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How to heal dry eyes in dogs
Some dogs have conditions that cause them to tear up constantly, while others can suffer from the exact opposite problem – not being able to produce enough tears. This condition, known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or more commonly dry eye, is a problem that stems from a dog not being able to make enough tears to keep its eyes sufficiently lubricated.
Tears are very important to a dog's overall health and consist of three main parts. First, there is a superficial oily layer, then there is the watery or "aqueous" layer and lastly an inner mucin or mucoid layer. Dogs with dry eyes don't produce the liquid layer but they still produce the mucin layer. Without the liquid layer, the mucin comes out in a thick discharge that tends to collect in the eyes. You may think your pup has an infection when you see this build-up or that the dog has a cut in its eye, but at this stage it is actually just an uncomfortable problem rather than an infection. However, if you don't address the issue in a timely fashion, an infection can brew as a lack of tears means the dog's eyes won't be able to flush out dirt and bacteria.
Not only do tears work to remove dirt and grime that can collect in your dog's eyes, but they also carry oxygen and nutrients to the cornea. The cornea doesn't have any blood vessels so it solely relies on tears to stay healthy. Tears can also be a sign of an overall healthy pet, as 80 percent of all dry eye cases are caused by an immune problem. In these instances, the dog's immune T cells will start to attack tear-producing cells, which prevents them from producing enough tears.
Other common causes behind dry eyes include toxicity due to sulfa drugs, viruses such as kennel cough, chronic eye infections, or trauma that caused an injury to the third eyelid or tear glands. Dry eye can effect all breeds, but there are certain ones that are predisposed to developing the disorder, including cocker spaniels, bulldogs and West Highland white terriers.
If you notice your dog's eyes look crusty, you should bring it to the vet to get checked out. If the vet finds the problem to be dry eyes, he or she may prescribe pet drugs like Optimune to reduce immune disorders. The vet may also suggest artificial tear pet products like LiquiTears to increase tear production. If you own a West Highland white terrier, you may notice that increasing its tear productivity may be causing brown or rusty discoloration on the fur around its eyes. You can clear up this issue with products like Angel Eyes For Dogs and Cats.