“Keratoconjunctivitis,” a Big Word for “Dry Eye”

Keratoconjunctivitis is more common in certain breeds

Healthcare professionals seem to have their own language and are able to take a very simple concept and make it extremely complicated and difficult to understand. I suppose that provides a certain amount of job security. Today I will discuss a condition called KCS, “Keratoconjunctivitis sicca” which is complicated medical language for “dry eyes.”

KCS is more common in dogs than cats and it occurs when the eye does not make enough tears to keep it lubricated. It is more common in breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel, English Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, and West Highland Terrier. KCS may also be caused as a side-effect of certain medications such as sulfamethoxazole and other sulfonamides.

What is seen with KCS are eyes that are red, swollen, or squinting. Decreased vision and development of a film over the eye may also be seen. Owners may also notice a thick yellowish- green discharge in the corner of the eye mostly in the mornings. As the disease progresses further along, blood vessels may begin to be seen across the front of the eyes.

Artificial tears may be used as a lubricant.

If the KCS is very mild, a simple artificial tears solution purchased over the counter may be used as a lubricant. Although this is simple enough to purchase and safe, it’s not convenient for most people since it must be applied between four and six times a day to provide the best results. Some people are with their pets so much and just use this as another way of bonding and “together” time. Dogs may become used to the application of the artificial tears and not mind it at all.

Optimmune is a sterile eye ointment containing cyclosporine

In certain cases the veterinarian may prescribe a medication called cyclosporine. Pilocarpine may also be prescribed in certain other cases and if the KCS is caused or exacerbated by a bacterial infection, antibiotics such as terramycin and gentamycin may be used. If use of medication is not convenient or has not been successful, surgery may also be an option.

One of the most important aspect of eye care in pets is to be aware if something is not quite right and being able to do something early enough to prevent further harm that may potentially cause vision problems. If anything is noticed that seems different in the pet’s eyes or the pet seems to be in any kind of discomfort it is so important to make an appointment to see the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

As always, if you have any medication related questions call your pharmacist at 1800PetMeds who will be more than happy to help answer them for you.

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3 Comments

  1. My dachshund is 13 yrs. old and he has always urinated in his beds, even as a puppy. They told me dogs don’t urinate where they sleep, well he does. I’ve spent so much money on doggy beds it’s unbelievable! He has a carrier and he does it there, too! He does it on all my throw rugs especially in my bathrooms. We take him out constantly even at night. The only place he won’t do it on is the Lazy Boy chair that he now sleeps on at night but if we cover him with a towel or throw to keep him warm he will urnate. Any suggestions? We have taken him to the vet.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I would have urine sample check to rule out infections and urinary tract crystals, etc. Some cases of incontinence need prescription medicines like proin.

  3. I can’t give you any veterinary advice, though I can tell you that just like people, dogs are all different and of COURSE, dogs can urinate in their sleep. I had a very aged companion that began wetting his bed during the night it visibly upset upon waking. He was able to control himself awake though, so for the first time ever, I put a belly band on a dog. As someone involved in the rescue endeavor, I really must commend you in the highest possible terms for the love and loyalty you’ve shown your dog while he’s peed all over your house for 13 years! But, I suggest you keep belly bands and pads on him when he’s in the house.

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