Dog cataracts are so common that they can be found in all ages and breeds. Dog cataracts are found in the lens of the eye. They are the result of disruption of the normal arrangement of the lens fibers or it’s capsule. The disruption results in the loss of transparency and a reduction in vision. Cataracts can be identified by sight. They have a white appearance, similar to crushed ice.
Dog cataracts form when the biomechanical system in the lens is damaged. The complicated sodium water pump system consists of 33% protein and 66% water. The system keeps the protein/water balance in check. When the pump system begins to fail, and extra water moves into the lens, the system becomes damaged and the percentage of soluble protein increases. Once these changes occur, loss of transparency occurs and cataracts form.
While dog cataracts can form at any age and in any breed, there are certain breeds that are more susceptible to cataracts. Dog cataracts in the following breeds also form at certain ages in each breed. Breeds most susceptible to dog cataracts include: Afghan Hound (6-12 months), American Cocker Spaniel
(6+ months), Boston Terrier (Congenital), Chesapeake Bay Retriever (1+ years), German Shepherd (8+ weeks), Golden Retriever (6+ months), Labrador Retriever (6+ months), Miniature Schnauzer (Congenital or 6+ months), Old English Sheepdog (Congenital), Siberian Husky (6+ months), Staffordshire Bull Terrier (6 months), Standard Poodle (1+ years), Welsh Springer Spaniel (Congenital), and the West Highland White Terrier (Congenital)
Types of Dog Cataracts
There are several types of dog cataracts including congenital cataracts, which are present at birth, developmental cataracts which are those that develop early on in life, senile cataracts, which occur in dogs over six years of age, inherited cataracts which occur independently or in association with other ocular disease, and cataracts that occur from trauma. Trauma related cataracts could occur from an auto accident, penetration, a shotgun pellet, or any other object. In these cases, the lens becomes damaged and a cataract may develop.
Dog Cataract Treatment
Depending on the severity of the cataracts, one of several different types of dog cataract surgeries may be used to remove the lens. These include: the removal of the entire lens and surrounding capsule; the removal of the lens leaving the surrounding capsule; phacoemulsification of the lens, and aspiration and desiccation of the lens. If you suspect that your dog has or is developing cataracts, contact a veterinary ophthalmologist immediately.
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