3 Ways to Lower Cataract Surgery Costs for Dogs

The cost of cataract surgery costs for dogs can be upwards of $3500 to $4500, depending on the veterinarian hospital. If your dog has any underlying disease or complications, the surgery could cost more.  That’s a steep price for most people, myself included.

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Cataract Surgery Costs Include:

  • Diagnostic Tests
  • Hospitalization
  • IV Fluids
  • Anesthesia
  • Surgery
  • Supplies
  • Monitoring
  • Medication

The following video details more information about cataracts in dogs:

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with multiple animal hospitals, you can probably shop around for a better deal.  I suspect the price won’t fluctuate drastically, but it might be possible to save a little bit.

Although, even with competitive options, I recommend staying with the veterinarian who knows the dog’s health history and has the records. Some veterinarians might not even perform the surgery unless they’ve seen the dog previously.

1. Pet Insurance

 There are 10 top pet insurance companies in the United States including:

  • Healthy Paws.
  • Pets Best
  • Petplan
  • Trupanion
  • Embrace
  • 24PetWatch
  • AKC Pet Healthcare
  • ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
  • FIGO
  • Nationwide
  • PetFirst

Like any insurance company, premiums typically rise the older the dog is when you sign up.  The greater the chance of health issues, the more it’s going to cost. However, if you can still get on a pet insurance plan, it will still be cheaper than paying for the full amount of surgery.

Insurance plans like Trupanion cover the costs of hereditary conditions like elbow & hip dysplasia, diabetes, upper respiratory tract infections, and thyroid disease.  In addition, Trupanion also covers congenital conditions your dog may have been born with.  That includes heart disease, nervous system conditions, and cataracts.

The list above isn’t exhaustive and there are more ways to secure money than from insurance companies. For example, www.lendedu.com offers loan options to free up emergency funds.

Does My Dog Qualify for Pet Insurance?

Whether your dog qualifies for pet insurance depends on:

  • your dog’s age
  • your dog’s current health
  • whether your dog has any ongoing chronic health problems

2. Shop Around!

Ask friends or family for referrals to alternate veterinarian clinics/hospital to see if you can get a reduced rate.  

Sample Cost

A rough guide on insurance deductibles might look something like this:

  • $4700 for surgery
  • Minus a 10% deductible that you pay:  $470
  • Health insurance covers the remaining balance of $4230.

Again, that’s just a general formula that might not apply to all insurance companies.  It’s best to get quotes and study the health plan for details on what is, and isn’t covered.

3. Wellness Plans and/or Care Credit

Ask Whether the Practice Offers a Wellness Plan or Care Credit. 

The cost of cataract surgery for dogs varies widely from practice to practice. Shop around for the best price, and ask about payment assistance through a wellness or Care Credit plan.  I’ve spoken to many dog owners who swear by the Care Credit plan.  From what I understand, they are able to pay the bill off within 6 months before being charged interest.  For more detailed information, CLICK HERE:  Care Credit

There’s no national standard for wellness plans, and not all veterinarian clinics offer them.  Finding a clinic that does offer the service helps to cover at least a portion of the costs.

3 Ways to Lower the Cost of Cataract Surgery for Dogs
Special thanks to Loved at Last Dog Rescue in British Columbia for letting me use this photo.

Medicare Coverage

Unfortunately, there is no Medicare coverage for pets. However, there are lots of options out there for pet insurance. The important thing is to find one with a reasonable deductible.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts in dogs are no different from cataracts in humans.  This condition occurs naturally with age and involves a clouding of the lens.  Cataracts are not painful, but they do affect vision.

If your dog has cataracts, he may not be as active as once was, will appear clumsy, and his eye/eyes might appear red or irritated.  Since he can’t see very well, your dog might end up rubbing or pawing at his eye. They usually develop in stages, from immature cataract that causes blurred vision to mature cataracts where the eyes look cloudy and the visions is seriously impaired.

There is also a third more severe case called hyper mature cataract where the lens starts to shrivel.

Dog Breeds Prone to Cataracts Include:

  • Siberian huskies
  • Boston terrier
  • Golden retrievers
  • Miniature poodles
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Mniature schnauzers

Cataracts are typically genetic; however, there are also certain conditions that increase the risk, including:

  • Advanced age
  • Diabetes mellitus (chances are as high as 75%)
  • Low levels of calcium
  • Uveitis which is an inflammation of the eye.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Cataracts

The easiest way to tell is by a cloudy or grayish film located just behind the retina.  

However, there are other ways of spotting cataracts such as if there is inflammation in the eye sockets, chronic eye redness, or whether one eye is bulging compared to the other.

You may also notice your dog pawing at the eyes and sometimes, you may even notice that they are not seeing very well. These are all signs that could suggest canine cataracts.

How to Treat Canine Cataracts

Once you notice that your dog is displaying the symptoms above, the best course of action is to take them to the vet. The vet will want to know about the medical history of your dog so be sure to provide them with any previous medical records.

The vet will also proceed to conduct a physical examination. The dog may get a blood test as well as a urine analysis. This will help to determine if there are any underlying conditions that may lead to the development of canine cataracts such as diabetes. In such an instance, the dog will be put under the right medication.

There will also be a physical analysis of the eyes. There is a high chance that you will be directed to a veterinary ophthalmologist who is better suited to handle issues relating to vision. Cataracts in dogs have a tendency to develop at a rapid rate.

What Does Cataract Surgery Involve?

  • General anesthesia is used (not the case for people)
  • A small slit is made in the eye.
  • A small tool is used to slide the eye lens out
  • A replacement lens is inserted.

Cataract surgery for dogs is quick and painless and almost always results in a positive outcome.  Yes, it’s expensive, but hopefully you can find a cheaper route through one of the methods above. 

Regardless of the cost, it is a worthwhile option to improve your dog’s quality of life. 

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