Cataracts are frequently found in dogs, but rarely found in cats. The word cataract literally means to “break down”, and this refers to the disruption of the normal arrangement of the fibers and or capsule of the lens of the eye. Regardless of the cause, when too much water accumulates in the lens, and the normal ratio of protein to water is disrupted, the lens fibers break down and cataracts develop. This develops into a white substance within the eye lens with a crushed glass appearance. Cataracts are often confused with a normal aging process of the lens called Nuclear Sclerosis, which is often found in both eyes and occurs in older dogs. But, Nuclear Sclerosis does not affect the vision of the dog while cataracts cause blindness. There are 4 different types of cataracts. They can affect all breeds and ages and sex of dogs, but there is a predisposition to them in certain br eeds. Congenital cataracts are present at birth and are usually in both eyes. Miniature Schnauzers have a predisposition to these. Juvenile Cataracts, (also known as Developmental Cataracts), can occur as early as 6 months of age. They may be inherited or be caused by outside sources such as trauma, diabetes, infection, or toxicity. This type of cataract is more common in Afghans and Standard Poodles. Inherited Cataracts can occur independently or in association with other diseases of the eye. These can also develop as early as 6 months of age. Some of the more popular breeds prone to this form of cataracts include: Cocker Spaniels, Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Westies, and Standard Poodles. Senile Cataracts occur after the 6th year of age, and are most commonly confused with Nuclear Sclerosis. The most common disease associated with cataract formation is Diabetes mellitus (sugar di abetes). Other causes include trauma to the eye such as a thorn or other penetrating wounds to the eye, and overall blunt trauma to the eye as in an automobile accident. Many of these types can be treated successfully without surgical intervention. In these cases, once the cause of the trauma and its affect is treated, the lens of the eye usually returns to normal. However; all the other types of cataracts listed above require the surgical removal of the lens. There are several techniques and all have a high level of success. Only a veterinary eye specialist is qualified to do this procedure.
Chocolate leads the list of reported animal poisonings. In fact last year, 2011, there were over 7,500 chocolate poisonings reported to the ASPCA Poison Control Center. That’s 21 calls per day. Xylitol was second, with over 8 cases per day. However, xylitol is on the rapid increase. Although many people are aware that this is a very toxic substance, they are not aware it is in so many products that are in the house or that humans consume. Xylitol is increasingly being used by manufacturers because it is so cheap and it is over 5 times sweeter than sugar. It can be found in a wide variety of products, ranging from gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, mints, candies, throat lozenges, vitamins, nasal sprays and even some fabrics, (don’t know why). There is even a granular form of xylitol that is used in baking, instead of sugar. It is found in many “diet foods” and “sugar free” pastries.&n bsp; It is extremely toxic to dogs. For example, the amount of xylitol in gum ranges from 1mg per piece to over 1000mg per piece. Ingestion of only 35 mg per pound of body weight can be toxic to a dog. That means a 10 lb. dog that eats only 1/2 of a piece of gum that has 1000mg per piece, is poisoned. Consumers must read labels and keep these types of products away from their pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center recently listed the top ten categories of toxic substances to animals as the following: 1. Human prescription medications, 2. Insecticides, 3. Over the counter human medications, 4. Human food, 5. Household items, 6. Veterinary medications, 7. Rodenticides, 8. Plants, 9. Lawn and Garden products, 10. Automotive products. Please note: the direct line of the Animal Poison Control Center is 888-426-4435.