Everything You Should Know about Cataracts in Cats and Dogs
Cataract is the clouding of the eye's natural lens. It's the most common cause of vision loss in both humans and their pets. They may be as small as a pinpoint or cover the entire lens, causing blindness. Learn more about cataracts in pets including signs and treatment options.
Cataracts in Dogs
There are several causes for cataracts in dogs. Genetics can play a role, particularly in purebred dogs. High blood sugar levels, diabetes in dogs, alters the metabolism of the cells in the lens and can cause rapid onset cataracts. Damage from ultraviolet light can also cause cataracts to develop, although that's a more common reason for humans. If that's the reason they develop in a dog, it usually happens later in the animal's life.
Cataracts in Cats
Although cataracts are rare in felines, cats aren't immune to cataracts. The lens of the eye becomes milky in appearance and blocks light causing vision loss, even blindness.
Do Cataracts Hurt?
With rapid onset cataracts, a pet often experiences confusion or disorientation, but cataracts aren't physically painful. If inflammation accompanies cataracts, your pet can be uncomfortable. Most of the time, a pet with cataracts can still see. Incipient cataracts—those that cover less than 15 percent of the lens surface—rarely require treatment and have little impact. Cataracts that cover the entire lens can cause blindness and requires cataract surgery to remove them. The impact on your pet will vary, depending on how much of the lens is covered. If you suspect rapid onset cataracts, you'll want to get your pet to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible.
Does My Pet Have Cataracts?
If your pet's eye appears milky or cloudy, or if you notice the animal bumping into things or sniffing out treats rather than seeing them, a veterinarian should perform a thorough diagnostic exam.
If you notice increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, and weight loss, along with indications of vision impairment, get your pet in for emergency veterinary care as these are signs of potentially serious disease.
Can Cataracts Be Prevented?
There really isn't much you can do to prevent cataracts, but a high-quality diet may help. Your veterinarian can advise you on choosing supplements. Also, make sure your pet has plenty of shade available if they spend much time outdoors.
Cataracts don't go away on their own. Ask your veterinary hospital what they recommend. In some cases, oral supplements, eye drops, or a combination of the two may be the preferred treatment. In most cases, however, cataract surgery will be the most effective treatment method.
If you have questions about cataracts or concerns regarding any other pet health issues, visit Forever Vets Animal Hospital, a veterinary hospital in Orlando, FL. With 8 locations to serve you, our continuous dedication, effort, teamwork, and integrity led us to keep tens of thousands of Florida pets healthy. Serving Jacksonville, Orlando Nocatee, St. Johns, St. Augustine and more.