According to a very popular maxim, "The eyes are the windows of the soul," which means that they can display emotions and thoughts. But the thing is when senior Poodles are concerned, the eyes can also be crucial indicators of their overall health and wellness.
This is because poor ocular health in senior dogs won't just trigger ordinary eye problems like irritation and conjunctivitis. It can also set off serious issues like retinal detachment, nuclear sclerosis, and even loss of vision in some cases.
We'd just like to emphasize as early as now that the Poodle is one of the dog breeds (akin to the Shih Tzu, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd) that are susceptible to vision problems and eye diseases. If you've got an aging Poodle and you'd like to keep his eye health in good shape, then you've come to the right place.
Besides walking you through simple and practical pointers on how to keep eye diseases and illnesses in senior dogs at bay, we'll also get you in on our favorite tips when it comes to maintaining your pet's eyesight ideal.
Your Senior Dog's Eyes Will Be Prone to Health Issues
Old age is usually the time when specific conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and partial blindness get in the picture. Many dogs in their much older years have a higher risk of eye health problems because of the several changes that are taking place in their bodies.
As dogs age, they will tend to have slower cell healing and regeneration, reduced absorption of beneficial nutrients during digestion as well and a significant dip in their overall immune system health, just to name a few. Ocular functions like retinal responses and sensitivity of the cone cells will also become weaker.
If not properly dealt with, these negative changes can eventually have a big impact on your beyond adult pet's vision and eye wellness. It's important to take note that this won't just affect your senior Poodle's visual acuity, but he may be also prone to more serious eye conditions and other illnesses sooner or later.
We'd also like to stress that, unlike humans, much older dogs won't be able to clearly communicate that they are already going through vision issues. It is our responsibility as pet parents to keep these problems in check or else their overall quality of life will be affected.
A Very Big Misconception About Eye Health Problems in Aging Dogs
Contrary to what a lot of people mistakenly think, it doesn't mean that your pooch won't have healthy eyes because he's already a canine senior citizen. See, an aging dog's vision and eyes—generally speaking—won't just deteriorate or become vulnerable to disease or illness for no reason at all.
Impaired vision and eye problems among affected dogs in their golden years are usually caused by three key factors: genetics, underlying disease, and environment. And we're going to walk you through how these aspects can expose canine eyes to health issues in this part of our discussion.
Genetics can be a leading cause of eye diseases and illnesses
For starters, "genetics" in dogs basically means the study of how some attributes and characteristics get passed down to offspring from the parents. With respect to eye health issues, these cover hereditary conditions that either or both parents may have and then handed over to young dogs by way of their DNA.
Common examples of these include cataracts, glaucoma, musculoskeletal dysplasia (OSD), achromatopsia or canine day blindness, congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), corneal dystrophy, among others.
Apart from Poodles, other dog breeds that are highly susceptible to these hereditary conditions include Shih Tzus, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers. Although all canine breeds can be vulnerable to eye wellness problems, these dogs are usually the ones that get diagnosed with the same.
Board certified veterinary ophthalmologists and pet homeopathy experts also emphasize that just like in humans, these health problems can either affect only one eye or both eyes depending on the circumstances.
This is the reason why scheduling a regular eye exam for your aging pet is crucial to detect these issues as early as possible while putting up a feasible treatment plan in the process. We'd just like to point out that many dogs often succumb to partial or total vision loss due to the absence of regular eye exams.
Underlying disease can set off vision-related issues
While this may sound surprising, health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and kidney problems can have a detrimental effect on your aging dog's eyesight and eye health in general. And this can be aggravated as the illness or disease progresses.
Besides potentially bringing about glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and cataracts, any underlying health issue can be also considered as a leading cause of vision loss or blurriness as well as total blindness. Just to emphasize, most dogs often become highly vulnerable to these vision problems when they are in their old age.
Much older dogs can be prone to eyesight issues due to their environment
Let's say your beyond adult dog has good genetics and does not suffer from any underlying conditions. If we're being honest, he still isn't out of the woods yet when it comes to loss of vision and similar eyesight issues.
Conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, partial vision loss as well and corneal ulcers can also be attributed to the environment that your aging dog may be in. Just to be clear, the term "environment" includes the actual place that your pet is living in, his surroundings as well as your dog's diet.
If not properly seen, this won't just have a negative effect on your senior canine best friend's immune system, but will also prevent him from having healthy aging, which usually involves eye health problems.
Now we've got that covered, let's tackle the common eye diseases and vision-related issues that your aging dog can be prone to. It is crucial to take note that regardless of how minor a certain eye condition is, it will still affect the quality of life of your pet in one way or another.
Common Eye Diseases in Senior Poodles
As we've stressed earlier, beyond adult dogs are more susceptible to vision loss and other problems due to the several changes that are taking place in their bodies. Apart from a sharp decline with respect to the absorption of nutrients, your aging dog will also have a weakened immune system.
Below are the typical eye health problems that senior dogs will encounter in their golden years. Make sure you get in touch with your veterinarian or pet wellness expert as soon as you notice any of these so you can immediately come up with practical and realistic treatment options:
Also referred to as "pink eye," canine conjunctivitis takes place when the tissue covering the eyelids and eyeballs of aging dogs becomes inflamed. Although this condition is generally caused by viral and bacterial infections, constant exposure to allergens and irritants can also lead to the development of conjunctivitis.
Moreover, it is also possible that some bad habits adhered to by humans can also trigger pink eye in dogs. Frequent contact with cigarette smoke or emission from vapes is deemed by the field of veterinary medicine as a risk factor concerning the same.
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) aka dry eye is an auto-immune condition that involves the inability of the tear glands in dogs to produce sufficient amounts of tears to keep the cornea and its surrounding tissues moist.
While dry eye is usually seen in dogs that suffer from underlying health issues like diabetes and hyperthyroidism, it can also be triggered by the improper growth and development of the tear gland and tear film, as well as an adverse side effect of conventional antibiotics.
Cataracts in golden-aged dogs take place when there is a significant change in the protein levels or fluid balance inside the lens of their eyes. This will lead to a "clumping" inside the lens, which usually gives them an opaque appearance.
The presence of cataracts often leads to vision loss because light won't be able to pass through the retina. This eye health problem can even subsequently cause complete blindness if not given immediate medical care or if no proper treatment plan is implemented as soon as it is detected.
Although cataracts are commonly seen in dogs in their senior years who are suffering from diabetes, this issue can also be set off by trauma to the eyes. Nevertheless, neglecting this type of eye problem can lead to a blind dog.
Ectropion or entropion
Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly think, ectropion and entropion are two (2) distinct eye wellness issues in senior dogs. The former pertains to a condition where the eyelid—the lower one is often affected—typically has an overly droopy or saggy appearance. While ectropion isn't generally serious, your dog may be in for chronic discomfort and even pain in some cases.
On the other hand, entropion refers to the situation where the eyelids grow and develop inwardly. This can be so extreme that the eyelashes will make constant contact with the corneal, resulting in irritation and inflammation. This condition can be so extreme that surgery is often resorted to as an effective treatment plan.
Ulcerative keratitis in dogs (or corneal ulcer) is characterized as the abrasion or erosion of the outer layer of the cornea. Although this condition is more prevalent among flat-faced or brachycephalic dog breeds, dogs with an advanced age can also be diagnosed with the same.
Common factors that stimulate the development of corneal ulcers include viral and bacterial infections, foreign bodies like dirt and sand getting stuck inside the eye, irritation triggered by household chemicals, as well as underlying wellness problems like hyperthyroidism, Cushing's disease, and diabetes.
Glaucoma takes place when there is an unexpected rise in intraocular pressure (IOP) caused by abnormal protein structures within the eye. When this pressure is not immediately done away with, retinal degeneration and damage to the optic nerve are expected to follow.
This is the biggest reason why you have to treat glaucoma as soon as its symptoms manifest. Although there is still the possibility that a blind dog whose vision was lost to this condition may be recovered, effective treatment greatly lies on early detection and medication.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
While progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is deemed common in all dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and Toy Poodles are considered as high-risk breeds, especially those that are already in their senior age.
Unlike the other conditions that we've listed in this section, PRA is completely hereditary in nature and will tend to manifest in senior dogs if either or both parents are afflicted with the same. This problem is not set off by any external factors like injury, trauma, or allergens.
Just to reiterate, closely monitoring for clinical signs of eye health issues is a must if you've got a canine best friend. Don't worry because we're going to get you in on the indicators of vision problems in dogs that you have to take note of in just a bit.
Can a Senior Dog Still Have Normal Vision?
Yes, beyond adult dogs can still have normal vision even during their golden years. Although key factors like age, health status, genetics and environment can influence the possibility of canine vision issues like cataracts and glaucoma, you can keep these in check if you have the right know-how.
However, we'd just like to emphasize that pulling this off requires a lot of hard work and commitment. Always remember that notwithstanding the "littleness" of a vision-related problem, it can still potentially affect the quality of life of your senior pooch in a big way sooner or later.
Signs that Your Aging Dog's Vision is Not Up to Par
Unlike what a lot of pet parents mistakenly believe, eye health problems in beyond adult dogs are not just about the partial loss of vision or complete blindness. Here's a list of the key signs that your aging dog may be suffering from issues affecting the health of his eyes:
Your senior dog's eyes will become cloudy.
One of the biggest signs of a dog ocular problem is the eyes taking on a cloudy appearance. This is often seen in the case of canine cataracts and nuclear sclerosis. This is either due to an abnormal accumulation of proteins or a drastic change in the fluid levels inside the eyes.
A quick reminder, though. While it is not uncommon that the eyes of senior Poodles will take on a duller shade, especially when they reach an advanced age, this doesn't automatically mean that your pooch is going through an eye problem.
His navigational skills will unexpectedly deteriorate.
Dogs belonging to the Poodle breed are very smart and can easily make their way through familiar surroundings. If you notice that your aging pooch suddenly starts bumping into pieces of furniture or seemingly gets confused when moving around his immediate environment, chances are he may be having issues with his vision.
Your aging pooch is easily startled.
Beyond adult dogs that are afflicted with gradual loss of vision or partial blindness often take on a more cautious and reserved disposition. Even the slightest movement and sound can possibly frighten them. This can make typical social interactions with their beloved humans rather awkward, too.
Moreover, it is important to take note that your senior Poodle can be eventually prone to extreme levels of stress and anxiety if this is not properly dealt with.
He seems to be squinting most of the time.
Golden-aged dogs going through eye health issues like macular degeneration and glaucoma will often feel uncomfortable—if not in pain—when these conditions are not taken care of immediately. Your beloved pooch will normally display a squinting look when these conditions act up.
Your much older dog will have trouble locating stuff in low-light conditions.
Even at their age, senior Poodles can still perceive toys, dog bowls, and humans without a hitch. A very significant indicator of the onset of canine blindness and similar eye health problems in dogs is difficulty finding and recognizing things when there isn't too much light available. This is very common among aging dogs afflicted with glaucoma.
He won't be as excited to go outside anymore.
Aging dogs that have eye problems will usually avoid going outside because of the discomfort and pain they are going through. This means a drastic change in their exercise and play schedule. Socialization with other animals and people will be affected as well. And given the fact that they easily get startled and confused, conditions concerning eye wellness will definitely get in the way of giving them a happy life.
Your senior dog's eyes will exhibit changes in pupil size and appearance.
Apart from negative behavioral and psychological effects, there are also physical signs of eye health issues in senior dogs. While we've already covered the squinting and cloudiness of the eyes, an aging dog will also have pupils that are either abnormally small or large. Noticeable discoloration of the pupils is also typical in these situations.
Dangers of Neglecting Aging Canine Eyes
Let's make this one short and quick. Not properly dealing with eye health problems in beyond adult dogs as soon as you notice the signs can lead to total blindness. This will have a very significant (and instantaneous) impact on your pet's quality of life. How about we discuss the best ways on how to keep these issues in check right now?
Top Tips in Preventing Age-Related Vision Problems in Poodles
Keeping your senior dog's eyes in tiptop shape isn't that complicated. Including the following pointers in your home pet care checklist can help ensure that he won't be in for any adverse eye conditions anytime soon and have a healthy and happy life:
#1. Get in touch with your veterinarian or pet wellness expert regularly.
Detecting signs of blindness and similar vision-related conditions can sometimes be a bit tricky. Make it a point to regularly consult a pet homeopathy expert or a vet to provide you with professional help. Always remember that early detection plays a crucial role in successfully treating these issues.
#2. Practice proper and regular eye maintenance.
Making eye cleaning and maintenance a mainstay in your senior Poodle's regular schedule is a must. Besides getting rid of dirt and other irritants that can potentially set off eye wellness problems, doing so can also help you spot irregularities such as inflammation and cloudiness.
#3. A complete and balanced diet is crucial.
An aging dog's ability to absorb nutrients that are beneficial to the eyes will tend to become sluggish with age. Making your pooch load up on foods rich in vitamin C as well as beta carotene can help correct this. Examples of these include sweet potatoes, carrots, and ripe tomatoes. Giving your senior pet a steady supply of vitamin C also boosts his overall immune system.
#4. Regular exercise helps boost overall immune system health.
Having a healthy weight is synonymous with having an ideal immune response in dogs. Allowing your pooch to put on a lot of extra pounds can lead to obesity. This can potentially set off canine diabetes, which is considered a key cause of glaucoma and optical nerve damage.
Maintaining a regular low-impact exercise routine appropriate for your dog's age such as swimming and light walking will help you get on the right track. Having a healthy weight also prevents joint problems from getting in the picture.
#5. Protect your senior dog from eye trauma and irritants.
Whether you're inside your home or outdoors, make sure you give your senior Poodle adequate protection against possible factors that can cause injury or irritation to his eyes. Besides keeping him clear from pieces of furniture that have sharp edges, excessive dust should also be done away with. Just to emphasize, "irritants" also include cigarette smoke and emissions from vapes.
#6. Never ignore the smallest eye trouble.
Regardless of how "minor" the irritation or irregularity is, make sure you deal with the problem as soon as possible. Don't hesitate to consult a vet or schedule an online homeopathic consultation immediately. Your dog could be in for more serious health problems if you ignore the small things.
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne is a certified Homeopath with over ten years of experience creating natural products for cats and dogs. She co-founded eCommerce brand, Zumalka in 2013 with her husband Matt and is on a mission to help thousands of animals naturally improve their quality of life and shares her experience on their popular YouTube show. Hence, she created a line of high-performance natural pet supplements to target the root cause of common health issues.
Suzie was influenced by her mother-in-law, who practiced homeopathy and made natural remedies from home. After being on prescriptions for many years for a skin issue without resolution, she wanted to try something new. Her problems were cleared up within a few months of dedication to a better diet supplemented by homeopathic remedies. That's when she knew that homeopathy worked! During this process, she wondered why there weren't better options for pets and soon created a popular line of natural remedies that have helped thousands of pets across the USA.
When she’s not traveling or reading the next personal development book, you can find Suzie snowboarding, working out, or enjoying a daily hike.
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