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Uveitis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Uveitis, inflammation of the uvea in a dog's eye, can be caused by various factors and lead to serious complications if left untreated. Today, our Smyrna vets will explain uveitis in dogs, the most common symptoms, and the treatment options available.

What is uveitis in dogs?

Uveitis in dogs is the inflammation of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. If left untreated, uveitis can lead to complications such as glaucoma, cataracts, or even permanent vision loss.

Understanding Your Dog's Eye

A dog's eye anatomy is complex and includes several key structures. The outermost layer of the eye is the cornea, which is a clear, protective covering that helps to focus light onto the retina. The iris, located behind the cornea, controls the amount of light that enters the eye by adjusting the size of the pupil.

Beneath the cornea and iris is the lens, which helps to further focus light onto the retina. The retina contains specialized cells called photoreceptors that convert light into electrical signals, which are then sent to the brain via the optic nerve. Additionally, dogs have a tapetum lucidum, a reflective layer behind the retina that helps to enhance their night vision by reflecting light back through the retina for a second chance at detection.

With uveitis, inflammation of the uvea, which includes the iris, can occur. This can lead to blurred vision, eye pain, and sensitivity to light, as well as potential damage to the retina if left untreated.

Causes of Uveitis in Dogs

Uveitis is a tricky disease because it can be caused by both external factors and internal factors.

External Causes of Uveitis in Dogs

Eye Injuries: Eye injuries can lead to uveitis when the trauma causes inflammation in the eye, specifically in the uvea. This inflammation can disrupt the normal function of the uvea, leading to symptoms such as eye pain, redness, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. In severe cases, untreated uveitis can result in permanent damage to the eye and even vision loss.

Harmful Chemicals: Prolonged exposure to harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and acidic cleaners, can lead to uveitis. Additionally, UV radiation from sunlight, even on cloudy days, can also trigger uveitis.

Internal Causes of Uveitis in Dogs

Infections: Uveitis in dogs can be caused by infections such as canine distemper virus, leptospirosis, and tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease. These infections can lead to inflammation in the uvea.

Systemic Diseases: Systemic diseases that can cause uveitis in dogs include autoimmune disorders and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as infectious diseases like tick-borne illnesses and fungal infections.

Eye Diseases: Corneal ulcers and cataracts can be triggers for uveitis. Additionally, lens luxation (the lens shifting from its normal spot) and retinal detachment can also cause uveitis.

Congenital Disorders: Congenital disorders can affect the development and function of the eye structures, such as the iris, lens, or retina. These abnormalities can disrupt the normal flow of fluids within the eye, leading to inflammation and irritation that manifests as uveitis. Additionally, certain genetic mutations associated with congenital disorders may weaken the immune system's ability to regulate inflammation in the eye, further contributing to the development of uveitis.

Symptoms of Uveitis in Dogs

Dogs with uveitis can have a range of symptoms. While dogs can manifest symptoms in subtle ways, and may vary based on the intensity of the uveitis, the most common symptoms include:

  • Mild redness of the conjunctiva
  • Redness that affects the whites of the eyes
  • Eye discharge
  • Excessive squinting
  • The eye appears smaller and more sunken in
  • Elevated or prominent third eyelid
  • Constricted pupils
  • Light sensitivity
  • Cloudiness in the eye
  • Blood or pus in the aqueous chamber (a fluid-filled space located between the cornea and the lens)

Diagnosing Uveitis in Dogs

A veterinarian can diagnose uveitis in dogs through a comprehensive eye examination, which may include assessing the appearance of the eye, measuring intraocular pressure, and performing a fluorescein stain test to check for corneal ulcers. Additionally, the vet may use an ophthalmoscope to examine the structures within the eye, such as the iris and lens, for signs of inflammation or infection.

In some cases, further diagnostic tests, such as blood work or imaging studies like ultrasound, may be necessary to determine the underlying cause of uveitis in dogs. These additional tests can help identify any systemic diseases or infections that may be contributing to the inflammation in the eye, allowing for a more targeted treatment plan to be developed.

Treatment for Uveitis in Dogs

Treatment for uveitis in dogs typically involves addressing the underlying cause, such as infection or inflammation. This may include prescribing anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids to reduce swelling and pain in the eye.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove any damaged tissue or address complications like glaucoma. Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics or antiviral medications if the uveitis is caused by an infection. It is important to follow your veterinarian's treatment plan closely and attend follow-up appointments to monitor your dog's progress and ensure proper healing.

Whatever the treatment plan is, prompt veterinary care is always essential for treating uveitis in dogs. This is because uveitis can quickly progress and lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed the symptoms of uveitis in your dog? Contact our vets at our Smyrna veterinary clinic today to book an examination for your dog.

New Patients Welcome

Are you looking for a vet in Smyrna, Georgia? Cumberland Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about animal healthcare. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(770) 433-1414