What is Canine Glaucoma?

Canine glaucoma is a term referring to the various ailments that affect the optic nerve in dogs' eyes. With Canine Glaucoma, pressure is placed on the eye which causes insufficient fluid drainage in the eye. Glaucoma can often be confused with Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Even though both conditions can lead to blindness, they are two entirely different conditions.

Types & Cause of Canine Glaucoma?

Broadly speaking, there are three types of this condition. The classification is based on the cause of the condition.

Congenital, Primary & Secondary Canine Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma is present from birth although in most cases it is not immediately diagnosed. This type of glaucoma is the result of abnormal eye development. It can affect both eyes or else just one.

Primary glaucoma is the result of a genetic defect. Primary glaucoma can be of various sub types. Some breeds, such as Beagles, are more prone to this type of canine glaucoma.

Secondary glaucoma results after some sort of eye infection that drastically impacts the eye.

Preventing Canine Glaucoma

Although there is no sure way to prevent this condition, there are things that you can do to nip it in the bud!

You can start by taking your dog for regular checkups including routine eye examination. In the case of pure breed dogs, make sure that you buy from a reputable breeder who breeds litters responsibly. Last but not least, seek proper veterinary advice as soon as you see any abnormality.

Canine Glaucoma Eye Conditions


The early signs of canine glaucoma can include but are not limited to:

  • Blood vessels in the white of the eye and overall eye redness
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Squinting
  • Excessive Tearing
  • Light avoidance / sensitivity
  • Weak blink reflex

An ophthalmologic examination is the only sure way to diagnose canine glaucoma. Various optical properties such as eye pressure, pupil response, blink reflex, cornea examination, tearing, redness and squinting. To the average dog owner the obvious observation is that the eye would seem a bit cloudy. In depth diagnosis can be done my means of x-ray and ultrasound.

If untreated other the condition can very easily worsen in a short period of time and manifest

  • A considerable enlargement of the eyeball
  • Loss of vision
  • Extreme redness
  • Advanced degeneration within the eye
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in attitude
  • Reduced Appetite

Treatment & Recovery

Canine glaucoma causes permanent damage to the eye. The first and most effective treatment strategy is to treat it while it is still in the beginning. The treatment administered will vary depending on the particular glaucoma and its severity. However the underlying principle in the majority of the treatments is to restore the appropriate eye pressure. In some instances the underlying cause, such as infection, has to be treated as well. Most medications administered are in the form of eye drops or ointments.

Dogs never recover completely from canine glaucoma. Once the condition presents itself a degree of damage would already be present. In the long run medication can only help to provide comfort and damage control.

Dogs can develop glaucoma in either eye or both. In cases where just one eye is affected, the second eye is monitored closely. This is primarily due to the fact that almost half the dogs who develop glaucoma in one eye develop complications in their unaffected eye within 8 months. Therefore preventative therapy is a must.

Canine Glaucoma & Specific Breeds

Some purebred dogs and mixes of have an innate genetic disposition to canine glaucoma. Examples of such breeds include Cocker Spaniels, Chow Chows, Samoyeds, Poodles, Beagles, Alaskan Malamutes & Siberian Huskies. To complicate things even further, some breeds such as Siberian Huskies are also prone to other conditions such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy!

In Conclusion

Canine glaucoma is an irreversible condition that affects the optic nerve. It can be caused by a variety of factors some of which are genetic while others are the result of improper development or infection. Although this is a severe condition, it can be successfully controlled if caught in its initial stages. However there can never be a full recovery. Certain breeds are more prone to it than others. This condition should not be confused with progressive retinal atrophy.

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