Cataracts in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Detecting this condition early can stop your dog from going blind.
Cataracts in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Last update: 25 July, 2018

As your pet ages, he can develop a number of medical conditions which can have a negative effect on his lifestyle. Cataracts in dogs are one of these conditions that stops them from seeing properly and it can lead to blindness.

What are Cataracts in Dogs?

Your dog will be considered as old once he turns eight or nine years old. Therefore, any medical conditions your dog may get are not so different from the ones elderly humans have.

Cataracts are one of these medical conditions that both elderly humans and dogs get. This is a condition that consists of eye lens, which is responsible for focusing light onto the retina, clouding up. When this whitish-blue tissue appears on the eye it reduces the dog’s vision.

Not all old dogs will develop because it’s hereditary genetic condition. In some cases, it can even occur in young dogs.

It’s important to be able to distinguish this from another medical problem that older dogs have: nuclear sclerosis. This condition causes a change in the density of the lens, which causes a grayish color to appear on the eye. Your vet will be able to diagnose the condition your dog has.

Canine cataracts

Normally, cataracts in dogs appear very slowly and not suddenly overnight. However, there are exceptions for dogs that experienced some sort of injury, untreated inflammation, or has diabetes.

There are many different breeds which are prone to developing cataracts, such as the Cocker Spaniel, Pekingese, Schnauzer, Golden Retriever, Siberian Husky, Fox Terrier, Labrador, and the English Sheepdog.

Although it’s normally a hereditary condition, early detection can still prevent your dog from going blind. If you wan to prevent your dog from getting canine cataracts or at least delay them, then take good care of his ocular hygiene. You can do this by making sure they have a healthy diet, and taking them for regular check-ups by the vet.

What are the Symptoms of Cataracts in Dogs?

The signs of cataracts in dogs are very obvious and visible. To begin with, the dog will experience excessively watery eyes or ocular secretions. This often gets confused with an infection or hygiene problem.

However, as time goes on, the lens of the eye will turn opaque and a white or blue circle will appear. The dog will also begin to develop an intolerance towards the light. They’ll try to stay in dark areas of the house and when they go out for a walk while keeping their head pointing down or appear to be blinded.

A white or blue circle in the eye is the main symptom of cataracts in dogs

It’s really important to detect cataracts at its early stages because they reduce your dog’s vision. Although a dog’s main sense is its smell, their sight is obviously very important too!

How are Cataracts Treated?

The only way to remove cataracts is by surgically removing the lens. This procedure consist of replacing the lens with an artificial one. This treatment uses an intraocular lens, which prevents cataracts from reappearing.

This surgery is usually performed by using ultrasound and is 95% effective. It’s important to remember that although the operation will restore a certain amount of your dog’s vision, they’ll never have their 100% vision like a puppy or younger dog (or even before the cataracts developed).

Likewise, not all dogs can go through this operation. First, running some medical test is necessary to proceed with the surgery because it requires a general anaesthetic.

It’s important that the dog goes through a proper post-operation. They’ll need to wear an Elizabethan collar for at least two weeks and they won’t be able to exercise.

They also won’t be able to clean themselves either and the area will need to be cleaned several times a day. After the first week, the dog will start to recover his vision and he will be less sensitive to the light.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.