Common Eye Problems in Dogs

Did you know a dog’s eye can develop more than just cataracs of the eye? Eye conditions have a tendency to worsen progressively, so it is important to recognize and discuss any concerns that you might have about your dog’s eyes with your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

 

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Eyelid Protrusion (Cherry Eye)

A dog has three eyelids. Two are readily visible and an extra one, called the third eyelid, normally hides from view just below the inner corner of the eye. The third eyelid is home to the tear producing gland that is normally hidden. However, some dogs have a congenital weakness of the ligaments that hold it in place. When the ligaments are weakened, the gland pops out of its normal location and looks much like a “cherry” at the inner corner of the eye. Due to it being a condition is due to genetics, both eyes are often affected over time. Treatment of cherry eye is simple— a veterinarian will perform simple surgery to attach the gland back to normal position.

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Corneal Wounds

The surface of the eye is covered by the cornea, which is a clear, skin-like tissue. Much like skin, the cornea can be injured. Lacerations (cuts), punctures, and ulcers are all quite common in dogs. Trauma to the eye is often to blame, like when a dog runs through tall grass and is poked in the eye. In other cases, other problems such as poor tear production or abnormal anatomy can put a dog at risk for corneal damage. A dog with a corneal wound will rub the affected eye and squint due to pain. The eye may also appear red and have excessive drainage. Treatment involves prevention or treatment of infections with antibiotic eye drops or ointments, managing pain, or simply giving the cornea time to heal. In severe cases of corneal wounds, surgery or other treatments may be needed to protect or repair the cornea.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) or Dry Eye

When a dog develops a disease called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or dry eye, the tear glands produce fewer tears than what is normal. Tears are important because they remove potentially damaging material from the surface of the eye and nourish corneal tissues. Believe it or not, a lack of tears can cause bigger problems, such as corneal ulcers, chronic drainage of mucus from the eyes, and pain. Treatment in mild cases of KCS can often be managed with frequent application of an artificial tear solution, but medications that stimulate tear production (i.e. cyclosporine) are usually necessary. In severe cases, one option is to perform a surgery that redirects a duct carrying saliva to moisten the eye.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

The conjunctiva are the mucus membranes that cover the inside of a dog’s eyelids, both sides of the third eyelid and some parts of the eyeball itself. Conjunctivitis and Pink Eye are interchangeable terms that simply mean inflammation of the conjunctiva. The symptoms of conjunctivitis include reddened and swollen conjunctiva, eye drainage, and discomfort.

Conjunctivitis is more of a symptom of a disease, not a disease itself. Many conditions in dogs cause conjunctivitis, including physical irritation (like dust or inward growing eyelashes), infections (bacterial and viral) and allergic reactions.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Sterile saline eye washes can be used to flush irritants from the eye. Bacterial eye infections are usually resolved when treated with the appropriate prescribed antibiotic eye drop or ointment. The chances of catching pink eye from your dog is very low, but it makes perfect sense to wash your hands thorough after applying your dog’s eye medications. Make an appointment with your vet if your dog’s conjunctivitis worsens or fails to resolve over the course of a day or two.

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Glaucoma

Production and drainage of fluid is balanced with precision to maintain constant pressure in the eye. Glaucoma occurs when this balance is disrupted and pressure increases. Symptoms include pain, eye redness, increased tear production, a visible third eyelid, corneal cloudiness, dilated pupils, and in advanced cases, an enlarged eye.

Treatment may involve a combination of topical or oral medications that decrease inflammation, absorb fluid from the eye, lower fluid production within the eye and promote drainage of fluid from the eye. In some cases, surgery is also a considerable option. Do not delay in contacting your veterinarian if you are worried your dog may have glaucoma, as it can result in blindness.

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Entropion

Eyelids that roll inwards is what is called entropion. Entropion causes hair to rub on the surface of the eye, resulting in pain, increased tear production, and eventually damage to the cornea. Entropion can develop as a result of chronic squinting due to discomfort or eyelid scarring. It can also be a congenital problem. A veterinarian can temporarily suture the eyelids to a more normal position (eyelid tacking) if entropion has occurred in result of a recoverable condition. Otherwise, there is surgery available to permanently fix the eyelid.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can be hard to spot. It is a condition that causes dogs to gradually become blind over time while their eyes remain to appear normal. The first noticeable symptom of PRA is with difficulty seeing at night. Unfortunately, no effective treatment exists for PRA, but the condition is painless and dogs generally adapt extremely well to becoming blind.

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Cataracts

Cataracts block light from reaching the back of the eye, resulting in poor vision or blindness, depending on severity. Cataracts are often confused with lenticular sclerosis—a normal change for aging dogs that affects a dog’s lenses. Both conditions give the black center of the eye (pupils) a white, grey, or milky appearance. However, one can tell with a standard eye exam performed by your veterinarian. Cataract surgery is available when a dog’s vision is severely compromised, otherwise most dogs adapt very well to ailing vision.


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How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

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Step one

Pick the right time.

Brush your dog's teeth when they are calm and relaxed. Your goal is to set a routine. Working up to brushing daily is ideal. But if their mouth is healthy, even three days a week can make a difference. Without brushing, plaque can build up, putting your dog at risk for bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. It can also cause painful infection. Severe infection can spread, causing life-threatening conditions.

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Step two

Collect your tools.

You'll want to use a toothbrush made for dogs (pick one up at your next vet visit with us!). The bristles are softer and specially angled. Finger brushes can work well for dogs under 30 pounds. For larger dogs, longer handles can give you better reach. Be sure to use dog toothpaste, too. It comes in dog-friendly flavors like poultry or peanut butter. Never use human toothpaste; it contains ingredients that may hurt your dog's stomach.

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Step three

Assume the position for optimal control.

Make sure you're in a spot where your dog is comfortable. Don't stand above your dog, hold them down, or take a threatening stance. Instead, try kneeling or sitting in front of or to the side of them. Gauge your dog's anxiety level. If they seem upset, stop, and try again later. You may need to work on mastering each of the following steps over time.

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Step Four

Get them used to you touching their gums.

Test your dog's willingness to have you touch their mouth by rubbing your finger along their upper gums and teeth. This will help their get used to the feel of something against their teeth. Use light pressure. You may need to get their comfortable with this over a few sessions before moving on.

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Step Five

Test toothpaste taste and texture.

Put some dog toothpaste on your fingertip. Let your dog lick the toothpaste from your fingertip so that they can get used to the texture and taste.

 

Step Six

Test toothbrush mouthfeel.

When pup is used to you opening and touching their mouth, start using the toothpaste and toothbrush together. Lift their upper lip.

Step Seven

End on a positive note.

When you're finished brushing your dog's teeth, reward them with their favorite treat or extra attention. Also remember that good dental care doesn't end with brushing. Certain chews and treats can also help you fight plaque buildup. Don't forget to schedule regular professional dental cleanings. Talk with your veterinarian about how often is right for your dog.


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How often should you bathe your dog?

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Have you ever watched your pup lick or chew their coat, or even roll around on the ground? These are your pup’s way of keeping clean, but sometimes a little help goes a long way.

 

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How often should you bathe your dog?

It depends. Unless your dog has skins problems, there is no specific need to bathe a dog except to improve their general smell. The recommended routine for dog’s with normal skin is once a month with dog shampoo or baby shampoo. If you want to bathe your dog more often than once a month, use a soap-free or moisturizing shampoo to prevent the skin from becoming dry.

 

Special shampoos we sell on our shelves:

 

Bathing steps

  1. First, brush down your pet to remove all dead hair and mats.
  2. Fill a tub or sink with three to four inches of lukewarm water.
  3. Use a spray hose, large pitcher, or unbreakable cup to wet down your pet. Take care not to spray or pour water directly in their ears, eyes, or nose.
  4. Massage shampoo gently from head to tail. Rinse and repeat as needed.
  5. For a thorough dry, give your pet a good rub with a large towel.

Note: For dogs with loose facial skin or wrinkles, clean the folds with damp cotton and dry thoroughly between the folds. This will prevent dirt and bacteria from causing irritation and infection.

 

No appointment necessary. Walk-ins welcome!

Don’t have time or the space to bathe your pup? We also offer grooming services (baths, nail trims, ear cleanings, and anal gland expression). No appointment necessary. Walk-ins welcome!


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The life threatening veterinary emergency of urinary obstruction.

Urinary obstruction can be a life threatening veterinary emergency. This is especially fatal to male cats, where the inability to urinate leads to a rapid buildup of toxic substances that if left untreated can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and death.

 

What is: urinary obstruction?

Urinary obstructions may occur in cats, dogs, and other species such as ferrets. Although males are commonly affected, it can occur in both males and females. Caused typically by bladder stones that are lodged in the urethra, it prevents the passage of urine. It can also be caused by muscle spasms in the urethra, cystitis, mucous plugs, and even certain cancers.

 

What are the signs of: urinary obstruction?

Signs in both dogs and cats are similar. They will often be straining to urinate only to produce only a few drops or no urinate at all. Many animals will appear to be in pain as they attempt to urinate or may vocalize this pain. In cats, it may also cause extreme lethargy, vomiting, or even collapse. Check the litter box for signs of no urine or just a few discolored drops of urine.

 

What to do if you suspect: urinary obstruction?

Left untreated, especially in male cats, can be deemed particularly life threatening. With appropriate and rapid treatment, most pets can be saved. Because it is difficult for owners to differentiate between a urinary obstruction and the less serious condition of a bladder infection, it is advised that you get your pet to the vet as soon as possible for an examination.

 

How is urinary obstruction treated?

Initial treatment is done by stabilizing the pet, often through intravenous fluids and pain medications. Once stabilized, then they are sedated and a urinary catheter is placed in the urethra to unblock it. Once achieved, your pet will be treated with the appropriate fluids or other medications that are required depending on your pet’s individual condition. The next step is to review why your pet became blocked in the first place. Is it cystitis and will need medical management? Is it bladder stones that will require surgical removal? From that point on, your vet will devise a tailored treatment pertaining to your pet’s current condition.


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There's An App For That: Pet Care In Your Pocket

Smartphones, when smartly employed, are a powerful but often overlooked way to enhance patient care and client perceptions. Following are 5 ways to improve patient care by leveraging clients’ smartphones.

 

There's an app for that!

Following are some of the many apps clients can use that will help them and their veterinary team provide better care for their pets.

The App The Application

Evernote

Google Keep

Clients can keep digital journals of the pet’s activities

BPM Tap

VetCalc+

Clients can use to check their pet’s heart or respiratory rate

RVC Pet Epilepsy Tracker

RVC Pet Diabetes

Both help clients keep disease logs and remind them about specific disease care (eg, injection sites and times for diabetic pets)
Medisafe Meds & Pill Reminder Clients can track multiple medications
Vet2Pet
PetDesk
Clients can use for scheduling appointments, ordering medications and pet food, and more

Pet Poison Helpline

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Both provide clients with information on pet toxicity and connect pet owners with a poison control center
SloPro Allows clients to video and document pet injuries (eg, lameness) in slow motion

 

Monitoring Diseases

At-home management of certain diseases can overwhelm clients. Smartphones offer a lot of ways of easing the overload that comes with rigorously detailed treatments.


Basic applications like Evernote and Google Keep enable clients to keep digital journals of their pet’s activities that can be easily shared with their vet and remain in sync across devices.


Apps like BPM Tap or VetCalc+ have built-in tempo counters that allow clients to simply tap the screen corresponding to the heart or respiratory rate they are trying to count. These apps automatically output the rate based on the taps, and some will even store logs.


Some organizations are leading the way in disease-specific apps. The Royal Veterinary College has 2 apps worth checking out: RVC Pet Epilepsy Tracker6 and RVC Pet Diabetes.7 Both can help clients keep disease logs, access trusted reference information, and store the practice’s contact information. The diabetes app helps remind clients to rotate injection sites, provides graphical displays of glucose measurements, and even incorporates a validated tool to help track quality of life. Simply search the app store for “Royal Veterinary College.”


 

Helping with Medications

Clients dealing with pets on multiple medications may benefit from one of the many apps available that help organize and remind pet owners. One stand-out app, Medisafe Meds & Pill Reminder, has a visual interface that imitates a pill box that is easy to use and is particularly helpful because clients can track their own medications, other family member medications, and pet medications all in one place.

 

Accessing Trusted Information

Google, although the fastest way to get an answer, is not always the safe or right answer. Always look to trusted reference resources, like Pet Poison Helpline and ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Each has their own apps, which provide information on pet toxicity.

 

Built-In Go-Tos

Last but not least, look no further than the built-in functionality of most modern smartphones. Lights, cameras, microphones, speakers, GPS, and accelerometers extend superpowers to those who hold these tiny pocket computers.

The camera app is a useful tool that allows clients who are describing findings. Pro-tip: Record with video rather than still photography. Even when documenting skin lesions, live video can assist the veterinary team by giving clearer context. Apps like SloPro are available to help clients document video in slow motion (eg, lameness documentation at home).


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