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Your dog's senses are different form humans, but extremely important to his quality of life. One of the main differences in the 'mechanics' of the eye involves the rods and cones which detect light. This is why your dog can see better, even in relative darkness. As his master, it is your job to maintain and monitor any possible problems that may arise which would risk your dog's sight. Your should examine your dog's eyes daily. Maybe examine is the wrong word, but rather look for any changes that may have occurred. Your dog's eyes should be bright, shiny and relatively free of tears. Some breeds have inherited reasons for tearing which will be covered a bit later. When you look at your dog's eyes, simply check for tearing, whiteness of the eye, cloudiness of the iris, lumps or cyst-like protrusions, and possible corneal wounds that may have occurred due to accidents.

Let us first cover basic cleaning tips. These may vary depending on the breed of your family dog. Light colored and single coated or long haired dogs sometimes get tear stains or 'Poodle Eye'. This is when tears are produced normally because of an irritant in the eye, for example, hair. The tear travels from the corner of your dog's eye down towards his mussel. The acidity of the tear causes a dark brown 'gunky' stuff which is very unsightly on a white dog. If left to dry, these tear stains may become hard and crusty. These are many products available in pet stores to combat these stains. What you can do is:

Use a 10% solution of hydrogen peroxide with water to clean the hair and remove the staining. Important...Use extra care to protect your dog's eyes from coming in contact with any product used to cleanse tear stains. Also depending on the breed of dog, you may just want to clip away the stained hair, again being extra careful close to the eyes.

In a pinch, like when company is coming, cornstarch or face cream/powder will lighten the stain. Just be sure to brush the remnants away from your dog's coat.

   * If crusty, soften with a cloth, cotton ball, or makeup removal pad soaked with warm water. Once softened, remove with fingers or wipe with cloth.

INHERITED DISEASES that affect your dog's eyes:

Entropion is the inward rotation of the eyelid tissues causing an irritation and possible ulceration of the eye. Although this condition is usually inherited, it is sometimes caused by scarring injuries to the skin around the eyes.

Ectropian is the outward rotation of the eyelid that causes conjunctivitis. Specific breeds that are prone to this disease are hunting dog's like Bloodhounds, Basset hounds, and spaniels.

Distichiasis is caused by eye lash hours that arise from the edges of the eyelids and have turned inward rather than away. The hairs make contact with the eye which causes constant irritation and the risks of conjuntivites and/or corneal damage increases tremendously.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or KCS is the inflammation of the cornea and conjunctivia. It is caused by a deficiency of tears. Eyes become dry and dull looking. As the eyes become dry and stay dry, it leads to the risk of cornea damage. A sticky discharge of mucus replaces tears and a secondary bacterial infection develops including puss pockets. Be aware that dry eyes can also be a warning sign to a viral infection such as distemper.

Cataracts (HC) are formed when the proteins in a lens become cloudy. the lens loses part or all of it's transparency. Cataracts are mostly passed through heredity as a recessive gene trait. a complete cataract results in a white crystalline lens with a slightly yellow hue.

Glaucoma is the increasing pressure of the fluid inside the eyeball which causes a great deal of pain. Signs of Glaucoma include a clouding of the eye and a fixed stare. As the pressure increases, the eye will begin to bulge, blood vessels expand and tears begin to stream.

The bottom line for all of the dog owners and dog lovers in the world is that if you see any of the following symptoms Immediately Call Your Veterinarian for a Check Up!!:

He is squinting, avoiding light, rubbing or pawing at his eyes

You see eyelashes lying in the film of tears

Red eyes where they are supposed to be white

The lens of your dog's eye becomes cloudy or even mildly foggy

You notice a fixed stare in one eye

Your dog's eyes are not bright and shiny

Your dog's eyes are tearing profusely with a lot of brown 'gunky' stuff.

As I stated in the beginning, your dog's sight is very important in terms of quality of life, family protection, and his own safety. There are many more conditions that affect your dog's eyesight. Follow me if you want to learn more.

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