Understanding Glaucoma in Dogs

Understanding Glaucoma in Dogs

May 17, 2022
12 min

Dogs also develop glaucoma just like humans. Dog’s eyesight gets worse with age. Glaucoma is among the most common eye diseases in dogs. It occurs in about 1.7% of the dogs around the globe. 40% of these dogs may develop permanent blindness, especially if left untreated.

Pet owners should be able to spot signs of glaucoma in their dogs. Early establishment and treatment will help your dog evade permanent blindness. Here is our guide to everything you need to know about glaucoma in dogs, its causes, signs, how it’s diagnosed, and how it can be treated to prevent further eye damage.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that is caused by an imbalance in production and drainage of eye fluid. Instead, it builds up in the eyes of our furry friends’, causing an increase in eye pressure to levels that are unhealthy for dogs. 

Glaucoma can progress very quickly leading to the damage of the optic nerves and retina in dogs. This damage results in larger gaps in the field of vision, which often goes unnoticed in the beginning.

Glaucoma is categorized into two types; primary glaucoma and secondary glaucoma. Primary glaucoma is technically an inherited abnormality in particular dog breeds. It doesn’t occur in both eyes at the same time. It affects one eye for a few months or even years before it progresses to the next.

Some of the breeds that are more susceptible to developing glaucoma include Basset Hounds, Beagles, Great Danes, Boston Terriers, Shiba Inus, Shar-Peis, Chow Chows, Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Toy Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Samoyeds.

Secondary glaucoma develops from a cause, normally due to an injury to the eye or diseases such as cataract or tumor. It is characterized by intraocular bleeding, inflammation of the interior eye, and anterior dislocation of the lens.

What Causes Glaucoma?

Apart from being an inherited trait in certain breeds, glaucoma can sometimes be caused by;

  • Blocked blood vessels in your dog’s eye
  • Inflammation inside the eye
  • Intraocular bleeding
  • Severe eye infection like advanced cataracts
  • Retinal detachment
  • Lens fluctuations
  • A blunt or chemical injury to your dog’s eye
  • Intraocular tumor

Though it’s rare, surgery to correct another eye condition can result in glaucoma in dogs. This often affects both eyes in dogs, but can be worse in one than the other. 

Females are more susceptible to glaucoma as compared to male dogs. Same applies to older dogs, depending on the breed. A breed like Boston Terriers who are more predisposed to eye diseases may develop canine glaucoma as early as age 7-8, while another dog may not suffer from the disease until the age of 10 and above.

What are the Signs of Glaucoma?

It is easier to recognize acute glaucoma due to the sudden changes in your dog’s eyes as well as signs of pain. Gradual onset of glaucoma may be hard to determine since the clinical signs are more indefinite. Besides, dogs don’t show pain like humans, so it may be difficult to tell if they are actually hurting. 

Dogs suffering from either primary or secondary glaucoma may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Cloudy eyes, bluish appearance to the eye
  • Eye pain. Your dog partially closes and rubs the eyes
  • Watery discharge from the eye
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Redness in the whites of the eye
  • Pupil does not respond to light
  • Avoiding being touched in the eye. Your dog may squint or blink
  • Lethargy
  • Slightly distended eye veins in the white of the eye
  • Loss of vision- your dog starts bumping into things
  • Loss of appetite

The signs may develop slowly with chronic glaucoma, but very rapidly in acute glaucoma. Contact your vet immediately for prompt diagnosis and treatment if your dog is showing any of the symptoms above. Early diagnosis and treatment could save your dog from the risks of being blind.

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Glaucoma in dogs is considered a medical emergency by vets and time is a critical factor for treating the disease. It is advised to take your dog to the vet once you identify some of these symptoms as this could indicate an underlying issue. It is better to be safe than sorry!

How Can Glaucoma Be Treated?

Treatment depends on the type of glaucoma and severity of the disease. Your vet will prescribe several ophthalmic medications to lower intraocular pressure as quickly as possible. This may help prevent permanent damage in most dogs. Some of these medications include:

  • Eye drops- Beta blockers and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors to reduce fluid production. Prostaglandin analogs such as Latanoprost can improve fluid flow in your dog’s eye. Corticosteroids will help delay the onset of glaucoma in the unaffected eye.
  • Analgesics are technically painkillers recommended by the vet to treat the discomfort associated with glaucoma.

In some situations, your vet may recommend surgery to treat advanced cases of glaucoma. Your dog’s eye may also be removed if he has permanently lost vision. Removing the eye will relieve your dog from excess pain. Most dogs adjust quickly to their way of living after a surgical eye removal.

How to Prevent Glaucoma

There are several precautions and steps you can take to reduce the risk of the development of glaucoma in your dog, especially if your dog belongs to the breeds that are more susceptible to the condition.

Give your dog supplements such as rutin, astaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants, which promotes general eye health and reduces cell damage in the eyes. You can try using Kala Health Immunix Antioxidants Pet Supplements since it works well against damage from free radicals.

Take your dog to the vet for regular examinations. Your vet will be able to monitor your dog’s eyes so that any development of eye disorder or intraocular pressure can be determined earlier and addressed quickly.

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