QUESTION: WHY ARE MY DOG’S EYES SO CLOUDY?
That is a great question. I hear it frequently! The age of your pooch and the circumstances under which you see the cloudiness can provide clues to the reason for your pup’s cloudy eyes. After reading this, remember, early intervention is always the best answer—so call your veterinarian for an appointment if you suspect anything out of the ordinary. Wellness/preventative examinations for Animal Care Center Clients/Patients are an easy (and generally the most cost-effective) way for you to give your pet(s) the healthiest life… for life.
Hands down, the most common cause of a cloudy appearance to the eyes is lenticular sclerosis. It occurs as a normal-aging change to the eye; the lens simply thickens with age. It is not painful and does not impair vision excessively. It is most apparent at night when a bright light shines on your pup’s eyes; you might see a slightly cloudy reflection. Otherwise, lenticular sclerosis can be hard to see with just the naked eye. Your veterinarian will confirm lenticular sclerosis with an ophthalmoscopic exam.
Another cause of cloudy eyes is cataract formation. The most common cause of cataract formation is a side effect of uncontrolled blood sugar in a diabetic dog. Any breed and any age of dog can develop diabetes mellitus. The resultant cataract formation that can be dramatic and rapid. If you can see a white, dense looking formation in your dog’s lenses (inside their eye), sometimes with a “Mercedes Benz type symbol” in the center, your dog may have cataracts. Just as in human diabetes variants, worry about diabetes mellitus if your dog is drinking excessive amounts of water or having excessive urination problems. Cataracts can also occur in young dogs and can be identified by an opaque splotch on the lens that partially obscures vision.
Cloudiness can result from thickening of the cornea or the outermost layer of the eye. German Shepherd dogs develop a blinding condition known as Pannus. Pannus is characterized by a migration of blood vessels and pigment from the corners of the eyes towards the center. It will eventually cause complete blindness, although there are treatments which can slow the progression. Bluish opacity of the cornea can occur secondary to glaucoma. Glaucoma is a painful increase in pressure on the inside of the eye; the resultant opacity generally results in blindness.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
The most important thing to know about your dog’s eyes is that if they are squinty, winky, blinky, or weeping, it is an emergency. Do not wait a day or even hours. Any change that you notice in your dog’s eyes should be acted upon and reported to your veterinarian immediately. You will hear this frequently if you become a regular reader of “Ask Dr. Pam”: early intervention for almost every disease process is critical to control the progression and seriousness of the situation. If you are uncertain, a telemedicine visit will be the way to get an answer very quickly. Visit www.utahanimalcare.com look for the tab to book an appointment and select “virtual visit”. As always, if Animal Care Center is not your family veterinarian, I recommend that you find a hospital accredited by AAHA, the American Animal Hospital Association. Only 14% of vet clinics and hospitals nationwide seek this voluntary accreditation but the difference within the facility and the way the practice operates will always be apparent!
Keep the questions coming. Post questions to the Animal Care Center Facebook or Utah Dog Park Facebook pages; leave a comment on this blog post with your question; or email me your question to AskDrPam at drpaminc dot com. (We have to try our best to trick the email spam bots out there; although, they are getting annoyingly smarter and smarter, aren’t they?)
Happy, warm holidays to you and your furry family,