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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 puppy, trust us, it’s not fun either! Because you see, while your dog’s eyes are dr, he may not be able to cr; he probably wants to because this can be a rather painful experience for your dog, mainly because there are not a ton of things that they can do on their own to help alleviate the symptoms that their experiencing.

This is why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss precisely 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 suffering from this condition.

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

What does it mean to have “dry eyes”?

Dry Eyes in dogs, called keratoconjunctivis sicca (KCA), occur when tear production is reduced. This happens 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 well-being and the health of the dog’s eye. In other words, suffering from “dry eyes” can lead to many other eye problems later on!

Cause of Dry Eyes

So, now that we know that “dry eyes” means no tears or fluid in the eye, let’s now take a moment and discuss what can cause this problem to occur. You see, a gland 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 lacrimal gland’s capability to produce sufficient tears can lead to ‘dry eye.’

Some common causes 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, leading to less production. This is believed to be an inherited condition.
  • Diseases that are systemic, which means they affect the entire body rather than one specific organ, such as the canine distemper virus.
  • Specific medications like Suphomides, i.e., sulfa drugs, are used as antibacterial or anticonvulsants.
  • Hypothyroidism.

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

Commonly Affected Breeds

It is not entirely understood why some dogs develop KCA while others don’t. Still, there does seem to be some hereditary link because it is known that certain dog breeds will have a higher risk of developing this condition. Affected dog breeds may include:

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 release results from the overproduction of mucus to lubricate the eye without the average amount of tears. This discharge results in a redness surrounding the eye. All of this then affects 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…

The conjunctiva and corneal ulceration (due to lack of tears) are some 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 Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCA) in dogs

Diagnosis of KCS under normal conditions is a simple matter. A simple point for a licensed veterinarian is that they will 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 know if your dog has dry eyes or something else is happening, like allergies or another condition.

Treatment Options

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

Treatment before corneal ulceration occurs…It is often limited to the cost of the Schirmer tear diagnosis,s 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 dog’s life. Added to that is the price 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 surgery costs anywhere from $200-$2000. This is where we usually like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all passionate about animals and only want to see what’s best for them. For this reason, if you suspect 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 they need right away the right thing to do, but it can also be the most cost-effective!

Another cost-effective step…

You can take it to your home. Be sure to 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. While having a pet diagnosed with dry eye isn’t the most expensive thing in the world, many other common ailments could affect your pet and break the bank!

But if you have a quality pet insurance policy, having such a diagnosis occur during your pet’s life doesn’t have to be a horrific financial event.

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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