If you notice your pug’s eyes becoming cloudy or that your formerly sure-footed pooch is suddenly clumsy, it might get you wondering—do pugs get cataracts, and how can you treat cataracts in pugs?
The short answer is that yes, pugs do get cataracts, especially as they get older.
Cataracts in pugs are pretty standard, as they often result from genetics or diabetes. We’ll help you understand the ins and outs of canine cataracts and how you can help your pug return to a comfortable life.
When Do Pugs Get Cataracts?
Before talking about cataract treatment for pugs, let’s first assess why your pug developed them. Pugs can get cataracts for many reasons, including:
- Eye injuries or inflammation
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Cancer treatments
- Contact with toxic chemicals
It’s uncommon for pugs to be born with cataracts. Instead, cataracts typically begin appearing as a dog ages.
Cataracts happen from proteins in the eye beginning to clump together. As a result, a cloudy appearance starts forming over the lens, which affects your pug’s vision.
A pug’s cataracts can grow at different rates. In some cases, it’s a gradual progression. In other cases, the proteins can clump up suddenly, making your dog nearly blind overnight.
Signs That Your Pug Has Cataracts
There are some tell-tale signs that your pug has cataracts. Symptoms to look out for include:
- A cloudy appearance in a portion of one or both eyes
- Scratching the eyes
- A change in the pupil’s size or shape
- Newfound hesitancy to climb or jump
- Clumsiness, particularly in darker spaces
- Watery eyes
It’s crucial to take your pug to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms. Otherwise, if you don’t act on treating your pug’s cataracts, they’ll eventually go blind.
Cataracts vs. Glaucoma
The symptoms for cataracts and glaucoma are similar, and your vet will be able to run a glaucoma test to determine which issue your pug has.
Glaucoma is typically more painful for your pug since it’s the result of pressure building up behind the eye. Your pug may experience headaches akin to migraines, causing them to have behavioral changes like not wanting to play and sleeping for more extended periods.
Cataracts vs. Nuclear Sclerosis
Nuclear sclerosis is another condition that pug owners often mistake for cataracts.
Here’s the good news–nuclear sclerosis happens in all dogs as they get older. It causes a pug’s eyes to take on a hazy hue, resulting from their lens hardening.
However, unlike cataracts, nuclear sclerosis allows light to reach the retina. So, your pug will be able to see well enough to find their food, play, and not bump into your furniture. It’s similar to humans in the sense that we lose our excellent vision as we age without going blind.
Treatment for Cataracts in Pugs
Treating your pug for cataracts varies depending on how advanced the cataracts are. If you catch your pug’s cataracts early, your veterinarian will likely prescribe a medicated eye drop.
These drops are usually steroids or have other anti-inflammatory properties. The goal of eye drops is to reduce and prevent further eye inflammation.
However, if your pug’s cataracts are significant and progressive, your vet will likely recommend surgery. The success rate of cataract surgery in pugs is exceptionally high, so there’s a good chance that doing so will restore their vision significantly.
That said, the longer your pug lives with cataracts, the lower the chance for an effective surgery.
Pug cataract surgery can get expensive, ranging in the thousands of dollars per eye. So, it’s a good idea to have pet insurance to avoid a hefty bill.
How to Help Slow Progression of Cataracts in Pugs
The appearance of cloudy eyes with white or gray colors are classic signs that your pug may have cataracts. If you see this change in your dog’s eye color, the best thing you can do to slow the progression of cataracts is to take them to the vet.
In most cases, your veterinarian will prescribe eye drops to reduce the progression of cataracts. These drops will also minimize potential secondary effects of cataracts, including:
- Retinal detachments
The proactive pug owner will be disappointed to learn that there’s little you can do to prevent your dog from developing cataracts. They’ll have them, or they won’t.
So, the best thing you can do is monitor your pug’s eyes, particularly as they get older, and take them to the vet if you notice any changes.
Tips for Administering Eye Drops To Pugs
Suppose your veterinarian prescribed your pug eye drops. In that case, you’re undoubtedly wondering how you’re supposed to get your pug to stay still long enough to drop them into their adorable bulging eyes.
We’re not about to tell you that it’s easy. But the steps below will help you maximize the success rate of the drops going into your pug’s eyes instead of on the floor.
- Wash your hands and ensure the applicator tip is clean.
- Use a warm washcloth to clean the area around your pug’s eyes.
- Gently straddle your pug from behind and rest your hand with the eye drop bottle above their eye.
- Carefully pull down your pug’s lower eyelid with your free hand.
- Squeeze the prescribed number of drops into their eye.
Ideally, you should aim for the drops to land in the center of your pug’s eyeball. Take care to ensure the applicator tip doesn’t touch their eye.
As you can imagine, this will be an uncomfortable situation for your pug. Therefore, make sure to use lots of praise and reward them with a treat when you finish so the experience is as positive as possible.
Final Thoughts – Cataracts in Pugs
So, how do you treat cataracts in pugs?
Hopefully, you caught your pug’s cataract issue early on so that you can start an eye drop routine. That way, you’ll slow down the progression of their cataract growth and potentially avoid surgery.
That said, if your pug has a severe case of cataracts, surgery is likely the best option for restoring most of their vision.
In either case, taking your pug to the veterinarian when you notice a change to their eyes or behavior is crucial for treating cataracts.