Entropion: a painful eye condition in dogs

Entropion is an abnormality of the eyelids in which the eyelid rolls inward. This results in the hair on the surface of the eyelid rubbing against the cornea. When this happens the dog experiences pain, possible corneal ulcers, perforations, or pigment  developing on the cornea which can interfere with vision.

Entropion signs and symptoms

You’ll notice your dog squinting, holding his eye shut or tearing excessively. He may also develop a mucous discharge.  Interestingly, many flat-faced dogs with medial entropion (involving the corner of the eyes near the nose) exhibit no obvious signs of discomfort. In most cases, both eyes are affected. It is usually diagnosed in puppies under 1 year of age.

Entropion genetics

Entropion is considered a hereditary disorder and many breeds are identified as having this problem. These include American Staffordshire Terrier, Basset Hound, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Dalmatian, English and American Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Japanese Chin, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, Rottweiler, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Saint Bernard, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Toy and Miniature Poodle, Vizsla, Yorkshire Terrier, and Weimaraner.

Treatment for entropion

The treatment for entropion is surgery.  A section of skin is removed from the affected eyelid to reverse its inward rolling. In many cases, a first, major surgical correction will be performed, and will be followed by a second, minor corrective surgery later. Two surgeries are often performed to reduce the risk of over-correcting the entropion which could result in an outward-rolling eyelid known as ectropion. Most dogs will not undergo surgery until they have reached their adult size at six to 12 months of age. Before and after surgery, ophthalmic medications such as various antibiotics and artificial tear lubricants may be used to help treat secondary problems that have developed and to protect the cornea.

Long term prognosis

The prognosis for the surgical correction of entropion is generally good. While several surgeries may be required, most dogs enjoy a pain-free normal life. If the condition is treated later and corneal scarring has occurred, there may be permanent irreversible visual problems. Your veterinarian will discuss a diagnostic and treatment plan for your dog to help you successfully treat this condition.

This is Chase, an 18-week-old Shar Pei with severe entropion affecting both eyes. The excessive wrinkliness of his skin causes the eyelids to roll in and rub on the eye which can cause permanent eye damage. Our vets did an eyelid tacking which is a temporary procedure to unroll the eyelids and allow some time for him to grow into his wrinkles. “We will review the eyelids in a few months and if they are still causing problems we will do a full eyelid surgery where we remove the excess skin,” says Dr Ingrid. This can affect any breed and is important to look for in any dog with eye discharge.

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