Glaucoma in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention


Glaucoma is a severe degenerative disease who reaches the optic nerve and in 40% of cases, this condition can lead to sudden loss of vision in one eye. If left untreated, blindness can then affect both eyes. There are three forms of glaucoma, congenital, primary and secondary, the latter being the most common in dogs. Let’s take stock of the most frequent symptoms, the possible treatments and see if it is possible to prevent this pathology.

The different forms of glaucoma in dogs

The three forms of glaucoma are:

  • The primary glaucoma : it is transmitted by the genes of the parents of the dog. It is therefore hereditary, but it manifests abruptly, usually when the animal is between 5 and 12 years old. Certain breeds are more exposed to this form of glaucoma which can however affect all dogs.
  • The congenital glaucoma : he is present when the puppy is born which from the age of 3 months to 6 months presents an opacification of the cornea as well as a sudden increase in the volume of an eyeball. This glaucoma is rare in canines.
  • The secondary glaucoma : it originates from an intraocular disease but can result from an intraocular surgical intervention. In this case, glaucoma is a postoperative complication.

Whatever form of glaucoma a dog has, it should be taken very seriously.

Glaucoma in dogs: the main symptoms

The symptoms that should alert are the following:

  • Excessive blinking in one eye,
  • Tearful eyes,
  • A lack of enthusiasm,
  • Loss of appetite, or even anorexia,
  • Inflammation on the front of the eye
  • An increase in eye volume or buphthalmos,
  • A depression of the eyeball,
  • A change in behavior,
  • A sort of cloudy blue-whitish veil in front of the eye due to the opacification of the cornea,
  • A reddening of the white of the eye and visible vessels.

Glaucoma causes high pressure in the eye, and the dog tries to relieve his headache by leaning his skull against a wall. It is an attitude to be taken into account.

Glaucoma first appears on the periphery of the eye and then gradually worsens to reach the center of this organ of sight. He touches as well the optic nerve and retinal cells. It is essential to take your dog to the veterinarian urgently when the animal shows symptoms that suggest this type of affection. The early diagnosis and treatment is essential because in the absence of care, the damage to the vision is irreversible: the dog can go blind in just a few hours because of glaucoma.

Dog breeds most predisposed to glaucoma

As we pointed out earlier, some dog breeds are at greater risk of developing the primary form of glaucoma. Among these dogs we find for example:

  • The Golden Retriever,
  • The Dachshund,
  • The Poodle,
  • Akita Inu,
  • The Chihuahua,
  • The Jack Russel Terrier,
  • The Bichon Frize,
  • Labrador,
  • The Flat-Coated Retrever.
  • The American Cocker Spaniel,
  • The Boston Terrier,
  • The Basset Hound,
  • The Shar Pei,
  • The Chow-Chow.

Be careful, this does not mean that all of these dogs will systematically develop glaucoma.

Glaucoma in dogs: diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of glaucoma is based, among other things, on a neuro-ophthalmic examination. This is essential because it allows the veterinarian to measure the visual capacity of the eye affected by the condition. A gonioscopic examination is also performed for the purpose of check the other eye and make sure that it is not reached. In this way, the angle between the cornea and the iris is examined.

The practitioner then measures the intraocular pressure to determine the severity of glaucoma. For example, in some cases this pressure may be three times the norm, this is in a range of 7 to 24 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in canines. It can therefore sometimes exceed 72 mm Hg, which is considerable.

If the dog receives treatment before the glaucoma does not become too aggressive, he can recover some of his visual capacity, sometimes in just a few days. The treatment protocol is decided on a case-by-case basis. It can integrate a surgical intervention that the vet combines with a treatment by injection or by infusion and for pain treatment. But it is also the cause of glaucoma that must be treated in parallel. Thehospitalization of the dog is essential anyway. Visually, the prognosis is often very reserved despite the treatment.

Can we prevent glaucoma in dogs?

Even if we cannot really speak of prevention of glaucoma, it is in any case essential to have your dog’s health checked regularly by scheduling periodic visits to the veterinarian. Certain pathologies which may be the cause of glaucoma can thus be detected very early on. Any health problem diagnosed early has a better chance of being treated or at least it helps to limit complications.

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