The Dog Owners Guide to Canine Glaucoma

Canine glaucoma is a chronic and very serious disease that affects a dog’s eye (just look at the picture to see how terrible the symptoms are)! In fact this is such a dangerous condition that it can very often lead to blindness.

This condition is caused by a build-up of aqueous humor (a clear watery plasma like fluid) in the eye which is produced faster than it can drain. This will lead to intra-occular pressure causing a degenerative change to the retina and optic nerve.

Glaucoma in a nutshell!

This debilitating condition is general term that refers to an increased pressure within the affected dog’s eye. This is caused by fluid within the eye (the aqueous humor) not draining properly. This fluid is manufactured on a constant basis and is circulated around the eye. The problem arises when the drainage area (or Iridocorneal angle) becomes scarred or inflamed.

Of course when the fluid fails to drain the pressure will start to build within the eye causing a rise in the interocular pressure. This can lead to damage being caused to the optic nerve (this can happen very quickly within a matter of hours leading to permanent sight problems). The symptoms of this condition can include pain, red eyes, squinting, dilated eyes and a hazy apearance to the cornea.

Canine glaucoma can come in two forms – primary and secondary.

Primary glaucoma in dogs

Primary glaucoma in dogs is inherited and will often affect certain breeds including Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Samoyeds. All this serious eye condition will often only affect one eye research estimates that in fifty percent of cases the second eye will also become affected within two years of the first eye becoming diseased.

Secondary glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma is normally caused by complications from another eye disease or problem. There are a variety of eye problems that can lead to secondary canine eye Glaucoma including trauma, Uveitis (a condition that occurs when the iris and ciliary body become inflamed) and displacement of the eye lens.

Canine Glaucoma can also be Acute or Chronic but this will depend on how fast the condition developed and how long the condition has been present. The Acute type is unbelievably painful and may cause the affected dog to squint with the eye producing excessive tears.

Acute glaucoma in dogs

When a dog is experiencing Acute Glaucoma the eye may appear harder with the affected eye having a blank and fixed appearance. This is as a result of the disease making the cornea of the eye hazy or steamy in appearance – the pupil may also appear larger than usual.

Chronic glaucoma in dogs

Chronic canine glaucoma can cause symptoms including protrusion of the eye ball and enlargement of the globe. This is also a very serious eye condition and will normally result in the eye being completely useless due to the associated blindness. Similar to the Acute version of the disease the eye may be harder than a normal healthy eye.

To diagnose this condition the vet will perform a thorough physical examination of the eye, look at past medical history and measure the intraocular pressure of the affected eye.

Glaucoma treatment for dogs

Owners who have a dog suffering from this condition should treat it as an emergency due to the fact that it causes dogs serious pain and can lead to blindness in as little time as a few hours. So if you think that your dog may have the condition or is developing some of the signs and symptoms covered on this page you should take your pooch to the vet straight away!

The most common initial treatment will consist of the vet prescribing medication to reduce the intraocular pressure (this can be and should be achieved rapidly). There are a variety of medications that the vet may prescribe but the first choice will normally be Mannitol (through intravenous injection). By administering Mannitol this will help to increase the serum osmotic pressure and clear some of the fluid from the Anterior Chamber and Circulatory system.

Another method to treat this condition may include topical treatments which will help to constrict the pupil and therefore increase the outflow of fluid – this will help to widen the distance (angle) between the cornea and the iris. There are other medications that vets may use and it can vary from vet to vet – for example some vets may prescribe carbonic anhydrase inhibitors to block the enzyme that produces the intraocular fluid.

If any medication that has been prescribed to treat canine glaucoma does not work then the vet may have to resort to more intensive treatments including surgery (Cyclodestructive surgery). Another method that some vets use to treat the condition is called cryosurgery – this will freeze and destroy some of the ciliary body (this will then reduce how much intraocular fluid is produced).

Preventing glaucoma in dogs

To help prevent this condition you should take your dog to the vet for regular check-ups. A CERF examination can be used to diagnose but also prevent the condition from worsening as it can detect very small increases in intraocular pressure. By having this examination the vet will be able to start preventative treatment to stop the glaucoma from getting worst. If your dog is predisposed to the condition through genetics you should have your dog’s eyes tested on an annual basis.

If one eye is affected then you should have your dog’s eyes tested every four months as there is a very good chance that the healthy eye may also become affected by the disease.

A homeopathic approach to treating Glaucoma

Below are a list of homeopathic remedies for treating this condition…

1. Aconitum Napellus 30c is a great remedy that should be administered three times a day (at hourly intervals). This should be administered during the early stages of the condition and is great at relieving any distress.

2. Apis Mellificum 6c is a great homeopathic remedy to reduce the swelling caused by the condition.

3. Colocynthis 6c can be used to relieve any pain caused by the Glaucoma.

4. Phosphorus 30c is a beneficial remedy often used when the eyes are cloudy.

Why not take a look at our other pages on common eye problems…

A collection of common eye problems are covered in some detail on this page. If you want to know about common eye diseases and disorders then this is the page for you!

Cherry Eye… is more common in younger dogs and can be treated through anti-inflammatory medication. Learn all there is to know about this condition.

Cataracts… is sometimes seen in older dogs and can be caused by diabetes. This is a very serious disorder that can lead your dog losing his sight. This is a complete guide to this condition.

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