Early detection of this condition can prevent a dog from going blind
Over the years, our pets suffer from different diseases that undermine their lifestyle. In the case of cataracts in dogs, it prevents them from seeing correctly and can lead to blindness.
What are cataracts in dogs?
When our pet passes the threshold of eight or nine years, it is considered in the third age, as is the case with people. And the diseases he suffers from that moment are similar to those of human elders.
Cataracts in dogs are no exception. It is an opacification of the lens of the eye, which has the function of focusing light rays on the retina. When that kind of whitish or bluish 'fabric' appears, the vision of the animal decreases.
Not all elderly dogs suffer from this problem, since it is triggered as an inherited genetic defect. In some cases it even appears in young animals.
It is necessary to differentiate with another problem specific to the elderly: lens sclerosis. This condition causes hardening of the eye and produces a grayish tone. The veterinarian is responsible for detecting what it is.
Usually, cataract formation in dogs is slow, that is, it does not appear overnight. The exception is if the animal has had a specific problem, such as trauma, an untreated inflammation or diabetes.
There are different races that are more prone to the appearance of cataracts: Cocker Spaniel, Pekingese, Schnauzer, Golden Retriever, Siberian Husky, Fox Terrier, Labrador and English Shepherd. However, this does not mean that others are exempt from suffering them.
And even if it is a hereditary disease, early detection can prevent the animal from going blind. Regarding the prevention or delay of the appearance of cataracts, it is advisable to pay attention to eye hygiene, to have a healthy diet and to receive annual check-ups with the veterinarian.
What are the symptoms of cataracts in dogs?
Cataract signals in dogs are very characteristic and visible. At first, the animal may experience excessive tearing and ocular secretion, which in many cases is confused with an infection or lack of hygiene.
But later, Over time, the lens becomes opaque and is covered by a white or bluish circle. Add to this the intolerance of light: the dog is always kept in shaded areas of the house and, when he goes out on the street during the day, he bows his head or seems to be blinded.
It is very important to detect the cataracts in time, since these cause a decrease in the vision of the animal. While it is true that the main sense of dogs is smell, the truth is that they also need their eyes for everyday life.
Can cataracts be treated in dogs?
The only way to eliminate cataracts in dogs is by surgery that removes the lens. This surgical intervention includes replacement with an intraocular lens that prevents the pathology from developing again.
The percentage of effectiveness of this ultrasound surgery is around 95%. You should keep in mind that, although the operation returns a certain degree of vision to the animal, is not able to have 100% eyesight as when he was a puppy or young (or even before suffering from cataracts).
It is also important to know that not all dogs can be operated on cataracts. First, a general medical study is needed, which supports the intervention, since general anesthesia is used.
Post-operation care is key. You must wear an Elizabethan collar for two weeks, you will not be able to exercise or exercise, you will not be able to bathe it and it will require cleaning the area several times a day. After the first week, the dog will recover the vision and the sensitivity to light will be reduced, especially solar.
What are cataracts?
When a dog has cataracts, what will happen is that the crystalline, which would be like an intraocular lens, it becomes opaque, may have spots or a single large blue and white spot. Any dog of any race and age can have them, but it is more common that they appear between 5 and 7 years.
Of course, you have to keep in mind that sometimes they are hereditary. When this happens, a puppy can be born with them or develop them shortly after birth.
How are they treated?
It is the only effective treatment for the dog to see again normally. With this intervention, lasting one hour for each eye, the veterinarian the lens will be removed, so that the cataract cannot develop again. The next day you will have a post-operative check to see that the operated eye is recovering well.
Once at home, we will have to follow the postoperative treatment that will involve antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops, as well as making sure that the animal does not remove the Elizabethan collar within 2-3 weeks after the intervention.
When cataracts are still immature, a veterinarian can recommend us 2% antioxidant carnosine drops, as well as add vitamins A, C and E to food to delay the development of cataracts. But you have to keep in mind that these remedies are not curative.
If we want our friend to see each other normally, the only thing that can be done is to take him to the professional.
Cataracts do not heal on their own. If we suspect that our dog's eyes are not right, we must take action.
As the cataract is forming, the vision of the dog loses sharpness and becomes more blurred, sometimes it can even have double vision, so it will be difficult to correctly recognize any object, shapes or people that are far away, its vision nocturnal will be reduced and may develop some degree of intolerance to light (photophobia).
How long does it take to form a cataract
The greater the process of advancing the cataract, the lower the visual capacity of the dog, being able to hit people and objects, unwind clumsily or showing a tendency not to separate from its owner for fear of moving alone without seeing well. We will notice that his pupil is already almost completely white and the lens is almost completely opaque. If left untreated, total blindness can come to our pet.
If the dog is operated on cataracts, it is essential to scrupulously follow the recommendations of the veterinarian during the entire post-surgical process (protection of the eye operated by an Elizabethan collar to prevent the patient from touching it, possibility of not having contact with other dogs, or that do it carefully, some rest during recovery, cures, revisions or treatments with medications that prevent infections, among other indications that the professional will give us).
The hygiene of the dog's eyes
For a good eye health of our dogs, it is convenient to regularly observe their eyes: in the case of excessive tearing, presence of litters, suppuration, photophobia or if we see that the eyes are frequently rubbed, as if something bothers you, it is necessary to visit the veterinarian to carry out an exploration
Contact us to know what ARION products can do to help you maintain the health and well-being of your dog.
What dogs can suffer them?
When cataracts are produced as secondary to other major problems such as accidents with trauma in the area, diabetes, etc., they can occur at any age in dogs. In the case of hereditary cataracts can occur from the moment of birth, which are known as congenital cataracts and approximately up to around 5 or 7 years, so they are known as juvenile cataracts. The latter are the most frequent.
The age of the dog aside, it turns out that there are more prone races than others to suffer from this problem in the eyes. Some of the races that are most easily able to present this eye condition, mostly in hereditary cases, are the following:
- Cocker spaniel
- Straight-haired fox terrier
- Fox wire hair terrier
- Bichon Frize
- Siberian Husky
- Golden retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Shih Tzu
- Lhasa apso
- Old English shepherd or bobtail
Cataract operation in dogs
Veterinary ophthalmology has evolved a lot in recent years and precisely the field of cataract surgery is one of the aspects that has improved the most. This surgery is the only treatment used to eliminate cataracts. It's about the lens extraction, so once the cataract is operated, it cannot develop again. In the place previously occupied by the lens, an intraocular lens is placed. The intervention is carried out with an ultrasound technique. This surgery is the best option to solve our dog's problem, with the 90-95% of successful cases. A high degree of vision is returned to the dog, but it will never be the complete vision it had before the appearance of the falls, although it must be remembered that the vision of dogs is not one of its main senses. This way we can get our faithful friend to recover quality of life and lead a completely normal life again.
This surgical procedure lasts approximately one hour for each eye. Although, in principle, hospitalization of the dog is not necessary, it is vital that the first postoperative review be performed the next morning. The first weeks After the operation, we must ensure that our furry friend does a very quiet life. You must wear an Elizabethan collar, at least during the first two or three weeks, we will have to walk it with a chest harness and not with a collar, we will ensure that you do not exercise excessively, because it must rest, we will not be able to bathe it and we must ensure that other animals do not Approach the face to avoid possible problems in newly operated eyes.
After surgery, periodic check-ups should be continued to ensure that there are no complications that prevent the total recovery of the dog's eyes. Is vital follow all postoperative treatment, which probably involves antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops, which the veterinarian recommends and to visit the visitors, in order to detect irregularities in recovery in time and solve them. Still, really, most of the operated dogs will begin to notice a vision improvement within a few days after the intervention and with a recovery with hardly any pain.
We must keep in mind that not all dogs are operable of cataracts A check and general analysis should be performed to check the patient's health, as in any other intervention that requires general anesthesia. In addition, a complete eye exam will be necessary for the veterinarian to decide and check if they are in a position to be operated. Some specific tests such as an electroretinogram and an ocular ultrasound will also have to be performed.
Although it may seem a somewhat lengthy process, it is highly recommended that if our dog affected by cataracts turns out to be an operable candidate, the surgical intervention is carried out. In this way we will be giving back much quality of life and we will prevent the cataract from evolving to secondary problems, which can range from a simple permanent inflammation, which is obviously very annoying and painful for the dog, to the loss of the affected eye.