Uveitis in dogs is an inflammation that affects the eye of a dog. The eye as we know is made up of different structures and parts. The uvea is made up of the iris, the cillary body and the choroid. The iris is the thin, circular and colored structure of the eye that allows light to enter into the light, it also control the size of the pupil. The cillary body is responsible for making the fluid that fills the eye while the choroid is the middle layer of the eye that contains vessels and connective tissues.
Uveitis is an inflammation of any of these structures. Sometimes, the inflammation may affect just one structure or it may affect more than one. If the inflammation affects all three structures, then it is known as true uveitis or pan-uveitis. When only the choroid is inflamed, it is known as posterior uveitis but when both the iris and cillary body are inflamed, then the result is anterior uveitis. The uvea is commonly targeted by diseases that originated from other parts of the body because the uvea has rich blood supply.
CAUSES OF UVEITIS IN DOGS
According to VCA Animal Hospitals , the exact cause of this inflammation is not known but there are some factors that can lead to this eye inflammation in dogs, these causes are common.
- High blood pressure
- Toxic irritants, chemicals and foreign objects getting onto the eye
- Viral diseases like distemper, rabies and others
- Diseases that affects the metabolism like diabetes
- Bacterial diseases like Lyme disease, leptospirosis
- Eye tumours and growth
- Injury and trauma to the eye
- Fungal diseases like blastomycosis, histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, coccidioidomycosis
- Parasitic infections like toxoplasmosis, ehrlichiosis
- Autoimmune diseases that causes the dog’s immune system to fights against itself
- Lens damage resulting in the leakage of lens protein.
SYMPTOMS OF UVEITIS IN DOGS
There are some signs you will notice in your dog that may indicate uveitis, so you really need to monitor your dog carefully.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Your dog will develop photophobia (fear of lights especially bright lights)
- Severe and intense reddening of the white parts of the eyes
- Squinting of the eyes
- The eyes become cloudy especially the cornea
- Excess tears from the eyes
- Bleeding into the eyes
- The pupil becomes very smaller while the iris bulges out
- Blood or pus may be seen in the anterior chamber of the eye.
ANTERIOR UVEITIS IN DOGS
Anterior uveitis is an inflammation that affects the the anterior chamber of the eye which are the iris and ciliary body. Just like uveitis, there is no exact underlying cause of this condition but there factors that will increase the chances of your dog developing this disease.
Common causes of anterior uveitis in dogs are:
- Viral infections
- Parasitic infections
- Bacterial diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Lens damage
- Eye cancers
Symptoms of anterior uveitis in dogs:
- Redness of the eyes
- Narrowing of the pupils
- Squinting of the eyes
- Fear of bright lights
- Pus or discharge from the eyes
- Blood in the anterior chamber
- Discoloring of the iris
- Reduction in appetite
- Lack of energy
- Constant rubbing of the eyes
- Pain in the eyes.
IS UVEITIS IN DOGS CONTAGIOUS TO HUMANS?
Uveitis is not contagious to humans but the infectious diseases can be transmitted between dogs and their owners or vice versa. This is why it is necessary that any human with this eye inflammation must wear protective wears and take precautions.
Let us consider some of the infectious diseases have the potential to cause uveitis;
This disease causes uveitis both in humans and in dogs, any dog suffering from uveitis can transmit this infection to humans it comes in contact with. When you notice your dog has this brucellosis disease, you should always protect yourself. There is currently no vaccination for this infection and it takes a long time to treat it. In worse cases, brucellosis can cause spontaneous abortion and permanent infertility.
Leptospirosis can cause uveitis in both humans and animals. It is common for dogs with this infection to suffer uveitis before other symptoms. Coming in contact with the urine of an infected dog can result to leptospirosis. Dogs can have traces of their urine on their paws and fur, which makes it easier for this infection to be transmitted to humans. Most variations of Leptospirosis that cause uveitis means that even though vaccines are available, not all of the strains form part of the vaccines.
UVEITIS IN DOGS WITH DIABETES
Diabetes in dogs can cause many eye diseases including cataracts. When the sugar level of a dog increases, the sugar in the part of the eye known as the aqueous humor will also increase. This development does not have good effects on the lens of the affected dog, so the result is blinding cataracts with inflammation. If the diabetes is not properly managed or it becomes severe, the cataract progresses as well.
If the diabetic cataract continues to progress, an inflammation within the eyes known as lens induced uveitis occurs. With time, the uveitis will lead to other complications like glaucoma or retinal detachments. This is why it is very important that your dog gets a thorough eye examination if it has diabetes.
HOW IS UVEITIS DIAGNOSED IN DOGS?
Some symptoms of uveitis is similar to those of glaucoma, so you may mistake one to be the other. One way to differentiate both eye diseases is that in the case of uveitis, the pressure of the fluid in the eyes reduces or is lower while in glaucoma, this pressure is high. A procedure is used to measure this pressure, it is simple and does not cause pain.
Some generalized illnesses can have symptom like uveitis so your vet will carry out a thorough physical examination of your dog. This will help to know the treatment method to use in treating the eye inflammation. Ophthalmic examinations that involve checking your dog’s ocular tissues, anterior chamber and the cornea.
Other diagnostic tests like ultrasound will be carried out to examine the eye and detect any changes. Blood tests, x-rays and urinalysis will also be conducted to check for systematic illnesses that may have caused uveitis. For uveitis that is caused by infectious disease, specialized blood tests and biopsies will be done as well.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT OF UVEITIS IN DOGS?
The first treatment will be to reduce the pain and inflammation of the eye. The vet will prescribe some topical eye medications such as; Corticosteroids (prednisolone, dexamethasone) should be used immediately after diagnosis even if the dog is suspected to have infections in its bloodstream. If there are improvements, the frequency at which the drugs are used will be reduced after several weeks. If there is an abrupt stop of the use of these drug, the chances of uveitis recurring will be high.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as flurbiprofen (brand name Ocufen), ketorolac, diclofenac can be used if there are risks of contraindications if the dog uses topical corticosteroids. These drugs are weaker than corticosteroids but they can be used to treat uveitis. If your dog is using these drug, it should be monitored every 3 to 6 months.
In uveitis with symptoms like dilation of the pupil, eye spasms and severe eye pain, atropine can be used. You can use solution or ointment forms of this drug for dogs. One precaution you have to know is that using atropine should be done after careful considerations as this medication can lead to secondary glaucoma.
If the eye inflammation is caused by injury or trauma, the treatment will include repairing any tear or damage in the cornea. In cases of foreign objects, a specialist will will be required to remove the foreign object in the eye. After the major cause has been taken care of, oral medications will be given.
All the treatments will be aimed at preventing other eye complications from developing. Some secondary eye complications can develop from uveitis. These secondary complications can be detachment of the retina, dislocation of the lens inside the eyes, glaucoma or synechia ( an eye condition where the iris sticks to the lens or cornea).
It is recommended that you go for follow-up examination to your vet’s office 3 to 7 days after starting treatment for your dog. Also, the follow-up should be done every 1 to 2 weeks after improvement is noted, this is know when to reduce the treatment gradually. Any other changes or symptoms should be related to the vet and handled immediately.
Aftercare examinations like checking the size of the pupil, boring the color of the iris and sclera, intraocular pressure measurements and clearing ocular media. After your dog is done with all medications, another examination will be conducted to be sure that the eye inflammation will not recur.
PROGNOSIS OF UVEITIS IN DOGS
The cause of uveitis determines the prognosis of uveitis. If the inflammation is properly treated, then you may notice improvements after 24 hours. If there are symptoms like bleeding in the eye or cloudy eyes, it may take few days for these to clear. It is mostly complicated if the uveitis is severe or recurring frequently. In some cases, severe cases of uveitis can chase your dog to become blind.
Dogs can have a type of eye inflammation known as uveitis, this can be very severe and cause complications like blindness if not properly treated. If you notice any change in the eyes of your pet, you should take it to a vet for examinations and treatments.