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Dry eye, or Keratocnojunctivitis sicca, is one of the most common eye problems for dogs, and understanding the symptoms for this painful condition can help your pet receive treatment faster.

Dry eye describes poor tear production and can have serious consequences if left untreated. It affects around 1 out of 22 dogs in the UK and breeds such as the English Cocker Spaniel, West Highland White Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih-Tzu are particularly susceptible.

Veterinary surgeon at MSD Animal Health, Sian Stockford, is warning owners to watch out for the tell-tale signs and to seek advice from their local vet. Here are her top tips for spotting dry eye.

Red and inflamed eyes

This symptom may be subtle but is an immediate cause for concern. Breeds previously mentioned that are more vulnerable to dry eye should be checked regularly for this symptom.

Discharge from eyes

A thick yellow to greenish discharge may develop, combined with an itchiness of the eye, when tear levels are low. If the discharge occurs again within hours of being wiped away, then this is a clear warning sign for dry eye.

Frequent conjunctivitis, eye infection or corneal ulcers

These symptoms may be a sign of an underlying issue of dry eye and so should be a cause for concern for pet owners. Ulcers can be a sign of a severe case of dry eye and can be very painful and vision-threatening for your dog.

Uncomfortable eyes

It is sometimes necessary to keep track of your dog’s usual behaviour and keep an eye on any noticeable changes. For example, your dog might blink excessively, rub their eyes or hold their eyes closed if they are suffering from dry eye. Closer analysis of the eyes may also show them looking dull which can be an additional symptom. If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet to ensure an early diagnosis.

Prominent blood vessels on the surface of the eyes

This is often a symptom in more serious dry eye cases and so a vet should be consulted to prevent further destruction of the tear glands. The clarity of this symptom can vary, so regular checks of your dog’s eyes should be undertaken.

It is important to recognise these warning signs for dry eye and take your dog to the vet immediately if you have any concerns. Blindness can occur if this issue is left untreated.  

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