DOG HEALTH CONCERNS
Eyesight can become a major health concern as a dog enters its senior years. Cataracts can appear in different forms and all types of dogs, regardless of breed or size, are susceptible to getting them.
As with people, cataracts are a common malady as a dog ages.
What are Cataracts in Dogs?
A cataract affects an eye’s lens, which, like a camera, focuses on an object so we can see it. When the normally transparent lens becomes clouded by opacity, it is considered a cataract.
“The word cataract literally means ‘to break down,’” PetEducation.com reports. “This breakdown refers to the disruption of the normal arrangement of the lens fibers or its capsule. This disruption results in the loss of transparency and the resultant reduction in vision.”
In its initial stages, a cataract affects a very small part of the lens, which is located behind the iris (or colored part of the eye). Called an “incipient cataract,” the small opacity does not generally affect a dog’s vision. Because it is so mild, it may be difficult for pet parents to tell if their dogs have something wrong with their eyes.
Once the cataracts reach the later stages, dogs’ eyes appear cloudy or hazy, which can alert parents to take their dogs to the veterinarian.
But cloudy eyes may lead to some confusion, as they do not necessarily mean that a dog has cataracts. Many times, when dogs begin to exhibit signs of cloudy eyes they actually have what is called nuclear sclerosis, a more common condition than cataracts. Beginning around the age of 6, dogs’ lenses begin to harden, giving their eyes a grayish hue. As dogs continue to age, the gray or cloudy appearance continues to darken. It’s a normal sign of aging and doesn’t typically interfere too much with their vision.
Nuclear sclerosis affects both eyes at the same time; cataracts, on the other hand, often appear in only one eye at a time. Over time, cataracts may appear in both eyes but usually begin in one or the other.
What are the Symptoms of Cataracts in Dogs?
Because the signs of cataracts can closely resemble other conditions, it’s best to let a veterinarian examine your dog to determine the actual cause of her cloudy eyes. There are several signs that a dog may have cataracts, so monitoring a dog’s behavior and physical changes can help a pet parent decide when to visit the vet.
- Eyes appear cloudy in shades of white, blue or gray within the eye
- Experiencing trouble with depth perception
- Newly skittish
- Redness or irritation around eyes
- Hesitancy or discomfort in unfamiliar surroundings
- Misjudging distance
- Not recognizing people
- Unsure footing
- Additional signs of blindness or vision impairment
What is the Treatment for Cataracts in Dogs?
The good news is that cataracts are typically easy to treat, though currently the only way to remove cataracts is through surgery.
Three vitamins found in i Love Dogs Multivitamin with Green Tea and Reishi are essential to keeping your dog’s vision clear: xanthophyll (lutein), and vitamins A and B-2 (riboflavin).
Lutein, states webmd.com, “is one of two major carotenoids found as a color pigment in the eye (macula and retina). It is thought to function as a light filter, protecting the eye tissues from sunlight damage.” Considered to be the eye vitamin, it is used to prevent eye diseases such as cataracts. Vitamin B-2 works to prevent cataracts, too.
These vitamins, along with vitamin A, help to protect your dog’s vision and eye health, since cataracts can form from trauma, diabetes or age.
HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.