When health problems occur with your dog, as an owner, you can immediately begin panic and worry if you’re unaware of what the issue actually is. Today we are going to look at the problem of Entropion, which is one of the most painful eye problems a dog can experience.
The key is to give you an insight into what you need to be aware of, what causes it, what symptoms to look for and what is the best way to treat your dog in order to keep its eyesight fit and healthy.
So What Is It?
Entropion is when the edge or corner of your animal’s eyelid(s) rolls inwards and the hair on the eyelid rubs against the eyeball. This as a result creates irritation, a lot of discomfort and it can lead to severe damage to the cornea. If entropion isn't treated, permanent scarring can occur and the worst case scenario is that your dog will be blind. It is worth noting that it’s uncommon for dogs to have entropion in just one eye as typically it affects both eyes. Whilst both the lower and upper eyelids can be affected, it's more frequently experienced in the lower lids.
How Is It Caused?
For the majority of dog breeds, entropion is a genetic condition and is often occurs in newborn puppies, which is why breeders need to be very aware of this. In the cases that it is hereditary (but not present at birth) it can later develop, which usually happens within the first year of the puppy’s life. In addition, it can be brought about through other eye health problems or diseases such as eyelid spasms, eyelid injuries, infections, ageing and things like chronic inflammation. This is known as secondary Entropion, if it’s not directly caused in the first instance.
The giveaway symptom of entropion is the inward rolling of the eyelids as mentioned above, but there are also other signs to look out for:
- Blinking or squinting.
- Signs of pain.
- Heavy discharge.
- Running, watery eyes.
- Bloodshot looking eyes.
- Corneal ulcers, abrasions, rupture.
- Swollen eyelids.
- Your dog trying to rub the area.
You will naturally notice if something is wrong with your dog and if you do start to see signs of Entropion, monitor it closely. If the pain continues, seek help from your vet.
You will naturally notice if something is wrong with your dog and if you do start to see signs of Entropion, monitor it closely. If the pain continues, immediately seek help from your vet and local surgery.
Your vet will inspect your dog’s eyes but as there is a clear tell-tale sign when it comes to entropion, due to the curling-in of the edge of your dog's eyelid, it will make diagnosis relatively easy. Your vet may also place a few drops of anaesthetic in your pet's eyes to ease the pain and allow him to carry out an in-depth examination.
For peace of mind, the vet will look for signs of corneal damage to determine the best treatment options. This is usually done by dropping a dye onto the eyeball. If there are any irregularities on the surface of the eye, the dye works by highlighting any problems as it clusters around any abrasions or damage.
Entropion is a highly manageable condition. You should be given prescribed ointments or eye drops to help lubricate and soothe the eye. This will reduce any inflammation and possible irritation, however, please note it won't fully resolve the problem itself.
When it comes to treatment, it unfortunately almost always means surgery will be needed which is more commonly known as blepharoplasty. Basically what will happen is that a small 'V' shape will be cut out of the lid and the two edges are then sewn together to pull and roll the deformed eyelid back into line and away from the eyeball. If it is a puppy who has the condition, surgery won’t be performed until the dog is fully grown – there are a temporary measure that can be taken in the meantime.
Following the surgery, your dog will be subjected to the dreaded lampshade for a while to prevent it scratching away at the stitches and any accidental damage. It will also need a few follow-up checks so that the vet can remove the stitches and check that the healing process is going the way it should.
Can It Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, however, steps can be taken. For example, it should stem from the top, where responsible breeders should take precautions not to breed from dogs that have a history of entropion. Top breeders will also carry out CERF testing (Canine Eye Registration Foundation).
Therefore, when you do get in touch with a dog breeder for when you’re interested in getting your first or next pup, it's best to establish whether or not they tested for clear eyes before you considering whether to get one from them.
If you miss entropion and it doesn’t get treated, the rubbing of the fur against the eye can result in serious damage to the cornea and can ultimately lead to blindness, which is something that we hope never happens. The good news, however, is that it is easily noticeable so you should be able to catch it and get the problem sorted in a short space of time. That way, you prevent your dog from suffering and you can worry less about its health.