Does My Dog Have Cataracts? Advice for Pet Parents


Cataracts are one of the most common eye health problems in dogs, but did you know that this condition is not restricted to senior dogs only?  Dogs of any age can get cataracts, and certain breeds are more genetically predisposed to cataracts as well.  Here’s a brief overview of canine cataracts, courtesy of the informative website Dogtime.  Be sure to talk to your vet if you think your dog might be developing cataracts.


What are cataracts?

Cataracts occur in dogs (and other animals, including us humans) when the normally clear lens of the eye clouds over.  The lens (made mostly of water and protein) breaks down and becomes opaque.  While it is not a painful condition, cataracts obviously have a negative impact on eyesight.


Which breeds are more prone to cataracts?

Some dog breeds are more likely to develop cataracts (especially when they are young) than others.  At-risk breeds include some popular ones such as Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies. 


What are the different types of cataracts?

Besides cataracts caused by an injury such as a puncture wound, there are there 3 main kinds of cataracts.  Developmental cataracts are inherited and generally appear in a dog’s early years.  Congenital cataracts means that the dog is born with them, either because of some problem during development or because they have been inherited.  So-called “senile” cataracts are age-related and can develop in dogs over 6, in one or both eyes.


What is the treatment for cataracts?

See your vet if you notice some milky opaqueness in your dog’s eyes, or if her vision seems to be failing.  Surgery is a treatment option if you don’t want your dog to live with cataracts.  Your dog’s old lens is removed and a new lens is inserted.  While most dogs’ vision will be greatly improved post-surgery, risks associated with the procedure include scarring and an increased chance of developing another eye problem—glaucoma.  Be sure to discuss risks, costs, and post-operative care with your vet before deciding.


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