How to Diagnose Eye Problems in Pugs
Pugs are a hugely popular breed of dog that have wonderful personalities and a distinct love of food and people. Their small size makes them popular with apartment dwellers, and their round, baby-like faces appeal to all types of dog lovers. However, it is those beautiful huge eyes that can cause them to have many eye problems over their lifetimes. Their eyes tend to protrude from their faces and that flat face leaves a greater percentage of the cornea exposed to the air. This head shape, as well as genetic predispositions for specific eye problems, means that a pug owner should be vigilant about watching out for problems.
Identifying Eye Problems
Spot the signs of corneal ulcers.The cornea is the transparent layer on the front part of the eye. In order to see, light needs to pass through it to reach the lens and the retina. If a dog has corneal ulcers, which is like a divot in the cornea, they will affect the ability of light to pass through the cornea, inhibiting the vision of the dog.
- Signs include your pug holding its eye closed or squinting a lot. This is a sign that your dog is having discomfort and may need veterinary treatment.
- You may also notice a lack of shine in the part of the eye with the ulcer, or jagged reflections instead of a reflection with smooth edges.
- In the pug, the ulcer develops because of the large amount of cornea that is exposed to the air, making it more prone to drying and trauma.This means that ulcers are caused by a combination of genetics and injury.
Look for the symptoms of hereditary cataracts.Pugs are prone to hereditary forms of lens cataracts. The lens is the structure which focuses light on the retina. It is a transparent sack of jelly and sits just behind the colored part of the eye, the iris. A cataract refers to a cloudiness of the lens. This genetic condition can develop in a pug anytime between 6 months and 6 years old.
- You may see signs of this as a whiteness or milkiness behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) which is normally black (the pupil).
- You may also notice the general behavior associated with a dog going blind, for example it is bumping into items in the home that it previously easily avoided.
Be on the look out for dry eyes.The lack of tear fluid production causes the surface of the eye to be too dry. This makes the eye uncomfortable, hot, and itchy. The surface of the eye loses its shine and appears dull. The dog may rub its head to relieve the itch and damages the cornea while itching. To protect itself, the eye produces a tacky, mucus like substance that has the effect of gumming up the eye.
- A dog with dry eye may squint, holding the eye closed because it's more comfortable that way.
- Dry eyes occur when the tear ducts either do not produce enough moisture or the moisture gets blocked from making it to the eye. This could be either genetic, meaning a poorly-formed tear duct, or by condition, such as a clogged tear duct.
Identify the signs of developing cherry eye.Cherry eye is a condition that occurs when the gland behind the third eyelid (in the inner corner of the eye) pops out from its position behind the third eyelid. It sticks forward, looking like a small red cherry stuck on the eye.
- Diagnosing cherry eye is not difficult, as it can even be seen across the room because of the big red area in the dog's eye.
- Cherry eye is caused by a genetic condition that weakens the connection between the gland and the eye, allowing the gland to easily pop out of position. It is not known if it is an inherited condition, even though it is a congenital condition.
- Although this condition may look painful, it usually is not for the dog.
Spot the signs of pigmentary keratopathy.Pigmentary keratopathy is a hereditary condition that is not yet fully understood. Brown pigment is deposited in the clear cells of the cornea, which is like wearing a contact lens covered in paint. The dog cannot see through it and eventually loses its vision.
- If you are suspicious that your pug is losing its sight, for instance it is running into objects that it should be able to avoid, inspect its eye. Look carefully at the surface of the eye for deposits of brown pigments. These can range in size from small speckles to large patches.
Pay attention to the general signs of eye problems.Don't concern yourself with making a definite diagnosis. Your job is to recognize that something isn't quite right and then to make the judgement as to whether or not your dog needs to go to a vet. In the case of eye problems, it is probably better to be safe than sorry, as many eye conditions that are left untreated could lead to blindness and pain for your dog. Signs there is a problem include:
- Holding the eye closed or squinting: This is a sign of discomfort and requires urgent attention.
- Rubbing the eye: Again, an important sign the dog's eye is uncomfortable.
- A discharge from the eye: This can be watery is the eye is irritated, green if there is infection, or a tacky glue like discharge for dry eye.
- A dull eye: A dull eye can indicate an ulcer on the surface, or a lack of moisture production.
Getting a Veterinary Diagnosis
Take your dog to the vet.You should feel free to call and consult with your veterinary office if you are unsure whether you should bring your pug in or not. If you do bring the dog in, the vet will conduct a physical examination. He or she will pay particular attention to the eyes, the area around the eyes, the eyelids (checking for cherry eye) and the inside of the eye.
- The vet will look for external factors that may be irritating the eye, such as hairs that are touching the eye.
- The vet will inspect the surface of the cornea, looking for pigment deposits (pigmentary keratitis) or dullness (dry eye or ulcers), which could show there is a problem.
- The vet will then uses an ophthalmoscope (a light and magnifier) to look closely at the surface of the eye, the front chamber, the back chamber, and the retina.This will give him or her the most information about the possibility of a cataract because the the retina will be difficult or impossible to see due to a cataract.
Approve additional testing.The vet may need to verify his or her diagnosis through additional testing. This may end of costing you a little bit more money but is in important that the vet is confident in his or her diagnosis so that the right treatment can be prescribed.
- To check for ulcers, the vet puts a special optic dye, called fluorescein, into the eye. This dye is orange, and when it comes in contact with damaged tissue it turns green. An ulcer shows up as a vivid green area on the surface of the orange cornea. This confirms that a corneal ulcer is present.
- To check for dry eye, the vet performs a Schirmer tear test.This means hooking a narrow strip of special blotting paper marked out in millimetres, over the lower eyelid. The paper soaks up the tears and travels along the paper. A normal eye travels 10-15 mm in one minute. A pug is considered to have dry eye if it fails to reach 5mm after one minute.
- To double check for a cataract, the vet may need to dilate your pug's eyes.The vet will stand back in a darkened room and shine a bright light directly into each eye. The opaque lens blocks light from casting a dark shadow on the retina. This confirms that a cataract is present.
Follow the vet's suggestions for treatment.Depending on the eye condition your pug has, the treatment will vary immensely. Discuss all treatment options with your veterinarian and be sure to pick the one that is best for both you and your pug. This sometimes means that you cannot pay for the most expensive surgery or advanced treatment but you can make sure your dog is not in pain or discomfort.
- For corneal ulcers, the treatment generally includes antibiotics or antiproteinase (topical treatment). This will generally clear up the condition if the ulcers are not very, very advanced before treatment is sought. If corneal ulcers are caught very late, the treatment usually includes surgery to repair the corneas and the iris, which can be affected if the condition is serious.
- For cherry eye, the condition usually requires surgery to replace the gland associated with the third eyelid. This gland is important, as it produces the fluid needed for tear production.
- Dry eyes are usually treated by administering artificial tears or lubricants on a regular basis. This is done at home by you, not by your veterinarian.
- Cataract treatment usually entails surgery. The surgeon cuts open the front of the eye, takes out the cloudy lens, and replaces it with an artificial lens. This surgery should be done as quickly as possible, as the illness is progressive.
- Pigmentary keratopathy is usually treated with medications to reduce pigmentation, medications to produce tears, or surgery on the eyelids.
Video: 5 Common Pug Eyes Problems
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