Cataracts In Dogs

Our dog is losing his sight due to cataracts! When we look back at photographs taken over the last few years, we now see that there is indeed a cloudiness to his shiny black eyes. We realized his new habit of barking to get help jumping up on the box he uses to get on the bed is because he can’t see well.  He had also started to hesitate on the steps and we thought it was his hips or knees- not his eyesight.  After a complete eye exam, our vet made the diagnosis.  Of course, we had plenty of questions.  Our veterinarian, Katina Stewart, asked us to share some of those questions and answers in this week’s blog.

Canine Cataracts

  • are common in dogs
  • Breeds that are prone to cataracts include Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, and Terriers
  • There are such things as congenital (meaning ‘present at birth’) cataracts
  • There is another condition that also creates a haze on the eye, this is lenticular sclerosis
  • The haze of lenticular sclerosis is ofen bluer than the clouds of cataracts.
  • your veterinarian needs to dilate the eye to really determine the difference between lenticular sclerosis and cataracts

Will my pet lose their eyesight completely?

  • If the lens is more than 60% affected,  sight will be diminished, especially in dim lighting.
  • If it involves less than this, the vision will not be noticeably affected.
  • the progression is unpredictable- some pets will have small cataracts for their whole life and their vision will never seem to change
  • if the cataracts are due to a disease, such as diabetes, controlling the disease can help slow down the progression of the cataracts

Is there anything than can be done?

  • There is a surgery to treat cataracts though not all cataracts are treated.
  • Discuss surgical options with your veterinarian.
  • There is no medical cure.
  • Some medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian to help prevent damage to the eye.
  • Increase over head lighting especially on the stairs at night.
  • If you move furniture, take your pet with limited vision on a tour of the new layout so they do not bump into things.