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Cataracts in Dogs

cataracts in dogs
Pictured: Dog getting eyes examined by a veterinarian


Your dog might use his nose to guide him through his day but his eyes are just as important. To ensure the continued good health of your dog’s eyesight, any eye problems should be assessed as quickly as possible by your vet. Cataracts in dogs are a fairly common problem and can occur in all breeds at any stage of their life. The sooner this condition is diagnosed and treated, the sooner your dog can get back to doing the things he loves best.


What Are Cataracts in Dogs?

Just like the lens of a camera, the lens of the eye should be crystal clear to focus light efficiently. When a dog develops cataracts, the cataract becomes cloudy resulting in obscured vision. Cataracts can be as small as a pinpoint or can grow to obscure the entire lens and lead to blindness.


How Do Cataracts Develop?

There are many reasons why your dog might develop cataracts. Trauma of the eye, old age or disease are all common causes. However, inherited conditions are the most common reason. Breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Siberian Huskies are some of the dogs that are most likely to be affected by hereditary cataracts. There is also a high rate of cataracts in dogs that suffer from diabetes.


Signs That Your Dog is Developing Cataracts

If your dog’s eyes have started to look bluish-gray or cloudy, this is often the first sign that cataracts are developing. The rate at which your dog’s cataracts will continue to develop will vary from dog to dog but a vet’s exam must be arranged as quickly as possible. The good news is that a cloudy eye doesn’t necessarily mean cataracts. As your dog ages, it is natural for his eyes to become gray and cloudy. This condition is known as nuclear sclerosis and doesn’t usually require any treatment.


Diagnosis of Cataracts in Dogs

If your vet suspects cataracts, a preliminary eye exam will be carried out. This will determine whether the problem is cataracts or something else and set your pet on the right path to treatment. If cataracts are diagnosed, a veterinary ophthalmologist will use several tests to determine the extent of the cataract and how best to manage the problem.


How Are Cataracts Treated?

Cataract removal processes have advanced over the years. Today, it is highly likely that your dog’s vision will be fully restored with surgery. This surgical process involves the removal of the affected lens and replacing it with an acrylic or plastic lens. The procedure, while fairly routine, does require a fair amount of extensive postoperative care.

Cost of Treatment: $2,000 to $3,000 per eye.


How to Care For Your Dog Following Cataract Surgery

After cataract removal, your dog will need to wear a protective collar until his eye has fully healed. This will prevent him from scratching his eyes or causing an infection. Your dog should also be kept in a calm environment and given eye drops several times a day. Your vet will give you a full treatment plan so that you are confident about helping your pet to get back to his normal self. This will also involve several follow-up appointments to check your pet’s progress.


Is it Possible to Prevent Cataracts in Dogs?

As the majority of cataracts in dogs are hereditary, there is not a lot you can do to prevent them from occurring. However, if you are concerned, you could ask your vet about adding antioxidants in your dog’s diet. For example, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help to promote good eye health as well as good health overall. Consult with your vet to determine what is best for your dog. You can also help to prevent cataracts by protecting your dog from harmful UV rays. Providing plenty of shade and taking your dog out during the early morning or early evening can go a long way to protecting your dog’s eyes.


Cover Your Dog Now


If you are worried that your dog may develop cataracts during his lifetime, don’t run the risk of high veterinary care costs for cataract removal. A pet insurance policy from can give you peace of mind that your bills will be covered in the event of surgery being required.


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