Entropion in Dogs: Entropion is when a dog’s eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes and hair to rub against the eyeball. This is an uncomfortable condition for dogs that requires treatment.
Entropion can be caused by a few factors:
- Genetics. Some breeds like Poodles, Chow Chows, and Labradors are prone to entropion due to their eyelid shape and structure.
- Conformation. If a dog has eyes that bulge or shallow eye sockets, it puts pressure on the eyelids and can cause them to roll in.
- Trauma or scarring. An eye injury or previous eyelid surgery can lead to scarring that pulls the eyelid inward.
- Aging. As dogs get older, their eyelid muscles and tissues naturally weaken which can allow the eyelids to roll inward.
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, it could indicate entropion:
- Excessive tearing, discharge or squinting as the eyelashes irritate the eyes
- Red, swollen or inflamed eyes
- Visible inward rolling of eyelids
- Corneal ulcers or scarring from chronic eye irritation
- Rubbing or pawing at the eyes due to discomfort
The good news is entropion can usually be corrected with surgery to roll out and secure the eyelids in the proper position and provide relief. Catching it early helps prevent permanent damage, so see your vet right away if you notice these signs in your dog.
Causes and Risk Factors for Entropion
Entropion can develop in dogs for several reasons. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to entropion, while for other dogs it can arise from an eye infection, eye injury, or congenital defect.
Certain breeds like Chow Chows, Shar Peis, Labradors, and Retrievers have facial structures and loose skin that make entropion more likely. Their droopy eyelids and excess skin around the eyes can fold inward, irritating the eye. This condition is known as “conformational entropion” and responsible for many cases.
Eye infections or injuries can also trigger entropion in dogs. Inflammation from conditions like conjunctivitis can cause the eyelids to temporarily fold inward. Trauma to the eye area, like a scratch or puncture wound, may lead to scarring and changes in eyelid position that induce entropion. These cases are often reversible once the underlying cause has been treated.
Some dogs are born with entropion, known as “congenital entropion”. Their eyelids develop incorrectly in the womb, causing them to turn inward from birth. Breeds prone to conformational entropion are also at higher risk of the congenital form. Without correction, congenital entropion can lead to vision problems and eye irritation in puppies.
In summary, the most common causes and risk factors for entropion in dogs include:
- Genetics and breed (e.g. Chow Chows, Shar Peis, Retrievers)
- Eye infections or injuries
- Congenital defect (present from birth)
- Age (older dogs)
- Weight loss
By understanding the underlying causes of your dog’s entropion, the appropriate treatment can be recommended to provide relief and prevent long-term damage.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Entropion
As a dog owner, it’s important to regularly inspect your dog’s eyes for any signs of irritation or abnormality. Two common symptoms of entropion in dogs are excessive tearing and eye discharge. If you notice your dog’s eyes seem to be watering more than usual or have a mucous discharge, it could indicate entropion.
Some other signs to watch for include:
- Squinting or blinking frequently. If your dog seems sensitive to light or is squinting often, it may be due to entropion.
- Redness or swelling of the eyelids. The eyelids may become irritated from the inward-turned eyelashes rubbing against the eye.
- Excessive eye rubbing. Dogs may frequently rub or paw at their eyes to relieve irritation from the turned-in eyelashes.
- Cloudiness or ulcers on the eye. In severe or untreated cases, the constant rubbing can lead to corneal ulcers, infections, or blindness.
- Eyelashes not growing in the normal direction. You may notice the eyelashes on the eyelid growing in towards the eye instead of outwards. This is a telltale sign of entropion.
If you observe any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s best to have your vet examine them as soon as possible. The earlier entropion is diagnosed and treated, the less damage is done to the eye and the better the outcome. Your vet can test for entropion using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope to view the eyelids and eyelashes up close. They may also perform eye stain tests to check for any scratches or ulcers on the eye.
Treatment Options for Entropion in Dogs
If your dog has been diagnosed with entropion, the good news is there are treatment options available to correct this condition and relieve your dog’s discomfort. The most common treatments for entropion include:
The most effective treatment for entropion is corrective eyelid surgery called blepharoplasty. During this procedure, a veterinary ophthalmologist will remove a wedge of skin from the eyelid to change its shape and position. This helps roll out and reposition the eyelid margin away from the eye. The procedure is usually done under general anesthesia and may require stitches that need to be removed in 7 to 14 days. Surgery provides a permanent solution to entropion, though repeat procedures may be needed in some cases.
In mild cases of entropion or when surgery is not an option, medication may help provide temporary relief from irritation and inflammation. Common medications for entropion include:
- Eye lubricants (artificial tears): Helps keep eyes moist and relieve irritation. Needs to be applied regularly and frequently.
- Anti-inflammatory medication: Reduces swelling and irritation. Usually in the form of eye drops or oral medication.
- Antibiotic eye drops: Prevents infection if the eye has been scratched.
Medications do not correct the underlying eyelid problem and need to be used long-term to control symptoms. Surgery still provides the best solution.
3. Other Options
- Tacking the eyelid: Involves using temporary stitches to roll out the eyelid. Provides temporary relief but the eyelid can revert back to the inward position over time.
- Freezing the eyelid tissue: Cryosurgery can be used to damage eyelid tissue and cause scarring that helps reposition the eyelid. Typically not as effective as surgery but may provide some relief.
- Eyelid tape or stent: Adhesive tapes or stents can be applied to the eyelids to manually roll out and reposition the eyelid margin. Requires frequent replacement and does not provide a permanent solution.
The treatment option recommended for your dog will depend on the severity of the entropion, eye health, age, and other factors. Discuss the options with your vet to determine the best approach for correcting your dog’s entropion and providing lasting relief.