When people talk about cataracts, they usually associate them with aging. However, this is not the only cause of the condition. In this article, we will breakdown what cataracts in dogs are, and how to go about dealing with the condition when it affects canines’ eye health:
What Are Cataracts In Dogs?
It’s a medical dogs eye disease condition where the lens of the eye (which focuses light), gets clouded. The lens is composed of specialized fiber-producing cells, these fibers are made of protein.
Cataracts form when either the cells or the protein fibers get damaged. When the cataracts are small they are less likely to affect the animal’s vision. However, as they become denser and thicker, the vision becomes blurry. Larger cataracts can cause total vision loss.
Cataracts are usually caused by inherited conditions (hereditary cataracts) or diabetes. High blood sugar levels effectively lead to a rapid onset of the condition—with 75% of diabetic dogs developing complete cataracts.
Cataracts can present at birth. They are more often on dogs like Siberian Huskies, Cocker Spaniels, and Boston Terriers.
You’ll also find they are a common issues for both miniature and standard Poodles. Cataracts can develop due to disease and trauma to the eye over the course of the dog’s life.
A common cause of cataracts in humans is the damage caused by ultraviolet light exposure. You should be aware that dogs don’t normally suffer from cataracts due to UV exposure. Although UV light can contribute to the condition, if this is the case the dog develops cataracts later on in his life.
Diagnosing Cataracts In Your Dog
If you notice that your dog’s eyes are looking bluish-gray, whitish or cloudy, then you should book an appointment with the vet.
Note that it is natural for the dog’s eyes to gray or become cloudy with age, a condition known as nuclear sclerosis. This is a normal change, typically affecting pets that are over seven years of age.
It’s not normally recommended to accept treatment. However, do not write off the cloudiness in your pets eyes as nuclear sclerosis before you have had him checked out by the vet.
To diagnose canine cataracts, the vet will take a complete history, and conduct a physical examination of the pet, including the eye examination of course.
Blood tests may be required to assess underlying causes. Assessing the condition of the liver, kinder and pancreas can be achieved with chemical tests.
Blood count tests can rule out infections and specialist exams provide assistance. This includes taking cultures and performing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Treating Cataracts In Dogs
Vets will surgically remove a cataract. Surgeries have a 90% success rate. If there is a condition that has been s such as for diabetic cataracts, this will need to be managed as well.
After the cataract surgery, your pet will start anti-inflammatory cataract eye drops to be administered routinely. This can take between 4-6 months with regular checkups.
In case you suspect that your pet has the condition, consult your vet or book an appointment/ eye exam with a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist. You can discuss treatment options and if surgery is right for your dog.
If the canine cataract goes untreated, it may slip from the tissue holding it in place. This will cause it to float freely within the eye. It will then blocks the eye’s natural fluid drainage. This leads to glaucoma, a condition that can result in permanent loss of your dogs vision.
In case the untreated canine cataracts dissolve, they will cause your pet to have painful eye inflammation which could affect its quality of life.
Should you wish to discover more about eye health of your pooch, it’s worth reading our article about “cherry eye, what is it and how to deal with it”.