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Dry Eye in Dogs and Cats

Dog dry eye

When our pets look at us, it melts our hearts. Eyes reveal so much about how our pets feel about us and how we feel about them. It’s important to recognize when our furry companion is having eye issues. In this article, we’ll discuss a specific eye problem known as dry eye or kerato-conjunctivitis sicca. Keep reading to learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for your pet

What is dry eye?

Dry eye, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), is a condition in which the eye(s) does not produce enough tears to keep the eye moist. Specific glands near the eye produce tears.

Tears are very important in keeping the cornea (the surface of the eye) and the conjunctiva (the thin membrane around the edge of the cornea that covers the inside of the eyelids) moist, healthy, and functioning properly. Without the necessary amount of tears, the surface of the eye and the inside of the eyelids become dry, inflamed, and painful.

Can my pet develop dry eye?

Dry eye is seen in both dogs and cats. It’s much more common in dogs. Some dog breeds are more susceptible, such as:

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • English Bulldog
  • Pug
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkie
  • Pekingese

How will I know if my pet has dry eye?

Signs your pet may have dry eye include:

  • Eye redness
  • Squinting
  • Pain
  • Pawing at the eyes/rubbing the face
  • Thick, yellow, white, or green discharge from the eyes or surrounding the eyes
  • The surface of the eyes may appear dull
  • Corneal ulcers: painful open sores on the surface of the eye
  • Corneal scarring
  • Decreased vision

Why do cats and dogs get dry eye?

There are many causes of dry eye, including:

  • Immune system issues
  • Present from birth
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Radiation therapy
  • Removal of tear-producing glands during surgery or injury
  • Chronic conjunctivitis (cats)
  • Chronic infection of eyelid tissues in dogs (blepharoconjunctivitis)
  • Diseases that affect the nerves of the tear glands
  • Any debilitating disease

How will my vet know that my pet has dry eye?

Your vet will ask about medical history and thoroughly examine your pet. He or she will perform a simple test, known as a Schirmer tear test, to measure tear production. Often, pets affected with dry eye willhave a bacterial eye infection as well.

Treatment and Medications Used for Dry Eye in Pets

Once a diagnosis of dry eye is made, your vet will likely prescribe medication and make several recommendations to help your pet:Keep the eyes and surrounding areas free of discharge.

  • Clean eyes before instilling medication.
  • Monitor your pet for eye pain, as corneal ulcers are more common with dry eye.
  • Frequent rechecks are often encouraged to ensure the medication and treatment plan are working.

Read more:

Top 3 Diseases of the Surface of the Eye (Cornea) in Dogs

Giving Your Pet Eye Medication: Step-By-Step Instructions

First Aid for Your Pet’s Eye

Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your pet’s dry eye or another condition?

Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.

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