cataracts in dogs
Author, Noelle, for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Dog Cataracts can be a scary thing to some people. As dogs transition from adult to senior status, they are susceptible to developing some health issues. Just like humans, dogs may develop cataracts in their golden years. As a pet parent, you should be aware of the symptoms and causes. As with any other health condition, early diagnosis will present your dog with the best possible prognosis.
So, what is a cataract? A normal eye is made up of about 2/3 water and 1/3 protein. Sometimes, due to damage or some other biomechanical change, more protein forms in the eye. This imbalance results in a cataract. A cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy or completely opaque. There are three stages of cataracts: incipient, immature and mature. Incipient cataracts are characterized by some clouding but at this stage, your dog will not experience vision loss. Immature cataracts are characterized by a more significant amount of clouding over the lens which will impact your dog’s vision. A mature cataract is characterized by opacity and complete vision loss.
Just as there are three stages of cataracts, there are three types of cataracts. When many people hear the word “cataract”, they think of the elderly however; younger dogs can have cataracts too. The first type of cataract is congenital cataracts. This type of cataract effects puppies. In fact, there are many breeds that are more prone to developing cataracts as a puppy. German Shepherds and Cocker Spaniels are two such breeds. If puppies are exposed to an infection or toxins before they are born, they may be born with cataracts. Sometimes though, it’s just a matter of genes as puppies can inherit congenital cataracts. The second type of cataracts, developmental cataracts, is seen in young dogs that have yet to reach the age of seven. Developmental cataracts may be the result of: injury, diabetes, toxins in the body, infection or some other eye disease. The last type of cataracts is senile cataracts. Senile Cataracts are developed late in life.
No matter what type of cataract your dog has, the stages remain consistent. Be aware of your dog’s eyes. If you notice any cloudiness in the lenses of your dog’s eyes, take him for a checkup. The only “fix” for cataracts is surgery. Your vet will discuss with you the benefits and risks of this surgery and whether or not surgery is an option for your dog.
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