Gray Spots in Dog’s Eyes May Be Start of Cataracts

Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

Q: About 3 years ago, our female poodle started to develop gray spots within her eyes that didn’t seem to bother her very much. She is now almost 11 years old, and the grayness in both eyes has become denser looking. She still seems to get around pretty well but occasionally seems to get lost when we call her until she gets her bearings. She is still playful and eats very well. Every once in a while, she gets a mucus-like discharge from her eyes, but they don’t seem to be sore. We haven’t worried about her until this last week, when she started to get lost more frequently. Is she losing her vision? Are these gray areas tumors, and can they be treated? She is such a friendly, playful dog that I hate to think that she might be blind.

Pamela Heitz,

La Habra

A: The gray areas that you describe may be developing cataracts, which become denser and more noticeable as they mature. Eventually, your pet may become blind because the cataracts will not let light penetrate to the back of the eye. I recommend that you have your pet’s eyes examined to determine whether these are truly cataracts and not an injury to the corneas. Cataracts can be removed surgically with good success, but the eyes must be evaluated to see whether the retinas are still functional. This will require a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist, who will have the specialized equipment to make such an evaluation and advise you as to the expected outcome of lens surgery. Your regular veterinarian may need blood tests to evaluate her condition before any surgery, as well as rule out possible causes of cataracts, such as diabetes.

Q: My 2-year-old Siamese is a very loving cat, but she has a habit of chewing or sucking on my sweaters or blankets, which is starting to become a problem. When I hold her or she sits in my lap, she starts to lick and then suck on my clothes as if she is nursing. This is starting to become embarrassing when my friends come over and she starts on them. Is there something wrong with her and what should I do?


Andrea Crosby,

Santa Ana

A: Sucking behavior in cats could indicate that your cat may have been weaned at too early an age and has a need to continue such behavior on clothes or other material. Her affection toward you only encourages this behavior when you hold her and allow her to lick your clothes. You must not let her start on your clothes or chew on blankets. Treat fabric with hot sauce or something similar and let her start on those. In time, this should discourage her from licking on any fabrics. This may be a difficult habit to break, so be patient.

Got a question about your pet? Write to Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask the Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn.