What Are the Treatments for Uveitis in Dogs?

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Keep careful track of any changes in your dog's eyes.
Keep careful track of any changes in your dog's eyes. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Treatments for uveitis in dogs involve direct eye care along with treating the underlying cause of this painful disease. Without prompt attention, uveitis quickly progresses to glaucoma or blindness. Your vet may refer your dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist for treatment. In a worst-case scenario, the eye may require removal if the condition doesn't improve and the dog is in pain.

Canine Uveitis

Your dog's eye has three layers. Uveitis affects the middle layer, known as the uveal tract. This includes the iris, the ciliary body, which produces the interior eye fluid that helps maintain eye pressure, and the choroid. The latter provides nourishment to the retina. Inflammation of one or more of these components results in uveitis.

Uveitis results from various causes, including infection, hypertension, diabetes, eye trauma, tumors, autoimmune disease, toxemia and metabolic issues. In addition to treating the uveitis, your vet must treat the underlying cause. In some cases, no underlying cause is determined, and the uveitis is deemed idiopathic.

Uveitis Symptoms

A dog suffering from uveitis will keep the affected eye shut, and it may tear considerably. He'll likely avoid bright light. The condition is quite painful, so it might be difficult for you to get a look at your dog's eye. Generally, the eye is red, with severe clouding on the front of the eye. His pupil may appear small or oddly shaped, and the iris might change color.

Diagnosing Uveitis

Since uveitis presents many of the same symptoms as glaucoma, your vet must test your dog's intraocular pressure. With uveitis, the intraocular pressure is low, while it is raised in glaucoma. Your vet also will conduct a thorough examination of your dog, including blood work and urinalysis, to detect an underlying cause. Tests conducted specifically on the eye may include ultrasounds or X-rays.

Controlling Inflammation

Your vet will prescribe medications to control eye inflammation resulting from uveitis. These may include corticosteroids -- in drops, tablets or injection -- along with aspirin. However, if your vet detects a corneal ulcer, corticosteroids are contraindicated as they can delay healing. If your dog has an eye infection, your vet will prescribe appropriate antibiotics or anti-fungal medications.

Daily Treatment

You'll likely have to put medicated eye drops or ointment into your pet's eyes several times daily. If your dog isn't cooperative, you may need to muzzle him before each application. Inspect his eyes prior to administering the medication and check their condition. Write down any changes immediately afterward, so you have information for your vet. Mild cases may improve within a few days. If the disease has progressed, it's possible your dog may require topical treatment for the rest of his life. You must take him to the vet for regular monitoring.

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