Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, known simply as dry eyes, affects up to 1.52% of dogs in North America. It is a painful condition, more common in females aged 4 to 6 years. Here’s what you need to know.
- Immune system problems. For around 80% of dogs, this is the cause of dry eyes.
- Chronic disease. A viral infection or other disease can lead to dry eyes.
- Metabolic problems. Dogs with diabetes and hypothyroidism may develop dry eyes as a complication.
- Drug-related. Certain drugs can lead to toxicity issues that manifest, in part, in this eye problem.
- Idiopathic. Some dogs can simply develop dry eye without a clear cause.
- A genetic ocular defect. This rare cause occurs when dogs are born with dry eyes.
- Infections. A central nervous system infection can affect the tear glands.
- Iatrogenic. For some dogs who require the removal of their third eyelid due to cherry eye, dry eyes are a common result.
- Radiation. Dogs who have direct and frequent contact with sources of radiation, such as X-rays, can develop dry eyes in rare occasions.
- Breed. Certain pedigree breeds are at a higher risk of developing dry eyes. Talk to your vet about your dog’s risk.
- Swollen eye and blood vessel surfaces
- Rubbing the eyes or face
- Stick eyes
- Cloudy eyes
- Dull eyes
- Dried mucus or pus around the eye
- Vision loss
- Prominent third eyelid
- Eye ulcers
- Antibiotic Drops. These are typically used in order to solve secondary infections before the use of immunosuppressants.
- Artificial Tears. Tear substitutes may be used in order to help stimulate the tissue in a dog’s eyes. There are three kinds; the best one for your dog will be decided by a vet.
- Cyclosporine. This immunosuppressant must usually be used for 2-3 months.
- Surgery. This is a last-resort option if no less invasive treatments work.
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