Much like humans, cats and dogs can suffer from a chronic eye disorder known as glaucoma. The condition is associated with an increase in pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure or IOP), causing progressive damage to the optic nerve tissue. If the pressure isn’t relieved, the retina and optical nerve may get severely damaged in just a matter of days. As a result, the eye may enlarge, stretch, cause severe pain or even partial vision loss for your furry companion. Failure to treat dog glaucoma in time can eventually result in permanent blindness – something we always want to avoid at Animal Care Center.

Causes and Types of Canine Glaucoma

Like many other diseases, glaucoma in dogs typically occurs for a variety of reasons. The specific cause determines the type of glaucoma. Here are two main categories:

Primary (Inherited) – dogs diagnosed with this type are often born with inherited anatomical abnormalities in the drainage angles of the eye. In most instances, this affects middle-aged dogs (4-9 years). Some of the common breeds that are more prone include Siberian Husky, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chow, Basset Hound, Boston Terrier, and American Cocker Spaniel. Regardless of the breed you own, regular glaucoma screening is definitely in order. If your furry friend is diagnosed with this type of glaucoma, be sure to notify your dog’s breeder, they should be aware.

Secondary (Acute) – this is the most common type of canine glaucoma that predominantly affects young dogs aged 2-6 years. It develops when other underlying diseases are responsible for decreased drainage of fluid from the inside of the eye. Common causes of acute glaucoma include but are not limited to, tumors, inflammation or infection inside the eye, chronic retinal detachment, trauma to the eye, advanced cataracts and anterior dislocation of the lens. Routine ophthalmoscopy is necessary to evaluate the retina, and especially the optic nerve.

Common Symptoms

Glaucoma in dogs can be present for some time before any clinical signs or discomfort shows, especially if it’s inherited. However, acute dog glaucoma is an emergency. Symptoms can develop very suddenly.

Here are some of the common signs to check out for:

  • Cloudy appearance at the front of the eye
  • Redness of the blood vessels in the sclera (whites of the eyes)
  • The eyeball may recede into the head
  • Blinking of the eye
  • Less desire to play and change in attitude is more likely the result of acute glaucoma vs non-acute

Diagnosis and Treatment

Oftentimes, treatment for glaucoma in dogs starts by addressing any underlying condition that induces high IOP. While the disease is treatable, severe or advanced stages can be difficult.  In severe cases, removal of the eye (enucleation) may be the only option to relieve the pain or discomfort. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help mitigate such irreversible damages.

At AMC, we love pets. We know they deserve nothing but the very best. That’s why our glaucoma screening is thorough, precise, and technically sound.  What’s more, we are able to offer referrals to veterinary ophthalmologists who specialize in treating the eyes.

If you think your pet might have any of the symptoms above or, if something seems off, call Animal Medical Center to make an appointment today.