What is Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome?
Curly coat dry eye syndrome, also known as congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca, occurs in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels due to an inherited condition. Dogs with this syndrome will show a rough or curly coat, thickened and cracked footpads, deterioration of their skin (inflammation and extreme oiliness), issues with their eyes (an extreme version of dry eye, conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration, corneal fibrosis, vascularization) and poor dental health. Connective tissues may also be impacted by the condition.
Caused by a genetic mutation, curly coat dry eye syndrome occurs in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and is noticeable at birth due to the affected dog’s rough or curly coat.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome in Dogs
Breeders of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have stated that dogs with curly coat dry eye syndrome are born with a coat that is considered “rough” or curly. The fur does not grow well initially and eventually develops scaling. The dog’s footpads will also thicken. As dogs with curly coat dry eye syndrome reach adulthood, their coat has a frizzy appearance. Other symptoms include:
- Occasional itchiness
- Cracks in the thickened footpads
- Problems with nail growth
- Repeated conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration, corneal fibrosis, vascularization
- Poor dental health
Curly coat dry eye syndrome, an inherited condition, is also known as congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is not always congenital. Known as “dry eye”, the condition and its problems are due to your dog not producing enough tears, leading to chronic conjunctivitis, sores and scarring on your dog’s corneas. In immune-mediated keratoconjunctivitis sicca, the condition may be due to autoimmune inflammation. It may also be caused by distemper, antibiotics, or due to injury. In cases of keratoconjunctivitis sicca that are not congenital in nature, while the eye issues will occur, there will not be issues with your dog’s coat, skin, footpads or nails as there would be in congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
Causes of Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome in Dogs
Curly coat dry Eye syndrome, also called congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is due to an inherited condition among Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs. The condition is caused by a genetic mutation (FAM83H on the canine chromosome 13).
Diagnosis of Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome in Dogs
Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of your dog and may ask for details about his history. A Schirmer tear test (which measures tear production) will be conducted. The test involves placing a small strip in your dog’s eye. During a set period of time (usually a minute), your dog’s tears will soak the strip. The wet area of the strip is measured and compared to normal values. In cases of curly coat dry eye syndrome, the readings will come back below normal. A tentative diagnosis will be made, which will then be confirmed by genetic testing.
Treatment of Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome in Dogs
It is important that dog’s with curly coat dry eye syndrome receive early treatment of dry eye in order to protect their corneas. Without enough tear production, your dog will not be able to eliminate bacteria and other foreign bodies, leaving his eyes at risk. The treatment will be focused on increasing tear production (real or artificial) and decreasing bacterial infections, inflammation, and scarring of the cornea (which could lead to blindness). Curly coat dry eye syndrome can be treated by the following:
- Initial treatment may include a topical antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication
- Lacrimostimulant medications like cyclosporine 1% and 2%, cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion (Retasis), or ointment like Optimmune may be prescribed by your veterinarian for the lifetime of your dog to increase his tear production
- Artificial tear solutions (liquid or ointment) must be applied often during the day in order to remove bacteria and discharge, as well as rinse your dog’s eyes
It is important to keep your dog’s eyes clean and regularly remove discharge. Daily care will be required for the lifetime of your dog, to include regular medicinal bathing to help with the skin issues.
Recovery of Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome in Dogs
A dog with curly coat dry eye syndrome will require significant care over the course of his life to manage their condition. It is likely that your veterinarian will recommend regular follow up appointments where your dog’s condition can be monitored and his treatment adjusted as appropriate. In addition to administering eye medication and medicinal baths, you will want to regularly clip your dog’s nails to limit nail sloughs. Essential fatty acid supplements have been reported to be helpful.
Managing the condition of your dog with curly coat dry eye syndrome will require a lot of effort, however, there are a lot of things that can be done to help your dog have a good quality of life.