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Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

Corneal dystrophy is a fancy medical term used to describe a relatively common disease that many different dog breeds can suffer from.  And because this is an inheritable disease, we wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what it is, how it’s diagnosed as well as some of the ways that it can be treated.

We’ll also want to…

Discuss some of the dogs that may be affected by this condition so that if you’re currently looking for a new pet, hopefully this article might be able to help you determine which “type” of dog you may want to consider as well as give you a few questions you may want to ask your breeder before making that all important decision.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is Corneal Dystrophy?

Usually when we’re trying to determine the meaning of a medical term that has several “parts” we here at IndulgeYouPet have found the easiest way to get the general “gist” of the term is by breaking down each part and defining the terms separately.

Corneal…

The “Corneal” part of Corneal Dystrophy is pretty easy because the “Corneal” is simply referring to the “Cornea” which is the transparent or clear part of the eye that acts as a protective outer covering.  Its primary function is to help protect the rest of the eye from dirt, bacteria or just about anything else that could get into the eye and cause problems.

Dystrophy…

Dystrophy on the other hand is a term used to describe a condition or disorder whereby an organ or body tissue begins to start deteriorating.  Which in the case of the condition that we’re discussing today would be the cornea.

The tricky part…

When it comes to discussing corneal dystrophy is that there are three different types each of which can cause your pet to suffer from vision impairment and an increased risk for a variety of other eye aliments including:

  • Corneal ulceration,
  • Bullous keratopathy
  • Eye infections
  • And much, much more!

Types of corneal dystrophy:
Epithelial Corneal Dystrophy

Epithelial Corneal Dystrophy is when the outermost layer of the cornea starts to deteriorate.

Stromal Dystrophy

Stromal dystrophy is when the cornea gets cloudy and corneal opacities form. This is easy to see in your dog’s eye right away. Sometimes this is sometimes referred to as cornea stroma.

Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy

And corneal endothelial dystrophy which occurs when the endothelium stops regulating the cornea’s fluid accurately and thus, swelling occurs within the cornea itself impairing vision.  A condition that is also commonly referred to as Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy or Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy.

Dogs at Risk

Just like all diseases and disorders that are genetic, corneal dystrophy is more common in some dogs than others. Those dog breeds that are at particularly high risk include:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Rough Collie
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Siberian Husky

It’s important to note that this is not a “complete” list of all the dog breeds that could be affected by corneal dystrophies which is why you’ll always want to do your own research about a particular dog breed before adopting your next pet.

Symptoms of Corneal Dystrophies

Now the symptoms can vary depending on the type of dystrophy we’re talking about but some of the symptoms might be:

  • Discoloration of eyes or rings in the cornea
  • Corneal Lipidosis
    • If your dog has yellowish eyes then it could be corneal lipidosis. This can be caused by corneal dystrophy, but also may be caused by another health problem that affects calcium and phosphorus. Your vet may have blood work done to determine any underlying health problems.
    • Lipid keratopathy may also be the cause of corneal lipidosis. This basically means that your dog probably has high blood cholesterol and thus has this. High cholesterol isn’t necessarily due to a high fat diet (though it could be!). It could be caused by Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism or a variety of other causes. The best thing to do is speak to your vet. The diagnosis period may take time since there are a lot of causes; be patient.

Diagnosis

Once you take your pet to the vet, you’ll likely have a lot of tests ahead, so here’s what you might expect:

  • Ophthalmic exam
  • Blood chemical profile exam
  • Complete Blood Count
  • Urinalysis
  • Slit Lamp Microscopy
  • Fluorescein stain

Through these tests you’ll be able to learn more about the cornea problem your dog faces as well as what kind of treatment plan will be necessary to help your pet get better.

Treatment

The treatment plan will depend on the type of corneal dystrophy and how far the corneal degeneration has reached. In some instances, your veterinary ophthalmologist may recommend a cornea transplant, however, this isn’t an option for all dogs, particularly because it’s not easy to find a cornea donor.

Other possible treatment options include:

  • Lenses for your dog’s eyes
  • Removing tags (in epithelial cornea dystrophy)
  • Flap Surgery of conjunctiva

Remember, the treatment will depend on a lot of factors. Your veterinarian will suggest what’s best for your dog.

Which brings us to…

A very important fact that you must take into consideration which is…
We here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals!

All we are is a bunch of folks who are passionate about animals and only what what’s best for them.  This is why if you have a “feeling” that something just isn’t “right” about your furry little companion, be sure to have him or her examined by a professional right way.

Or as we like to say…

“When in doubt, have a vet check it out!

Which brings us to the last…

Topic we wanted to discuss here in this article which is the importance in at least considering purchasing a pet insurance policy for your pet.

Because…

We here at IndulgeYourPet know for a fact that there are a lot of people out there that would very likely purchase a pet insurance policy if they fully understood what these types of policies cover and how much they cost.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, of course not.  But if yours someone who doesn’t have a “ton” of money sitting in the bank that will be able to cover the cost of a medical emergency for your “furry” family member, then perhaps a pet insurance policy “might” be right for you!

For more information about who we feel is currently offering some of the “best” pet insurance policies in the industry, be sure to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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