Blepharitis in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
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Blepharitis in dogs is defined as the inflammation of the dog's eyelids and can be caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi, immune-mediated diseases or even tumors. In this AnimalWised article we're going to talk about blepharitis in dogs, its symptoms, causes and treatment.
What is blepharitis in dogs?
Blepharitis in dogs is the inflammation of their eyelids. This mainly occurs at the edges and can affect both the external skin and the muscle, connective tissue and glands (Meibomian, Zeis and Moll).
This eye problem is more common in dogs than in cats, and it usually affect both eyelids. This inflammation is largely due to the fact that the eyelids are structures with good innervation and vascularization, which allows the arrival of inflammatory defensive cells of the immune system that cause blepharitis.
This inflammation can be due to numerous causes, from infectious diseases, immune system disorders, allergies, trauma to congenital diseases or tumors. Because the eyelids have direct contact with the cornea and conjunctiva, the inflammation in them promotes secondary diseases in these ocular structures such as conjunctivitis, keratitis or ulcers.
Types of blepharitis in dogs according to their cause
The most common classification of blepharitis in dogs is according to their cause. This is why there are several types of blepharitis. In this article we're going to take a look at the most common types of blepharitis in dogs and their causes:
Infectious blepharitis in dogs
Infectious blepharitis in dogs can have different origins. They can be the following:
- Bacterial: a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus is usually responsible for the infection of the eyelids (specifically of their glands) with the formation of styes. In these cases of bacterial blepharitis, dogs may manifest purulent discharge, redness, and irritation. It is diagnosed by cytology, culture and antibiogram. In puppies, purulent blepharitis also develops as part of a juvenile pyoderma.
- Parasitic: it can be due to external parasites such as Demodex canis or Sarcoptes scabiei, which causes inflammation by excavating galleries in deep layers of the skin or by alteration of the hair follicles. The first does not cause itching and also causes injuries in other places than the eyelids. On the other hand, the second produces a lot of itching. They are diagnosed by skin scrapings (deep in the case of Demodex). It can also be caused by internal parasites such as the one responsible for canine leishmaniasis (Leishmania infantum), which will cause scaly lesions, nodules (granulomatous blepharoconjunctivitis or granulomatous blepharoconjunctivitis), uveitis and ulcers (it usually does not cause pain or itching). In this case, it is transmitted through the diptera sandflies and the parasitic infection is endemic in the Mediterranean region, so it is necessary to visit this region to contract it. Diagnosis is by serology and skin biopsy.
- Fungal: produced by the dermatophyte fungi responsible for ringworm (Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum or Trichophyton mentagrophytes) or the yeasts of the genus Malassezia. The diagnosis is carried out by means of a hair sample and fungal culture.
Immune-mediated or hypersensitivity blepharitis
In these cases, blepharitis in dogs can be due to an adverse or allergic reaction to food, hypersensitivity to environmental antigens, drugs, or insect bites. It is common to observe that the dog has a swollen lower eyelid, as well as the upper one, when the cause is an allergic reaction. Learn more in our article about dog food allergies.
Blepharitis can also be due to immune-mediated diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, which produces generalized skin changes, including eyelid involvement, or pemphigus (the vulgar type affects the mucocutaneous junctions and can produce lesions on the eyelid such as vesicles, blisters and collarettes).
Diseases that appear from birth such as entropion (eyelid directed towards the interior of the eye region), trichiasis (eyelashes directed towards the inside of the eye) or lagophthalmia (inability to close the eye completely) can cause blepharitis in the dog.
Other causes of blepharitis in dogs
There are also other causes of blepharitis in dogs that are less common. They are:
- Tumors: a lump will be observed on the eyelid that can become ulcerated. The diagnosis is based on a cytology and biopsy.
- Trauma: vegetable fibers, exposure to fumes or irritating environments can cause inflammation in this region.
Symptoms of blepharitis in dogs
Depending on the severity of the condition, your dog may present the following clinical signs:
- Inflammation in the eye area
- Redness, itching and scabs on the edge of the eyelid
- Purulent discharge
- Alopecia in the affected area
- Changes in pigmentation
- Nodules that can reach 5 mm (granulomatous blepharitis) that can also affect the conjunctiva (granulomatous blepharoconjunctivitis)
- Pustules or papules
If you notice that your dog has a swollen eyelid, ulcers, a reddened area or a discharge, it is essential to go to the veterinarian in order for them to get properly diagnosed and treated, whether it be for blepharitis or another eye disease in dogs.
Treatment of blepharitis in dogs
When selecting the right treatment for your dog, your veterinarian will have different options to choose from which they will discuss with you after examining your dog and understanding their health condition. We must keep in mind that the treatment will depend on the type of blepharitis. They can be:
- In cases of bacterial blepharitis, an antibiogram should be performed to apply the appropriate antibiotic treatment.
- If the blepharitis is parasitic or fungal, the appropriate antiparasitic and antifungal treatments should be used according to the agent. It will also be important to clean any rugs, carpets, etc. at home in order to prevent your dog from getting infected again.
- In cases of immune-mediated blepharitis, immunosuppressive therapy with corticosteroids is necessary. Likewise, in food hypersensitivity, it is necessary to detect the food allergen, that is, the protein that is causing the adverse reaction and eliminate it from the diet.
- If blepharitis is caused by a tumor or a congenital disease, surgery will be necessary.
Home remedies for blepharitis in dogs
If your dog has inflammation around their eye, it's very important that you take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible to be properly diagnosed and treated. These home remedies are only to clean the eye of your dog, it will not cure them of their eye disease, so do not use it as a replacement of going to the veterinarian. This home remedy is only thought out to clean the eye if you cannot go straight to the veterinarian.
Clean your dog's eye at home
The first and essential thing is to keep the area clean of dirt and remains of crusts, blood and street debris. For this, physiological saline can be used. This is a medical treatment to clean a dog's eye but it can also be used at home.
You can do this by using physiological saline as eye drops and then use a clean gauze to wipe your dog's eye. This way, you clean your dogs eye and remove any remains of dirt, crusts, etc.
A common folk remedy is using chamomile tea to clean eyes, as it has natural anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic properties. To use this instead, add some to a clean gauze and gently wipe your dog's eyes as they're closed. This will help remove all the excess dirt accumulated around their eyes.
We also invite you to watch our video below on how to clean your dog's eyes at home. Just remember that this will not cure blepharitis, you will still need to go to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. However, it will help your dog have healthy ocular hygiene.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Blepharitis in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Eye problems category.
- Take your dog to the vet as the first option when you discover a swelling on the eyelid.
- You can apply natural remedies as a cleaning supplement before you can take it to a veterinary center.
- Make sure that during the walk the grass is not hit or traced where the area could be damaged.
- Keep the area clean and avoid scratching, if necessary, put an Elizabethan collar to prevent it.
- Correctly apply the indicated treatment and do not neglect it.
- SM Turner. (2010). Small animal ophthalmology . ELSEVIER España, SL Travessera de Gràcia, 17-21 - 08021 Barcelona, Spain.
- MA T. Peña, M. Leiva. (2007). Canine conjunctivitis and blepharitis . ELSEVIER.
- C. Weingart, B. Kohn, M Siekierski, R. Merle, M. Linek. (2019). Blepharitis in dogs: a clinical evaluation in 102 dogs . Veterinary Dermatology.