Cataracts in Dogs – Is It Cataracts You Are Seeing Or Something Else?
Is your dog starting to get a little older, and you are starting to see some milkiness in their eyes? Your mind probably instantly concluded it is cataracts. Cataracts in dogs is fairly common, but what you are seeing may not be cataracts after all.
One of the most common traits of dogs getting older is their lenses begin to become cloudy appearing. This condition is known as nuclear sclerosis. Nuclear sclerosis happens to almost every dog, usually starting around six years old and becoming more distinct as they continue to age. One of the traits you will notice is both eyes appear to be graying or becoming cloudy at the same time, and usually consistently over the entire lens. This condition is not a form of cataracts, and does not hinder most dogs vision.
Cataracts in dogs on the other hand, normally form inconsistently in the lens. You will start to notice small areas of white, or disrupted patterns in the lens. Cataracts can occur at almost any age, but are most common in dogs as they reach their later years. Since some cataracts are an inherited trait, you can find puppies as young as six months starting to develop cataracts.
The formation of cataracts is caused by a disruption in the careful balance of water and proteins in the lens. This balance is normally maintained by a tiny pumping action. When this process is disrupted you start to have the cloudy appearance caused by the imbalance of water and proteins. Since the process can be caused by injuries from an accident, it is not uncommon to see cataracts begin to develop on a pet which has experienced an eye injury.
The most common treatment for cataracts in dogs is the total removal of the affected lens. The challenge in this process is the treatment after the surgical procedure. You must be able to put in eye drops and do routine procedures with your dog to make sure their eyes heal properly. As we all know, some dogs are resistant to this type of handling. In these cases most veterinarians will advise against the surgery, since further complications can result. Your vet is going to ask you many questions concerning your dogs personality, and ease of handling, before advising you whether to undertake the surgical option or not.
The only way to have a proper diagnosis of cataracts in dogs is to visit your veterinarian, and preferably an ophthalmologic veterinarian. They can give your dog a thorough examination, evaluate their eyes, and advise you on the proper treatments. Without treatment, cataracts tend to continue to grow, and over time will lead to greatly reduced vision for your pet. If your dog is already in his later years, it may not make sense to have them undergo the costly procedure and the extended aftercare. You should visit with your vet, and first determine if it really is cataracts, and evaluate your dog’s overall health. You will then be ready to make an informed decision.