them regaining their sight. Your veterinarian can provide you with a long-term prognosis for your dog. In general, most dogs retain their vision after surgery, with 90 percent maintaining it after one year and 80 percent after two years. After surgery and throughout your dog's life, it is crucial to provide proper post-operative care and ensure regular visits to the veterinarian for eye examinations and monitoring. These measures are necessary for achieving successful long-term outcomes.
Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?
There is always a certain level of risk associated with any surgical procedure involving pets or people. Veterinary ophthalmologists have observed corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye as potential complications following cataract surgery in dogs, although these occurrences are rare. It is crucial to bring your dog to the veterinary surgeon for a follow-up exam to prevent any complications that may arise after the surgery.
How long is dog cataract surgery recovery?
Dogs typically experience a healing period of approximately two weeks following cataract surgery. Your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and can only go for leash walks during that period. During this time, your dog will require a range of medications, such as eye drops and oral medications. To improve your dog's vision, it is crucial that you diligently adhere to your vet's instructions.
Depending on the results of the 2-week follow-up appointment, your dog's medications may be reduced, however, some dogs will need to remain on medication permanently.
How much is cataract surgery for dogs?
The cost of cataract surgery for your dog will be determined by several factors, including your location, the size of your dog, and overall health. A detailed estimate for your pet's cataract surgery will be provided by your veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist.
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.