How did this happen? It seems like only yesterday my sweet girl was running like a crazy windup toy and getting into one scrap after the next. When did she suddenly become so slow in her movements? Where did all those little spots on her muzzle and on the tip of her nose come from? My girl Cleo has recently begun to show signs of slowing down.
At first, honestly I was happy. I thought to myself that she was finally becoming mature - now I am not sure so. We have stairs that she needs to take to go out into the backyard or to head off to bed at night. There are no short cuts.
A year ago, she was a little off balance but she mostly hustled herself up or down the stairs without much fear or hesitation. Today, Cleo sniffs each tread and gingerly steps down one stair and paw at a time. Near the end of a set, she will sometimes try to rush it and skip a step just to make the landing and level ground faster.
Recently we looked into her eyes and around the edge of one eye it seemed as if she has a cloudy piece of material in it. Could she be developing cataracts in her eyes? She is a rescue dog so we are limited on any specific hereditary diagnoses - which is the most common cause of cataracts in dogs according to Animal Eye Care LLC. We can guess her age within a few years based on her teeth. Every other clue has to come from observation by the vet and us.
As responsible pet owners, we know the best thing we can do is watch and learn from Cleo. What are her normal habits and routines? Have they changed recently? I frequently feel her up and down like a cop frisking a robbery suspect.
Cleo has been taking Prednisone, a synthetic corticosteroid for a while now and we're looking into the real possibility of cataracts as a side effect. She certainly has had some of the other common side effects like panting, drinking lots of water and urinating a lot. The third most common cause of cataracts I read was a toxic reaction in the
lens—the lens is “sick”, due to some other ocular disease or (much less
commonly) due to a drug reaction.
Since we could not isolate the cause of her excessive scratching and biting, the vet suggested this drug for the short term. She has had many sores and hot spots over her face and just all over that needed to heal, we agreed that this drug could give her skin/body the boost it needed to calm and begin healing.
Truth told, we have not had the vet look at her eyes yet to diagnose that she is developing cataracts. However with her obvious mix breed of Husky and German Shepherd, she could have an inherited form of cataracts according to Drs. Foster and Smith.
Now I am watching her closely for side effects to the Prednisone, especially if it can contribute to these problems with her vision that could become permanent. We already cut her dosage and are checking her over daily. We are trying to keep the dosage as low as possible and are in touch with our vet. I worry still. It feels like a trade off between her compulsive scratching and obvious discomfort to possible harm caused by the treatment.
Cleo has taught me the value of living in the now. However I struggle with accepting her aging and its natural course, with trying to do everything in my power to make her life only filled with joy, purpose and treats.