Do you know Pugs may have cataracts as they age?
As their parents, it’s better to know about the issue and how to help.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Can Pugs get cataracts?
- What causes cataracts in Pugs?
- Signs and symptoms of cataracts in Pugs
- How to treat cataracts in Pugs
Let’s dive right in…
Can Pugs Get Cataracts?
The short answer is yes. Pugs can get cataracts in their eyes. In fact, all dogs can. Canine cataracts are an ocular disease that causes a clouding of the eye’s lens.
Dogs have a very similar eye structure to us humans. They have pupils, corneas, and lenses just like us. And because of this, they are also vulnerable to similar conditions as us.
One of those conditions is cataracts – or clouded lenses. Thankfully, cataract disease is not fatal. However, if left untreated it can result in total or partial blindness in your pet.
Some dog breeds are more prone to developing cataracts than others.
Breeds that seem to be most susceptible include:
- Brachycephalic dogs (like Pugs)
- Golden Retrievers
- Cocker Spaniels
- Labrador Retrievers
- Siberian Huskies
- Bichon Frise
- Boston Terriers
As you may or may not know, brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and Frenchies are already at a predisposition to develop ocular problems. These breeds are prone to proptosis (eyes that pop out) and blindness.
As such, it’s important to take special care of your Pug’s ocular health to prevent disease and ocular degeneration as they grow older.
What Causes Cataracts in Pugs?
Cataracts are often an inherited trait – meaning that your Pug might just be genetically predisposed to developing cataracts in their lifetime.
However, there are various other factors that can trigger the onset of cataracts disease.
- Diabetes – high blood sugar levels can damage a dog’s internal organs and eyes.
- Nutritional deficiency – in general cataracts in puppies are very rare. However, puppies that do not receive adequate nutrition are more likely to develop cataracts.
- Trauma – if your pug suffers an injury to the eye they can develop cataracts.
- Treatments – some cancer therapy treatments are known to cause cataracts.
- Ocular problems – eye inflammation and infections can develop into cataracts.
- Toxic substances – some toxic substances like ketoconazole and disophenol can cause cataracts when ingested. Visit your vet immediately if you think your Pug has been exposed to these chemicals.
- Birth defects – certain rare birth defects can cause juvenile cataract disease.
Cataracts or Nuclear Sclerosis?
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between normal age-related changes (nuclear sclerosis) and cataracts disease.
Just like us, a Pug’s eye health will deteriorate with age. To be sure, it’s best to consult your veterinarian at the first sign of ocular change.
They will be able to tell you whether your Pug’s eye problems are related to aging – in which case no treatment is needed – or cataracts – in which case treatment will be needed.
- Nuclear Sclerosis
Nuclear sclerosis without cataracts typically results in a visible fuandic reflection. It may also be possible to notice the outline of your Pug’s lens nucleus.
Image from https://www.cliniciansbrief.com/
When cataracts are present alongside nuclear sclerosis, reflected light will be obstructed partially or fully. New, immature cataracts typically appear black or brown in color. As cataracts develop they take on a white/blue tone.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts in Pugs
Early signs of cataracts in Pugs include a white or milky color behind the iris as well as signs of impaired vision in your pet.
Look out for:
- Change of eye color – a blueing, greying, or milky appearance is most common.
- Bumping into things – as your Pug’s eyesight deteriorates they might bump into things more frequently around the house or lose their sense of direction.
- Increased hesitancy – as your Pug’s eyesight deteriorates they might lose confidence in unfamiliar environments. Jumping and walking upstairs may also become harder.
- Inflammation – lookout for redness and inflammation of your Pug’s eyes. Your Pug might start to squint or show signs of discomfort as a result of the pain.
If you think your Pug might be developing cataracts, it’s important that you visit your vet as soon as possible. They may then refer you on to a veterinary ophthalmologist (a vet specializing in diseases of the eye).
Diagnostic testing will be able to tell you whether your Pug is suffering from cataracts or another type of ocular disease. When you visit your veterinary ophthalmologist they will take a complete medical history and conduct an in-depth eye examination, blood tests, and ultrasound to examine your Pug’s retina.
Remember, by catching this disease early, there are more treatment options available.
Will Pugs Go Blind? The Four Stages of Cataract Development
Cataracts can cause blindness in Pugs but this is not always the case. It depends on the size, position, and type of cataract.
Visual impairment progresses if and when cataracts obstruct upwards of 60% of the total ocular lens. Once a cataract covers the entire lens then the result is blindness. Mild cataracts (those that obstruct less than 30% of the lens) most often do not cause any visual impairment.
Cataracts can vary widely in severity and tend to develop gradually in four distinct stages.
Stage 1: Incipient cataracts
Incipient cataracts are the first stage in the development of canine cataracts. Catching cataracts at this early stage offers your pet the best outcome. At this stage, your Pug’s cataracts have not become densely opaque.
Stage 2: Mature cataracts
Once the entire eye has become cloudy, and a significant amount of vision is lost, we enter the second stage – mature cataracts. Some cases of mature cataracts will see no further deterioration. But for some pets, mature cataracts will develop into hyper mature cataracts.
Stage 3: Hypermature cataracts
During the third stage, cataracts become hypermature. This happens when the eye’s fluid and proteins are lost. At this stage, your Pug’s eyes will continue to appear cloudy. They will have significant – if not total- vision loss.
Stage 4: Senile cataracts
Senile cataracts refer to late-onset cataract disease. If a dog is over the age of six and experiencing cataracts then they will be categorized as having senile cataracts. Late-onset cataracts can vary in severity from very mild to more severe visual impairment.
Are Cataracts Preventable?
There is not much in the way of preventative treatment for cataracts. Since most cases are caused by genetic predisposition, the best thing you can do as a pug parent is to look out for the key symptoms so that you can catch cataract development early and seek treatment.
Though not all cases of cataracts end in blindness, untreated cataracts can start to cause internal damage to the eye and even glaucoma. To prevent symptoms it’s important to start treatment in the early stages of cataract development.
If you’re worried about your Pug’s risk of getting cataracts then there are some things that you can do to keep them in tip-top ocular health.
These steps are recommended for all Pug owners, but are particularly important if your Pug is at greater risk of developing cataracts (e.g., if they are diabetic).
Step 1: Brush up on your Pug’s medical history – do cataracts run in the family? Does your Pug have any underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of developing cataracts?
Step 2: Examine your Pug’s eyes for cloudiness regularly
Step 3: Visit the vet at the first sign of cloudiness (look for brownish, whitish, or bluish tones)
Step 4: If your Pug shows signs of reduced vision, visit your vet immediately
How to Treat Cataracts in Pugs
Even though cataracts aren’t fatal, it’s important to seek treatment for your Pug’s deteriorating eye health.
Cataracts can be treated in a few different ways, ranging from natural remedies to surgery.
Ask your veterinarian to recommend some oral supplements that can help your Pug with the early stages of cataracts.
The right combinations of vitamins and antioxidants can help support eye health and slow down the aging process of the ocular lens.
Ask your vet about Ocu-Glo RX – a veterinary supplement containing a blend of antioxidants and minerals.
Check out this video to find out more about treating canine cataracts with natural remedies:
Ask your vet about medicated eye drops as a treatment option for your Pug’s cataracts.
Though eye drops will not be effective against more serious cases of cataracts, they can reduce the impact of ocular conditions that may lead to cataracts in the future.
Finally, if your vet recommends removing your Pug’s cataracts entirely, then they will need to undergo surgery.
This is the most effective treatment for cataracts, however, it can be expensive.
Cataract surgery can restore vision and is extremely effective in treating hereditary cataract disease. However, it comes with some associated risks.
Surgical risks include:
- Permanent blindness
- Risk of anesthesia
Cataracts in Pugs: Last Words
Nobody likes to see their pet suffering. Though not fatal, cataracts can be debilitating for your pet.
Catching cataracts in Pugs early can make a real difference to their chances of regaining full or partial sight.