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More eye conditions in your pet

Nadine Lober

In this week’s column, some questions about our dogs’ eye and eye-related ailments will be answered.

What is that red pea size lump in the corner of my dog’s eye?

This is the gland of the third eyelid. That third eyelid is the one that you can see in the corner of your pet’s eye. Sometimes when your pet has a fever it becomes more obvious.

This gland is anchored by a fibrous attachment. Some breeds have a weaker attachment and the gland tends to prolapse out of the socket where it lies. These breeds are cocker spaniels, beagles, lhasas, shih-tzus and bloodhounds.-

When the gland is prolapsed, the symptoms can vary from discomfort to dessication of the gland. You may ask, “Why don’t we just surgically remove the gland?’ Sometimes it is necessary to do so if the gland is damaged or it is impossible to surgically replace it.

But we try to keep the third eyelid gland because it is responsible for 50 percent of tear production. Once surgically removed, it is important to keep that eye lubricated.

Why are my dog’s eyes so dry looking?

Besides the obvious infections and allergies that I discussed in my last article, there is a specific condition that occurs called “keratoconjuctivitis sicca,” or KCS.-

In layman’s terms it is called “dry eye.’ It is a deficiency of tears resulting in drying and inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva. It is a common problem in dogs and less common in cats. The predisposed dog breeds are cockers, bulldogs, westies, lhasos and shih-tzus.

There are various causes for this disease. The most common cause is immunological, possibly due to chronic allergies or other immune problems causing inflammation.

The condition can be congenital, but also drug-induced – some sulfa drugs can cause drying of the eye. It can also be caused by removal of the third-eyelid gland, by systemic diseases such as distemper or by chronic conjunctivitis.

The symptoms always consist of dryness and, therefore, irritation as the eyelid closes over the surface of the eye. This leads to discomfort, excessive blinking and, potentially, damage to the cornea from the rubbing of the eyelid.-

The rubbing can cause little scratches on the cornea that the eye will try to heal on its own by sending out blood vessels to the affected area. This is followed with pigmentation that can eventually cover the entire surface of the eye or cornea, leading to blindness in the extreme case.

But this is a simple disease to diagnose. The veterinarian will measure the amount of tears that your pet can produce and compare this with a normal value. Then, it is important to stain the eye to rule out the presence of any ulcers or scratches.

Treatment consists of some special eye medication and it is imperative to keep your pet on this medication every day and as many times as your veterinarian has prescribed. Eventually, as the eye heals, the medication can be given less frequently.

The eyes usually heal up, but this is a permanent condition that will always need to be monitored.

Most importantly, don’t ever wait too long to seek medical attention for an eye problem with your pet if the condition is not healing.

Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at 949-7972.


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