There are a number of options when it comes to naturally treating cataracts in your dog’s eyes. But firstly, what are cataracts? When talking about cataracts we are referring to a cloudiness of the eye lens, which affects a dog’s vision. The condition is often inherited, but it is particularly common in older dogs, certain breeds, and dogs with diabetes. Natural cataract remedies can be administered at home, with the goal to slow down the progression of cataracts or actually reverse the progression altogether. It is a treatment option many dog owners try, usually during the primary stages of cataract progression.
It is never something that should be attempted without the approval of your vet, especially if your dog has not had a cataracts diagnosis. Oftentimes, owners misdiagnose other conditions (such as nuclear sclerosis) for cataracts.
Natural cataract remedies involve the administration of supplementary vitamins and antioxidants, which can be administered at home by the owner. The efficacy of these treatment are very much up for debate and not all vets advise on trying them.
Vitamin C is used for its properties that aid in improving vision. The following dose should be administered:
Vitamin A is used because it acts like a shield, protecting the integrity of the epithelium (which covers the eyeball). It should be administered in the following dose:
Vitamin E works to remedy the oxidative damage of tissue that comes with aging.
Coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant that can stop the progression of cataracts and sometimes even reverse their effects. It works to strengthen and protect the eyes. It should be administered in the following dose:
All doses for both vitamins and Coenzyme Q10 can be split between the dog’s morning and evening meals.
It is important to note, supplementation is not an invasive surgical treatment, so instant results are unlikely and, for many, there won't be any discernible effect. They may be useful in slowing down cataract progression in the very early stages, but this is largely unproven.
There is also the option of surgery to treat cataracts. The procedure is generally extremely effective and can restore vision completely. The vet will remove the cloudy lens under general anaesthetic. Surgery brings with it the risk of scarring and inflammation but most dogs do very well. On top of that, the surgical option is not affordable to all owners.
According to the Royal Veterinary College, surgery is the only vision-restoring treatment available now for cataracts.
Medicated drops containing Lanosterol are also potentially showing some promise.
It is hard to measure success as we are unable to know how much further the cataracts would have progressed without the treatment.
Because these remedies are natural and do not require invasive surgery, there is no aftercare or support needed. The dog may need to go the vet’s to assess the progression of cataracts but not because of any risks associated with the natural remedies. The only ongoing maintenance needed is to continue to use the vitamins and supplements.
As the natural remedies do not require surgery or numerous vet visits, they are significantly less expensive than surgical options. However, this is not necessarily a good thing, as we may be prolonging the time a dog has cataracts, by delaying surgery.
Depending on the size of the dog, all three vitamins could cost less than $10 a week and cost up to $20. A box or pack of Coenzyme Q10 can be bought for just $10. The alternative surgical option is extremely costly. It could cost anywhere between $1,500 to $3,500 per eye, depending on the individual case, the experience of the vet, and other variables.
The main selling point of the natural cataract remedies is that they come with extremely low risks. Supplements are generally safe for your dog and are well tolerated.
The main issue is that the drops are often completely ineffective when it comes to treating established cataracts.
There are no short term or long term implications to be wary of, but there is a good chance they are not as effective as one would hope and the dog’s cataracts progress quicker than expected.
Unfortunately, cataracts are often inherited or come with age so preventing them is a challenge. However, there are certain steps owners can take to prevent their progression. An owner can regularly check for cloudiness and take the dog to the vet if any appears. Catching signs early gives vets and owners the best chance to stay ahead of the condition.
Cataracts can develop as a result of diabetes, so keeping your dog at a healthy weight is essential. Feed them a healthy, balanced diet and supplement as recommended by your vet. Also, walk your dog regularly, this has the added bonus of ensuring both owner and dog get regular exercise.
All of these measures can be somewhat effective in preventing cataracts developing, but unfortunately, they are usually impossible to prevent entirely. These proactive measures can delay their development and could give your dog better quality of vision for longer.
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