What Is Entropion in Dogs?

What Is Entropion in Dogs

Entropion in dogs is an abnormality that occurs when the eyelid and eyelashes turn inward, causing irritation of the surface of the eye. Long-term ocular irritation can result in corneal ulcers.

Entropion can affect the upper eyelid, the lower eyelid, or both eyelids. However, the lower lid is more commonly affected. It can be present in one eye (unilateral) or in both eyes (bilateral).

If left untreated, entropion in dogs can permanently damage the dog’s eye cornea. As a result, the dog will experience vision impairment or even vision loss.

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Are There Different Types of Entropion?

Yes, there are two types of entropion – primary and secondary. Let’s take a closer look at each.

  • Primary Entropion: Primary entropion is genetic and is more common in certain dog breeds, including short-nosed dogs (Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers), giant dogs (Great Danes, Rottweilers, St. Bernards Bullmastiffs), and dogs with excess skin folds (Shar Pei, Basset Hound, Bloodhound). It can also occur in Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Chow Chows, and Cocker Spaniels.
  • Secondary Entropion: Secondary entropion develops after the dog is born as a result of an underlying eye problem. There are two types of secondary entropion – acquired and spastic. Acquired Entropion is the result of changes in the eye muscles or eye globe that make the lids turn inward. Spastic Entropion is usually temporary and due to underlying causes such as inflammation of the eye (uveitis, conjunctivitis).

What Does Entropion Look Like in a Dog? 

Entropion in dogs is easy to spot – the eyelid will be inverted inward and cause inflammation to the cornea (the cornea will be red and, based on the stage, either teary or wet). The inversion can affect the upper and lower eyelid of one or both eyes. 

What Causes Entropion in a Dog?

Entropion in dogs can be genetic or triggered by other eye conditions. Here are the most common causes of entropion: 

  • Genetics: As explained, certain dog breeds (short-nosed and wrinkly dogs) are more likely to have entropion.
  • Eye Problems: Eye infections (especially if untreated) can result in entropion. In such cases, the entropion is temporary and will resolve once the underlying cause is managed.
  • Secondary Eye Problems: Entropion can also be caused by scarring of the eyelid and nerve damage. In both cases, the changes will make the lid tissue invert.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dog Entropion? 

Entropion in dogs manifests with eye irritation, discharge, and squinting. Let’s take a closer look at the signs of entropion in dogs:

  • Excessive Tearing: In the initial stages, the eye will respond to the irritation with excess tear production or epiphora. This is the eye’s attempt to flush out the irritant.
  • Discharge: As the condition progresses, the tearing will transform into a discharge from the eyeball might be a greenish-yellow fluid. But, depending on the exact stage of the condition, the discharge can also be differently colored. 
  • Redness: Eye redness is a universal sign that accompanies many issues of the eye. 
  • Crusting: Crusting is another symptom of entropion in digs, and this can lead to infections that can cause corneal ulcers.
  • Eye Pawing: Dogs that display eye discomfort will typically rub their eyes with their paws. This is an attempt to remove the mechanical cause of pain and discomfort. 
  • Squinting: Dogs with entropion will repeatedly squint and sometimes even hold their eyes shut for extended periods of time.

How is Entropion in Dogs Diagnosed? 

How is Entropion in Dogs Diagnosed

There are no specific tests for diagnosing entropion in dogs. The veterinarian will start with a full physical examination and then focus on the eye. If necessary, your regular vet may refer you to a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist.

When examining the eye, the vet will establish the underlying cause of entropion. This is important as it helps determine the right treatment plan.

If the vet decides the dog needs entropion surgery, they will order blood analysis (complete blood count and biochemistry panels) to determine the dog’s overall health and anesthesia risk. 

What is the Treatment for Entropion in Dogs? 

The treatment for entropion in dogs depends on the type of entropion. Here are the possible entropion treatments and their applications.

  • Underlying Cause Management: This approach is applicable to dogs with acquired and spastic entropion. Depending on the exact cause, it may entail eye drops, eye ointments, or oral antibiotics.
  • Entropion Surgery: Entropion surgery is called blepharoplasty or Hotz-Celsus surgery and is performed on puppies over six months of age (the head conformation needs to be completely developed before the surgical correction).
    The goal of the surgery is to revert the dog’s eyelid margin away from the surface of the eye and stop the irritation. Following the surgery, the dog will wear an Elizabethan collar until the sutures are removed (usually after 10 to 14 days). The owner will have to put on eye drops a couple of times per day. 
  • Eyelid Tacking: This procedure is performed on growing puppies as an alternative to classic entropion surgery. Namely, the vet will place sutures that revert the eyelid away from the surface of the eye, without removing skin (as they would in the standard surgery). If this does not work, the dog will need surgery once it is six months old.

Can Entropion in Dogs Heal on its Own?

No, entropion in dogs is unlikely to heal on its own. Usually, entropion requires treatment. If left untreated, it will cause damage to the cornea. The most common damage is a corneal ulcer.

Can Dogs Outgrow Entropion?

Yes, some dogs can outgrow entropion before they reach one year of age. However, waiting that long is not recommended if the eyelid entropion is severe. You should talk to your vet to decide whether waiting is the best course of action.

What Is the Prognosis for Dog Entropion? 

What Is the Prognosis for Dog Entropion

Generally speaking, the prognosis for dogs with entropion is good, especially if the condition is diagnosed and treated early. 

However, if left untreated, the constant rubbing of the eyelashes against the cornea can result in severe irritation, inflammation, and even ulceration. In extreme cases, it can culminate in eye damage and vision loss. 

Can I Prevent Entropion in Dogs? 

Sadly, entropion in dogs is not a preventable condition. However, early detection can go a long way. Here is what dog owners can do to detect eye issues and support eye health in dogs: 

  • Use Eye Cleaning Products: There are many eye cleaning products on the market – from solutions to wipes. Maintaining eye hygiene is important and allows you to spot eye issues early on. 
  • Regular Veterinary Visits: Practicing regular vet visits is critical for the early detection of all health issues, not just eye conditions. Ensure your dog gets checked at least twice a year or, based on overall health, maybe even more often.