Dry eye syndrome in dogs is known in the specialty literature as Keratoconjunctivitis Sica (KCS). This is a fairly common medical problem in dogs and especially in the American Cocker Spaniel, Bloodhound, Boston Terrier, King Charles Spaniel Cavalier, English Bulldog, English Springer Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Pekingese, Pug, Samoyed , Shih Tzu, West Highland White Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier.
In medical terms, this is inflammation of the cornea and ocular tissue due to the dry environment. It is a dysfunction due to the inadequate production of aqueous secretion by the tear gland.
Most dogs have red, irritated and painful eyes. They blink often, almost excessively, or keep their eyes closed. In most cases, a fine, yellow, mucus-like discharge can be observed due to the reduction of the aqueous component of the tear film. In addition, ulcerations of the cornea may occur. In chronic cases there is a history of recurrent ocular problems, ulcers or conjunctivitis.
The veterinarian is the only one able to make this diagnosis. Therefore, if you notice the above mentioned symptoms, we recommend you to visit the medical office soon. The diagnosis is based on the medical history, clinical signs and medical tests showing low tear production. The best known test is the Lacrimal Schirmer Test (STT), a simple test that uses a special paper to measure the amount of tear film produced in a minute. If necessary, additional diagnostic tests can be performed such as staining of the cone to identify potential ulcers, measuring the intraocular pressure to detect glaucoma and examining the tear duct.
Treatment of Dry Eye Syndrome
The recommended treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome in dogs is based on two objectives: to stimulate the production of tears and to replace the tear film, with the protection of the cornea. Two ophthalmic drugs based on cyclosporine and tacrolimus are used to stimulate tear production. Both have exceptional results. The replacement of the tear film with artificial tears is done together with the use of an incentive for tear production. Keeping the cornea moist, especially in the first stage of treatment, is vital. The treatment will be done at 2-6 hours, depending on the needs of each dog and the severity of the disease. Some dogs may require antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs to treat subsequent infections and inflammation.
We also recommend wiping dog’s eyes with a wet, warm towel several times a day to help it feel better and stimulate the production of tear film. The vet will show you the correct way to administer the medicine.
Given the currently available drugs, the prognosis for dogs diagnosed with KCS is very good. However, they will need lifelong medical care. Problem situations are those in which the diagnosis is made late and the cornea is already affected because the dogs may not respond to treatment or lose their eyesight.