Blepharitis in dogs: symptoms, causes and treatments

What is blepharitis in dogs? How does it manifest? What can be its origins and how is it treated?

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What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis refers to inflammation of the eyelids.

It can hit one eye or both. The affected eyelid usually appears red, swollen and can itch the dog so much that the dog may blink in a spastic fashion, which is called blepharospasm.

Blepharitis is often associated with secondary lesions that can be caused by the dog feeling the need to scratch or rub his face. Depending on the case, the skin covering the eyelids may also have scabs, pimples or ulcerations.

In case of blepharitis, there may also be discharge from the eye, clear or muco-purulent. The hairs may also become rare in the eyelid if the inflammation has been evolving for some time and the conjunctiva of the eye may also appear red.

What causes blepharitis?

There are many causes of blepharitis as any condition that can cause eyelid irritation can be the cause.

The most common causes of blepharitis are however:

  • parasitic infections such as demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange,
  • bacterial infections (staph infection, pyoderma)
  • fungal infections (dermatophytosis, Microsporum canis infection)
  • protozoan infections such as leishmaniasis,
  • allergic disorders such as atopy or food allergies,
  • the presence of a tumor mass on the eyelid,
  • autoimmune diseases such as pemphigus or uveodermatological syndrome,
  • etc.

How is blepharitis diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will perform an eye exam to determine the extent of eyelid involvement. The eye examination may consist of a Schirmer test to assess the production of tears in the eye. Your veterinarian may also take cell or secretion samples to test for the presence of a possible infectious agent.

If your vet suspects an allergy, further testing may be needed to determine the specific allergic cause.

In case of a suspicious tumor, a biopsy will be necessary to determine the nature of the tumor and the appropriate treatment.

How is blepharitis treated?

The treatment of blepharitis obviously depends on the underlying cause of the disorder.

It may be based on medical treatment using antibiotics, antiparasitic drugs, anti-inflammatories or immunosuppressive drugs.

In rarer cases, surgery may be required.

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