When it comes to dogs, most people understand that certain problems come with certain breeds. For example, people who have large dogs like German shepherds, golden retrievers, and mastiffs can reasonably expect that hip problems will occur with age. This is par for the course with large dogs, especially if they continue to gain weight as they age. Cocker spaniels tend to be nervous. Pitbulls are known for aggression. Yorkies are yippy. You get the idea. Not every member of a breed is going to suffer from the stereotypical problems associated with their canine group, and crossbreeding certainly helps to weed out these flaws, but if you opt for purebred dogs you should know what you’re getting into. Of course, there are some breeds that are more prone to eye problems, as well, such as pugs, Boston terriers, and spaniels, just to name a few. But there are a number of eye problems that can occur with any breed. Here are a few of the most common to watch for, even if your breed isn’t prone to vision problems.
Cataracts are among the most common eye problems experienced by dogs, and they are often hereditary. They may show up early or late in life and they are characterized by a cloudy, white appearance of the pupil. If you think your dog is developing cataracts you should take him to the vet right away since this issue is correctable with surgery and the longer you wait the more your dog’s vision can become damaged. This problem is often confused with nuclear sclerosis, a common ailment in older dogs that results in a grayish pupil and potentially, minor blurring of vision. The two are hard to distinguish for most pet owners, but cataracts are by far more serious as they can cause total vision loss if left untreated.
Eye inflammation or irritation is also extremely common for all breeds and it generally occurs as a result of some type of injury or infection. You will notice a lot of tearing and gummy buildup around the corners of the eyes, as well as increased blinking or squinting. Although you can easily treat this problem at home by gently clearing away gunk and administering OTC eye drops, you may want to take your dog to the vet just to make sure there isn’t a more serious problem.
Less common but not unheard of by any means is a condition known as in-growing eyelids. This problem is common to certain breeds, as it is hereditary, but it can also occur if your dog suffers from ongoing inflammation. In this disorder the eyelids turn inward, which causes the lashes to scratch the eyeball, potentially resulting in ulcers and other issues. This is terribly uncomfortable for your dog and it can lead to serious vision problems. But there are medicinal treatments and even a simple surgery to correct the problem, so there’s no reason for your best friend to suffer.
Of course, you can prevent and correct some problems with eye protection. You can order goggles or therapeutic soft contact lenses online (yup, they make contacts for dogs), although your regular insurance for contact lenses won’t cover any for your dog. But normally your best friend will only wear them while his eye heals anyway. Your best bet, in any case, is to prevent any ocular issues through a healthy diet, vitamin supplements, and regular cleanings and check-ups, especially for breeds that are prone to vision problems.