eyelid problems in dogs: entropion vs. ectropion
We don’t give very much thought to our own eyelids – much less our dog’s – but in some cases, we should since there are two health conditions that can affect the eye itself: entropion and ectropion.
Entropion in dogs
What is entropion?
Entropion is the inward rolling of the eyelids, and while it can occur in both the upper and lower eyelid, it is more common in the lower lid.
When the eyelid rolls in, the lid hairs and eyelashes rub against the cornea, or eye’s surface. This chronic irritation can lead to conjunctivitis (aka pink eye), thick yellow discharge, scratches or ulceration of the cornea, and increased tear production.
Is entropion hereditary?
Entropion can be hereditary (passed down by affected parents), congenital (present at birth) or can occasionally be acquired as a result of injury or inflammation. It is usually easily recognized during routine physical exams.
How to treat entropion
The age of the dog and severity of the disease will dictate treatment for entropion. If the condition is found in a young puppy, your vet can place temporary sutures to tack the lids in a normal position to protect the eyes while the puppy grows. Sometimes, this temporary treatment leads to a permanent cure.
In more severe cases, or cases recognized in adult dogs, surgical correction is usually suggested. Since the issues caused by entropion can become worse over time and cause your dog pain, entropion should be addressed as soon as possible for the health of your pet’s eyes.
Ectropion in dogs
What is ectropion?
Ectropion is the eversion, or outward rolling, of the eyelids. It is either related to abnormal lid length or to a laxity of the eyelid itself. Ectropion is occasionally acquired through overzealous surgical correction of entropion, but most often is a congenital problem and considered a desired trait in some breeds known for baggy eyes.
What does ectropion look like?
Ectropion is easily recognized by that droopy-eyed look we have come to associate with dogs like the Basset Hound. Breeds that are more prone to ectropion include Cocker Spaniels, Boxers, Bloodhounds, Clumber Spaniels, Mastiffs and St. Bernards.
Though it definitely adds to the well-known features of those dog breeds affected by it, ectropion is not healthy for the pet’s eyes. Droopy lids lead to increased tear production, but those tears cannot be distributed over the eye properly, so painful keratitis (dry eye) can occur. Chronic conjunctivitis is also a problem for dogs affected with ectropion.
How is ectropion treated?
If ectropion is mild and uncomplicated by severe conjunctivitis or keratitis, no treatment is needed. Severe cases should be surgically corrected, however, to prevent ongoing eye disease.