Dry Eye in Dogs

Dogs can experience dry eye, especially if they are older or have had eye trauma. This condition occurs when the glands that produce moisture in the eye do not work properly. Dogs with dry eye usually experience symptoms like redness, itching, and squinting.

Dry Eye, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), is a disease in which there are abnormally low levels of tear production by the lacrimal glands.

This causes the eyes to become dry, irritated and painful. Dry Eye can be caused by various factors including genetics, environmental factors such as air conditioning and windy conditions, or trauma to the eye.

Signs of Dry Eye include:

  • Excessive blinking
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Redness of the eye(s) with increased tearing when exposed to light

It can cause ulcerations and scarring of the cornea and if left untreated, it can result in blindness.

Due to the nature of the condition, it can cause ulcerations and scarring of the cornea. If left untreated, this may result in blindness. The standard treatment for dry eye is medication such as cyclosporine drops or ophthalmic lubricants. These medications are available through your veterinarian’s office and are usually safe to use long-term if needed.

Dry eye can actually cause your dog’s eyes to become inflamed and irritated, resulting in excess tearing, squinting and pawing at his eye(s).

If your dog has dry eye symptoms, consult with a veterinarian for the best treatment plan for him.

If you notice an excessive amount of discharge coming from your dog’s eyes and/or he appears to be pawing at his eyes or squinting frequently, see your veterinarian for proper diagnosis.

Symptoms of dry eye in dogs may include:

  • Pawing at their eyes
  • Squinting frequently
  • Excessive discharge from the eyes, including redness and inflammation of the eyelids (conjunctiva), which can cause pain. In severe cases, a dog’s corneas may become ulcerated (chronic conjunctivitis).
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If you think your dog is suffering from dry eye syndrome, it’s important to get him diagnosed by a veterinarian as soon as possible so that treatment can commence immediately.

Your veterinarian will likely start with a Schirmer Tear Test (STT) which measures tear production.

Your veterinarian will likely start with a Schirmer Tear Test (STT) which measures tear production. For this test, your vet will place a strip of paper under the dog’s lower eyelid. The length of time that the paper stays wet is measured and recorded.

The STT can be performed by your veterinarian in the office or at home using kits available from pet stores and some drugstores, but it should always be done by someone knowledgeable about how to do so properly.

There are medications available to help manage signs of KCS with varying degrees of success, but the best way to treat it is through cyclosporine eye drops.

Cyclosporine is a medication that can be injected into your dog’s eye once or twice daily. It is used to treat dry eye in dogs, which can be caused by KCS or other things like cancer treatments and autoimmune diseases.

Cyclosporine works by reducing inflammation and increasing tear production in the eyes of dogs suffering from dry eye symptoms.

Your veterinarian may also recommend an ophthalmic lubricant such as artificial tears to give temporary relief while waiting for the cyclosporine treatment to begin working.

Your veterinarian may also recommend an ophthalmic lubricant such as artificial tears to give temporary relief while waiting for the cyclosporine treatment to begin working.

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If your dog’s eyes are already red, do not use artificial tears unless directed by your veterinarian. The redness is most likely caused by an inflammatory reaction in the eye and can be exacerbated by using an ophthalmic lubricant. You should also avoid using artificial tears if your dog has a corneal ulcer or any other type of eye injury (such as a scratch or puncture wound).

Treatment can help manage the condition

The most common type of treatment for dry eye in dogs is artificial tears. If your dog’s eyes are very dry and irritated, your vet might recommend using an ointment on the inside of their eyelids as well as a drop into each eye. This can be done daily or every few hours depending on how much discomfort your dog is experiencing.

If applying drops directly into your pup’s eyes feels too awkward and/or time-consuming, you can always use an ointment instead! Just apply some to their outer corner of each eyelid with a Q-tip and then massage it into the skin around there until it’s absorbed.

Conclusion

Not to be a downer, but there is no cure for Dry Eye in dogs. Your veterinarian will likely start with a Schirmer Tear Test (STT) which measures tear production. There are medications available to help manage signs of KCS with varying degrees of success, but the best way to treat it is through cyclosporine eye drops.