We tend to think of cataracts as a normal byproduct of aging, whether we are talking about our grandmother or our four-legged friend. Age isn’t the only reason cataracts develop; there are many medical reasons that our pets may develop cataracts. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see any change in the appearance of your dog’s eyes, or you think your dog’s vision either has deteriorated or been compromised.
Cataracts result from a disease process affecting the lens of the eye, causing the lens to lose its transparency and thus impairing vision; in some cases, cataracts can even cause blindness. The lens of the eye becomes thick and opaque, resulting in a whitish/ gray area in the center of the eye. Cataracts may progress slowly or rapidly, depending on their underlying cause.
There are a number of reasons your dog may develop cataracts. The most common cause is genetics. Diabetic dogs are especially susceptible to developing cataracts. Other causes include diseases, nutritional disorders from puppyhood, eye injury, or infection. Most cataracts develop with age, but shouldn’t be confused with nuclear sclerosis, a normal change of the lens in pets over 7 years of age, which causes the lens to appear somewhat whiter or grayer but does not seem to impair the dog's vision.
What should you expect if your pet develops cataracts? The most common signs are:
- A bluish, gray, or white layer in the eye
- A sudden reluctance to climb stairs or jump on furniture
- Eye irritation/redness, discharge or blinking
- Rubbing or scratching of the eyes
In order to diagnose your dog’s eye condition, your veterinarian will perform a complete history, a physical examination, including an eye examination and certain tests to evaluate the eyes. Additionally, they may recommend the following, depending on your dog’s specific needs.
A separate visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist who specializes in eye diseases
Blood tests to assess for an underlying cause, which may include:
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver and pancreatic disease and function as well as sugar levels
- A complete blood count to rule out infection, inflammation, and anemia, as well as other conditions
- Specialty tests, such as cultures and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and/or tests to evaluate the function of the retina
The treatment of your dog’s cataracts will depend on the underlying cause, his stage of development, and his overall health.
Treatment may include:
- Treating the underlying cause, if known
- Eye drops that may help to prevent inflammation and other secondary problems
- Surgical removal of the cataract, generally by a veterinary ophthalmologist, if your pet is otherwise healthy and is a candidate for surgery
Routine eye exams as part of your dog’s yearly physical will help in monitoring her eye health. If there is an underlying cause, treating the underlying disease may improve your pet’s prognosis.
Finally, dogs with progressive cataracts, that are not candidates for surgery, can learn, with help from their owners, to cope and compensate for the loss of vision with their other keen senses, such as smell. Your veterinarian will help you by providing sound advice about caring for your friend, should she develop cataracts.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Preventing Cataracts in Dogs
Unfortunately, there are not any great prevention methods for cataracts. However, having yearly exams from your vet can help detect cataracts or diabetes that can lead to cataract formations.
If you do think that your dog is developing cataracts, it’s best for them to see your vet ASAP. If it’s due to an underlying medical condition , treating cataracts early can help slow their progression dramatically and preserve your dog’s quality of life.
Canine cataracts can stem from a number of causes including the following:
- Congenital cataracts present at birth. These cataracts usually form as a result of infections or toxins present during gestation.
- Developmental cataracts (early onset) develop early in life. This form of cataracts can result from trauma, disease such as diabetes mellitus, infections, or toxins.
- Senile cataracts (late onset) develop in dogs that are over six years old. This kind of late onset cataracts is often confused with nuclear sclerosis, which also clouds the eye lens but has a different appearance.
- Inherited cataracts occurs in some dogs as the result of having a predisposition for the disease. Breeds which have a higher incidence of inherited cataracts include Cocker Spaniels, Boston Terriers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers, Old English Sheepdogs, Siberian Huskies, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Standard Poodles, Welsh Springer Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers, German Shepherds and Afghan Hounds.
If Your Dog Has Cataracts
Ethos Bright Eyes Cataract Drops for Dogs - Since 2000 we have developed and sold the renowned formula for maintaining good eye health in your pet worldwide. Our eye drops were originally tested on humans to treat cataracts as seen on the Richard and Judy Show UK Prime TV back in 2003. In 2005 we appeared in Dogsworld and Living with Dogs.
As dogs, pets and other animals age there is a possibility of cataracts or another eye degenerated disorder developing. Diagnosis of eye medical conditions in your pet is usually done by a canine vet or ophthalmologist, so we suggest regular eye examinations if you suspect an eye problem with your pet.
Ethos our eye drops alongside a healthy diet and exercise. Pet dietary supplements will also improve eyesight therefore avoiding the need for invasive and expensive surgical treatment. They are also safe to use with ageing animals or those with an underlying health condition.
It is advisable to treat canine and other animal cataracts in the early stages, genuine ethos pet bright eyes drop also shrink more mature cataracts and improve their vision and quality of life.
Examine your pet's eyes regularly to see if cataracts or another serious eye condition may be developing in your pet. As your pet ages, you should also avoid potential eye irritants such as mid-day sun, chemicals, smoke and dust.
Always read the label - Use only as directed - If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.