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Dog Cataracts

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Dog Cataracts

If a dog suddenly starts knocking over items or stumbling into chairs, tables and other furniture, this could be due to dog cataracts. In other instances, owners may begin to notice a change in the dog's eyes, almost as if they were looking through clouded glass, instead of seeing the dog's usually clear and shiny eyes.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cataracts in dogs can vary a great deal, depending on the type of cataracts. Age can be very helpful in determining what type of dog cataract is actually present. Meanwhile, owners should be on the alert for specific symptoms and realize that some breeds of dogs get cataracts more easily than others. Dachshund and Poodle dogs can be very susceptible to cataracts, but any canine can get them as well.

A Poodle with a cataract in one eye.

If owners see a change from the normal brown or blue eye color of their dogs to a whiter color, that can be one symptom. Others include a certain clumsiness or stumbling over their dog toys which the dog should normally have seen.

Bumping into furniture, walls, and doors can be clear symptoms, especially if this occurs suddenly (although in other cases, the sight problems may develop gradually). Some dogs with cataracts will have a personality change and become very nervous about entering a room without the owner nearby. Some may even huddle next to the owner's legs to help guide the animal safely through rooms.

Diagnosis

Veterinarians are very experienced in treating dogs who have cataracts. However, there are also animal specialists who handle nothing but dogs, cats and other creatures with vision problems. In most cases, a vet should be sufficient.

The veterinarian will look closely at the dog's pupils of the eye. The owner may be asked to let the dog walk around the room and the vet can check for dog cataracts by noticing if the animal sees objects, both large and small, placed around the room.

Dog owners should not be alarmed if the vet swiftly moves an arm quickly towards the dog's face. This tests how well the animal can see sudden movements. This is just another common test for canine cataracts.

Treatment

Surgery is the best choice of treatment for dogs which have cataracts and, in best cases, can totally restore vision. If left untreated, the cataracts can become so severe that even surgery is no longer an option. Glaucoma or even complete detachment of the retina from the eye may occur. Both of these are very serious conditions, with dire prospects for the dog's vision. Surgery should be done while cataracts are in the early stages but some dog owners don't realize that this is necessary and wait too long.

Although surgery has rare risks, it can help dogs become happier and see better, just as they once did. Of course, all dogs need to be thoroughly checked to make sure they are otherwise healthy. This includes special blood tests and perhaps (for older dogs) tests to make sure the heart can withstand anesthesia.

If caught and treated early, there is no reason why dog cataracts should cause further problems. After surgery, special precautions may need to be taken until the eye fully recovers. Dogs may need to be kept from moving too quickly or wear special collars to keep them from bumping into things or scratching the eyes. Some dogs are given special medications and these may need to be taken for the rest of the dog's life. But if dog cataracts can be prevented by a few special precautions and post surgical care, it is really not a big deal.

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