Entropion is a painful eye condition that causes a dog's eyelid to roll inward. The hair-covered lid and eyelashes then rub against the cornea, the outer layer of the eyeball, causing damage. It can occur in both eyes or just one; and on the upper lid, the lower lid or both. Damage to the cornea can cause loss of vision, so you should know the signs of entropion. Usually, surgery is required.
The most common signs of entropion are excessive blinking and clear tears spilling down your dog's face. The affected eye or eyes can also produce a mucousy discharge, particularly among giant breeds. You might notice your dog pawing or rubbing his eyes -- and this may increase outdoors, as some dogs with entropion are sensitive to light. His eyes will appear red and inflamed if they get infected. If your dog is a brachycephalic -- flat-faced -- breed, and the entropion involves the corners of the eyes near the nose, due to his facial structure, signs of discomfort won't always be obvious. As flat-faced dogs are prone to entropion, regularly check his eyes. Gently hold back any loose facial skin and you will see the eyelid turned-in towards your dog's eye.
Entropion is primarily an inherited condition affecting various breeds. Facial shape and the way the skin covers the dog's head are likely to influence the disorder. The Shar-Pei, the chow chow and other breeds with heavy facial folds and wrinkles, often suffer with severe entropion. In short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds, like the boxer, the shape of the face can result in the upper and lower eyelids rolling inward. Loose head skin on the Saint Bernard and the bloodhound may contribute to the condition. Breeds with small or deep-set eyes, which don't support the growing eyelids, may also develop entropion. Other breeds predisposed to this painful condition include Weimaraners, mastiffs, Newfoundlands, English bulldogs, Labrador retrievers, poodles, Rottweilers, Great Danes and cocker spaniels. Inherited entropion is usually evident before the dog is a year old.
Any dog, regardless of his breed or age, can be troubled with entropion. Painful eye problems and conditions that trigger squinting such as infections, corneal spasms and pain, trauma, dry eye and ingrowing hairs coming through the eyelid, rubbing the cornea, can all cause the eyelids to roll inward. Entropion sometimes also occurs due to nerve damage and due to a dog's eyelids losing their normal neurological function. It can happen even if a dog with severe weight loss loses fat and muscle around his eyes or if his chewing muscles become inflamed.
Treatment Is Vital
If you notice signs of entropion, or anything else unusual about your dog's eyes, get him examined by a veterinarian. The skin, hair and eyelashes touching the cornea, made worse when the dog rubs his eyes, can cause painful corneal ulcers. Left untreated, ulcers can result in visual impairment, even blindness. Antibiotic ophthalmic ointments serve to treat ulcers prior to corrective surgery. Surgery is usually successful; provided that it's done before corneal scarring leads to sight loss, your dog will lead a normal life afterward.