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Care for glittering Shiny eyes…

Eyes are one of the most sensitive organs and require utmost care. Here’s a list of common eye problems in pooches and how we can cure or prevent them. Eyes are the window to our souls and of course to our health. Here are some of the eye problems that can affect your pet.

Canine cataract

Symptoms: As in humans, the cataract in canines is also genetic and causes the clear lens behind the pupil todog health become cloudy or white. It causes the vision to deteriorate with time, eventually leading to a point of blindness. Contrary to cataract, Nuclear Sclerosis is a common and normal condition of aging, where the lens changes to bluish gray (not cloudy or white). With nuclear sclerosis, the vision of your pet can become blurry but it does not lead to complete blindness or other significant vision problems that are caused by cataract.

Treatment: Dr Neelima Paranjpe of Pluto Pet Clinic, Mumbai added that surgery is the only option to remove the affected lens, but the success rate varies on dog to dog. “Some take it easily, while others are not very comfortable with the entire process and stitches keep itching post surgery, which poses a great risk,” she added.

In-growing eyelids

Symptoms: It can be hereditary or the result of constant inflammation, wherein the eyelids turn in and press the eyelashes against the eye. In this condition, the eyelashes grow abnormally, placing them in direct contact with sensitive eyeball tissue which can lead to constant irritation of cornea. The common symptoms would be inflamed eye, heavy watering and the pet constantly pawing or scratching their eyes. If the condition is left untreated, the eyelashes continuously rub on the eyeball. In addition to pain and constant watering of the eye, in some cases even ulcers appear on the dog’s cornea, which can cause scarring and vision loss. Dogs frequently have eyelid spasms as well.

Breed-specific: Talking to Dr Neelima Paranjpe, we found that this is a breed-specific problem and according to her, the most common breed to get affected is Rottweiler. Another breed which is at a great risk to get affected by in-growing eyelids is Pug as their eye sockets are very shallow and the eye balls are nearly popping out. Hence, pet parents need to take extra care of a Pug’s eyes. “Even a small scratch could lead to great problems. It is a genetic developmental problem which arises due to indiscriminate breeding of pedigreed dogs,” she added.

Treatment: There are several ways to treat this problem. Firstly, the hair can be plucked for immediate solution. But this is not a long-term and permanent solution because the hair would re-grow and cause the same problem again. Secondly, Cryotherapy can be considered as one of the options in which the hair follicles are frozen at their base along the eyelid. It is a rather effective method, but again the lashes often re-grow. Thirdly, Electrolysis is another permanent method of removal which involves placing a tiny needle inside the hair follicle and then killing it with a pulse of electricity. Although the method is effective, the entire procedure can be expensive and time-consuming if many lashes are involved. Lastly, Electrocautery can also be considered as a treatment option which involves burning away the hair. The risk of scarring from this procedure is high.

Cherry eye

Symptoms: Medically known as Nictitating Gland Prolapse, it is a condition wherein your pet’s third eyelid, which are technically called nictitating membranes get affected. Nictitating membranes are thin, opaque sheets of tissue that in their normal position are underneath the lower eyelids and under normal conditions these are not visible. These membranes are associated with glandular tissue that is responsible for tear production, which is essential to keep the eyes adequately lubricated. They also serve to protect the sensitive cornea from physical damage. When the fibrous attachments which hold the nictitating membrane to the lower eyelid becomes weak or loose, a visible red masses bulging outward from the lower inside corners of the dog’s eye can be seen. The main symptoms include irritation, dryness, redness (conjunctivitis), swelling, inflammation, etc.

Breed-specific: Dr Pavan Kumar from Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Hospital, Bengaluru said that any dog can develop the problem of Cherry Eye, but there are certain breeds who are at a higher risk of developing it in both eyes. These include Beagle, Bloodhound, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Saint Bernard and Shar-Pei. He also said that the problem affects both males and females equally and can occur at any age.

Treatment: Although it looks alarming, but the condition can be totally cured with the help of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications and if required, surgery. In most cases, surgical correction is the only suitable permanent treatment option. But removing the tear gland greatly reduces normal tear production, leading to severe dry eye and increasing the dog’s risk of developing a disorder known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) as he ages. It should be kept in mind that if the tear gland is surgically removed, then the pet would require daily supplementary treatment with moisturising eye drops for the rest of his life.

Dry Eye is a disorder of the glands that normally produce the liquid part of tears, medically called the lachrymal glands. The dogs affected with KCS or dry eye do not produce enough tear film to keep the eye properly lubricated.

Conjunctivitis or pink eye

Symptoms: Conjunctivitis is the most common ailment affecting the eyes of the dog. It is similar to the conjunctivitis that affects the human eyes. Conjunctivitis is a bacterial or viral infection that can be very painful for the dog. Dr Pavan explained that Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the tissue lining the eyelids and attaching to the eyeball near the cornea. The conjunctiva can become irritated due to allergies which may be induced by pollens, grass, etc or from infections caused by virus, bacteria, or fungi. If the white portion of the eyeball (sclera) is also inflamed, this condition is occasionally referred to as ‘pink eye’.

The main symptoms include swollen eyelids, redness and inflammation, excessive tearing or thick discharge. The consistency and type of discharge help vets understand the cause of the problem. Usually infections caused by bacteria, fungi, etc create a thick yellow or greenish discharge. The eyelids may actually stick together when shut for a long time. This result from the accumulation of white blood cells or pus excreted into the area in an effort to fight off the infection. Allergies, on the other hand, generally cause a clear or watery discharge.

Treatment: If left untreated, it could permanently damage the cornea. Consult your vet immediately, if you notice any of these symptoms and proper treatment can be given in the form of ointment or eye-drops. Since eye-drops are watery solutions, make sure you put them regularly after a few hours or as suggested by the vet. Ointments tend to last longer as compared to eye-drops.

Entropion

Symptoms: Entropion is a physical condition wherein the eyelids roll inward. It can occur to either the upper or lower eyelids. This causes the hair in the lids to come into contact with the cornea causing constant irritation and spasms.

Breed-specific: According to Dr Neelima, the most common breed who gets affected due to Entropion is Rottweiler.

Treatment: Entropion is extremely painful for the dog and usually requires surgical treatment to improve.

Ectropion

Symptoms: Ectropion is a physical condition wherein the eyelids roll outward, exposing the sensitive inner eyelid to the elements.

Breed-specific: Dr Neelima said that usually breeds with loose facial skin and drooping loose lower lids suffer this condition, such as St Bernard, Napoleon Mastiff, Golden Retriever, Labrador and Cocker Spaniel.

Treatment: The treatment involves drops or ointments to help with any infections that occur.

Administering

eye drops…
If your pet is suffering from any of these eye-related problems, there are high chances that the vet may suggest to put eye-drops. But putting eye-drops can be a real trouble sometimes. It is seen that pets refrain and run away from eye drops because of two reasons. The first reason is the pain associated with them. Since your pet is already in pain and when you touch the eye to put eye-drops it becomes a matter of stress for the pet. Also there are chances that your beloved is experiencing trouble with the ingredients of the eye-drops. To solve this problem, you can ask your vet to give a less irritant version or ointments so that the pet does not suffer.

Tips to follow…. As the old age adage goes, prevention is better than cure, here are a few tips to keep your pooch’s eyes healthy:

  • Watch out for any of the symptoms of eye problems that were discussed above and consult a vet if you notice anything unusual.
  • Make sure you clean your pet’s eyes gently with a damp cotton ball.
  • When going for a fun ride, don’t let your dog ride with his head out the car window. Foreign substances and dust can easily get in your pet’s eyes and cause infection or injury.
  • Your pet’s eyes are as sensitive as the eyes of your other family members, so avoid exposing them to chemicals, pollutants and dust.
  • Keep their nails short so that they don’t hurt themselves while playing or scratching.

(With inputs from Dr Neelima Paranjpe, Pluto Pet Clinic, Mumbai; Dr Pavan Kumar, Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Hospital, Bengaluru; Dr Jaspreet Mauj, Vets for Pets, Ludhiana; Dr Prabhakaran Palanichamy, The Friendicoes, New Delhi; Dr Goutam Mukherjee, Get Well Pet Centre, Kolkata; and Dr Hemant Jain, Dogs, Cats & Birds Clinic, Nagpur).


 

Vets speak….

Following are the common eye problems in pooches: corneal abrasion, corneal ulcer and glaucoma. Here’s more on corneal abrasion, ulcer.

Corneal abrasion

Symptoms: The cornea is covered by a protective surface layer of epithelial cells, which is damaged by any irritation, such as a scratch or foreign body. This results in swelling at the site of the injury as well as edema. When viewed under magnification, it appears hazy and opaque. Sometimes, misdirected eyelashes also result in corneal abrasions in the upper part of the cornea.

Treatment: Consult your vet immediately to avoid complications, such as keratitis and corneal ulcer. Broad-spectrum topical antibiotic drops or ointments are prescribed every four to six hours to prevent infection.

Corneal ulcer

Symptoms: Similar to a corneal abrasion, it is deeper and involves the middle and sometimes the inner layer of the cornea. Though it is commonly caused by trauma, it is also associated with keratoconjunctivitis sicca, corneal dystrophy, diabetes mellitus, Addison’s disease, or hypothyroidism. Corneal ulcers are extremely painful and cause severe tearing, squinting, and pawing at the eyes. Dogs frequently avoid light. Large ulcers are visible to the naked eyes as dull spots or depressions on the surface of the cornea.

Treatment: Consult your vet immediately to avoid serious complications and even loss of the eyes. Your veterinarian may recommend injecting antibiotics directly into the eye beneath the conjunctiva. Sometimes, surgery is also recommended.

Glaucoma

Symptoms: Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that often leads to blindness. It occurs when fluid in the eye is produced faster than it can be removed, leading to a sustained increase in intraocular pressure, which causes degenerative changes to the optic nerve and the retina. An eye with acute glaucoma is exquisitely painful, with tearing and squinting. The affected eye feels harder than the normal eye and has a fixed, blank look due to the hazy and steamy appearance of the cornea and enlarged pupil.

Breed-specific: It is commonly found in Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, Samoyeds and other breeds.

Treatment: Acute glaucoma can produce blindness in a matter of hours. Hence, consult your vet immediately.

Dr Hemant Jain

The eyes of healthy dogs are clean and bright. Dogs have greater field of view than humans because their eyes are located on the side of their heads. Doberman and Hound groups of dog having wide set of eyes can see range of 270 dg. Dogs are colour blind. Dogs have better sight in bad lighting than humans.

Daily examination of eyes is necessary. If there is discharge or mucus from the eyes, it should be gently cleaned daily cotton wool soaked in boric lotion or simply cold water. Boric lotion is prepared by dissolving two teaspoonful of boric powder in half a pint of boiling water. Allow this to cool and then bottle it.

If the eyes are sore and inflamed or if there is profuse watery discharge weeping or heavy lidded eyes, it may show sign of infection. Consult your vet immediately.

Dr Prabhakaran Palanichamy

Eye diseases are traditionally divided into congenital-developmental and hereditary, trauma, inflammatory, immune-mediated and others, and eye tumors. These include prolapse of a dog’s third eyelid, cataracts, corneal ulcer, eye injury and eye irritation.

Red eye in dogs may signal many inflammatory conditions and infectious diseases like conjunctivitis, blood in the anterior chamber of the eye. Inflammation of the Eyelids and Cherry Eye are other common problems in dogs. Instances of Scleritis, Glaucoma, Cataracts, Watery Eyes and Corneal Diseases are also found.

Most of us tend to take our own eyesight for granted, until it starts failing. The same goes for the eyes of our dogs. Surgery is the only proven treatment for cataracts. The procedure currently used in dogs is the same as that performed in humans. It is a type of ultrasound (called phacoemulsification). An artificial lens implant can be placed in the eye to further improve vision. The success of cataract surgery in dogs is about 90 percent.

In all cases, early treatment is important in order to prevent blindness. Even if it is too late to prevent the loss of vision in one eye, you could save the other eye. If all treatments fail, the eye may have to be removed (enucleated). But eye implants are available. They are costly, of a cosmetic nature only, and do not save the eyesight.

To prevent eye problems, it is advised to add antioxidants rich diets, Lutin/Zeazanthin, Lycopene, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) and Omega 3 Fatty Acid which prevent cataract formation, reduces AGE formation in diabetic retinopathy, and may slow or diminish the risk of aging or cataract.

Dr Goutam Mukherjee

Some of the common symptoms of eye problems include excessive discharge from the eye, squinting, film over the eye, sensitive to the light, redness, cloudiness on the eye, bumping against objects (cannot see properly), and bulging or sunken eye. Here are a few common eye problems and how to prevent them:

Corneal opacity: In this, you will find a thin film over the eye. Sometimes, it occurs due to deficiency of vitamin A. It is advised to give high dose of vitamin A to cure and prevent it, especially to pregnant female-dogs. You can add cod-liver oil, carrots, milks, eggs, etc to your pet’s diet to prevent this condition.

Conjunctivitis: It is an inflammation of the conjunctival membrane that covers the surface of the eye ball. Eye becomes red, watery or whitish discharge comes from the eye. Human conjunctivitis is not contagious to dog and vice versa. Wash the eyes with saline solution (a pinch of salt add a cup of lukewarm water) 3 to 4 times a day. Consult your vet.

Corneal ulcers: It is an inflammation of the cornea, very common in Pug, Bulldog, Boxer, etc.

Dew claw surgically removed prevents self injuries to the eyes. Other precautions include – at the time of bath, don’t pour shampoo on the head and face of the dog. If you find any change in corneal colour, consult vet immediately to save eye sight.

Other common problems of dogs include Cherry Eye, Glaucoma and Cataract.

Here are few tips to take care of your dog’s eye:

  • Everyday examine your dog’s eyes to find out any change occurs or not.
  • Please check whether your dog’s hair are always touching cornea and irritating his eye or not. If it touches, it should be trimmed regularly with blunt-end scissor.
  • At the time of bath, put some eye ointment before giving bath or at the time of applying anti-tick aerosol spray.
  • Don’t pour shampoo on the head and face of your pooch as it can cause damage to the eye.
  • Following foods can help to keep your dog’s eyes healthy: egg yolk, milk, carrot, green vegetable and meat feed supplements containing Vitamin A, Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acid, cod liver oil, etc.

“Paw-Tales” l July-Aug 2006

Ginger – a Friend, Partner, a defender…
Pets are wonderful companions and dogs are the best. He is friendly, confident and a faithful comrade. My pet, Ginger, a golden Labrador is a loving, playful dog, true to
his Lab characteristics; he is affectionate and hates to stay alone.
When I come back from school, he greets me with total exuberance. He jumps up and if I am not careful – I can be floored!! His eyes are very expressive and if we don’t give him the desired biscuit, he simply sulks.
The most comical antic of his is when he chases lizards and birds. I only have to say “Lizzi Bizzi” and he goes berserk. He barks and jumps and tries to catch the
lizard, and when he cannot reach it, he reacts comically. His antics always leave us in splits of laughter. He is  a great companion and we all love Ginger.
– Vrinda

Beagle eyes that mesmerize

If you are looking for a big dog in a small package, then Beagle is for you. He makes a wonderful companion dog, is easy to maintain and loves his family. Small is beautiful and the phrase perfectly defines a Beagle who has all the qualities you want in your best friend. Take a look at his soft brown eyes and feel your heart going to him. I once met a Beagle at a dog show and the moment, I looked into his eyes, I knew that I have fallen in love with him instantly.

The Beagle is a fun-loving hound who was originally bred to hunt rabbits by following a scent. Because of their acute sense of smell, Beagles are popularly used in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA, to sniff out banned substances at airports and to find traces of fire-raising substances in cases of suspected arson.

Bold in character, this little tail-wagger is known for his stamina and determination. He is alert and intelligent with an even temperament, showing no aggression or timidity. He also has a keen sense of smell and an eagerness to wander.

General characteristics

The Beagle is small-to-medium sized, compactly built and usually well muscled. The body is longer than tall. The head is fairly long and looks powerful without any frown or wrinkle. The skull is slightly domed. The tail is moderately long and the Beagle characteristically carries it like a flag above his back. The ears are long, but not as long as a Basset Hound. “When the ears are pulled forward, they should almost reach the end of the nose; when at rest they tip over and lie close to the head,” adds Dr. Suresh Bhimsingh, a renowned breeder of Beagles. The most striking and beautiful feature of Beagle is his eyes. His stare is totally mesmerizing! “The Beagle will look at you as if he doesn’t have a friend in the world except you. And sometimes your Beagle may have a jet black rim around his eyes (like someone has applied “Kaajal”) and then this look becomes all the more beautiful,” tells Bhimsingh with a twinkle in his eyes.

Beagles can be found in a variety of colours with combination of three basic hound colours, viz. black, white and brown. So, the Beagle could be tri-coloured or have just two colours: black and white, black and brown or brown and white. “You can also find Beagles in the different shades of brown such as red and white, lemon (very light brown) and white, or tan and white. But whatever the combination, the tip of the tail (stern) is usually white,” tells Bhimsingh.

They are small to medium sized dogs, typically height ranging from 13-15”. The males weigh around 10-11 kg while females weigh 9-10kgs and they have a life span of 10-15 years.

Temperament

He is an affable, loving dog who loves to play and have fun. But he is also a “pack” hound and so he loves company more so than any other breed. “In fact, without companionship (at least another dog for company), a Beagle could become noisy and destructive,” tells Bhimsingh.

As puppies, they are the cutest things on earth. As adults, they still love to romp and play and bring a lot of happiness into the family. They seem to have a special relationship with children. They are extremely affectionate and make loyal companions. They love children but very young children should never be left unsupervised with any puppy, in the interests of both the puppy and the child.

The baying or howling of a Beagle is an in-built characteristic to use while hunting, to inform the hunter that the dog is on the trail. In apartment living, this could be disastrous. But practically speaking, as long as Beagles have company and know they will not be left alone for long, they do not bark or howl. But if left alone or hungry, the Beagle could vocalise.

Beagle puppy

Before you buy a Beagle puppy, ensure that the breeder is a responsible person who gives a lot of importance to the health and temperament of the puppy. Bhimsingh also tells that the colours of newly-whelped Beagle puppies can change. “For example, the head, ears and shoulders of tri-colour hounds are often black but gradually turn to tan a few weeks after they are born. Similarly, shades of cream or brown on the back usually disappear fairly soon. Also, little white spots all over the black and tan usually disappear by the time the puppy is 3 months old. Hounds not possessing a strong deep shade of black often lose it in old age and can appear almost all white. In tan and white puppies, the tan colour will be very light when the puppies are born. They will become darker in a couple of months,” he further explains. Bhimsingh further says that Beagle is no different as a puppy than any other breed. “But yielding to the temptation of responding each time he cries would mean that he will keep barking or howling all the time when left alone. So if you intent to keep him alone for at least a few hours a day, then he should be trained so from a very early age.” Bhimsingh tells a case of one Beagle who was fed from the kitchen every time he went and stood there. “So if he was not fed, he started to bark and howl. Every owner must remember that dogs acquire habits very easily and so the owner must never allow any concessions to the new puppy that he is not going to tolerate later,” tells Bhimsingh.

Grooming

Beagles have a double coat: a fine undercoat and a coarse topcoat to protect it from the weather. But they shed hair, especially in warmer weather, and need a good brushing. The Beagle coat is easy to maintain. However, care should be taken to keep the Beagles ears clean. Long ears have a tendency to attract yeast infection. The first sign is usually an offensive smell. Take the advice of a vet.

“In most parts of India, ticks can be a big problem. With regular brushing, the owner can find ticks and remove them. In some parts of India, fleas are a bigger problem. Take the advice of your vet while using anti-tick and anti-flea medicines and shampoo,” Bhimsingh gives a word of caution.

Exercise

The Beagle is not a toy breed and they need their quota of exercise. According to Bhimsingh, “They do not need intense or long exercise, just playful activity, preferably outdoors. If they are locked up day after day in an apartment and never allowed to play or never get the companionship they need, they could become noisy and boisterous.”

They love to play fetch and are crazy about balls or toys. “I know a Beagle who loves to play hide and seek. Only it is the people who have to hide and not the dog!” adds Bhimsingh lovingly.

Health

Since Beagles are usually good eaters and enjoy their food, owners should be careful not to over-feed them. With too much food and lack of exercise, they could become obese quite soon. They are prone to certain eye conditions such as Glaucoma, cataract, etc. However, with proper exercise and activity, he is overall an easy breed to maintain.

(With inputs from Dr. Suresh Bhimsingh, MBBS who has done training in Geriatrics. He is presently the content editor of a health portal run by a pharmaceutical company Orchid Chemicals & Pharma-ceuticals, Chennai. He loves dogs and runs a doggie portal www.dogsindia.com. He is a well-known breeder of Beagle, Bulldog and Dogue de Bordeaux at his kennel Sandstorm. He can be contacted at Ph : 9840098989, or e-mail : bhimsingh@gmail.com)