Canine Uveitis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

By Anaƫlle Laurent. February 22, 2021
Canine Uveitis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Uveitis in dogs is an eye disorder usually caused by trauma to the eye. When left untreated it can cause serious irreversible damage to our dog. This is why it's so important to be aware of the symptoms of uveitis in dogs and take our to the veterinarian as soon as possible if we observe them suffering from any of these clinical signs or other abnormalities.

Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn more about canine uveitis, its types, causes, symptoms and treatment.

You may also be interested in: Can Feline Uveitis Be Cured? - Uveitis in Cats

What is the uvea?

In order to better understand what canine uveitis consists of, it is essential to clarify what the anatomy of the dog's eye is like. The uvea or vascular tunic is the middle layer of the eye, the outer layer being the fibrous (cornea and sclera) and the inner layer being the retina. It is made up of three structures that from front to back are: the iris, the ciliary body (front) and the choroid (back).

The uvea is a structure that provides vascularization to the eyeball, so many systemic diseases can affect the eye via the bloodstream. When any of the structures that make up this tunic becomes inflamed for whatever reason, the so-called uveitis occurs.

What is uveitis in dogs?

Uveitis in dogs is when inflammation of one or more of the structures making up the uvea. If all three structures are involved, the inflammation is called true uveitis or pan-uveitis. If only the ciliary body and the iris are inflamed it is called anterior uveitis, while inflammation of the choroid is called posterior uveitis.

Therefore, the different types of uveitis includes:

  • Anterior uveitis (front of the eye) often referred to as “iritis” because it affects the iris.
  • Intermediate uveitis (middle of the eye).
  • Posterior uveitis (back of the eye).
  • Pan-uveitis (all parts of the eye).
Canine Uveitis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - What is uveitis in dogs?

Causes of uveitis in dogs

As we said, uveitis is the inflammation of any of the structures that make up the uvea due to endogenous or exogenous damage. Starting with the former, endogenous or intraocular causes can be due to:

  • Inflammation: uveitis is caused due to an inflammatory reaction generated, for example, by cataracts.
  • Infections: infectious diseases such as leukemia, distemper, leishmaniasis, etc., can cause uveitis among other symptoms. They can be of viral, bacterial, parasitic and even fungal origin.
  • Ocular neoplasms.
  • Immune-mediated: certain races such as Nordics.

Exogenous or extra-ocular causes can be due to:

  • Trauma: accidents or blows.
  • Drugs.
  • Metabolic: endocrine diseases.
  • Arterial hypertension: in cases of kidney failure, there may be high blood pressure that can cause uveitis.
  • Systemic infections such as pyometers (infections of the uterus) can also cause it.
  • Idiopathic: when the cause cannot be determined.

Symptoms of uveitis in dogs and diagnosis

Dogs with uveitis will present general symptoms such as reddened eyes or severe pain, and specific symptoms such as the following:

  • Blepharospasm, closing of the eyelids due to pain.
  • Epiphora, excessive lacrimation.
  • Hyphema, blood inside the eye.
  • Photophobia
  • Cornal edema, blue/ gray eye.

In addition, canine uveitis can occur unilaterally or bilaterally (when both eyes are affected, it gives us information about a possible systemic cause).

Therefore, if you see that your dog has a red mark in their eye, cloudy eyes, or any other abnormalities in their behaviour or appearance, it's best you take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible, before the uveitis progresses and causes permenant damage to your dog. Keep in mind that severe uveitis can result irreversible blindness.

Canine Uveitis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - Symptoms of uveitis in dogs and diagnosis

Diagnosis of uveitis in dogs

For a correct diagnosis of uveitis in dogs, a collaboration between the owner and the veterinarian will be necessary. On the part of the owner, they will explain all the changes that they have observed in their dog's eyes and any other relevant symptoms. With this information, the veterinarian will be able to carry out a correct anamnesis together with the complementary tests. Some of these tests include:

  • Complete eye examination with ophthalmoscope.
  • Slit lamp, tonometry and ocular ultrasound. To perform these tests it is likely that we will have to go to an ophthalmologist veterinarian, since they are not routine tests and our veterinarian may not have these tools.
  • Corneal staining.
  • General tests such as blood tests, serology against infectious diseases, radiography and ultrasound may also be necessary.

Treatment for uveitis in dogs

The treatment for uveitis in dogs usually comprises of a combination of suitable medication according to the type of uveitis our dog has, and in severe cases it may also include surgery.

Among the drugs prescribed by our veterinarian will be:

  • Systemic anti-inflammatory.
  • Topical anti-inflammatory (eye drops, ointment, etc.).
  • Cyclopegic drugs to inhibit pain.
  • Topical antibiotic in case of ulcers and infection.
  • Immunosuppressive drugs for immune-mediated uveitis.
  • Eliminate the primary cause if it exists (pyometra, infection, etc.)

Early treatment is very important especially for a good prognosis. You mustn't let time go by thinking it may resolve on its own. As we've previously mentioned, if let untreated this eye disorder can cause irreversible damage to our dog. A common mistake is to see the red eye in our dog and clean it at home thinking that it is a simple conjunctivitis. However, if you see it is still there for a couple of days it's always best to take them to the veterinarian for a check-up.

It is very important to establish treatment for uveitis in dogs as soon as possible, since it is a serious disease and a lack of control of this can lead to complications such as blindness, glaucoma, cataracts, loss vision, chronic pain, etc. Talk to your veterinarian to see what treatment is best for your dog.

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 Canine Uveitis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Eye problems category.

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