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Dry Eyes in Dogs… What it is and how it can be diagnosed!

Now while dry eyes in dogs might not sound like the worst thing to happen to your pooch, trust us, it’s not fun either!

Because you see…

While your dog’s eyes are dry he may not be able to cry, he probably wants to because this can be a rather painful experience for you dog particularly because there’s not a ton of things that he or she can do on their own to help alleviate the symptoms that their experiencing.

This is why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what dry eyes or Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCA) in dogs is and hopefully shed some light on what it might be like to own a dog that is suffering from this condition.

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

What is dry eyes?

Dry Eyes in dogs, also called keratoconjunctivis sicca (KCA), occurs when tear production is reduced. This occurs when there is not enough liquid, i.e. tears, in the eye of the dog.

Tears are produced…

In a gland within the eyelids called the lacrimal gland, or tear and conjunctiva. Tears then clean and lubricate the cornea which is essential to the wellbeing and the health of the dog’s eye. Or in other words, suffering from “dry eyes” can lead to a lot of other eye problems latter on!

Cause of Dry Eyes

So, now that we know that “dry eyes” means no tears or fluid in the eyes, let’s now take a moment and discuss what can cause this problem to occur.

You see…

There is a gland, which is situated above and towards the outside edge of the eye, called the lacrimal gland, which produces ‘tears.’ Anything that causes an impairment of the capability of the lacrimal gland to produce sufficient quantities of tears can lead to ‘dry eye’.

Some common may include:

  • Immune diseases can cause harm, or damage, to the lacrimal gland. In this situation the immune system attacks the cells that produce the tears which then lead to less production. This is believed to be an inherited condition.
  • Diseases that are systemic, which means to affect the entire body rather than one specific organ, such as the canine distemper virus.
  • Certain medication like Suphomides, i.e. sulfa drugs, which are used as an antibacterial or anticonvulsant.
  • Hypothyroidism

Dogs that have…

“Cherry eye” (when the gland prolapses and then hangs out from the eye) resulting from a misguided surgical removal of prolapsed gland are also susceptible.

Affected Breeds

Now it is not completely understood why some dogs end up developing KCA while other dogs don’t, but there does seem to be some type of hereditary link because it is known that certain dog breeds will have a higher risk for developing this condition.  Affected dog breeds may include:

  • Bloodhound
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • English bulldog
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Samoyed
  • Shih Tzu
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Of course, this doesn’t mean these are the only dog breeds who will get dry eyes. Any breed of dog could wind up with dry eyes.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of “dry eye” in dogs

Dogs with KCA will have a greenish, mucoid (a thick ‘mucusy’ like) discharge from their eye. The discharge is a result of the overproduction of mucus as a means to the lubricate eye without the normal amount of tears.

This discharge results…

In a redness surrounding the eye. All of this then effects the sclera, which is the whites of the eye, and the conjunctive, which covers the inside of the eyelid.

If this is not…

Addressed rapidly the cornea will almost always become irritated which can be identified by a ‘bluish cast’ over the cornea.

Bacterial infections…

Of both the conjunctive and corneal ulceration (due to lack of tears) are some of the results if KCA is left untreated. This will then lead to chronic irritation and pain and eventual loss of integrity to the eye. If allowed to progress, untreated, it is most common for dogs with KCS to go blind.

Diagnosis Keratoconjunctivis Sicca (KCA) in dogs

Diagnosis of KCS under normal conditions is a simple matter.  A simple matter for a licensed veterinarian that is because he or she is going to want to “run” a few tests to see what is causing your dog so much trouble.

Now there is a test…

Which measures the “amount” of tears generated in each eye, with a small strip of per called the ‘Schirmer tear test.’ In the Schirmer tear test a dye is also used during the diagnosis to ascertain the integrity of the cornea. This will help your vet to know if your dog has dry eyes or if there is something else happening, like perhaps allergies or another condition.

Treatment of Dry Eyes in dogs

Now that your dog’s been diagnosed, it’s time to treat the problem.

Treatment before corneal ulceration occurs…

Is often limited to the cost of the Schirmer tear diagnosis which is $90-$120. Then there is the monthly cost of the medication necessary to treat KCS which ranges from $20-$70 a month for the life of the dog. Added to that is the cost of regular vet checkups to check on the ulcer and any additional growth.

After corneal ulceration occurs…

If the veterinarian believes it is possible to remove the ulcer, the cost of the surgery is anywhere from $200-$2000.

Now this is…

Where we usually like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who are really passionate about animals and only want to see what’s best for them .  For this reason, if you suspect that your pet may be suffering from fold dermatitis (or any other health concern) do what we do and…

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

Because not only is getting your pet the professional care that they need right away the right thing to do, it can also be the most cost-effective thing to do as well!

Another cost-effective step…

You can take for your home is to be sure the purchase a pet insurance policy once your pet is healthy.  You see, we here at IndulgeYourPet feel that a pet insurance policy is a must for any responsible pet owner who doesn’t have thousands of dollars readily available to pay for the treatment of their loved ones.

Because while…

Having a pet that is diagnosed with dry eye isn’t the most expensive thing in the world, there are a lot of other common aliments that could affect your pet that could break the bank!

But if you have…

A quality pet insurance policy in place, having such a diagnosis occur during your pet’s life doesn’t have to be a horrific financial event as well.

For more information on who we currently “feel” offers the “best” pet insurance policies in the industry, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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