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As your dog ages, you want to make sure that you can keep him in the peak of health. You know that this means monitoring his diet and keeping an eye on how easily he moves and his energy levels, but did you know that you should also take a look at his eyes? Dry eye is essentially a condition where your dog's tear glands stop working properly and it is something that is fairly common among older dogs. The issue that arises is that when your dog has dry eye, he is going to prone to chronic and painful eye infections. If the irritation gets bad enough, the cornea can become severely scratched and this in turn can lead to ulceration of the wound and blindness.
How can you spot dry eye in your dog? This is a fairly common issue and happily enough, it can be treated fairly quickly. Dry eye will first make itself known through a thick yellowish discharge instead of the clear or cloudy tears that your dog might shed to get rid of debris. The lack of useful tears can mean that bacterial organisms are going to overgrow on the eye and in many cases, you will find that they are around your dog's eyes might look crusty or dusty. Do you notice that your dog is "wiping" his eyes on his foreleg or have you noticed that his sight seems to be worse? He might even be blundering into doorways that he was once able to navigate quite easily.
If you suspect that your dog might have dry eye, take him to the vet immediately. Your veterinarian will usually proceed by taking a strip of absorbent material and holding it next to your dog's eye, waiting for the tears to develop. The moisture will travel up the strip of absorbent material and this can be compared with the moisture from the eye of a healthy dog. This treatment can be taken care of very quickly and your dog will only need to have the test performed for a minute.
With good treatment, dry eye can be eliminated permanently. The first step is to take care of any infection that the eye is currently undergoing.
Past infections may have also damaged the tear glands or the nerves, and if your dog is taking any sulfa drugs, they need to be halted. Eye drops or ointment can be applied to treat this condition. Cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment as well as tacrolimus might be used for this purpose. If your dog does not respond to these treatments, artificial tears can be used. In very severe cases, a salivary duct can be transplanted into the eyelid area. Though this procedure is rarely used, it is still another option to consider.
As your dog ages, his needs are going to change, and you will find that you are in a place where you need to look into how you are going to accommodate those changes. Take some time and learn more about how to take care of your dog and what his needs are.
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