Cataracts in Older Dogs (Canine cataracts)
Cataracts are a common occurrence in older dogs. However, they are also common if the dog is diabetic or has sustained an eye injury.
Have you noticed a milkiness or cloudiness in your older dogs eyes?
Does the dog bump into things and have trouble seeing in dim light?
This could be a sign that your dog has cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is an opacity, or imperfection, in the lens of the dog’s eye, causing blurry vision.
Holly is thirteen and I first noticed that her eyes seemed cloudy around eighteen months ago. The vet confirmed cataracts but her vision wasn’t affected at that time. Now I have noticed that she relies on her nose more often because her sight is deteriorating. If you offer a piece of carrot or apple she will sniff it before she takes it from me. I haven’t noticed her walking into things and she seems happy and healthy otherwise.
Cataracts will only get worse, but surgery, especially at this age can be risky. Holly’s health is good but this type of surgery takes a long time to heal and she will have no sight at first which will be incredibly scary for her. Anti-inflammatory eye drops will need to be administered and the dog will require several post-op checks. There is always a risk with general anaesthetic and this risk increases as the dog gets older.
How cataracts affect my dog.
It is possible to develop cataracts in one or both eyes, in Holly’s case both eyes are affected.
Surgery involves replacing the eye lens with an artificial lens.
She isn’t in pain now but if cataracts develop into glaucoma she could lose her sight, experience pain and inflammation and possibly blocked tear ducts
Many dogs with cataracts also have Diabetes, so it is important to rule this out. The vet will perform blood work and urine checks if your dog has symptoms including excessive thirst, change in appetite, weight loss or increased urination.
Cataracts can also be hereditary or caused by an injury to the eye.
Breeds with a higher prevalence of cataracts include Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bichon Frise, Smooth Fox Terriers and Havaneses.
When a younger dog or puppy develops cataracts they are called juvenile cataracts.
Older dogs will naturally suffer from reduced vision just like humans and this is not always due to cataracts, just the aging process. If you notice that your dog’s eyesight diminishes rapidly or the lens appears cloudy it is best to check with a vet.
Please let me know in the comments if your dog has had cataracts removed surgically and how effective it was.
Also, if anyone has thoughts on the risk of surgery to older dogs, I would be really interested in your views.