Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) In Dogs

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Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) In Dogs

What is Dry Eye In Dogs?

When there’s not enough water in the eyes to make tears, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), or dry eye, can be the result.

Tears are 95% water but they also consist of oil and mucus that helps keep the eyes clean and protected. Without water to form the tears, all that’s left is the mucus and oil, leading to discharge, irritation, and often, infections. Sometimes, the irritation can even damage the eye and result in corneal ulceration and potentially blindness.

This condition can be treated with drops or ointments applied to the eye daily. If medications are unsuccessful, surgery is an option.

What Causes Dry Eye In Dogs?

Dry eye can be caused by a number of factors. KCS can be a side effect of canine distemper infection, and certain antibiotics can also cause the condition, as well as physical injuries. However, it’s usually caused by the immune system attacking the tear glands. There may be a genetic component to dry eye as well, as certain breeds seem predisposed to it, including cocker spaniels, miniature schnauzers, and West Highland white terriers.

What Are The Symptoms Of Dry Eye In Dogs?

  • Irritated eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Brown cornea
  • Gooey, yellow discharge
  • Blindness (if severe)

How Is Dry Eye In Dogs Diagnosed?

If the dog has an advanced case of KCS, the symptoms should be enough for a diagnosis. However, milder cases may look like conjunctivitis, so it’s important to get a definitive test. This can be accomplished with a paper test strip placed on the bottom eyelid for a minute, which measures the amount of moisture in the eye.

How Is Dry Eye In Dogs Treated?

Dry eye can be treated with ointments or drops that supplement tears and are applied directly to the eye. If medication doesn’t remedy the issue, surgery can be performed by re-routing the parotid duct, which is attached to the salivary gland, to the tear duct. Amazingly, saliva can be substituted for tears, however it can carry mineral deposits and the eyes may become extra watery when the dog salivates, like during meal time.


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