Juvenile Cataracts in Dogs

One of the most common causes of blindness in dogs is due to juvenile cataracts. This condition is typically seen in young, large breed dogs.

There are many reasons that dogs may develop cataracts, but one of the most common is juvenile cataracts. This condition mostly affects young, large breed dogs and can cause blindness in those animals.

In this article we’ll go over what causes cataracts in dogs as well as some tips for treatment.

What Are Juvenile Cataracts in Dogs?

When most people think of cataracts, they typically picture older dogs who suffer from blindness due to the presence of cloudy, white lenses. Cataracts are actually a fairly common issue for aging dogs and can eventually lead to complete blindness if left untreated.

What many people don’t know is that juvenile cataracts in dogs refers to similar cataracts that occur at a much younger age. These cataracts generally affect dogs around 1-2 years of age and tend to resolve themselves as the animal ages.

The primary cause for juvenile cataracts in dogs is currently unknown, though it appears to be genetic in nature. There may also be a link between vitamin A deficiency and juvenile cataracts, as well as a link between cataracts and hypothyroidism.

There are no specific preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the chances of a dog developing this condition, though it is recommended that large breed puppies eat a diet with reduced levels of vitamin A to help prevent complications later on.

Symptoms of Juvenile Cataracts in Dogs

If your dog does develop juvenile cataracts, you will likely start to notice symptoms around 1-2 years of age. Symptoms may include difficulty seeing at night or waking up with goopy, yellow eyes (due to the build-up of eye discharge). Your dog’s pupils may also appear to be enlarged.

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Your dog may also experience a head tilt, which is due to the fact that he will not be able to move his eyes side-to-side very well (a result of juvenile cataracts). He may also walk in circles.

Aside from the negatives, this condition typically doesn’t cause your dog any pain. In fact, many dogs show no other symptoms.

Treatment for Juvenile Cataracts in Dogs

If your dog does suffer from juvenile cataracts you should schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. The first thing that your vet will do is a simple eye exam to determine if there is any damage to the lens or signs of ulcers.

If your dog does have juvenile cataracts, the vet will likely prescribe a treatment in the form of eye drops to slow down the progress of this condition. The goal is to reduce inflammation and maintain healthy function until the lens eventually clears up on its own (which may take up to 1-2 years). Your dog will need to be rechecked on a monthly basis to ensure that this condition doesn’t progress.

It’s important to note that the prognosis for juvenile cataracts is good, since many dogs go on to recover fully. However, if your dog does suffer from blurred vision or total blindness due to this condition, he might need to rely on you for guidance.

Though it may be possible for your dog to see at some level with visual impairment, it’s important to note that this will reduce his quality of life.