One of the main signs of the passing of the years in our pets is that their eyes have a white ‘film’ or ‘cloud’, sometimes bluish. Cataracts in dogs are more frequent than we think. Therefore, in this article, we will tell you about its symptoms and treatments.
Cataracts in dogs: what to know
By definition, cataracts in dogs are an opacity in the lens of the eye whose main consequence is blurred vision. The larger that film that covers the eye area, the less visibility the animal has.
In most cases, cataracts are hereditary, although they can also develop due to a disease (for example, diabetes mellitus and uveitis), trauma to the eye, exposure to radiation or toxic substances, low calcium levels in blood or old age.
While this eye problem is related to elderly dogs, the truth is that they can also occur at birth or even during youth. And, although all dogs can suffer cataracts from a certain age, there are certain races more likely to suffer from hereditary factors, among which we highlight:
- Bichon Frize
- Cocker spaniel
- Fox terrier
- Golden retriever
- Siberian Husky
- Labrador Retriever
- Lhasa Apso
- Shih Tzu
- Old English Shepherd (bobtail)
How to identify cataracts in dogs?
The symptoms that an animal suffers from this health problem will be more or less visible in terms of the degree of ocular deterioration present. When the eyes show less than 30% opacity in the lens, the owner or the veterinarian may not detect it.
In the case of dogs with more than 60% of that white or bluish ‘film’, in addition to being seen with simple observation, there are also other signs that alert us. For example, that the animal has problems to see during the day or in very bright spaces or that it loses its vision little by little (which collides with the furniture is a clear sign of reduced vision).
Dogs that have cataracts caused by diabetes mellitus will also experience more thirst, more urine, and weight loss.
To find out if your dog has cataracts, just observe his eyes well. It may seem that they are ‘cloudy’, with a large bluish-gray or white spot. When you realize it is because the picture is already quite advanced.
Keep in mind that older dogs have a condition called ‘nuclear sclerosis’, in which the lens becomes cloudy or gray, but, unlike cataracts, it does not compromise your vision as long as proper treatment is performed.
Diagnosis and treatment of cataracts in dogs
If you have seen that your dog’s eyes have adopted a bluish or grayish tone, take him immediately to the veterinarian. In addition to asking or analyzing the complete health history of your pet, it will ask you about any possible incident that has triggered the problem, such as a very bad blow to the head or an infection.
Then, the professional will perform a complete physical examination focused on the eyes and the eye area to determine how serious the problem is.
In some cases the veterinarian may indicate a complete blood count, a urinalysis or a biochemical profile to rule out certain diseases that may be causing vision loss.
When the professional diagnoses cataracts in dogs, the next step is treatment, which consists of operation, similar to that of people. Phacoemulsification has a success rate of more than 90% and involves the removal or aspiration of the ‘fabric’ that is covering the lens.
After surgery, it is very important that the animal wears an Elizabethan collar and that the necessary cures and cleanings be performed to avoid infections. Special drops will also be applied for a couple of weeks afterward.
If you do not want to reach the operation instance – which can be quite expensive – we recommend that you prevent cataracts. How? Frequently examine your pet’s eyes and, if you see that they have gray or blue spots, take it immediately to the veterinarian, especially if it belongs to a high-risk breed to suffer from this problem or is older than five years.