Caring for your dog’s eye health for Dry Eye Awareness Month
We know Dry Eye is a condition that affects humans but our dogs can experience it too
It’s a problem that only 45 per cent of owners are even aware of, but if it’s undetected, it can lead to blindness and even pets losing their eyes.
Trendy breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs who have eyes that protrude from the side of the head are more vulnerable, as are Cocker and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Westies, and Pekingese dogs.
Pugs and Pekingeses can’t fully close their eyes meaning the centre dries out, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are born without the gland that produces tear fluid and Cocker Spaniels are prone to an autoimmune disease that attacks the tear gland.
One in five of the vulnerable breeds and five per cent of all dogs suffer with Dry Eye at some stage in their life and worryingly it can lead to infections, ulcers and in extreme cases, dogs have had to have their eyes removed.
Nicole Paprotny had to have her Labrador Boxer cross Scully’s eyes removed after he suffered Dry Eye
He suffered with conjunctivitis in 2015, and despite Nicole, 30, a vet nurse from East Lothian, trying several treatment and drops, he stopped producing tears.
Scully, 13, had an operation to direct his salivary glands to his eyes but this failed too, so he had his left eye removed. Then two months later, the condition affected his right eye. Nicole was faced with either putting him to sleep or having it removed.
She said: “Scully quickly adapted to life without his sight. Within two weeks he was playing fetch, as he listens to where his toy drops on the ground and goes to pick it up.
“Scully is so happy, and still enjoys his walks. He navigates his way around the house through his sense of smell and senses where obstacles are. It was heartbreaking but I’m so pleased I took the decision I did.”
Owners are urged to be on their guard for symptoms
These include eyes appearing red and sore, repeated cases of conjunctivitis, excessive blinking or rubbing of the eyes, discharge, and the eyes having a dry and dull appearance.
I know the photos below are pretty gruesome but they help hit home how nasty the condition can be.
A deep pinpoint ulcer
Chris Dixon, a pet ophthalmologist at Veterinary Vision says owner should be vigilant
He explained: “Unfortunately if cases go unnoticed, dogs can develop long-term eye damage as a result.
“Early diagnosis is essential and can have a significant impact on the long-term prognosis for affected pets.
“Your vet can perform a simple test in just a few minutes to detect if your dog has Dry Eye, and if he or she is one of the predisposed breeds it is highly recommended that your dog is tested annually.”
Owners who are concerned should see their vet and they often recommend using artificial tears such as Remend Dry Eye lubricant drops. These can be used long term to make sure the dog’s eyes remain healthy.