Pet Library

Dry Eye Syndrome in Dogs

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, or Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), occurs when there is a deficiency of aqueous tear film over the eye surface and in the lining of the lids. The result of this is extreme drying and inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva. KCS is quite common in dogs, and females are suspected to be more predisposed to it than males. Severe disease may lead to impaired or complete loss of vision. The canine breeds who are most commonly affected with dry eye syndrome are:

• Shih-tzus
• Cocker spaniels
• Bulldogs
• Lhasa apsos
• West Highland white terriers

What Are the Causes of KCS?

A dog’s tears are needed to lubricate their cornea and remove debris or infectious agents that may get in contact with the eye. The tear film is a mixture of fatty liquid, water and mucus. Therefore, conditions that impair the ability of the eye to produce a necessary amount of tear film may result in KCS. A common list of these causes includes:

• Hypothyroidism
• Systemic diseases including canine distemper virus
• Medications including certain sulphonamides (sulfa drugs)
• Dry nose on the same side as the dry eye
• Drug induced, caused by atropine and general anesthesia
• Chlamydia conjunctivitis
• Breed-related predisposition

What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconjunctivitis sicca?

• Swollen conjunctival blood vessels
• Excessive blinking
• Prominent nictitans (third eyelid)
• Discharge of pus or mucus from eye
• Excessive blinking
• Corneal changes in the blood cells, including pigmentation and ulceration

How is KCS Diagnosed?

The doctor will perform a thorough ophthalmological and physical exam on your dog and will review their background history of symptoms and possible incidents that may have led to KCS. The vet may utilize a Schirmer tear test, which measures tear values and eye wetness—a low value of tears would be an indication of KCS. Additionally, a fluorescein stain, which is a non-invasive dye that shows eye details under blue light, may be used to check the dog’s eye for ulcerations/abrasions.

A sample may also be taken of the aqueous fluid for culture, to determine how severe the bacterial growth is in the eye and to check whether there is an infection that is underlying the KCS.

How is KCS Treated?

Your dog will be treated on an outpatient basis unless there is a secondary disease that calls for hospitalization. Topical medications may be prescribed to compensate for your canine’s lack of tears—please note that you will need to clean your dog’s eyes before this medication is administered, and you must also keep their eyes clean and free of dried discharge.

A topical antibiotic that is placed on the eye may also be prescribed, either as a preventative or to treat a bacterial infection. Additionally, an immunosuppressant drug (topical corticosteroid or cyclosporine) that reduces the activity of their immune system can be used to treat inflammation and swelling. Depending on the underlying diseases that have been brought on this syndrome, other medications may also be prescribed.

In certain instances, surgery may be used to reroute the dog’s aqueous ducts so that saliva can be used to compensate for their lack of tears. However, this procedure is less common since the introduction of cyclosporine.

Questions?

At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from dry eye syndrome, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact us at our following locations:

Chillicothe: 309-273-1909
Dunlap: 309-439-9522
Dunlap II: 309-413-0527

Glaucoma in Dogs

How Does Glaucoma Affect Dogs?

When there is pressure on the eye, this causes inadequate fluid drainage, which results in glaucoma. If this condition worsens, permanent damage will occur in the optic nerve, which will result in blindness.

Regardless of surgical or medical treatment, approximately 40 percent of dogs who are affected by glaucoma will become blind in their infected eye within the first year. Glaucoma is often seen in these canine breeds:

• Chow chows
• Cocker Spaniels
• Poodles
• Samoyeds
• Siberians

What Causes Glaucoma in Dogs?

When the usual outflow of eye fluid is impaired, this causes high pressure in the eye. This is due to either a primary eye disease, like the improper development of the eye’s filtration angles, or secondary to other eye diseases including eye tumors, inflammation of the eye tissues, slipping of the lens in the eye or blood collection in the front of the eye such as from an injury. Secondary glaucoma is seen more often than primary glaucoma.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma in Dogs?

There are two types of glaucoma for dogs: primary and secondary. When there is a sudden primary disease, this is caused by the eye’s inability to drain through the filtration angles of the eye. These symptoms include:

• Front of the eye has a cloudy appearance
• Excessive eye blinking
• Vision loss
• Receding eyeball, usually back into the head
• High pressure within the eye
• Red blood vessels in the eye whites
• Dilated pupil
• Pupils do not respond to light

For advanced, long-term disease, symptoms include:

• Clear vision loss
• Enlargement of the eyeball
• Advanced degeneration within the eye

If a canine has secondary glaucoma, or glaucoma from a secondary eye infection, these symptoms include:

• High pressure within the eye
• Red blood vessels in the eye whites
• Front of the eye has a cloudy appearance
• Inflammatory debris in the front of the eye
• Pupil constriction
• The iris may stick to the cornea or the lens
• The edge of the iris circularly sticks to the lens

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed in Dogs?

To diagnose glaucoma, your veterinarian will need a thorough history of your dog’s health, symptoms and likely incidents that may have caused this issue. During the physical exam, the doctor will test your dog’s eye pressure, and, if the disease occurred suddenly, you will be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist for a detailed exam of both eyes.

How is Glaucoma Treated?

Several drugs will be prescribed to your dog in order to lower the pressure within their eye and get it to the normal range in order to salvage their vision. In some cases, a canine will have a long-term condition that has been unobserved or has been misdiagnosed before the obvious glaucoma symptoms have been present. If this is the case, the optical nerve has been damaged beyond repair and surgery may be necessary.

Depending on the exact nature of glaucoma, different treatments may be utilized. Eye fluid may be drained and fluid producing cells may be altered to stop buildup within the eye—this process is called cyclocryotherapy, and it uses cold temperatures to kill intraocular fluid-causing cells. If this is found early in the treatment, this may slow down or stop further progression, however, most often in long-term cases the eye will have to be removed.

If this condition has been detected early and can be managed, regular vet visits will be necessary to assess your dog’s eye pressure and to monitor for drug interactions to make essential adjustments.

Questions?

At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from glaucoma, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact us at our following locations:

Chillicothe: 309-273-1909
Dunlap: 309-439-9522
Dunlap II: 309-413-0527

Pancreatitis in Dogs

A dog’s pancreas helps the canine digest food and controls their blood sugar and metabolism levels. When the pancreas suddenly becomes inflamed (acute pancreatitis), this results in pain and swelling as the pancreas begins to digest itself.

How is Pancreatitis in Dogs Caused, and What Are the Risk Factors?

Pancreatitis in dogs can be caused by a number of factors, including:

• Obesity
• Hypothyroidism
• Certain toxins and medications
• High-fat diets (or the large introduction of high fatty foods in a short amount of time)

While pancreatitis can occur in any dog, certain breeds are more susceptible than others, such as cocker spaniels, mini schnauzers and mini poodles. Additionally, overweight, middle-age dogs and female canines may experience pancreatitis more often than others.

Veterinarians typically see an increase in pancreatitis around the holidays, as people generally share more meals with their dogs around these times. Canines who also get into the garbage have a higher risk of pancreatitis, therefore it is extremely important for pet owners to keep watch of their pets around the holidays and to make sure that their garbage cans are “dogproof.”

What Are Some Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

Common symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. Less common symptoms include:

• Diarrhea
• Gagging
• Irregular posture
• Restlessness
• Lethargy
• Swollen abdomen

How is Pancreatitis Diagnosed and Treated?

To diagnose pancreatitis in dogs, your veterinarian will evaluate your dog’s medical history and complete a thorough physical exam. Some diagnostic tests may also be performed which include chemistry tests, complete blood count, electrolyte tests, imaging studies and pancreas-specific tests which can help rule out or diagnose the disease.

Depending on severity, pancreatitis treatment may include:

• Hospitalization (in extreme cases 24-hour intensive care and monitoring may be necessary)
• Pain medications and anti-vomiting medications
• Intravenous fluids
• Antibiotics
• Food/diet and nutritional counseling
• Other medications depending on canine symptoms

Please note that treatment plans vary by pet, and certain diagnostic tests may be repeated to continually monitor your dog’s treatment progression.

At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from pancreatitis, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact us at our following locations:

Chillicothe: 309-273-1909
Dunlap: 309-439-9522
Dunlap II: 309-413-0527

Corneal Ulcers in Pets

A corneal ulcer is a common injury that happens to dogs and cats—if your best friend is constantly squinting or pawing at their eyes, they could have a corneal ulcer. This injury is typically caused by a foreign body in the eye or by trauma, infection, abnormal eye structure and inadequate tearing.

There are four layers to the cornea—the severity of this injury depends on how many different layers of the cornea have been affected. Ulcers that involve the outer layer typically heal in approximately seven days, while ulcers that go deeper can cause scarring, perforation of the cornea and even loss of vision.

What Are the Symptoms of Corneal Ulcers?

Symptoms of corneal ulcers include:

• Red, painful eye or eyes
• Watery eyes
• Squinting
• Light sensitivity
• Pawing or rubbing the eyes
• Eye that stays closed
• Discharge
• Film over the eye

Certain dogs are more likely to develop this problem. Here is a list of breeds that are more prone to corneal ulcers:

• Boston terriers
• Pugs
• Pekingese
• Boxers
• Bulldogs
• Shih tzus
• Breeds with short, flat faces

How Are Corneal Ulcers Diagnosed?

A thorough eye examination will be administered by your veterinarian, which will include inspecting the eye and the cornea—the doctor may also use diagnostic dyes to look for corneal ulcers or erosions. Additionally, some samples may be collected to be cultured for fungi and bacteria. Blood tests may also be performed to rule out viral infections.

How Are Corneal Ulcers Treated?

Treatment options will depend on the cause of the corneal ulcer. Deep ulcers may require surgery and hospitalization, while activity will need to be restricted. Your dog may have to wear a collar around their neck to keep them from pawing at their eyes. If the erosion is superficial, surgery may not be necessary, and instead the doctor may remove loose layers of the cornea and remove them with a cotton swab.

Antibiotics will usually be prescribed along with medications which are applied topically onto the pet’s eye. For inflammation and pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications will be provided, and in certain instances contact lenses may be inserted to minimize eyelid irritation. After any treatment, it is imperative to follow your veterinarian’s instructions.

At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from corneal ulcers, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact us at our following locations:

Chillicothe: 309-273-1909
Dunlap: 309-439-9522
Dunlap II: 309-413-0527