Diagnosing Cataracts in Dogs

Cataracts in dogs occur frequently, particularly as a dog reaches old age. A canine cataract is an unusual clouding of the lens of one or both of your dog’s eyes. This clouding tends to worsen over time, gradually limiting your dog’s vision. While canine cataracts are treatable with surgery, it is necessary first that you and your veterinarian recognize the signs of dog cataracts. An early diagnosis makes for an easier, less expensive corrective surgery. Read on for an overview of cataracts in dogs and their diagnosis.

Symptoms of Canine Cataracts

Dogs experiencing cataracts lose some of their functioning vision. This causes them to be hesitant in many ways. For instance, a dog suffering from cataracts might be reluctant to jump or run, for fear that he will hit something or lose his balance. Additionally, dogs with cataracts are frequently afraid of exploring new places. If you find that your dog has generally lost energy and the drive to run, play and explore, cataracts may be the issue.

Another prominent symptom of canine cataracts is a change in eye color. If one or both of your dog’s eyes begins to turn a cloudy gray or blue color, he could be experiencing cataracts. As the cataract builds up in your pet’s eye, the proteins collect over the lense, changing its appearance.

Finally, dogs with cataracts might behave as though they were blind. In some cases, dogs with cataracts are functionally blind, in fact. Dogs with cataracts might run into furniture, countertops or other surfaces that healthy dogs would recognize and avoid.

Making the Diagnosis

The first step toward diagnosing canine cataracts is recognizing the symptoms. If your dog displays any of the symptoms listed above, take him to a veterinarian for immediate examination.

At the veterinarian’ office, your vet will likely ask you for a timeline and history of your pet’s symptoms, as well as other medical records. It's best if you've collected the symptoms and charted them so that you have an accurate idea of the severity and progression of your dog’s condition.

Your vet will conduct a physical exam and may conduct a series of eye examinations in order to determine whether your dog has cataracts or a similar condition. He will also likely attempt to determine whether there is an underlying cause for the cataracts. Although cataracts can develop on their own, they can also grow as a result of canine diabetes or other diseases.

Having identified your pet’s cataracts, you'll be prepared to make a decision as to how to best treat your pet. Surgeries are the most common treatment methods for cataracts, although new medicines can help to reduce protein collection in your pet’s eyes, and even help to eliminate existing cataracts. Consult with your vet for more information about the treatment plan that's best for your dog and budget. With a prompt diagnosis, your dog stands the best chance possible for full recovery.