Treatments for dry eyes in dogs

Certain breeds are predisposed to getting dry eyes

For many years I have suffered from dry and red eyes. I often get asked if I have been crying or if I was up late. The response is always the same, “I have light, sensitive eyes and I’m particularly vulnerable to getting red eyes, especially during the time of year when the pollen count is high.” Dry eyes occur in pets as well, and it occurs when there isn’t enough lubricant released from the eye glands to keep the eye moist. Natural tears not only contain soothing ingredients they also contain antibodies to help fight against potential infection.

Dry eyes are very common in dogs. Cats sometimes do suffer with dry eyes but it’s much rarer in cats than it is in dogs. Certain breeds such as English Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniel, and the West Highland Terrier have a particular predisposition for getting this disease of the eye. Side effects of certain medications can also be the reason for the dry eyes.

When the eyes are extremely dry they sometimes get red, swollen, and the pet may begin squinting. Decreased vision and the 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, blood vessels may begin to be seen across the front of the eyes.

Artificial tears can help keep your pet's eyes lubricated

If the dry eyes is not severe or is transient, a simple over-the-counter artificial tears eyedrop solution may be purchased from any drug store and used to lubricate the eye. The only downside of the artificial tear treatment is that it must be applied many times a day, which can become tiring and may upset your pet. The good thing about these lubricant drops is that they are safe and effective in combating the problem. Some people that spend the whole day with their pet might not find it inconvenient to place these lubricant drops around the clock every four to six hours, and the pet may become accustomed to the application of the artificial tears and not mind it at all. It is extremely important when purchasing the artificial tears that you avoid drops that are designed to combat redness. The drops for redness can and will make the condition worse.

Optimmune is a sterile eye ointment containing cyclosporine

In certain cases, the veterinarian may prescribe a medication called cyclosporine, or Pilocarpine may also be prescribed in certain other cases.  If the dry eyes are caused by 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 aspects of eye care in pets is to be aware if something is not quite right with your pet, and being able to do something early enough to prevent further harm. If treatment is delayed or the condition is simply ignored, the pet may experience more eye problems and some may become more difficult to treat as time keeps compounding the problems. If anything is noticed that seems different in your 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 1800PetMeds pharmacist who will be more than happy to help answer them for you.

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3 Comments

  1. My dogs left eye is very dry. I have CVS moisturizing Lubricating Eye Drops,I also have Systane Ultra lubricant eye drops.Can I use either one or the other on my dogs eye?

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I would not use any over the counter human eye drops. I would see a vet for proper exam and evaluation. Topical prescription meds like cyclosporine or tacrolimus may be needed.

  3. my vet today said over the counter is fine they said to use genteal, and if you see mucus turn to yellow or green or red eye to use the antibiotic drops from her last eye infection. i have systane ultra after getting some acid in my eye

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