Many common eye problems in dogs are treatable
Dogs of any breed can have issues with their eyes, either due to injury, infections or genetic conditions; some breeds are more likely to have eye problems than others. Of course dogs with very prominent eyes are more likely to have eye injuries, just because of the shape of the eye in relation to the skull and face. The most common eye problems in dogs are typically treatable, and even some of the genetic or congenital conditions of the eyes can be adverted with surgical correction. Researching each dog breed and checking the history of any eye or vision problem in either parent line when purchasing a puppy is important.
Canine eye problems are common, and can range from something as simple and easy to treat as conjunctiva (a minor soreness in the supporting tissue around the eye) to something much more severe like a corneal ulcer (where the internal contents of the eye can actually protrude through the corneal surface). Unfortunately, owners often put their dogs at risk when uncertain which problems require immediate medical attention and which ones are less severe. It is so difficult to evaluate the true nature or determine the actual severity of an eye problem simply by an owner's verbal description. Therefore, most veterinarians and their staff realize the importance of expediting calls regarding eye problems, to help ensure the dog gets the best treatment.
Let's take the “squinting dog” as an example. Surely any dog might develop a mild irritation in an eye and squint for a few moments; extra tear production is then probably, too. However, without direct examination of the eye and surrounding structures, no one (not even a Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology) would know if the squinting is due to a tiny scratch on the cornea, a cinder hiding beneath the third eyelid or a penetrating wound from an eye injury. Without an examination, something that looks as harmless as an innocent looking squint could be the very first signs of systemic diseases, such as Blastomycosis or cancer.
A good general rule for all dog owners to follow is to have any eye or adjacent tissue dysfunction evaluated immediately by a veterinarian. With eye injuries, the sooner you identify the specific problems and treat them, the better the chance of saving eye function.
During routine physical exams, internal disorders are apparent with subtle changes in the normal appearance of eye structures. A yellowish appearance of the normally white sclera, undetected by the pet's caretaker, signals to the veterinarian that there is likely to be a liver or red blood cell dysfunction. A faint haziness in the normally transparent cornea can prompt the need to evaluate liver or pancreas function. Tumors of any kind in the eye structures can grow and need medical attention at the earliest possible time in their development.
If you are about to acquire a new puppy, be sure to learn about common eye disorders for the breed you have chosen. For example, Cocker Spaniels frequently develop dry eye and glaucoma. Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, and Boston Terriers are breeds that often develop cataracts. If a potential owner is aware that the breed they are interested in has inherited eye problems, they can educate themselves about indicating signs. The more you know about your preferred breed the better your chances of obtaining a healthy dog.
Here is a list of some common ocular problems found in puppies. Familiarize with these disorders and prepare to closely scrutinize any new puppy for signs of these common difficulties:
Conditions that the owner may think are trivial may in fact be the early stages of something more serious. Often dogs are stoic and do not exhibit blatant signs of pain. Don't be a fool to subtle eye problems; they may not be so innocent after all. Do a thorough inspection of any new pup's eyes and associated structures before you decide to make it a part of your “family” or breeding stock. With any dog, if ordinary first aid provides no improvement in eye discomfort within 12 hours, be sure to obtain a veterinarian's evaluation immediately.
Ordinary Eye Wash (Sterile Buffered Saline) is proper to use in a dog's eye to clean the eye, but it will not be helpful for an inflamed, sore eye. For a red, sore eye seek veterinary attention immediately. You should not use Visine. It is not therapeutic; it merely makes the eyes less red for a short time. It can also be potentially harmful in some conditions. Artificial tear drops or ointments are usually not harmful and may be soothing for some dry eye conditions, but we urge advice of a veterinarian in any case.
Any eye abnormalities need veterinarian attention as soon as possible. Remember some eye conditions can result in permanent blindness, so early treatment is imperative.
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