Canine cataracts are basically a developed opacity in the eye lens of a dog resulting in blurry vision. If a cataract is small, it will not likely disturb the animal’s vision too much. However, cataracts have to be closely monitored because the thicker and denser they become, the more likely it is for the pet to eventually become blind.
Cataracts can be caused by a number of factors including old age, eye trauma, or as a result of another underlying condition such as diabetes. Heredity, however, is the most common causative factor of cataracts. The condition may already be present at birth or may develop when the dog is very young, about one to three years old.
Common Signs and Symptoms
You can often tell if your pooch is developing cataracts if his eyes seem cloudy or appear to be bluish-grey in color. Taking your pet to the vet for an examination is necessary for a definite diagnosis. Nonetheless, be aware that it is natural for the lens of a dog to become grey or cloudy with age. This condition known as nuclear sclerosis will not put the dog’s vision in as much harm as the cataracts will. But, any cloudiness at all found in your pooch’s eye is a sign for you to see your vet.
Though dogs of all lines and ages can develop cataracts, they are most common in breeds like Poodles, Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers, and Golden Retrievers. Dogs affected with diabetes are also particularly prone to the condition. If you purchase a dog from a breeder, make sure they are one that cares for their animals, gives them the necessary medical care, and only breeds dogs that are proven to be in good health. And, feed your dog a healthy diet to avoid health issues that arise from poor nutrition.
What Can be Done
In most cases, cataracts can not be prevented; however, there are helpful steps you can take to make sure that your pooch’s vision can be preserved, especially when the cataract is caused by a medical condition such as diabetes. Try examining your pet’s eyes on a regular basis. Take your pet to the vet once his eyes appear cloudy or bluish-grey, or when you suspect that he is having trouble seeing. If possible, try looking into the medical history of your pooch, since cataracts are usually inherited. Aside from that, know any other condition that your pet has that may have contributed to the cataracts, such as eye trauma or diabetes.
When a cataract is left untreated, it may slip from the tissue that keeps it in place; thus, freeing it to float around in the dog’s eye where it may settle and block the eye’s natural fluid drainage. This can result to glaucoma which can lead to permanent blindness. Cataracts may also start to dissolve after some time which may cause deep and painful inflammation in the affected eye.
If your dog is found to have cataracts, your vet will offer advice and a course of action for treating them, either surgically or with medication.