Does my dog have cataracts?

(Q) Do dogs get cataracts? I have noticed a cloudiness in my old Jack Russell's eyes but she still seems to find her ball OK.

(A) Vet Vicky Payne says: Dogs can get cataracts. They are an inherited problem in several breeds, but can also occur due to trauma to the lens, toxins, dietary defi ciencies in puppyhood, diabetes, and old age. Advanced cataracts will make a dog blind, but early changes may not affect vision. It is quite possible that your dog has nuclear sclerosis, a hardening of the lens which occurs in all older dogs and has little effect on vision. Next time you are at the vet's ask them to check.

Coping without sight

Here are some top tips for helping your dog cope without sight:

  • Most dogs will form an excellent mental map of their environment. Help by initially restricting their access to a small area of the house and garden until they are comfortable and negotiating this, then extend it gradually.
  • Do not move furniture around, but remove potentially hazardous objects your dog could bump into.
  • Leave feed and water bowls in their familiar places.
  • Leave the radio or TV on when your dog is left alone. These sound cues will help him orientate himself.
  • Scent or tactile cues will also help orientation, for example laying place mates at room entrances - your dog will learn to feel these under his feet.