The eye, in dogs, as in all animals, is the most specialized of the sensory organs. As such, it is highly sensitive to trauma, infection and disease, both acquired and hereditary. Eye problems in dogs are no small matter and can adversely affect the dog’s health.
Dogs can’t tell their owners when they are suffering irritation or having pain in their eyes. As such, many owners tend to overlook their dog’s eyes as areas of trouble. Because of this oversight, many dogs have became totally blind or lose one of their eyes as a result.
Most dog owners, if not all of them, never consider looking into their pet’s eyes for signs of illness, especially dogs with hair over their eyes.
There is a myth that cutting the hair away from a dog’s eyes will cause blindness. But, in fact, a dog’s eyes are much less likely to become diseased if the area is free of hair. Dogs with hair growing over their eyes should either have it trimmed or pinned back.
Dog Eyelids Problems
Eyelid abnormalities have caused many dog eye problems. The dog is usually born with these abnormalities. And certain breeds are especially prone to certain abnormalities. The two most common types of eyelid abnormalities are ectropian and entropian. Ectropian in dogs is a condition in which the eyelid turns out, while entropian in dogs is a condition in which the lid turns inward toward the eye.
Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, Cocker and Springer Spaniels, St. Bernards and Akitas are some of the breeds most likely to suffer from ectropian. While Chows, Bulldogs, Doberman Pinschers, Setters, Golden Retrievers and Poodles usually suffer from entropian.
Both conditions can cause infection and inflammation of the eye. The vet usually use surgery to correct them. The surgery is a cosmetic one, for the purpose of correcting the confirmation of the dog’s eyelid. The part of the eyelid which droops or turns inward is removed, making the eye normal. It is not a complicated procedure, and one which in nearly every case solves the dog’s eye problems.
Eye Inflammation In Dogs
Many serious eye problems in dogs start with an irritation or trauma to the eye, which causes inflammation. If a dog’s eye becomes inflamed, you must attend to this problem immediately. The problem is usually treatable if diagnosed in time. However, if the inflammation continues for too long, much more complicated problems can result.
For one thing, one of the most important protections the eye possesses – the ability to produce tears – can be interfered with or stopped completely. If the dog’s eye no longer produces tears because the tear glands and ducks are inflamed, the dog can develop ulcers in the eye.
Your dog can also develop a condition known as keratitis, or inflammation of the cornea. The clear protective disc over the colored part of the dog’s eye gets inflamed. The white part of the eye often responds by growing blood vessels down over the injured cornea.
Of course, the dog will become temporarily or permanently blind if the blood vessels block the light from entering the pupil, a small hole behind the cornea which lets light into the eye.
Infection, bumps or scratches on the eye, foreign bodies such as foxtails in the eye, and ingrown eyelashes are all common ways in which a dog’s eye becomes inflamed. If a dog’s eye become swollen, red, runs a lot, or if the dog rubs his eyes excessively, the owner should bring the dog to a veterinarian before the condition becomes serious.
Eye Ulcer In Dogs
An ulcer can be due to the dryness and inflammation of the eyes, or from some other irritation or trauma. In such a case, try using medication initially. Especially if the ulcer is a superficial one, antibiotics usually heal it.
The vet may perform a surgery if the ulcer is a deep one or has punctured through the cornea into the eye itself. The vet covers the ulcer with a truly organic “bandage” – the dog’s own third eyelid, or a flap from the white part of his eye. While this bandage is left on for several weeks, antibiotics are used to heal the ulcer. Later, the vet will removed the bandage with a snip or two of the stitches that are holding the bandage in place.
Glaucoma In Dogs
Glaucoma is one of the most serious eye problems in dogs that can result from an inflamed eye. This condition occurs when the fluid pressure within the eye gets too high. When the passage which drains the fluid out of the pupil becomes too narrow to allow the fluid to pass, fluid pressure within the eye will increase.
Glaucoma can and does cause blindness if not treated immediately. Inflammation of the eye is one thing which can cause the drainage passage to become swollen shut.
What else causes glaucoma in dogs besides inflammation? A tumor in the eye can also cause glaucoma. It can also be due to an inherited condition peculiar to certain breeds, in which the angle of fluid drainage in the eye is too narrow at birth. Wire-haired Terriers, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and Malamutes are dog breeds that are prone to glaucoma. They are more apt to be born with this abnormally narrow angle of drainage than most dogs.
Treat glaucoma in dogs immediately by alleviating the extremely high pressure of the eye fluid. Otherwise, a great deal of pain and eventual blindness will result. Owners, especially of the breeds mentioned, should watch for redness in the white part of their dog’s eyes, dilated or large pupils, and rubbing of the eyes by the dog. If the symptoms are treated early, blindness can be prevented.
Cataracts In Dogs
Owners of old dogs often notice a condition commonly referred to as cataracts – a bluish white film over the eyes. Actually, the condition is a thickening of the lenses, which is a function of age. It usually begins to be noticeable in dogs about 10 years of age, and progresses slowly. It does not usually affect the dog’s vision until the dog becomes quite old.
True cataracts in dogs are a total thickening of the lenses. As a result, the dog loses its sight as light cannot come through the pupil. Certain injuries and infections can cause cataracts, and the condition is sometimes a sign of diabetes.
There is a disease, juvenile cataracts, in which cataracts appear at a very young age (as early as 1 year old). They appear first in one eye, and then in the other.
This inherited disease is most common in Irish Setters, Afghans and Old English Sheepdogs. The only way to prevent blindness is to surgically remove the lenses. Dogs are near-sighted. They are unable to adapt their vision to distances. So the removal of the lens is something they can live with quite comfortably without much noticeable difference in eyesight.
Eye problems in dogs, no matter how minor it may seem, should be taken seriously. Let your veterinarian have a look at it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it may lead to something much more serious eventually.