Glaucoma in dogs is not just a very serious disease; it is also considered a major medical emergency by the veterinary community.
This reason for this is twofold; it can cause a tremendous amount of irreparable damage to your dog’s eyes, and it is also extremely easy to miss.
Even for the most loyal of owners that check their dog daily for any sign that something is wrong can easily miss this very dangerous disease.
When think of a major medical emergency in your dog, this disease is probably very low on your list.
To fully understand why it is such an emergency, it is very helpful to understand exactly what it is.
It also helps to know what types or kinds of glaucoma can affect your dog, as well as the signs to watch for:
Glaucoma in dogs, contrary to a lot of misconception, is almost as common as it is with people.
Under normal circumstances, you dogs eye contains an adequate amount of fluid to properly maintain its shape, as their body is constantly adding as well as removing fluid to the eyes.
This process occurs when their system adds fluid to the inside of the eye to maintain what is referred to as intraocular pressure, and then removes it in perfect balance.
When glaucoma in dogs occurs, this pressure is not held to these proper levels, as the pressure inside your dog’s eyeball starts to become higher than it should be.
The best example of how bad this can be is to compare it to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can cause several severe disease or conditions in your dog, including heart problems.
The same thing happens with glaucoma, expect it attacks one very specific area; your dog’s eyes and the areas that support them.
The retina, which is the back of your dog’s eye and is critical for their vision, as well as their optic nerves, are also damaged by this rise in pressure.
The optic nerves carry all of the visual signals that are sent to your dog’s brain, and they are severely damaged by this added pressure.
If this disease is not identified and treated very quickly, it is every bit as bad as if your dog was severely injured in an accident of some kind that damaged their eyes.
In either case, they can very rapidly lose their vision totally.
Glaucoma in dogs come in two different forms or types; primary and secondary.
The primary form is held to be the more common of the two and for reasons still not fully understood; it does affect certain breeds a lot more commonly than others.
Because of this, it is thought to be genetic in nature, and in some cases the affected breeds may have drainage pores in their eyes that are either too small or form to narrow of angles.
This can make the drainage process in the flow in and out of the fluids in your dog’s eyes malfunction, as the fluid has a very difficult time draining.
It can flow in with no issues, but it will not flow out in the amounts that it should to keep the pressure normal.
The breeds that are commonly affected by the primary form of glaucoma include Miniature Poodles, Dachshunds, and Cocker Spaniels.
Beagles, Basset Hounds, Norwegian Elk hounds, as well as Bouvier des Flanders are also commonly affected.
However, there is a very challenging aspect to this form; it can and does affect all of these breeds in slightly different ways but the end result will be the same.
There is another very interesting aspect about primary glaucoma in dogs; it will not start to surface for two to three year.
Even though your dog may be carrier of the disease, it does not seem to show up until they have passed two years of age. There is also one other factor; it does not affect both eyes at the same time.
However, it is very important for an owner to understand that if one eye is affected, it is only a matter of time before the other is because of this genetic flaw.
The second form of glaucoma in dogs is referred to as secondary, which means that it is caused by another condition. Because of this, it can affect any dog at any age.
The most common causes would include some kind of trauma that has damaged or affected your dog’s eye that induces inflammation, and once this occurs, several bad things develop.
This inflammation may cause the fluid that is flowing in and out of your dog’s eye to become too thick, which automatically will impede the process.
This trauma may also cause scar tissue to form, which can also impede the flow of fluid as it can clog the drainage pores.
Other potential causes of secondary glaucoma would be bleeding in your dog’s eye, displacement of the lens of their eye, as well as some type of degeneration.
Degeneration can occur when the structure within the drainage area is inflamed as the result of bleeding or an injury and the drainage angle is damaged.
If luxation of your dog’s lens does occur, it is the result of the small attachments that hold it in place suffering damage, and this causes the lens to move forward.
When this does occur, it will naturally rest of your dog’s iris and it blocks the opening of the eye, better known as the pupil.
If the pupil is blocked, the fluid flow is virtually stopped, or at best, severely slowed.
Glaucoma in dogs will show you some very early signs if you know what to look for. The first of these signs can occur all at once, which is very rare, or one at a time.
They include a very sudden pain in your dog’s eyes, dilated pupils, or a sudden cloudiness within their cornea.
This will be much easier to spot then the other early signs, as there will be an increase in the size of the blood vessels in the eye.
These will appear in the white portion of your dog’s eye. If you do notice this, look at your dog’s eyes very close.
If one of the eyes suddenly appears larger than the other, treat it for what it is; an extreme medical emergency.
It can be very easy to put off until your next visit to your veterinarian, but by then it will be too late.
If your dog is suddenly pawing at their eyes, although this can be quite normal, watch it extremely close.
If they start to flutter their eyelids or blink a lot, you have seen all you need to know.
It is also very important to understand that glaucoma in dogs in dogs, either form of it, will generally only attack one eye at a time.
Another real warning sign will be what is referred to as blood shot eyes. Blood shot eyes are common in people that drink to excess or who get very little rest; but your dog is not a person.
Bloodshot eyes are extremely uncommon in dogs and will be associated with the vessels, and when it does occur, there is a reason.
In this case, the reason is that glaucoma has developed and it is only a matter of time before your dog goes blind if not treated.
Glaucoma in dogs does have some very effective treatments, but they are not nearly as effective in dogs as they are with humans.
For this reason alone, the sooner your dog is treated, the better chance they will have.
This disease should be taken for exactly what the medical community calls it; a true medical emergency.