Contrary to popular belief, castor oil will not cure your dog’s cataracts. In fact, using castor oil on your dog’s eyes could cause further irritation. The only way to fix cataracts on dogs is through surgery, but surgery isn’t 100% effective.
Castor oil is said to be a potential remedy for cataracts in both humans and dogs. But does it really work?
Does Castor Oil Prevent or Cure Cataracts in Dogs?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that castor oil prevents, treats, or cures cataracts or any other eye disorders in dogs.
In fact, introducing castor oil to the eye can cause irritation, leading to rubbing and scratching, further injuring the sensitive eye tissue.
Talk to your vet before using castor oil or any other natural remedy on your dog.
Claims of Success
There are countless claims online that castor oil helped a dog blinded by cataracts to see again. The truth of the matter is that surgery is the only solution to cataracts.
Many dogs who become blind cry a lot and bump into things for the first few months as they learn to navigate the world without sight. After a few months, they get used to their new normal, and their mood noticeably improves.
There’s a good chance that this is what people are misinterpreting as success from castor oil since their dog seems to have improved over time. In truth, it’s probably more to do with getting used to the situation, rather than gaining any sight back.
Most dogs with cataracts adjust over a few months whether or not you use castor oil.
What are Cataracts
Cataracts are a thickening and clouding of the ocular lens which can lead to blindness over time. It can be caused by heredity, age, or trauma.
If untreated, cataracts can lead to increased eye pressure, which is not only painful for the dog, but can cause permanent blindness.
The only cure for cataracts is surgery to remove the lens and replace it with an artificial one. Cataract surgery can cost several thousand dollars per eye, making it no wonder that people want to believe in less expensive options like castor oil..
If a cataract or blindness comes on overnight and is causing the dog a lot of pain or irritation, get him to the vet right away. It could be because of trauma or an underlying condition that needs treatment immediately.
Castor Oil: What to Know
If you’ve decided to try castor oil on your dog’s cataracts, these suggestions will reduce the likelihood of irritation or other adverse effects.
Ask a Professional
Be sure to run it by your vet before using castor oil in your dog’s eyes.
Many vets are versed in holistic treatments in addition to traditional western medicine, and your vet may be able to advise you on the best oil to use and how often to apply it.
What Exactly is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is an oil made from castor beans. It’s used in cooking, as well as topical applications for anything from wrinkles to acne.
Type of Castor Oil to Use
Make sure that any castor oil that’s going into an eye is sterile, organic, and chemical-free.
Castor oil comes in both cold and expeller-pressed varieties. As long as it meets the requirements above and doesn’t contain hexanes, it should be less likely to cause irritation.
Storage and Application
It’s best to store castor oil for eye use in a sterile glass dropper bottle to prevent the chances of it being contaminated.
As mentioned above, the only way to cure cataracts is with surgery. For various reasons, many dog owners opt not to treat their dog’s cataracts with surgery.
Untreated cataracts can lead to:
- detached retina
If you decide to go with surgery, these are some things that might be helpful to know.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient surgery, but it involves putting the dog to sleep using general anesthesia. The surgery involves removing the damaged lens and replacing it with an artificial one.
Usually, the dog will go into surgery in the morning and stay in a recovery area until the end of the day.
Good Candidates for Surgery
Your vet will examine your dog to see whether he’s a good surgical candidate. Some factors included in the decision will be:
- the dog’s eye health other than the cataract
- the dog’s general health
- the age of the dog
The vet will also be able to give you an idea of the cost associated with the surgery. You’ll have to decide on your own whether the cost is something you’re able to handle.
Recovering From Cataract Surgery
Recovery from cataract surgery usually takes about 2 weeks. During this time, the dog will probably have to wear an Elizabethan collar and limit activity slightly.
You may also need to administer oral medication or medicated eye drops.
If a cataract is caught before it does any significant damage to the eye, there’s a very good chance that surgery will restore the dog’s vision completely.
However, this isn’t always the case. Although the pre-surgery exam will usually tell if any additional issues will affect the dog’s vision, it’s not always to tell ahead of time.
In very rare cases, the surgery itself can cause permanent loss of vision, though this is uncommon.
Cataract Causes and Prevention
It might be helpful to know what causes cataracts and how you can prevent them.
One of the most common reasons that dogs get cataracts is due to age. As we age, our bodies slowly start to decline, and dogs are no different.
Years of exposure to UV rays slowly affect the eye, causing the lens to thicken and eventually turn into a cataract.
Another super common cause is the genetic predisposition for cataracts.
While there’s not a lot you can do to alter a dog’s genetic makeup, what you can do is keep him healthy and be proactive in maintaining and checking his eye health regularly.
This will lessen the chances of cataract development and quickly fix any illnesses that may lead to deterioration in eye health.
Poor nutrition can lead to poor eye health and cataracts. Nutrition is critical in puppies as they grow and develop.
Nutrition is also important in adult dogs. Sugar plays a large part in a dog’s eye health, as spikes in blood sugar levels can put a lot of pressure on the eye, leading to eye issues such as glaucoma and cataracts.
This is one reason diabetic dogs are so likely to develop cataracts.
Other Health Conditions
As we mentioned above, diseases like diabetes can increase a dog’s chances of developing cataracts.
It’s super important to schedule annual checkups with your vet and monitor your dog’s health regularly. The sooner you catch any problems, the sooner you can get them taken care of.
Maintaining general health with adequate nutrition and preventative care does more to keep a dog healthy and cataract-free than anything else.
Sometimes injury can lead to a cataract. Any time your dog injures his eye, exercise precaution and get him checked out at the vet.
This is especially true if he’s in pain, the eye looks abnormal, or his vision seems impaired.
Don’t Cause More Harm
No one wants to shell out several thousand bucks on cataract surgery, but using home remedies like castor oil often does more harm than good. Whenever possible, prevent conditions like cataracts using preventative care.
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