Keratitis in Dogs

Keratitis in Dogs | causes, treatments, and the risk of blindness if left untreated

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Keratitis occurs in the dark part of the eye, and if the dog scratches the eye due to pain or itching, it will cause more damage and the inflammation will get worse. If left unattended, it will take time to heal, and white turbidity may remain. Veterinarian Sato explains the causes, symptoms, and treatment methods such as differences in eye drops.

What is canine keratitis?

What is canine keratitis
What is canine keratitis

The cornea is a transparent membrane that covers the iris pupil ) in the center of the eye. is an important organization for

The canine cornea is divided into four layers, called epithelium, stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and endothelium. Keratitis generally refers to epithelial inflammation (non-ulcerative keratitis) , and when it reaches the parenchyma, it is called “corneal ulcer ” ( ulcerative keratitis) , and when there is a hole that reaches Descemet’s membrane or endothelium, it is called “corneal ulcer”. It is called a corneal perforation ( requires emergency surgery ).

Since the cornea is located at the tip of the eye, it is susceptible to external stimuli and is prone to problems. “Keratitis” is an eye disease that is often examined in hospitals, along with “conjunctivitis”.

Difference Between Keratitis and Conjunctivitis

The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the white part of the eye (sclera) and the inner side of the upper and lower eyelids (palpebral conjunctiva) , and inflammation occurs there “conjunctivitis”. Conjunctivitis can be mild if treated appropriately, but keratitis can leave a white opacity in the iris if treatment takes too long, and if it becomes severe, vision may be impaired. You may eventually go blind.

Breeds prone to keratitis

Keratitis can occur in dogs of all breeds, ages and genders. The relatively common breeds are the Shih Tzu, which has a short nose and protruding eyes, the brachycephalic breeds such as the Pekingese, and the Chihuahua, which has large eyes.

Symptoms of canine keratitis

Symptoms of canine keratitis
Symptoms of canine keratitis

The cornea is a tissue that dogs can easily feel pain because sensory nerves are concentrated. When the problem occurs, you will see the following symptoms:

  • my eyes are soggy
  • Half or closed eyes
  • Scratch again and again
  • dislike being touched
  • Excessive tearing and eye discharge
  • black eyes turn white
  • The whites of the eyes and the rims of the eyes become red
  • Blood vessels develop in the black eye (neovascularization)

If keratitis is left untreated and scars and inflammation increase, the treatment will take longer or become more severe. If your dog’s eyes change or feel strange, don’t wait and see a veterinarian.

Read Also: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) in Dogs

Causes of keratitis in dogs

Causes of keratitis in dogs
Causes of keratitis in dogs

There are various causes of keratitis, and they can be broadly divided into “traumatic” and “non-traumatic”.

traumatic keratitis

  • Accidents (traffic accidents, fights, etc.)
  • Contamination of foreign matter (dust, sand, fur, shampoo, etc.)
  • Contact with plants, furniture, etc.
  • Irritation due to abnormal eyelashes or eyelids (eyelid tumor, entropion of the eyelid, etc.)
  • Itching and scratching

Atraumatic keratitis

  • Infectious disease (bacterial, viral, fungal)
  • Effects of other diseases (conjunctivitis, cataracts, glaucoma, etc.)
  • Immune disorders (allergies, chronic superficial keratitis, superficial punctate keratitis, etc.)
  • dry eye (keratitis sicca)
  • Nerve disorders (dryness due to paralysis and inability to blink)

Chronic superficial keratitis is characterized by neovascularization and is common in German Shepherds and Greyhounds. Superficial punctate keratitis is characterized by white mottled scars and is most common in Dachshunds and Shelties.

Canine Keratitis Treatment

In addition to visual inspection, questioning, and ophthalmologic examination, an examination using a stain solution called “fluorescein staining” is performed to check for the presence or absence of scratches. When exposed to a special light, the color of the scratched area changes. If necessary, blood tests, neurological tests, CT/MRI tests, and the Schirmer test to check the amount of tears are also performed.

In the treatment of infection, antibiotics, steroidal or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and protective agents (hyaluronic acid) to protect the cornea are used. At home, applying a protective eye drop can help the wound heal more easily. If you have other diseases that affect you, we will proceed with treatment in parallel.

If the wound is difficult to heal, insert a contact lens and tack the eyelid so that it does not fall off (eyelid suture) , or use the flap method to cover and fix the cornea with the white membrane at the inner corner of the eye called the third eyelid (nictating membrane). To do. If your dog is bothered by scratching, use an Elizabethan collar.

If keratitis persists

If the wound does not heal with eye drops and persists for a long time, “recurrent epithelial erosion” (SCCEDs) is suspected. In that case, the epithelium is detached and does not adhere to the parenchyma, so surgical intervention is required. Under general or local anesthesia, all non-functioning epithelium is peeled off, and the parenchyma is intentionally injured to create an environment where the regenerated epithelium can easily adhere.


  • In keratitis, inflammation occurs in the dark part of the eye.
  • The deeper you go, the more urgent
  • Causes are divided into traumatic and non-traumatic
  • Early treatment is important for complete cure

Keratitis is a condition in which the black part of the eye becomes inflamed for some reason, and there are a wide variety of causes, such as the dog scratching itself and injuring it, or it occurs due to an abnormality in the immune system. If left untreated and becomes severe, white opacity may remain even after the wound has healed, and vision may be impaired. If you notice something wrong with your dog’s eyes, please go to the veterinarian immediately.

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