What to Look For and How to Help
Most of us have known someone with cataracts at some point in our lives, but did you know dogs can have cataracts too? Cataracts affect the lens of the eye, causing it to thicken and lose its transparency. When cataracts develop, they can impair your vision and, in some cases, even cause blindness.
Most people associate cataracts with old age, but the most common cause of this issue in dogs is inherited conditions or underlying diseases like diabetes. Some dogs even have cataracts at birth, or that develop within one and three years of age.
Symptoms of Cataracts in Dogs
The most obvious indication of cataracts are eyes that look cloudy or bluish-gray. Additional signs that your dog might have cataracts include:
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Eye redness, discharge, or excessive blinking
- A sudden hesitation or reluctance to jump on furniture or climb stairs
- Increased clumsiness
Some of these changes in your dog’s behavior can be a natural part of the aging process or indicate other issues, like arthritis, so it’s important to schedule an appointment with your vet so they can make a diagnosis.
Treating Cataracts in Dogs
Your vet might recommend a variety of treatments to address your dog’s cataracts. For example, if there’s an underlying condition like diabetes, your vet will work to manage that issue. They might also recommend eyedrops to prevent inflammation from developing or other problems, like an infection. If your dog is healthy aside from having cataracts, your vet might suggest cataract surgery with a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Dogs with progressive cataracts causing severe vision loss can still live a full and rich life thanks to their remarkable ability to adjust to new situations. Talk to your vet about how you can help your dog and family cope with vision loss.
To reduce your dog’s chances of developing cataracts, you should schedule yearly physicals that include a routine eye exam. These appointments help your vet monitor your dog’s health for underlying issues and treat any conditions that can cause cataracts before they become serious.