Sad droopy lower eyelids (ectropion) may give your dog an endearing sad look but can put your pup at risk for a number of eye problems. In today's post, our Seattle vets discuss ectropion in dogs, what it is, why it's problematic, and what pet parents can do to protect the health of their dog's eyes.
Are my dog's droopy eyelids a problem?
Dogs like people can suffer from a range of eye conditions that can be both painful and possibly result in loss of vision. Because our pets can't tell us when they have sore eyes, it's essential to pay close attention to the condition of your dog's eyes and contact your vet if your pooch seems to have red, itchy, or painful eyes. Taking swift action and having eye issues treated early can help to prevent more severe issues from developing.
If your dog has droopy eyes, it is essential to monitor the health of your dog's eyes and contact your vet at the first sign of problems.
What is ectropion in dogs?
Ectropion occurs when your dog's lower eyelid rolls away from the eye, causing a droopy appearance and exposing the delicate mucous membrane or conjunctiva that is not naturally meant to be exposed. While many modern dogs have been selectively bred to feature the droopy-eyed appearance that ectropion brings, other dogs develop the condition as a result of various health issues such as nerve damage, infection, injury or severe chronic inflammation of the eye.
Regardless of whether your pet has been bred with ectropion or whether it is the result of an underlying health issue, once the eyelid has rolled away from its natural protective position, the dog becomes more susceptible to painful conditions such as pink eye (conjunctivitis), corneal inflammation (keratitis), corneal scarring and possible visual impairment.
What does ectropion in dogs look like?
Ectropion has been selectively bred into many modern dog breeds including bloodhounds, chow chows, great Danes, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and Bullmastiffs. Ectropion is characterized by a sagging or outward rolling lower eyelid. In many cases, you may also notice a discharge or the conjunctive lining of the eyelid may be red and inflamed.
If ectropion is uncomfortable for your dog, or if an infection has developed you may notice that your pup is pawing and rubbing at their eye, or the eye might water. Tearing could also lead to brown staining of the fur below the eye.
What is the usual ectropion in dogs treatment?
In dogs that have not been bred to have ectropion, it will be necessary to determine the underlying cause, as well as treat any uncomfortable symptoms.
While treatment for ectropion isn't necessarily required if the eye stays healthy and the condition is mild, lubricating eye drops or ointments may be prescribed to help prevent the drying out of the cornea and conjunctiva.
If a bacterial infection or corneal ulcer has developed your vet will prescribe antibiotic drops to treat the infection.
In dogs with severe cases of ectropion, surgery to correct the condition may be recommended.
What is the prognosis for dogs with ectropion?
If your dog has droopy lower eyelids then chances are good that you will always have to take extra care with your dog's eyes. Throughout your pet's lifetime, they will likely be susceptible to recurring bouts of conjunctivitis that will require treatment. That said, with the help of lubricating drops and ointments most dogs with ectropion live normal, happy lives.
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.