Tears supply the cornea with oxygen and nutrients; therefore they are essential to keep the cornea healthy. If the cornea is deprived of oxygen and food because of a lack of tear film, destructive changes occur quickly, leading to a condition called Dry Eye which vets refer to as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
The cornea can become pigmented, scarred, and ulcerated. Partial vision loss can also result. The eyes of dogs with Dry Eye burn and sting all the time just like ours do on a windy day. Diagnosis is made by a Schirmer tear test that measures how many tears the eye produces in one minute. In this case, low levels of tear production less than 15mm per minute are considered diagnostic.
Causes of Dog Dry Eye
Dog Dry Eye can result from surgical removal of the gland of the 3rd eyelid in Cherry Eye cases. Other causes include nerve damage to the eye, low circulating levels of thyroid hormone as can occur in Thyroid Disease, tear gland infections caused by the Canine Distemper Virus, and Immune System Diseases like Cancer.
Treatment of Dog Dry Eye
Topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat secondary bacterial infections of the dog’s eye and reduce corneal inflammation, respectively. Lubricating eye ointments such as Eye Restore help keep the cornea moist. The anti-cancer drug Cyclosporine effectively relieves signs for many dogs and often also causes an increase in actual tear production. Pilocarpine and the anti-cancer drug Interferon also effectively stimulate tear production in certain cases.
A surgical procedure called a Parotid Duct Transposition (PDT) is a worthwhile consideration for severe cases that do not respond to medication.
With consistent therapy, most cases of Dry Eye carry a good prognosis, but without treatment, recurrent corneal ulcers, bacterial infections, and even blindness can result.
Complementary Dog Dry Eye Treatment
Homeopathic Dog Dry Eye Remedy’s
Zincum metallicum 30c, given twice daily, may be helpful in cases of Dry Eye, especially when the treatment is used in conjunction with topical eye lubricants like Eye restore.
Essential Fatty Acids specifically supplying EPA and DHA can be helpful to boost tear production.
N-Acetyl Cysteine is an antioxidant and a free radical scavenger that may also be helpful in certain cases.
Warning: Benadryl is an antihistamine often given to dogs for itching and allergies but because Benadryl reduces tear production in the eyes it should be avoided in cases of Dry Eye.
About Dr. Carol
Dr. Carol is a pet health researcher, a Board Certified Anti-Aging Pet Health Diplomat, a published author and a practicing, holistic veterinarian in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
She welcomes new canine and feline patients.
Dr. Carol also offers pet health consultations and answers pet health questions and makes homemade pet diets by phone and e-mail for her online pet loving community.
Pet owners may contact Dr. Carol directly at her veterinary office toll free at 1-866-372-2765 to make an appointment for their dog(s) and/or cat(s) today.
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