Dry Eyes in Bulldogs: Causes and Treatment

Immune problems, medications, surgery to treat a cherry eye, and congenital defect are among the most important causes of dry eyes in Bulldogs. This condition is also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) and it typically happens to middle-aged Bulldogs with decreased tear production.

A Bulldog’s tear glands have three parts – the oily layer, the watery layer, and the mucoid layer. The watery layer makes up most of the tears. It is the layer that carries oxygen and nutrients to your Bulldog’s cornea. It’s also the part responsible for flushing out dirt and protecting the eyes from bacteria.

Dry Eyes in Bulldogs

With the dry eye syndrome setting in, the watery part in your Bulldog’s tear glands fails to produce enough tears. This condition often affects both eyes.

Bulldogs, West Highland Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, and Lhasa Apsos are predisposed to dry eyes. Other dogs with bulging eyes, such as Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers too develop this type of eye problem.


Dry Eyes in Bulldogs: Signs and Symptoms

The most common sign of dry eyes in Bulldogs is the unusual eye discharge. Dogs with this problem often have greenish mucoid excreting from their eyes. Mucus overproduction is their body’s way of lubricating the eyes when they lack tears.

Other symptoms of dry eyes in Bulldogs may include the following.

  • Eye redness
  • Swollen cornea or conjunctival blood vessels
  • Swollen third eyelid
  • Excessive blinking
  • Twitching eyelids
  • Dull eyes
  • Hypersensitivity to light
  • Scarring or ulceration of the cornea
  • Impaired vision or blindness


Dry Eyes in Bulldogs: Causes

There are a number of factors contributing to dry eyes in Bulldogs. Here are the most common factors contributing t the risk.

  • Viral infections, such as canine distemper
  • Eye trauma
  • Tear gland injury
  • Neurogenic
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Blocked tear duct
  • Inflammatory issues
  • Nerve damage
  • Immune system disorder
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Intake of certain medications
  • Cherry eye correction surgery
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Absence or abnormality of tear glands (due to congenital defect)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Immune system disorders play a part in about 80% of cases of dry eyes in Bulldogs. The eye problem, however, can also be an inherited disease that is more common among Bulldogs than other dog breeds.

The Schirmer Tear Test is the most common method used to diagnose dry eyes in Bulldogs. It involves using a small strip of paper to check the amount of tears each eye produces.


Dry Eyes in Bulldogs: How To Treat

Without adequate lubrication and proper treatment, Bulldogs with dry eyes can suffer from corneal damage, secondary bacterial infections, the loss of normal eye functions, and even blindness.

To treat dry eyes in Bulldogs, veterinarians focus on determining the underlying condition that caused it. This condition must be addressed first. It is important to seek the treatment of dry eyes as soon as you notice the problem in your pet. In some cases, dry eyes in Bulldogs can be managed only after the underlying condition has been dealt with. In other cases, treatment of both the dry eyes and the disease that caused it is done at the same time.

Sadly, most cases of dry eyes in Bulldogs are associated with immune system problems making the problem incurable. However, proper and lifetime management of the condition can help prevent further problems in your Bulldog’s eyes.

Depending on the case, the management of dry eyes in Bulldogs involves the use of one or more of the following medications.

  • Cyclosporine ointment to boost the aqueous component of the tear layer
  • Tacrolimus eye drops
  • Pilocarpine that facilitates the increased rate of aqueous humor discharge
  • Acetylcysteine solution
  • Artificial tears and lubricant ointments
  • Antibiotics
  • Topical steroids

Some veterinarians also recommend vitamin A, E, B complex, and C for Bulldogs with dry eyes.

In most cases, dry eye in Bulldogs is not curable. A special surgery can be done to transpose a salivary duct to the margin of the eye to give it a bit of lubrication. But this is not always successful.The prognosis of dry eyes in Bulldogs varies depending upon the cause and how well owners manage the condition.


Tips To Help Bulldogs With Dry Eyes

If your Bulldog has dry eyes, do not forget to keep his eyes and wrinkles clean. The eye discharge, as well as any debris in the eye, should be removed as often as possible to prevent crusting and corneal damage.

Do not let your Bulldog stick his head out of the car window when having a car ride. If your Bulldog loves it and you want to let him enjoy, it is a good idea to make him wear doggie goggles to protect his eyes.


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