Watch Out for These Four Common Eye Problems in Your Dog

Has your furry friend been pawing at his eyes a lot. Has she been running into things around the house? Have you noticed a whitish or grayish film over your pup’s eyes? Dogs are prone to several common eye conditions, which, if not diagnosed and treated early can lead to more serious problems, sight loss, even blindness. Here are four eye conditions to be on the lookout for.

Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is one of the most common eye conditions in dogs. It is most often caused when an animal’s immune system begins to destroy the tear glands, although it can also be caused by upper respiratory infections, trauma and certain medications. Tears carry oxygen and vital nutrients to the eyes. They cleanse and lubricate the eyes and helps protect them from debris and infection. Without tears, your pup’s eyes become dry and irritated. You may notice your dog squinting and pawing at his or her eyes, and the eyes will likely be red, with a yellowish discharge. Although it is usually a lifelong condition, catching dry eye early can prevent or slow further eye damage.

Pannus is another condition that can affect your dog’s eyes and eyesight. Pannus is a chronic inflammatory disease of a dog’s cornea and conjunctiva. Although there is debate over what causes pannus, it is generally thought to be related to an immune deficiency or an autoimmune reaction that causes the dog’s body to produce antibodies against its own eye tissues. Sunlight and high altitudes also seem to be factors that influence the incidence and severity of the disease.

Pannus typically strikes dogs that are 3 to 5 years old. It usually begins as an opaque pinkish spot that grows toward the center of the cornea, eventually covering the entire surface of the cornea and reducing your dog’s ability to see. Usually it occurs in both eyes simultaneously, and you’ll notice redness and inflammation as the disease progresses. If not treated, Pannus can lead to impaired vision, even blindness.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. They can progress gradually over many years or they can appear very quickly, leading to blindness within a few weeks. Cataracts can be inherited or caused by trauma, diabetes, drug toxicity or as part of the aging process. If your dog is diagnosed with cataracts, you’ll need to have his or her eyes rechecked periodically to see if the cataracts are progressing. Often, anti-inflammatory eye drops are prescribed to slow the condition, but if your furry friend’s vision is seriously impaired or the cataracts are progressing rapidly, surgery is sometimes recommended to restore vision.

Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure increases in the eyeball, causing it to swell. Glaucoma is either primary, meaning it’s an inherited abnormality in which the shape of the eyeball interferes with fluid drainage, or secondary to another condition that may impede the drainage of the fluid inside the eye. These related conditions include inflammation of the eye, tumors, diabetes and trauma.

You may notice your pup is reluctant to play or eat. He or she may be irritable and may paw at their face or rub it against walls or furniture. It’s important to seek medical help immediately as irreparable damage can sometimes occur quickly.

Your dog’s eyes are important to quality of life, and you owe it to him or her to provide the best possible care. Your furry friend can’t tell you that something is wrong so it’s up to you to watch for problems—pawing at the face, dwindling eyesight, or cloudiness in the eye. If you’re concerned about your pup’s eyes, give Powell Veterinary Service a call and we’ll take a look.