Cataracts in Dogs

Cataracts are a common condition in dogs. If your dog is diagnosed with cataracts, don’t panic! There are ways to treat this condition and help them see again. Let’s take a look at some common questions about cataracts in dogs:

What Are Canine Cataracts?

Canine cataracts are a clouding of the lens of an eye. They cause partial or complete blindness, depending on the type and severity. Congenital cataract is present at birth and develops as a puppy grows; it can be treated before it becomes severe.

What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts can be caused by genetics or environmental factors, or they may be the result of trauma or disease. There are two main types of cataracts: juvenile and adult-onset. Juvenile cataracts usually appear before your dog is two years old, while adult-onset cataracts usually occur after three years. Most cases of canine eye disease are due to inherited genetic mutations; however, some breeds are predisposed towards developing certain kinds of eye diseases such as glaucoma and corneal dystrophy.

Infectious (bacterial)

Bacterial cataracts are more common in dogs than in humans. However, they are most often seen in dogs that have already developed uveitis (inflammation of the iris and ciliary body) or corneal ulceration. A bacterial infection can cause these conditions as well as cataracts.

Inflammatory (uveitis)

Inflammation of the uvea, which is the middle of your dog’s eye. Uveitis can be caused by a bacterial infection, trauma or a genetic predisposition. In cases where it is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are usually used to treat it; however if there are no signs of inflammation present then you may need to take your dog for an eye exam to ensure that no other issues exist such as glaucoma or cataracts.


A head injury or blow to the eye can cause a traumatic cataract. This type of cataract usually does not affect vision immediately, but it might later if left untreated. Signs that your dog may have traumatic cataracts include:

  • Bleeding from the eye
  • Vision problems after being hit in the face with an object

If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to the vet right away.

Congenital and inherited

Congenital cataracts are caused by a genetic defect, and inherited cataracts are passed down from parent to offspring.

If an animal has one or more parents with congenital cataracts, there’s a high chance that the offspring will develop them as well. This can be prevented by not breeding two animals who have the condition and avoiding pets that come from families with several generations of affected animals.

It’s important to note that if one of your pet’s parents has cataracts, they won’t necessarily pass on the condition to their children; only 25% of puppies born from affected mothers will inherit her genetic trait for developing cataracts.

What Happens When a Cataract Goes Untreated?

If you don’t treat a cataract, it will become worse.

  • The lens becomes more cloudy and opaque. This means that your dog is starting to lose some of their vision.
  • The lens may become detached from its normal position inside the eye. If this happens, it can cause pain, redness and watery discharge from the eye (vitreous hemorrhage). It can also cause blindness if there is no longer any light entering the eye through the pupil due to scarring on the retina caused by severe inflammation.

Are some breeds more prone than others?

Yeah, some breeds are more prone to cataracts than others. The most common breeds with a predisposition to this condition include:

  • Cocker spaniels
  • Border collies
  • Beagles
  • Dalmatians (and other white-colored dogs)
  • Miniature schnauzers (and other small dogs)


Training your dog to wear the collar correctly is fairly simple. Most dogs will quickly learn to respond appropriately when wearing the collar, and many will even begin to understand that it means they have to go outside to relieve themselves!