Retinal Detachment in Dogs
It is a misconception that it is always the result of an ocular problem

Retinal detachment in dogs can occur in just one of your pet’s eyes, or it can affect both eyes at the same time.

It can result in reduced vision, or if it is severe enough, it can cause your dog to go blind. It can also cause your dog’s eyes to hemorrhage or become severely discolored.

It may also put so much pressure on the retina, that the pupils will become so dilated that they will show absolutely no light reflex at all.

Treatment must begin as soon as possible with this condition, or your dog will become permanently blind as a result and it could happen within a couple of days as it is that severe.

But contrary to some misconception, it is not always the result of an ocular problem; it is almost always the result of underlying diseases or condition that is causing all of these problems.

Surgery may be required and is successful in some cases, but not it all cases.


Dogs mysterious eyesRetinal detachment in dogs may be the result of something toxic

However, there are several treatments that can be tried before surgery is required.

Retinal detachment in dogs is where the innermost back part of your dog’s eyes, the retina, has become detached from the outer wall of the eye.

The retina itself is the thin membrane of nerve tissues that lies in the back or your pet’s eyes and it connected to the choroid.

The choroid, which is also known as the choroidea or choroid coat, is the vascular layer that contains the connective tissues.

These are the tissues of the eye lying between the retina and the sclera and they provide both oxygen and nourishment to the outer layers of the retina.

In dogs, the actual detachment will almost always occur as the result of an accumulation of fluid that has formed under the retina and is the result of something that is pathologic.

Pathologic means it is related or caused by a disease, either in the eye itself, or somewhere else in your dog’s body.


Retinal detachment in dogs cause very distinctive symptoms that will be very easy to spot by owners as there is no one that knows and understands your dog’s eyes better than you do.

The first symptom is usually dilated pupils, but this will not be an ordinary form of dilation as it will result in no papillary light reflex at all.

This is the reflex that controls the actual diameter of your pet’s eye in response to light intensity.

Under normal circumstances, bright light of any kind will cause your dog’s pupils to become smaller in a defensive mode.

And in the opposite realm, dim light causes the pupil to enlarge.

If you fully understand your dog’s eyes, you will notice very quickly that something is wrong when there is no dilation at all.

The next symptom of Retinal detachment in dogs that you will see will be either a visible hemorrhage that has or is occurring in their eye.

However you may also notice a strange discoloration of the front of their eyes.

If the blood from the back of your dog’s eyes moves forward, it causes an inflammation and will also change the appearance of the eyes themselves.

The final symptom of Retinal detachment in dogs is very self-explanatory; your dog will have a very sudden and pronounced reduced vision or lose their vision totally.

If the actual underlying cause is from an infection or an immune related disease, your dog may go totally blind within one to three days.

Because of this, it is extremely important to watch for the symptoms.


Retinal detachment in dogs can be the result of several potential causes including; congenital, circulatory, infections, toxins, and degenerative diseases,

It may also be the result of cancer, immune mediated causes, or a trauma of some type.

Congenital causes of retinal detachment can be inherited, or they can develop with the first few months of life.

The most common form is from a skeletal disease, especially in very large breeds, where an actual folding of the retina has occurred.

It could also be from Collie eye, which affects the actual connective tissues of the choroid and the sclera, and as the name suggests, is most common in Collies or Sheepdog breeds.

However, it can also be the result of a very poor nutritional intake that has caused clotting issues and may be associated with a Vitamin K deficiency.

Circulatory problems affect older dogs more commonly.

The major cause is high blood pressure which results in fluid leaking and bleeding from the blood vessels of the retina.

As this fluid accumulates, it forces the detachment. The most common cause of the high blood pressure is from chronic kidney disease.

Your dog’s blood may also become too thick as the result of overproduction of white blood cells or red blood cells.

However, one of the most common problems with circulation is the lack of blood clotting caused by the lack of Vitamin K in your dog’s system.

This could be the result of an actual deficiency of the vitamin, or the result of a liver disease or leukemia.

Infectious diseases may also be the cause, especially if the infection is caused by fungi.

Fungal infections generally attack the skin or the lungs, but the retina is also extremely vulnerable to several forms of fungal infections.

Toxins such as antifreeze poisoning and exposure to sulfa products can cause a very rapid retinal detachment in dogs, as can several forms of cancer.

Severe traumatic events that may have affected your dog’s head or their eyes may also be the cause. 

However, perhaps the two most dangerous causes are immune mediated diseases and degeneration.

Immune mediated diseases are especially dangerous as they cause inflammation to occur that can cause a gradual or a very rapid retinal detachment.

There is a syndrome called Uveodermatologic syndrome that affects Oriental breeds as well as Arctic sled dogs which is a very strange disease.

It attacks any pigmented tissues in the body and causes the pigment to disappear and can affect the skin, hair, and the lips. However, the hardest hit is the eyes.

Immune mediated diseases also affect very large breeds and the first organ affected is the eyes.

Degenerative diseases which are generally associated with geriatric dogs in their final stages of life will also cause detachment of the retina.

Retinal detachment in dogs can also occur in the final stages of glaucoma, the result of a complicated cataract surgery, or as the result of a retinal tear, very common in the Shih Tzu breed of dogs.


Retinal detachment in dogs does have several forms of very successful treatments other than surgery.

Antibiotics can be very successful for fungal infections, corticosteroids can effectively stop most immune diseases, and intravenous fluids will help circulatory problems.

Vitamin K therapy and regular daily doses also very effectively combat clotting disorders.

However, they all must be administered very rapidly by your veterinarian and only you can make that happen by watching for the symptoms.

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