Our pets are living longer, just like we are. And with these years come age-related health issues. One reader asked about dog glaucoma and her older dog. It’s a great question, because timely care can sometimes prevent blindness in one or both eyes for your older cat or dog.
Glaucoma happens when the eye fluid cannot drain properly. This causes the fluid to build up too much pressure inside the eye, which eventually damages the optic nerve. That, in turn, leads to blindness. Unfortunately, even with treatment, four out of every ten dogs and cats that have glaucoma and blindness in one eye, will go blind in the other eye within a year, research shows. But you and your vet can take steps to protect your pet’s sight, if you know what to watch for.
Here are some quick facts about glaucoma and your pet:
- For cats and dogs both, the most common cause is an eye infection or injury.
- For dogs, it’s more common in cocker Spaniels, chow-chows, Siberians and samoyeds. But other breeds are on list, too. Talk to your vet.
- Symptoms you might notice: blinking, eyeball either bulges or recedes back into the head, redness in the eyes, cloudy- or bluish-looking eye, watery eye, dilated pupil, vision loss, and possibly, headache pain.
- Another symptom your vet can check for: high pressure in the eyeball.
If your pet develops any of these symptoms over a short period of time, consider it an emergency. Call your vet.
If your loving pet has glaucoma, you might be interested to know that vets who specialize in eye diseases (veterinary ophthalmologists) are working hard to find the exact causes and cures. For treatment, they can insert drainage tubes to relive the eye pressure. And some medicines can help both improve the eye pressure and any discomfort.
If your pet does lose sight in one or both eyes, talk to your vet about how to make the transition easier. And note that sending your pet outside alone might no longer be a good idea, since they could be in more danger of other animals.
While you’re checking out your pet’s eyes, make sure your peepers are in good health too. Have the regular eye check-ups your doctor recommends, so you and your pooch can enjoy many more years of sight.
Watch for a future blog post on other ways to help aging pets.
Do you have a pet with glaucoma or other age-related illness? What changes have you made that help with his life?