What are Trichiasis?
While the definition of trichiasis is simple, the possible consequences if untreated are not as simple. This condition can be very painful and bothersome to your dog and he may begin to exhibit signs of discomfort. Due to the eyelashes turning inward they oftentimes irritate your dog’s eye and can cause inflammation as well. This condition can look like other eye conditions or general eye irritation and may be hard to distinguish the cause of your dog’s discomfort.
Trichiasis is simply the act of your dog’s eyelashes or facial hair growing inward towards his eye rather than the typical up and outward direction that eyelashes and hair should grow.
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Symptoms of Trichiasis in Dogs
Some of the symptoms for trichiasis will be generalized and some will be very specific to trichiasis.
- Eyelashes growing in towards his eyes
- Hair growing in towards his eyes
- Irritation of his eyes
- Eye infection
- Blepharospasm (closing his eyelids tightly involuntarily)
- Epiphora (excessive tearing)
- Keratitis (corneal inflammation)
- Ulcers on his eye can rupture
There are three types of trichiasis your dog can have. They are acquired, congenital and media canthal (corner of the eye).
- Breeds with unnecessary skin folds can develop trichiasis (English Bull Dog, Shar-pei, Chow Chow, Bloodhound, Saint Bernard)
- Can happen with age as your dog’s eyelid tone is no longer strong enough to prevent his eyelid from drooping downward
- Certain dog breeds may be born with trichiasis
- English Cocker Spaniel
- Small breed dogs
- Shih Tzu
- Japanese Chin
- Toy Poodles
- Miniature Poodles
- Brachycephalic breeds with obvious folds on their face (Bulldog, Pugs, Pekingese, Boston Terriers)
- Brachycephalic breeds get this most often
- Boston Terrier
Causes of Trichiasis in Dogs
The cause is solely from the growth of your dog’s facial hair around his eyes or eyelashes growing inwards towards his eye. This causes irritation, discomfort, scratches, and ulcers on his eye and severe cases can result in ruptures of the ulcers.
- Hair growing in the wrong place
- Hair growing in towards your dog’s eye
Diagnosis of Trichiasis in Dogs
If you suspect your dog may be suffering from trichiasis, it will be important to bring him to see his veterinarian. You will want to share any concerns you have about your dog’s symptoms and behaviors. Some things to note are if you notice any hairs growing towards his eyes, if you see him pawing at his eyes, if there is noticeable irritation, or if there are changes to his eyes.
Your veterinarian will want to perform a physical examination and evaluate your dog’s eyes closely. Your veterinarian will be looking for any abnormal hair placement and how much damage irritation may have caused your dog.
Diagnosing is done by looking for inflammation of the cornea with or without ulcers, eye infection, and hair growing in towards the eye. There are no formal tests that would need to be done to diagnose.
Treatment of Trichiasis in Dogs
Treatment will be done to minimize the risk of continued contact of hair with your dog’s eye. This can be done by different types of surgery. Each one runs its own risk as it is your dog’s eye area that is being worked on, if not their direct eyelid. However, if your dog does not have any irritation of his eyes, your veterinarian may choose not to perform surgery and rather will continue to monitor him for any changes.
There are different surgery options that can be used to correct the trichiasis – Hotz-Celsus, CO2 laser ablation, cryosurgery, resection and excision. The Hotz-Celsus procedure will remove a part of your dog’s eyelid so that his eyelid no longer points inward or down, thus resolving the trichiasis.
Cryosurgery can be used to destroy the follicles from which the hair is growing. Excision will remove the hair and possibly the follicles as well. Resection can be used to remove a large part of the eyelid, to pull the lash line away from your dog’s cornea. If these hairs are not removed or redirected they will most likely continue to grow inwards towards the eye and continue to cause problems.
Recovery of Trichiasis in Dogs
Like any surgical procedure, it will be important to be careful with your dog immediately after his surgery to ensure he does not further injure his eye. Your veterinarian will work with you on treatment such as eye drops, and washing and caring for your dog’s eyes until they are healed. You will most likely have to bring your dog in after the surgery for follow up and this will be determined by your veterinarian.
While the prognosis will be good for your dog, the possibility for reoccurrence is high and it will require ongoing monitoring by both you and your veterinarian. There may be follow-up surgeries to further correct the problem and a full recovery may not be guaranteed.
Trichiasis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog is a 9 week old male golden Labrador puppy. We took him to the vets 2 days ago for his first jabs- the vet plucked out some growing eyelashes towards his actual eye, since then he has been very irritated by his eye, he keeps pawing at it and it looks painful! I was just wondering if there was any way that you could give me advice about what to do- I am very concerned.
Louise Sharp, age 16
Date & Time: Sun 3/12/17 & 18:55
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