Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs – Reasons, Symptoms, and Treatment

Aging is a natural phenomenon. Like humans, dogs develop problems too as they grow old.

The eye problem of the dogs may vary in comparison to humans, to understand this we need to see the anatomy of your pets’ eye.

  1. Eyelids: Except humans, all other animals have 3 eyelids.
  2. Cornea: This area is very sensitive and healing requires plenty of time. It’s easily prone to ulcers.
  3. Iris:  The iris imparts colour to the eyes.
  4. Pupil: The circular black region which is in the center of the eye.

Aging process: Humans’ vs Dogs’

  1. Age is a major factor behind many dogs’ problems. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
  2. 15 human years equal to one year of a medium-sized dog’s life.
  3. 9 years for a human equal to two years of a medium-sized dog’s life.
  4. And after that, 1 human year is approximately five years.
  5. There are numerous reasons for a cloudy eye: Cataract, Glaucoma, Nuclear Sclerosis, Dry Eye, Ulcers, Anterior Uveitis, Corneal Dystrophy.

This article will focus on Nuclear Sclerosis.

What is lenticular sclerosis?

  1. Lenticular sclerosis or nuclear sclerosis is stiffening of tissue, it’s a problem generally seen in middle-aged to senior dogs. It’s usually observed as cloudiness or bluish discoloration on the pupil.
  2. The prevalence of lenticular sclerosis or cataracts at 50% in dogs, occurs over the age of nine years and 100% in dogs over the age of thirteen.
  3. Lenticular sclerosis typically occurs either in both eyes or in one eye of dogs.
  4. This condition doesn’t affect the vision It neither has any severe impacts on the health or movement.
  5. It’s important to notice that dogs won’t experience significant pain.

Reason/Causes:

  1. Tissues get added up naturally over the period of time in the dog’s eye.
  2. Due to a finite space within the lens of the eyes, these layers of tissue build-up
  3. As a result, it develops in the formerly translucent appearance of your dog’s eyes to shift into an opaque blueish-gray.

Symptoms of nuclear sclerosis in dogs are:

  1. Hazy/cloudy eyes showing rounded opacity (cloudiness) in the center of the lens and are most easily observed when the pupil is dilated. 
  2. A blue or grey tint appears in one or both eyes.
  3. Trouble seeing at night.
  4. Blurry or unfocused vision.
  5. Nuclear sclerosis is differentiated from the cataract by shining a penlight into the eyes. If the light reflects from the tapetum it’s nuclear sclerosis, if reflection is blocked it’s cataract.

Treatment for Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs

There’s no specific treatment, which has been prescribed by doctors yet but some popular home remedies are mentioned below:

Home remedies to avoid sclerosis:

  1. These remedies are based on anecdotal evidence from one or other pet owners. These methods may depend on various factors like health, age, etc. So, it’s always advisable to consult your vet.
  2. Look for foods and supplements which contains the following:

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zeaxanthin, Vitamin A (beta carotene), Coenzyme Q10, Lutein.

Here is a list of few herbs:

Silymarin

  • It helps to detoxify the liver.

Boswellia

  • It helps to reduce overall inflammation. Boswellia is normally sold in tablets, which can be crushed to conceal in daily snacks.
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Bilberry

  • Bilberry often called blueberry is an edible berry, derived from the dwarf shrub.
  • It has antioxidant properties that may assist with eye disorders.
  • Natural compounds present in them like anthocyanosides and flavonoids help to improve capillary strength.
  • This is essential in explaining why bilberry is considered beneficial in treating nuclear sclerosis in dogs.

Eyebright

  • Eyebright also known as euphrasia, is an herb with small white flowers, and has antimicrobial (antiseptic), anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties.
  • It has been used for a long time particularly in European countries to help alleviate red-eye and irritation. 
  • Eyebright is often sold in liquid form and can be used to treat canine animals.

Zinc/Vitamin C

  • Dogs need more Zinc than humans do. The drops of Vitamin C and zinc can help soothe dry eye and infections.
  • Products that are specially developed for canines are available online.

Goji Berry

  • It’s also known as wolfberry and is a powerful antioxidant (in particular, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene).
  • They’re derived from the Lycium plant, supporting canine eye health.
  •  It can typically be purchased online as, or at health food stores even as biscuits.

Dandelion’s root

  • It’s given as a teaspoon or every 20 pounds of the dog’s weight.
  • It is used as a soothing eyewash for conjunctivitis, eye irritation, and improving the blood flow in the retina. 
  • This valuable plant is also rich in vitamins A and C beta-carotene.

Prognosis of Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs

Visiting the Vet regularly:

  • Consulting an expert is always the best idea. By consulting, further damage could be avoided and help your pet live a pain-free life.

Cleaning:

  • Start with a clean cotton cloth from the center (closest to the nose) and then cleanout.
  • If your animal continues struggling and seems to be in a lot of pain while you’re cleaning, it’s better to go to your vet.

Other measures to be taken for a pet already diagnosed with sclerosis

  1. Dog’s benefit from maintaining a consistent and safe environment at home. It can be done by avoiding changing the furniture’s location.
  2. Location of food and water bowls must be not changed
  3. A baby gate or fence can be used around possible hazards (stairs, pool) to prevent injury.
  4. By communicating with the dog to use his other senses hearing or smell. 
  5. During Sclerosis, dogs may experience moderate vision loss which could make them a little hesitant while roaming in new surroundings or unable to locate movable objects (such as toys).

Conclusion

  1. Even if you opt for the above remedies, it’s always a good idea to introduce them gradually.
  2. Always consult with a veterinarian for the correct dosage of medication.
  3. Not all pets with lenticular sclerosis develops a cataract, therefore, remember to check your dog for cataract development.
  4. So, remain alert to eye vision and daily behavioral changes in your pet over time.
  5. Your watchful care could help your pet in the future.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/veterinary-science-and-veterinary-medicine/nuclear-sclerosis

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