Cataracts in dogs are now a fairly common eye disease. It has various causes and can be either congenital or acquired. If left untreated, it gradually leads to blindness. However, there are ways to stop its development and restore the animal’s vision. Find out how to recognise symptoms of cataracts in dogs and how to treat the disease.
Types of cataracts in dogs
Cataracts in dogs may have various causes and courses. Contrary to popular belief, cataracts are not a disease that can affect only old dogs. Therefore, you should always keep a close eye on your pets and consult a vet in case of any doubts concerning their health.
4 main types of cataracts in dogs
- Congenital cataracts appear in young dogs. The reasons for its occurrence are not fully known. However, it is known that in some breeds (Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, Beagle, Golden Retriever, Border Collie, Border Terrier, French Bulldog, Giant Schnauzer, Miniature Schnauzer) it appears particularly often.
- Acquired cataracts usually result from damage to the lens capsule, i.e. physical trauma. It may also be a consequence of improper nutrition (nutritional cataract) or a side effect of certain drugs or radiotherapy.
- Diabetic cataracts occur as a consequence of high blood glucose levels in the animal. If left untreated, it can lead to glaucoma.
- Senile cataracts are characteristic of ageing quadrupeds. It is formed as a result of ageing tissues.Therefore, it can be seen that in fact, every dog is at risk of cataracts. That is why observation and regular preventive health care are so important.
Symptoms of cataracts in dogs
What are the symptoms of cataracts in dogs? The disease leads to a gradual clouding of the eyes, but at the beginning, the changes are usually very faint. Sometimes in the first stage, they cover only a part of the lens. During this time, the dog’s vision gradually deteriorates, although it may still function normally at first. With time, problems with vision may appear, manifested by bumping into objects, problems with judging distance or height, maintaining balance or recognising people, as well as irritability or lethargy. At this stage, a quick visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist is essential.
How to recognise cataracts in a dog earlier? It is usually impossible without the help of a vet. That is why periodic check-ups at the clinic are so important. Checking the condition of your pet’s eyes takes only a few moments and may save him a lot of suffering.
How are cataracts treated in dogs?
A cataract is certainly not going to go away on its own. It is a disease that progresses gradually, leading to a complete loss of sight after a few months or years. However, it is not a sentence! Cataracts can be effectively treated. Implementation of appropriate pharmacological measures may help slow down the development of the disease. It is also possible to remove cataracts surgically.
The phacoemulsification procedure involves simply removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a new, artificial one. However, this is a rather complicated operation carried out mainly in dogs with advanced diseases. After successful procedures, however, dogs usually recover very quickly. One should also take into account some risk – sometimes despite the surgery, the animal doesn’t fully regain its sight or even loses it completely. Sometimes it is not possible to carry out the treatment, e.g. due to the risk associated with the anaesthetic.