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Can Labrador Retrievers Get Cataracts ?

Cataracts and Labrador Retrievers


Most people think that cataracts just happen among humans, but dogs and other types of animals can also be affected by this health condition. A cataract occurs when the lens of your pet’s eye is either damaged or gradually loses transparency with age. Since the lens is the part of a Labrador Retriever’s eye that is responsible for focusing on an image before the brain interprets the light signals into an image, it is hard for an animal to see with cataracts. If your Labrador Retriever has cataracts, it may have cloudy vision or ultimately become blind.

Cataracts affect different dog breeds in many various ways, and the signs and symptoms of a cataract will vary based on age. It is common among Labrador Retrievers for the dog to get a cataract that does not cause noticeable issues for years, but once your pet is older, this type of cataract quickly worsens. Other types of cataracts are non-progressive, so they will not get worse and worse until your dog is eventually blind. However, Labrador Retrievers, unfortunately, tend to suffer from more progressive types of cataracts. These cataracts, which are often referred to as senile cataracts, typically do not form until the dog is about eight or nine years old. If left untreated, senile cataracts can eventually result in blindness.


The reason that so many Labs get cataract is that they are partially a genetic condition. Therefore, if a breeder uses Labrador Retrievers, who have a family history of cataracts, it is likely that most of the puppies they offer up for adoption will eventually get cataracts as well. It is therefore very beneficial to know the genetic history of your Labrador Retriever, so you can know to keep an eye out for cataracts as your pet ages. However, it may be impossible to find out if your dog has a genetic risk for cataracts if it is a rescue animal. Your veterinarian may be able to examine your Labrador Retriever to find out the state of its eyes. The type of genetic cataracts that Labradors have is not congenital cataracts that start developing as soon as a puppy is born. Instead, Labrador Retrievers tend to have a genetic risk of getting juvenile cataracts. Juvenile cataracts may start developing anytime between the ages of two months and a year. These types of cataracts typically do not cause any permanent or severe damage as long as they are treated promptly.


Even if your Labrador Retriever does not have a genetic risk of developing cataracts, it can still get cataracts after having certain diseases or health conditions. Diabetes causes high blood sugar levels that can cause damage to the eye lenses. Another common issue that causes cataracts among Labrador Retrievers if hypocalcemia, and this illness happens when your dog does not get adequate amounts of calcium. Since both diabetes and hypocalcemia can be prevented with proper nutrition, ensuring that your pet has a healthy diet can significantly help to reduce cataract risks. Exposure to radiation and other types of toxic chemicals can occasionally result in cataracts, so it is also important to prevent your Labrador Retriever from coming into contact with these issues.


It is important to pay attention to your dog’s eyesight so you can seek treatment as soon as possible for any potential cataracts. The first sign of a cataract is often a change in your Labrador Retriever’s eye color. Cataracts often begin by looking like your dog’s eyes are slowly becoming cloudy and looking blue or grayish. If the cataract starts to dissolve into the tissue of your dog’s eye, you might notice that the area around the affected eye is starting to look reddened or inflamed. As your dog’s vision worsens, you might start to see it regularly tripping over items or bumping into stuff. Though clumsiness is not necessarily a sign of cataracts, it is a reason to be concerned, especially if the clumsiness is happening in areas where your dog used to be able to run about easily. Cataracts can cause pain, so your Labrador Retriever’s calm and happy personality may start to change. A dog that is in pain often starts to become noisy and act in a restless manner. If your dog is experiencing even one of the signs of a cataract, it is wise to take them for a checkup as soon as possible.


The first step in properly treating your pet’s cataract is getting a diagnosis. Your regular vet should be able to use an ophthalmoscopic exam to see whether or not your dog has a cataract. They can then use an ultrasound to see how large the cataract is and create a treatment plan. If your dog is in otherwise good health, it is a candidate for surgery to remove the cataract.

Surgery is the only way to treat your Labrador Retriever’s cataracts accurately and comprehensively, and it is typically 95 percent successful at restoring vision. It does require anesthetics, so older dogs that have preexisting medical conditions may be at risk for complications during the surgery. Cataract surgery works by completely replacing the damaged eye lens with a new, artificial lens. It will take a few weeks for your dog to heal from the surgery and have restored vision. Since the surgery can leave eyes feeling rough and unpleasant, your dog may want to scratch at the site. Therefore, most dogs need to wear a collar for several weeks to keep them from damaging the area. After the surgery, you will need to make sure that the area does not get infected or damaged, and you may need to take a few trips to the veterinarians for aftercare procedures. If everything goes well, your dog should have completely restored vision after several weeks.


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