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Dry Eye Syndrome in Dogs

dry eye syndrome in dogs

Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is a result of deficient aqueous tear film located over the eye. The condition is characterized by dry and inflamed corneas or conjunctiva (covering of the white part of the eye). KCS may be caused by a various factors, which include immune-mediated adenitis, side-effects of sulfonamide drugs, complications due to bacteria/viral infections, or neurogenic damage as a result of ophthalmology surgeries.


Your pet might react to the initial sensations of KCS by scratching infected areas with their paws. Pets may also display sensitivity toward light sources and exhibit excessive blinking. Affected eyes may produce pus or mucus discharge and the formation of a prominent “third eyelid” (nictitans). Ulcers and pigmentation changes are commonly found in the cornea.


Vets usually request a comprehensive medical history of your pet to identify the factors that might contribute to KCS. Physical examinations and ophthalmological tests are applied for a clearer diagnosis. The Schirmer tear test (TSS) is commonly conducted to detect the wear and wetness of each eye. Other diagnostics include non-invasive fluorescent staining that detect abrasions and ulcerations through blue light. Eye fluid cultures may be prescribed to determine the presence of bacterial growths on the cornea.


Affected pets are prescribed a course of opthalmological medication, such as tacrolimus and cyclosporine, which stimulate tear-production. Your pet may also be given anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics to treat secondary infections of the eye.

Owners may opt for surgeries such as parotid duct transposition and permanent partial tarsorrhaphy, but they may cause complications. Speak to a professional to understand more about the risks involved before opting for a surgical procedure.


KCS is a lifelong condition that can be easily managed with consistent eye care and follow-up vet visits. However, it is important to seek prompt treatment as severe conditions may lead to permanently impaired sight or blindness.

Expected Costs

The condition is usually treated through an outpatient consultation. Each visit to the vet costs an average of $100, which includes medication fees.Parotid duct transposition surgeries have an estimated cost of $1,900 while tarsorrhaphy procedures cost between $1,000 – $2,000 (excluding aftercare treatment).

Home Care for Dogs with KCS

Owners should ensure that their pets are provided with their medication on a timely basis. It is important to stick to the treatment plan prescribed by your vet. KCS might appear asymptomatic upon treatment but it is important to resume medical applications to keep the condition under control. Owners can ease symptoms by wiping their pets’ eyes with a warm cloth or gauze a few times a day, which might stimulate tears.

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