Have you ever seen a dog with a white tint to their eyes? If you’re wondering what it may be from, it could be cataracts. A potentially life-threatening disease, cataracts should be treated as soon as symptoms appear. Read on to help understand and treat them in dogs.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a largely inherited disease and are more frequent in purebred dogs. They are defined as the clouding of the lens of the eye. They can progress slowly or quickly, causing blindness in a few days or a few weeks.
A cataract isn’t a film over the eye, it’s a change to the inside of the clear sack that contains the lens. A minor clouding or fogging that doesn’t interfere with vision is known as an incipient cataract. Immature cataracts tend to cloud the larger portion of the lens and can result in blurred vision.
When the entire lens clouds up and complete vision is lost over time, it’s known as a mature cataract. As it progresses even further, the pupil will turn a bluish to even white color. A cataract doesn’t always mean blindness, though.
How They Develop
Cataracts can develop at any age. The Cocker Spaniel, Siberian Husky, Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, and Golden Retriever are all more prone to the disease. Diabetes can also cause them. Nearly 75% off dogs with diabetes will become blind from cataracts within a year. In fact, they can develop overnight in dogs with diabetes – one night they go to bed with normal eyes and the next morning they wake up with white eyes!
If this happens, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Cataracts can also be caused by the toxicity from drugs such as heartworm preventatives, vaccines, and flea and tick medicine. Underlying eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, or uveitis can also cause this disease. Eye trauma can also lead to cataracts. Lastly, senior dogs can develop this disease due to aging but they are mostly slow to develop and don’t cause serious eyesight issues.
If you spot some clouding in your dog’s eyes, take your pup to the veterinarian immediately. From there, they might recommend a visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist. If the cataracts aren’t major, they will be monitored and rechecked often. Anti-inflammatory eye drops may also be prescribed.
If the cataracts are major, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is more effective if it is done sooner rather than later as mature ones are harder to treat. Surgery is usually successful and most dogs have near-perfect vision post-surgery.
One way to prevent cataracts is to prevent diabetes. You can prevent diabetes by keeping your dog at a healthy weight. Since diabetes almost always end in this disease and involves surgery, the best way to prevent them is to prevent diabetes!
There are many other holistic approaches to preventing cataracts like not over-vaccinating your pet, feeding a high quality diet, and adding supplements to their food.