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Common Illness in Dogs – Cataracts

02/20/2012 by Colleen Williams
February 20th, 2012 by Colleen Williams

There are many health conditions associated with your pet aging – dementia, arthritis, cancer. Cataracts are an illness that affect the lens of a dog’s eye, causing blindness or impaired vision. If you suspect your senior dog may be developing cataracts, learn about the symptoms and treatments here.



A cataract occurs when the lens in the eye becomes cloudy due to fluid build-up. Old age is the main culprit. Some breeds are also predisposed to developing cataracts – cocker spaniels, miniature schnauzers, golden retrievers, and Siberian huskies, to name a few. Diabetes mellitus may cause cataracts as well, due to high blood sugar levels that cause the lens of the eye to swell. Uveitis, an inflammation of the eye, and electric shocks can be responsible for your pet’s cataracts.


Cataracts in the early stages of development may show no signs at all. As the animal’s vision becomes more impaired, you may notice your pet bumping into furniture. Visible “cloudiness” of the eye will be seen in more advanced cases. Cataracts caused by diabetes mellitus may be accompanied by symptoms such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis and Treatment

A history of your dog’s symptoms and health will be taken by the veterinarian, followed by a physical exam focusing on the eye and head areas. If your dog has diabetes mellitus, blood work and a urinalysis may also be performed. Ultrasounds and electroretinography may be used as diagnostic tools to more closely view the animal’s eyes.

Surgery may be recommended by your veterinarian to avoid the disease from progressing into total blindness.


Cataracts are a condition caused by hereditary factors, diabetes, and old age. Symptoms can vary depending on the cause of the illness, but visible cloudiness and decreased vision are universal signs. Treatment may include surgery, depending on your vet’s recommendations. Most animals suffering from cataracts make a full recovery and are able to lead normal, happy lives. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance covers hereditary conditions, including cataracts, as long as symptoms are not present before or at time of enrollment.


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