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Squinting and Inflamed Eyelids in Dogs

Blepharospasm (Severe Squinting)

Severe squinting with spasms of the muscles around the eye is a symptom of a painful eye. Any painful eye condition can cause squinting. The tightening of the muscles rolls the eyelids in against the eye. Once rolled in, the rough edges of the lids and the hairs rub against the eyeball, causing further pain and spasms.

Treatment: Anesthetic drops can be applied to the eyeball to relieve the pain and break the cycle. The relief is temporary, unless the irritating factor is identified and removed.

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Blepharitis (Inflamed Eyelids)

Bacterial blepharitis isa condition in which the eyelids become thick, reddened, inflamed, and encrusted. Mucuslike pus may adhere to the lids. Blepharitis in puppies occurs primarily in association with puppy strangles. In older dogs it can be associated with various skin diseases, including canine atopy, demodectic mange, autoimmune diseases, and hypothyroidism.

Staphylococcal blepharitisoccurs in both puppies and adults. It is identified by small white pimples on the edges of the eyelids. The pimples rupture

Treatment: Blepharitis is treated with oral and topical antibiotics. To remove adherent crusts, use a washcloth soaked in warm water as a daily compress over the eyelids. Three or four times a day, apply a topical ophthalmic ointment or solution containing neomycin, bacitracin, or polymyxin B. Your veterinarian may prescribe an ophthalmic ointment that contains corticosteroids.

Blepharitis is difficult to cure. Some dogs require long-term treatment. Dogs with chronic blepharitis should be checked for hypothyroidism. Any primary cause will need to be treated.

Foreign Bodies in the Eyes

Foreign material such as grass seeds, dirt, and specks of vegetable matter can adhere to the surface of the eye or become trapped behind the eyelids. Dogs who ride in the open bed of a pickup truck and in the cars with their head out the windows are at high risk for getting dirt and debris in the eyes. Thorns, thistles, and splinters can also penetrate the cornea. This is most likely to happen when a dog is running through dense brush and tall weeds.

Signs of a foreign body in the eye are tearing and watering, blinking, squinting, and pawing. The third eyelid may protrude to protect the painful eye.

You may be able to see dirt or plant material on the surface or behind the upper and lower eyelids. If not, the foreign body may be caught behind the third eyelid. In that case, the dog will need a topical eye anesthetic before it can be removed.

Treatment: Flush the eye for 10 to 15 minutes using cool water, or preferably a sterile saline eyewash or artificial tears. To flush the eye, soak a wad of cotton in the solution and squeeze it into the eye repeatedly. If you have a bottle of artificial tears on hand, you can flush the eye directly from the bottle.

If the foreign body cannot be removed by irrigation, you may be able to remove it by gently touching it with a wet cotton-tipped swab. The foreign body may adhere to the cotton tip. Foreign bodies that penetrate the surface of the eye must be removed by a veterinarian. Restrain the dog from pawing at the eye while you drive to the veterinary hospital.

If the dog continues to squint or tear after the foreign body has been removed, have him checked by your veterinarian to see if the cornea has been damaged.

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