Hyphema in Dogs: Causes And Treatment

Hyphema in Dogs: Causes And Treatment

Hyphema in Dogs: Hyphema means bleeding in the anterior chamber of the eye, which is the fluid-filled space behind the cornea and in front of the iris and lens. It occurs when blood vessels in the eye rupture and leak blood into this chamber.

Hyphema in Dogs: Causes And Treatment

Causes of Hyphema in Dogs

Traumatic eye injuries are a common cause of hyphema in dogs. Things like scratches to the eye, blunt force trauma, or foreign objects in the eye can all lead to bleeding. Your dog may have run into something, been hit by an object, or scratched their eye on a stick or thorn while playing outside.

1. Eye infections or inflammation

Infections like glaucoma or uveitis can also cause hyphema by damaging the blood vessels in the eye. If your dog’s eye looks red or swollen, it’s a good idea to have your vet examine them for any underlying infections. They may need medication like eye drops, ointments or oral medication to help clear up the infection and reduce inflammation.

2. Blood clotting disorders

In rare cases, hyphema can be caused by an underlying blood clotting disorder in dogs like von Willebrand’s disease. If your dog experiences frequent or excessive bleeding from minor injuries, it’s a good idea to discuss blood clotting testing with your vet. They may recommend supplements or transfusions to help manage the condition.

The causes of hyphema can vary, so the best way to determine what’s going on with your dog is through an exam by your vet. They can check for any visible injuries or infections, test your dog’s vision and eye pressure, and may run blood tests if a clotting disorder is suspected. The sooner you get your dog in to see the vet after noticing symptoms of hyphema, the better their chances are of avoiding complications and permanent damage. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, many dogs recover well from hyphema.

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Symptoms of Hyphema in Dogs to Watch For

If your dog develops hyphema, there are a few symptoms you’ll want to keep an eye out for. First, check your dog’s eyes—you may notice blood pooling in the anterior chamber of the eye, which is the fluid-filled area between the cornea and iris. The blood can make your dog’s eye appear red or cause a dark, reddish haze. Your dog may also squint, tear up, or avoid bright lights as the blood can irritate the eye.

1. Vision Changes

Excessive blood in the eye can temporarily affect your dog’s vision. His eyes may wander or seem unable to focus, and he may bump into objects or have trouble finding treats or toys. These vision changes should clear up once the blood is reabsorbed, but monitor your dog closely, especially on the stairs or near other hazards.

2. Eye Rubbing

The blood and irritation in the eye may cause your dog to paw at or rub his eye. While this is normal, try to discourage excessive rubbing to avoid further injury. You can gently clean around the eye with a warm washcloth to provide some relief. See your vet right away if the rubbing leads to an eye ulcer or scratch on the cornea.

3. Appetite Changes

Some dogs experience nausea, loss of appetite, or other systemic symptoms when they have hyphema. The irritation and inflammation in the eye can create discomfort throughout the body. Offer your dog bland, easy-to-digest foods to avoid an upset stomach, and make sure he stays well hydrated.

If your dog shows any symptoms of hyphema, it’s best to have your vet examine him as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing complications and permanent damage. Your vet may perform various eye tests to determine the underlying cause of the bleeding and recommend medication such as eye drops to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. With proper care and time, the blood should reabsorb on its own and your dog’s eyesight will return to normal.

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Treatment Options for Hyphema in Dogs

The treatment for hyphema will depend on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, your vet may recommend at-home care to allow the blood to reabsorb on its own. You’ll need to keep your dog’s activity restricted, apply cold compresses to the eye, and administer eye drops as prescribed. Moderate to severe hyphema usually requires medical intervention to prevent vision loss or glaucoma.

1. Medications

Your vet may prescribe corticosteroid eye drops or ointments to reduce inflammation and help the blood reabsorb. They can also prescribe mydriatic eye drops to dilate the pupil, which helps decrease pressure in the eye. In some cases, oral corticosteroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may be used to reduce swelling. Antibiotic eye drops prevent infection while the eye heals.

2. Surgery

If medications are not effective or the hyphema is severe, surgery may be recommended to drain the blood and prevent permanent damage. The most common procedure is called anterior chamber paracentesis, where a needle is inserted into the front chamber of the eye to suction out the blood. Laser therapy uses targeted light beams to seal leaking blood vessels and control bleeding. In rare cases, a more invasive glaucoma procedure may be needed to create an opening for drainage if pressure remains high.

3. Follow-up Care

Your dog will need frequent vet checkups, especially in the first week following treatment. Eye pressure and bleeding will be monitored closely. You’ll need to continue administering all prescribed eye drops and medications as directed to aid healing and prevent complications. Limit activity, walks, and play to prevent injury or re-bleeding during the recovery process. With prompt treatment and proper aftercare, most dogs recover fully from hyphema. However, some may develop glaucoma or experience vision loss, especially if treatment is delayed. Close monitoring of your dog’s eye health will be needed long-term.

The treatment path for hyphema is aimed at controlling bleeding, reducing inflammation, relieving pressure, and preventing permanent damage. While it can be a serious condition, with attentive vet care and at-home treatment, most dogs recover well and maintain good vision. Be diligent in follow-up care and watch your dog’s eye closely for any changes to get the best outcome.

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FAQs

What causes hyphema in dogs?

There are a few common causes of hyphema in dogs. Trauma to the eye, such as a scratch or puncture, can lead to bleeding in the anterior chamber. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, may also cause tiny blood vessels in the eye to burst, resulting in hyphema. Some medications like steroids can increase eye pressure and contribute to hyphema. Certain eye diseases and infections are also linked to this condition.

How is hyphema treated?

Treatment focuses on stopping the bleeding, controlling eye pressure, and preventing complications.Your vet may prescribe eye drops like antibiotics, steroids, and medications to lower pressure. They may also recommend limited activity, especially if the hyphema is severe. In some cases, surgery to drain excess fluid or blood from the eye may be needed. Follow-up care typically involves rechecks, eye pressure monitoring, and medications for several weeks.

What is the prognosis for dogs with hyphema?

The prognosis depends on the underlying cause and severity of the hyphema. Minor trauma or bleeding often resolves within a week or two with treatment and rest. More severe hyphema or that caused by disease may have a guarded prognosis and require close monitoring. While many dogs recover fully, some may experience impaired vision or glaucoma. In rare cases, hyphema can recur or lead to blindness if left untreated or not properly managed. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment offer the best chance for a good outcome.

How do I care for a dog with hyphema at home?

You’ll need to limit activity by confining your dog to a small room without stairs during recovery. Minimize stress and excitement. Administer all eye medications as prescribed by your vet. Check your dog’s eyes daily for increased redness or swelling and contact your vet right away if you notice any changes. Make sure to keep follow-up appointments so your vet can monitor eye pressure and healing. Caring for a dog with hyphema requires patience and diligent home care, but with time and proper treatment, most dogs recover well.