Dogs, just like humans, are susceptible to a variety of eye diseases that range in severity from minor conjunctivitis to ocular growths. Understanding the difference between an ordinary and an ill canine eye is critical so that you can recognize problems with your dogs eyes before they get even more harsh, and get the appropriate treatment when needed.
External Eye Disease in Dogs Eyes
There are a few diseases or conditions that may affect the external eye, which comprises the eyelids and conjunctiva, the cornea, and the sclera. Illnesses of the external eye are very common, much more so than those of the internal eye.
Bacterial Infections in Dogs Eyes
Bacterial diseases of the conjunctiva or cornea — referred to as conjunctivitis and keratitis respectively — frequently cause redness and a thick, mucous discharge from the eye. Conjunctivitis will also cause swollen eyelids and excessive redness on the inside of the eyelid.
External Eye Injuries
Traumatic wounds such as corneal ulcerations or abrasions will often cause unnecessary watering of the eye, as well as pain. A dog with an irritated eye will generally squint and rub or paw at the affected eye.
Dry eye — a condition which causes the tear gland to malfunction and makes the eye intolerably dry — causes a surplus of thick, stringy mucous across the eye. Dry eye also in time causes melanin pigment to be deposited in the cornea secondary to chronic inflammation. This black pigment can be very conspicuous in some dogs, and can eventually cover the whole cornea.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Illnesses of the external eye are usually quite straightforward to diagnose with tests like a fluorescein stain, which diagnoses corneal ulcers, and a Schirmer tear test, which helps to count out dry eye. Treatment of external eye illnesses is mostly in the form of topical drops or ointments.
Internal Eye Disease in Dogs Eyes
Illnesses of the internal eye are less common, but often more serious and more likely to threaten vision and integrity of the eye than external eye sicknesses. It is usually much tougher to recognize issues with the inside of the eye.
Redness of the inner eye, which is called uveitis, can happen secondary to a bunch of issues, and is usually recognized because of an unnatural kind of red tint to the iris or inside of the eye.
Glaucoma in Dogs Eyes
Glaucoma, which is just an increased pressure within the eye, may also be secondary to a number of underlying causes. It is generally noticed by the dog keeper when the eye becomes enlarged thanks to the excess pressure.
Diseases of the retina, such as atrophy or retinal detachment, are very serious in that they threaten to render the dog permanently blind. Sadly, the first outward clinical sign of retinal illness is often blindness or partial blindness.
Understanding the varied symptoms of eye disease in dogs is necessary to all dog owners so that if a problem appears it can be addressed before it becomes grim. If you notice any symptoms of external eye disease, for example watering, discharge, squinting, or pigment; or of internal eye disease, such as an enlarged eye, a unnatural tint to the iris or inner eye, or blindness, you must seek veterinary attention straight away.
Cathy Doggins is the most active contributor to the Dog Health Guide, a leading source of information on dog sicknesses and conditions. She has written many articles on dog eyes. When not caring for the canine members of her family, Cathy can be discovered volunteering at a local shelter or talking for animal rights.