What if you had a bunch of eyelashes rubbing against your eye? Sounds awful, does it not? There is a common abnormality that can strike any dog, though certain purebreds are most prone to it.
It is called entropion a situation in which the eyelid rolls inward.
It can happen to either the upper or lower eyelid or both.
This causes a very painful eye irritation and can result in a perforation of the eye, causing removal of the eye itself.
Certain breeds seem to be susceptible such as:
- Labrador Retrievers
- Chow Chows
- Toy and Miniature Poodles
- Saint Bernards
- Great Danes
- English Bulldogs
- Bull Mastiffs
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retrievers
- Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
Entropion can also result from trauma, as well as age, but most often it is inherited through several as yet unidentified genes.
It often affects dogs under the age of one year and dogs especially bred for facial features, such as heavy folds are most vulnerable.
What are the symptoms? Most often you will notice your dog squinting a great deal, he/she may hold their eye shut a good deal of the time and the eye may tear a good bit.
The third eye lid may protrude and the dog's eyes may become cloudy and red.
A dog can become sensitive to light and may rub its eye a great deal.
Some dogs, especially those with may crinkles and folds on their face may have problems with their lower eyelids.
It is not very painful, but causes the lid to roll slightly inward towards the eye and blocks the tear duct drainage system.
Some flat-faced dogs will not even notice any discomfort.
There are several different types of secondary entropion:
- Spastic - a painful corneal or eyelid condition which can cause a spasms of the muscles surrounding the eye.
This causes pronounced squinting.
However, untreated conjunctivitis can also cause this condition.
- Scarring - caused by an injury to the eye, also known as cicatrical.
- Age-related - the loss of muscle tone and fat around the eye socket can cause the eye to sink deeper into it and cause the lower eyelid to roll back into the eye.
- Inherited condition - a less serious inherited condition is when the lower eyelid rolls outward.
This causes a problem of debris accumulating in the pocket that is formed and can cause infection.
- Conjunctivitis - can also result from the above mentioned condition, as the bacteria that forms in the pocket can lead to the inflammation.
What can be done? Veterinarians conduct extensive eye exams in an effort to determine the cause of the problem.
In many instances they may find ingrown eyelashes (I have had that problem many times) or eyelashes that are in abnormal positions, A vet may use a dye to check for any corneal ulceration and a topical anesthetic on the cornea and conjunctiva to eliminate spasms and to have a better opportunity to evaluate the structure of the eye.
Surgery can repair the problems and it is a relative easy surgery.
The doctor removes a small piece of skin from the eyelid and moves the lid into a normal position.
The dog wears a wonderful Elizabethan collar for about 12 to 14 days and you have to put on a topical medication and give the dog a few pain pills.
The surgery is fairly expensive (depending on the region you live in).
In fairly young puppies the vet may suture the eyelid until the puppy is at least 4 months old.
In puppies it is usually the lower lid that is affected.
However, in some cases an ointment can be applied until the puppy is old enough for surgery.
Each is an individual case and has to be treated as such, the important thing here is that it has to be treated.
Chows and Shar-Peis may also need a second surgery, as they grow older due to their extensive facial wrinkles.
Another thing to keep in mind if you are buying a dog to show, is that the AKC will not allow any dog that has had surgery to correct entropion to participate in its dog shows.
They can however appear in other AKC events such as agility obedience and track events.
It is also recommended that you do not breed a dog that has this inherited condition as you are only continuing a problem that will affect many more dogs.