Certain pedigree dog breeds have had their faces distorted to such an extent that it causes them health problems.
One such problem is that of Ectropion.
A look of Sadness
Several breeds of dog have been deliberately designed to have a sad or woeful expression.
This helps us as humans to feel more emotional when we see them, and a lot of people find it very endearing.
Drooping eyelids are appealing to puppy buyers, so breeders select dogs who display this characteristic. Unfortunately, eyelids are not meant to be droopy.
They play an important part in the health of your dog’s eyes.
What is Ectropion?
Ectropion is the name for the condition whereby the edge of the eyelid rolls outward. This results in the exposure of the palpebral conjunctiva, the portion of tissue that lines the inner eyelids.
This normally happens because the dog has unhealthily elongated eyelids. The condition can involves one eyelid, but usually affects both.
This drooping of the eyelid causes poor tear distribution, and can predispose dogs to sight threatening corneal disease.
There are several potential reasons that ectropion can occur in a dog.
Your puppy will start to show signs of this at less than a year old.
If your puppy’s parents have drooped eyelids, he is likely to have them too.
However, ectropion can occur later in life as a result of the facial tissues losing tension in loose skinned breeds.
Ectropion is not always immediately obvious, and does not always affect a dog all of the time.
For example, being tired out after exercise can cause ectropion to occur temporarily.
It can also occur as a result of hypothyroidism, weight loss, muscle loss or scaring to the eyelid after injury.
Which Dogs get it?
Any breed of dog could suffer from ectropion, but it is far more common in certain pedigree breeds. Namely those who have loose skin around their faces.
Bloohounds are probably the example which springs immediately to mind when you think of drooping faces, but it also causes problems for other breeds. Being most likely in sporting dogs and giant dogs such as spaniels, other hounds, retrievers, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands and Great Danes.
Signs that a dog is suffering from ectropion will almost always be obvious once they appear, but may not emerge until your puppy is a year old.
Symptoms in the eye itself include protruding lower eyelids, a lack of contact between the lower lid and eye ball, and exposure of the conjunctiva.
There will also be other signs on your dog’s face, such as staining from poor tear drainage and a history of discharge from the eye.
Ectropion sufferers will experience a lot of issues with foreign objects irritating their eyes and get frequent bouts of bacterial conjunctivitis.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from any of the symptoms above, then your vet will be able to diagnose him through examination.
In their opthalmic evaluation they will be looking for evidence of bacteria, ulcerations, abrasions or foreign objects. As well as the easily visible symptoms shown above.
There are a variety of treatments available for ectropion, and what your vet prescribes will depend upon how serious your dog’s case is.
In minor cases topical lubricant can assist them, in conjunction with good eye and facial hygeine. In the short term bacterial infections will be treated with antibiotics, usually in ointment form.
For more serious cases there are surgical procedures that can shorten the eyelid, or give the dog a full facelift.
If you are looking to buy a puppy from a breed prone to ectropion, find out from the breeder whether their parents have a history of eye problems.
Make sure that neither of them has had to have surgery to correct the issue, as their poor genetics would still be passed on to the pup.
Make sure you see both parents, and assess for yourself whether you think that the skin is excessively loose.
Remember, ectropion is a nasty condition and you don’t want to have your lovely puppy experience marred by the pair of you having to deal with this horrible condition.