Cataracts in dogs: causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention

A domestic dog, despite its excellent care, as well as its owner can get sick. Often illnesses concern organs of vision. One of the eye diseases is a cataract in a dog. This pathological process, which develops inside the eye, leads to clouding of the intraocular lens. The disease requires special attention and without timely treatment can cause all sorts of complications, including the development of glaucoma and complete loss of vision. If the cataract is small, then therapy is not prescribed, but conduct observation and periodic examinations.


What are the reasons why cataract develops

Cataract in dogs

Photos of cataracts in dogs

The exact origin of this disease has not yet been clarified. Most scientists from different countries agreed on the same opinion - eye cataract is a polygenic disease, that is, its manifestation is directly related to hereditary predisposition.

Studies have shown that all pets suffering from cataracts, the same disease occurs in 80% of offspring. According to the results obtained experimentally, the following breeds are prone to the development of this pathology:

However, experts have not revealed why it is in these breeds that the risks of such a disease are high. In addition, there are other causes and disposing factors for the development of pathology. For example, traumatized dogs.

Symptoms of cataracts in dogs

According to studies, 80% of the offspring of a dog will be manifested by a cataract ailment

These can be mechanical damage, such as shocks, emergencies, damage due to games or fights, or chemical burns caused by contact with caustic alkalis or acids in the eyes. A cataract can also occur after strong UV exposure. It is extremely rare that an illness can be caused by temperature changes - after a pet is overcooling or staying in the heat for a long time.

Pathological changes in the eyeball can occur against the background of the following ailments:

  • diabetes ;
  • autoimmune diseases;
  • diseases of infectious origin, in most cases of chronic form with frequent relapses;
  • intoxication of the body - although poisoning rarely affects the development of cataracts, but such cases in veterinary practice are still noted. Sometimes this is due to the irresponsible approach of the owners, allowing themselves to treat their pet with alcoholic beverages. Some believe that a small amount of vodka in a dog's drink will be the prevention of various diseases. This is fundamentally wrong and will adversely affect the health of the dog;
  • old age - any health problems are exacerbated with age, and it can not be foreseen.

Staged development of pathology in dogs

Cataracts in dogs occur in two forms.

Cataract in dogs proceeds in two forms, each of which has its own characteristics

Like humans, dog cataracts exist in two forms - primary disease and secondary. In the first case, the cause is congenital pathology associated with heredity. The disease may occur due to infection of the fetus inside the womb, injury, toxic damage during the formation of the lens. This form of the disease spreads to both eyes and has a symmetrical development on both sides.

The primary form of pathology includes senile cataract. The disease has several stages of development:

  • The initial stage is long, it can last more than one year. Modern veterinary medicine has methods for the early diagnosis of cataracts in animals. Timely therapy can slow down its development and prevent the transition to the next stage. But, unfortunately, it happens extremely rarely.
  • Immature cataract - the area of ​​turbidity increases, the visual acuity of the pet decreases. Veterinarians do not recommend surgery during this period.
  • Mature cataract - differs simpler diagnosis. The pet's eyesight is severely impaired, and the animal undergoes surgery.
  • Overripe cataract is a condition in which emergency removal is necessary.

There is also a secondary disease that arises and develops against the background of various pathological conditions, for example, diseases of the immune system, diabetes. This form of cataract is less common, but it is much more difficult to treat.

Signs of Cataracts in Dogs

The most obvious symptom of the disease is a cloudy lens. If the process began in the central part of the eye, then it is sufficient to simply notice it. But if pathological changes initially occur in the peripheral tissues of the eye, then it cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Muddy lens in puppy

Always pay attention to the puppy's lens. Muddy lens - a clear sign of cataracts.

When a cataract changes the look of the pet's eye, it turns pale and acquires a bluish tint. If you find a similar pathology, you should seek help from the veterinary service. Differential diagnostics will be carried out here, excluding the likelihood of developing other ailments with similar symptoms.

If you ignore these clinical manifestations, the disease can lead to an increase in intraocular pressure, and the pet will be tormented by constant headaches. Ailment can cause irreversible consequences in a dog - it will end in complete blindness.

Cataract Diagnosis

Diagnostics includes a number of activities:

  • general inspection of the animal;
  • external examination of both eyes;
  • if a cataract is suspected, an electroretinogram is assigned, which confirms or disproves the presence of the disease and helps to assess its stage and extent of damage.

Only by making sure that the diagnosis is correct, the veterinarian prescribes proper treatment.

Treatment of cataracts in dogs

A cataract is a disease that is not amenable to conservative treatment. If it was discovered at the very beginning of development, then there is an opportunity to stop further spreading with the help of vitamin and medicinal preparations, enzyme solutions, etc.

Surgery is the only way to cure cataracts.

Surgery is the only way to cure cataracts.

A drug that can treat cataracts does not yet exist, although many scientific laboratories are studying this problem. In modern medicine and veterinary medicine, the best and only effective way is surgery. There are two types of surgery: phacoemulsification and removal by surgery.


This method is widely used in modern medicine and is highly effective. Its use is possible even with neglected forms of cataract - in the stage of over-maturity. Carry out the procedure as follows:

  • a special ophthalmologic device is inserted into the eyeball - an ultrasonic flaw detector;
  • the lens is crushed;
  • through the formed hole with a diameter of about 1.5-2 mm, the cataract is sucked away.
Cataract suction process during phacoemulsification

Cataract suction process during phacoemulsification

To reduce the risks of complications, the veterinarian makes a puncture in the peripheral tissues of the eye cornea. Instead of the removed lens, an intraocular lens or lens made of artificial materials is placed. A new lens, in a collapsed form, is placed in a lens bag through a puncture, where it is placed in place of the damaged element.

More recently, surgical intervention was allowed only with mature cataracts. Today, ophthalmologists have changed their views and agreed that phacoemulsification is quite effective at the initial stage of the disease. In this case, the “soft” lens is removed, which is less traumatic than in the later stages of the disease.

To avoid possible injuries caused by mechanical means, viscous viscoelastics are introduced into the eye during preparation for the operation.

Phacoemulsification in a dog

The eye of the dog after the procedure of phacoemulsification looks like

If veterinarians encounter a cataract in both eyes, in which the lens of one eye dimmed and a sharp decrease in visual acuity was recorded, and in the second eye there was an intensive progression of the disease, then it was recommended to initially perform the operation on the second eye, and on the first in 2.5-3 months.

This operation is shown to animals from the age of six months to the age of 18 years. Modern equipment allows for such operations without the direct participation of the surgeon, and the risks of complications for the pet are minimal. After the procedure, the animal quickly recovers.

The old technique of cutting the eye tissue and removing the lens

There are complicated cases of the disease when it is impossible to replace the pet lens with a pet. For example, it is not recommended to do it if the pet lives its last days, the dog has severe diabetes mellitus, etc. The artificial lens is not placed if the eye pressure in the animal is not normalized.

Cataract removal in an older dog video

How to prevent the development of the disease

First of all, it is important to monitor the health of the pet, regularly visit the vet. This is especially important if the age of the animal is older than 6 years.

Given the hereditary predisposition of some breeds to the disease, when buying a puppy, it is worth clarifying whether his parents suffer from this ailment.

It is necessary to regularly carry out hygienic procedures of the dog's eyes, wipe the corners, use drops if the pet has dry eye or is prone to eye diseases. It is important to provide your pet with proper nutrition and timely vaccination.

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