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About Canine Glaucoma


What is Glaucoma in dogs?

Canine glaucoma is very serious, and can be painful to your dog. It can also cause your dog to lose her eyesight completely if not treated immediately.

Glaucoma can cause permanent blindness within a matter of hours -- It is an emergency situation!

Glaucoma in dogs is when there is a build up of fluid, and therefore pressure in the eye. The pressure causes damage to the retina and optic nerve.

A dogs eyes have fluid inside them called aqueous humor, which normally fills up the eye and drains out at the same rate. In the case of Glaucoma, the fluid continues to fill up in the eye, but does not drain out properly.

Imagine a sink with a drain -- as long as the drain is working properly, the sink doesn't overflow.

What causes Dog Glaucoma?

Canine glaucoma has two classifications, Primary and Secondary. Primary glaucoma is when a dog inherits conditions that cause the drain in their eyes to not function properly.

There are several breeds that are prone to the condition:

  • Bassett Hound
  • Chow Chow
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Elk Hound
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Siberian Huskey

Secondary glaucoma is a result of other eye problems that cause drainage issues for the eye fluid. Some of the most common dog eye problems that can cause canine glaucoma are:

  • Canine Uveitis (inflammation inside the eye
  • Cancer of the eye
  • Advanced Cataracts
  • Lens Luxation or Subluxation (dislocation of the eye's lens)
  • Physical trauma to the eye

What are the symptoms?

Unfortunately, by the time you notice the symptoms of canine glaucoma, it may be too late to help save your dog's eyesight.

But, knowing what is normal about your dogs eyes and what to watch out for can help a lot.

The beginning symptoms may be the look of a bloodshot eye, tearing and your dog's eye and the surrounding area may be painful (especially to touch).

You may notice your dog squinting and avoiding light, or it may seem that she already can't see out of her eye. The most prominent symptom is the eye looking like it's bulging out of the socket.

Canine glaucoma is extremely painful -- it's more painful in dogs than it is in humans, because the pressure that builds up as a result of the lack of drainage is higher in animals than it is in humans.

Unfortunately, your dog can't really tell you that she has a headache, so. . .

. . . It's a good idea to know what your dog's eyes look like, and how she acts normally. By paying close attention to what your dog looks and acts like normally, will give you a good indication when something seems not quite right.

Keep in mind that dogs are very good at compensating for loss of site in one eye.

How is it diagnosed?

If a general practitioner veterinarian suspects canine glaucoma after doing a physical examination of your dog, there are a few tests that can be run.

But, most general vet's are not equipped to run the them, and they will likely refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist, who will run the following tests:

The first thing that must be done is to determine whether your dog has Primary or Secondary Glaucoma, because the treatments can be very different.

In order to tell which classification it is, the vet will measure something called IOP (Intraocular pressure) using an instrument called a tonometer.

If the vet determines that the classification is "Primary", then they will use something called Gonioscopy to help determine whether or not the other eye that can still see is predisposed to developing glaucoma. A dog is usually sedated for this procedure.

What is the conventional treatment?

Because glaucoma is basically like a clogged sink drain, the main goal of surgery is to open the drain so that it works properly.

Unfortunately, that's harder to do in dogs than it is in humans, so steps are also taken to decrease the production of fluid in the eye.

Glaucoma can be very expensive to treat, especially when the classification is "Primary", because if the original effected eye is not blind, then lifelong treatment is necessary.

Lifelong treatment is also likely necessary for the other eye, to help prevent it from becoming affected too. The most popular glaucoma eye drops that help reduce fluid production and pressure are:

  • Timolol
  • Xalatan
  • Trusopt

Liquid treatments used to treat dog glaucoma often needs to be administered 3 to 4 times a day, for the rest of their life, to keep the fluid balanced.

If the glaucoma's classification is secondary, meaning that something else was wrong with the eye such as an infection, and then caused the glaucoma, that condition will need to be treated also.

Most eye infections in dogs can be treated effectively with topical antibiotics (drops).

Can it be treated naturally?

Unfortunately, once a dog develops glaucoma, it is an emergent situation -- Please don't attempt to try to treat it yourself at home.

Your dog is likely in a lot of pain, and the sooner it's treated by a qualified veterinarian, the better chances of saving your dog's eyesight, and helping them with pain relief.

Can it be prevented?

If you think your dog may be at risk for developing dog glaucoma, or any other dog eye problems for that matter, there are some natural supplements that support your dog's eye health in general.

While it's not proven to prevent canine glaucoma, PetAlive's EyeHeal by Native Remedies helps support your dog's eyes overall health.

It soothes the eyes, supports healthy vision and helps maintain health of the conjunctiva (thin membrane surrounding the eye for protection).

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