Can dogs get glaucoma?
As much as human beings complain about getting older, we don’t have it nearly as bad as our pets. Because they have much shorter life spans, they experience accelerated aging, which often results in age-related illnesses. Arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, hearing loss, and other chronic and degenerative diseases often affect our canine friends from middle age on. One of the most serious disorders is glaucoma, since it can lead to complete and total blindness.
What is glaucoma in dogs?
The eye is one of the most sensitive and sophisticated structures in the body of most mammals. And like any other organ, it wears out over time. Glaucoma occurs when the ciliary body produces more fluid in the eye than is needed. This fluid helps our pets keep their eyes clean and protects them from dirt and dust and other debris that might cause damage. But when this vital lubricant becomes superfluous, it can increase the pressure on the retina and the optic nerve, which often adversely affects or impairs vision.
What are the types of glaucoma in dogs?
Since it is highly heritable, some breeds are susceptible to primary glaucoma. Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, and other breeds are far more likely to suffer from the disorder as they age. And after the first eye is damaged, the other one follows suit in about half of all cases, resulting in total blindness.
Secondary glaucoma occurs when another eye disease causes trauma to an eye that is affected with the disease. A disease such as uveitis, for example, can result in severe and expedited symptoms of glaucoma if it is not treated as soon as possible.
Like most age-related conditions, glaucoma can be either chronic or acute, depending on how quickly and aggressively the symptoms develop. In most cases, an eye that is affected with acute glaucoma is incredibly painful, and therefore much easier to detect. Even though your dog can’t talk, your furry friend will blink and squint and even cry from the pain. In advanced cases, the eye will not look normal. Because the pupils may be enlarged, it often results in a fixed, blank stare, much like a shark’s eyes. In other words, they will appear lifeless or dead.
Symptoms of Glaucoma in Dogs
Overproduction of fluid and the inability to get rid of it can cause a whole host of problems. They include headaches, excessive blinking, a cloudy appearance, dilated pupils, redness in the whites of the eyes, and partial or total vision loss. Many of these signs are obviously difficult to discern, since your pet cannot articulate them to you. But there are a few simple tests any dog lover can use to check his best friend’s eyes.
No, you won’t need an eye chart! Simply stand a few paces away and move a favorite toy from side to side. Do not use food, since your dog’s heightened sense of smell will enable him to follow it without his eye. But if you use a ball or a rubber bone, he won’t be able to focus on it if his vision is impaired, in which case he should be taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Treatment of Glaucoma in Dogs
Both acute and chronic forms of the disease can and often are extremely expensive to treat. Surgery is an option, but it is quite costly and potentially dangerous, which is why most dog owners choose to manage the pain with eye drops. Most require a prescription, including the following drugs.
Dorzolamide Eye Drops for Dogs: A generic drug available in drop form, Dorzolamide can help decrease the pressure in eyes that are affected by primary glaucoma. These eye drops can also be used to help prevent the disease in an unaffected or good eye. The success rate of the treatment always depends on the extent of the damage and how early and often doses are administered.
Latanoprost Eye Drops for Dogs: Like the aforementioned medication, Latanoprost is a generic ophthalmic eye drop that helps reduce intraocular pressure, since that is what causes glaucoma and the consequent vision problems. For optimal results, it must be given on a daily basis, or as instructed by your veterinarian.
Flurbiprofen Eye Drops for Dogs: An anti-inflammatory eye drop solution, this generic drug can help alleviate the most painful symptoms of canine glaucoma. The prescription medication must be administered on a regular basis to be effective. Flurbiprofen Sodium can be used to treat both the primary and secondary types of glaucoma. Veterinarians recommend using it in affected and unaffected eyes, since it may prevent or at least slow the development of the disease in good eyes.
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