What is Ectropion?
Dogs with ectropion appear to have droopy eyes, and there is visible red or pink tissue below the sclera (the whites of the eyes). Congenital ectropion is typically diagnosed before one year of age and most commonly seen in the following breeds: Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, Mastiff, Newfoundland and Saint Bernard. While congenital ectropion is the most common form, some dogs may develop acquired ectropion at any age as a symptom of one of various conditions. Ectropion is not to be confused with entropion, which is the condition of the eyelid rolling inward.Lower eyelid droop, or ectropion, is a condition in which the lower eyelid rolls down and away from the eye, exposing the inner eyelid tissue. Affected dogs are at an increased risk to developing corneal complications that may affect their eyesight.
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Symptoms of Ectropion in Dogs
- Protrusion of the bottom eyelid, exposing tissue below the eyeball
- Fur below the eyes stained a brownish color by tears
- Redness and other signs of irritation
- Recurring bacterial conjunctivitis, or pink eye
- Pawing at the eye
Causes of Ectropion in Dogs
Inherited ectropion is a result of selective breeding to increase certain physical characteristics. For instance, hound breeds with excessive droopy skin are more likely to inherit a lower eyelid droop due to lack of eyelid support.
Acquired ectropion is a symptom of one of the following conditions:
- Facial nerve paralysis
- Scarring as a result of injury
- Chronic inflammation and infection of eye tissue
- Corneal ulceration as a result of infection
- Neuromuscular disease
Diagnosis of Ectropion in Dogs
You must seek prompt diagnosis and treatment for lower eyelid droop. If treatment is delayed, corneal scarring can affect your dog’s vision and cannot be corrected. Upon physical examination of your dog, a veterinarian will be able to diagnose a lower eyelid droop easily. However, depending upon your dog’s age, further testing may be necessary. It is important that you inform your veterinarian of the onset of your dog’s symptoms in order to aid in the determination of the type and cause of the disorder. Let your veterinarian know when you first noticed the eyelid droop.
If your dog developed symptoms past the age of one year, testing will be done to determine the cause of the disorder. These tests may vary depending upon what additional symptoms your dog exhibits and what underlying cause is suspected. Basic testing to be expected is a blood sample with a blood chemistry analysis and complete blood count as well as a urinalysis. If an neuromuscular disease is suspected, a nerve biopsy may be ordered. If corneal ulceration is suspected, a procedure known as corneal staining involving a dye will be conducted in order to confirm ulceration.
Treatment of Ectropion in Dogs
Treatment for the primary condition of lower eyelid droop will involve eye drops to lubricate the eye and ointment to prevent the drying out of the cornea and conjunctivae. For very severe cases, surgical correction may be required in order to provide proper support for the lower eyelid and decrease the droop.
This surgery can typically be performed by your general veterinarian, although, in some extreme cases, you may be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Additionally, in cases with extreme swelling and inflammation in the area around the eye, your veterinarian or specialist may recommend separating the procedure into two surgeries in an effort to avoid overcorrection. For dogs with corneal ulcers due to infection, ophthalmic antibiotics will be prescribed. Additional underlying causes will need further treatment, depending upon the specific cause.
Recovery of Ectropion in Dogs
With proper treatment, a dog’s chance of recovering from lower eyelid droop is very good. Surgery is typically successful; however, there is a small chance of overcorrection that can lead to further problems. If your dog’s condition is too mild to warrant surgery, medical treatment is likely to alleviate problems, although it is likely to be necessary throughout your dog’s life in order to maintain health and avoid pain. Your veterinarian may recommend an increase in the frequency of your dog’s well check ups in order to monitor the condition. In this situation, the condition may worsen as your dog enters old age, and frequency of check-ups may need to increase. If corneal scarring has occurred due to delayed treatment, your dog will have to adjust to its visual deficits.
It is important to note that if your dog has congenital ectropion, particularly if it is severe enough to warrant surgery, he or she should not be bred, as it is likely the condition will be passed on to offspring.
Ectropion Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My Labrador is 12 years old, her bottom eyelid is drooping down and some of the tissue from the corner is covering her eye abit. I’ve been to the vets and he says it’s a possible internal ear infection?
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Hi my dog is 3 and half years old, and he had this condition ever since he was a puppy, I'm afraid to go with the surgical options because of what complications it may bring along. I was just probably wondering if there is some kind of eye drops or ointments that could be used safely ? One more question is, how would I know the severity of Ectropion? I mean he tears a lot, but that's about it... what do you advise I should do?
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My dog has a drooping eyelid just on one of his eyes. He has never had this before. He is a 3 1/2 month old Weimaraner. I boarded him this past weekend, and when I dropped him off, he was fine, but when I picked him up, I immediately noticed his right eye drooping. I figured he must have played too hard with another dog and gotten scratched in the eye or something, but it has been 3 days and still hasn't gone away.
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