Many of us as we age, will end up with eye issues like glaucoma or cataracts. Unfortunately this is just one of those wonderful things we can look forward too down the road. But what about our dogs? Do dogs get cataracts too?
Yes, just like humans, dogs are also susceptible to developing the same type of eye issues. Cataracts can be caused by old age, as well as a trauma that may have occurred to their eyes. Sometimes they can even be inherited and develop at a much younger age.
What is a cataract
We all know that our eyes are equipped with a lens, but did you know that overtime, that lens can become cloudy or opac. Which means white. A cataract is an opac or clouding of that lens. Literally a white film on the lens.
This cloudiness generally develops over a long period. It starts out as a small spot and will continue to spread, getting thicker and more dense. Getting to the point, where it covers the entire lens.
At first, you may not even notice the spot on your dogs eye. When the spot is this small, it may not even affect your dog’s vision. As the lens becomes cloudier, your dogs vision will get decreased more and more. Eventually getting to the point where your dog will become completely blind in that eye.
Your dog can develop a cataract in one eye, or in both eyes.
Now that we know what a cataract is, it is important that we go through all the signs to watch for with your dogs eyes. Here are some of those symptoms:
- Changes to your dogs eye color
- White spots on the eyes
- Watery eyes
- No depth perception
- Can’t see in darker lighting
- Toxicity from drugs like vaccinations, heart worm meds and some flea or tick medication
The second that you suspect your dog make having the beginnings of a cataract, you need to ensure that you go to the Vet. This is one of those things that needs to be caught early, to ensure your dog maintains his vision.
Who’s at risk
Just like humans, cataracts is more common in older dogs. That is not to say that dogs at any age can develop cataracts. Dogs even as young as 3 years old are at risk. There are even situations where puppies can be born with them.
Some other reasons that a dog may get early eye issues may surprise you. Did you know that your dog’s breed maybe very well be one of the risks factors for your dog to develop cataracts. Yes that is true.
- Poodle crosses
- Golden Retrievers
- Siberian Huskies
- American Cocker Spaniel
- Bichon Frise
All of these breeds have a significantly higher inherited risk within their genetics for cataracts. This list is not to say that other dog breeds are also at risk, these have a higher risk.
There are also some medical risks that also will put your dog at risk. 75% of all dogs that have diabetes develop cataracts within the first year of diagnosis. Eye injuries, nutritional deficiency, infections and inflammations are also medical conditions that can lead to a dog getting early cataracts.
When you first take your dog to the Vet they will do a preliminary eye exam to assess your dogs eye. They need to determine if your dog is actually dealing with a cataract or some other eye issue.
Once the Vet determines your dog has a cataract, you will most likely need to take your dog to a Veterinary Ophthalmologist. This is so they can assess the severity of the cataract.
The most common treatment for fixing a cataract is by doing eye surgery. At the appointment with the eye specialist this is the point where they determine if your dog is a good candidate for surgery.
In the surgery, your dog’s lens is completely removed and a plastic or acrylic one is put in as a replacement. The surgery generally has a very high success rate. After the surgery, you dog will need to be in an Elizabethan collar to help protect the eye until it is completely healed. You will also be required to put eye drops in their eye a few times a day for a few weeks.
If your dogs cataract goes untreated it will continue to grow so big, that it can become loosened from the tissue holding it. This then causes it to float freely around in the eye. The problem with this is it can slide into the wrong spot on the eye blocking the natural fluid their eye needs to produce. Without this fluid, your dog can develop an even more serious eye issue called “glaucoma”. This can lead to permanent blindness in the eye.
The other thing that can happen if left untreated is that the cataract completely dissolves, causing serious eye inflammation and painful scenario for your dog.
For diabetic dogs, the best way to protect them from cataracts is to treat the diabetes right away and also provide eye support. This can lessen the chance of them even developing at all.
A dog that has successful cataract surgery is much like a human that has it. They wake up and it is a whole new world for them being able to see clearly. The cost can be expensive and the recovery time long.
Although surgery can repair the issue, there are things that we can do to help prevent them from developing cataracts at all. Being that diabetic dogs have a 75% chance of developing cataracts, keeping your dog from becoming diabetic is a key thing you can do to help.
Simply keeping your dog’s weight in check by feeding them a healthy well-balanced meal can go a long way in prevention. Unfortunately most people don’t realize how important feeding their dogs a healthy dog food.
There are plenty of great kibble dry dog foods you can feed your dog, but taking one step further you could feed them raw freeze-dried real food. If you don’t want to feed them a full raw diet, you can opt for a topper supplement that will be a great addition to their regular food.
One of the best on the market is made by a company called TruDog. Take a peek at this amazing company simply by clicking here to learn more. Whatever the food decision you decide to make for your dog, be sure to do your best to make it a high quality food.
Ensuring the proper diet, exercise and maintaining regular Vet checks are part of keeping our dogs healthy every day and that includes their eyes.