Distichiasis is a health problem that occurs in dogs and humans. This condition occurs when eyelashes grow in abnormal locations or directions on the eyelids. These abnormal lashes are known as distichiae, and there are often several of them present on one lid. In some cases, there may even be a whole row of these lashes on the eyelid.
How Distichiasis Affects Your Pet
What distichiasis can do to your pet will vary depending on the severity of the disease, how many lashes are abnormal, how big they are and how stiff they are. In some cases, your pet may not be affected by this condition at all. This is especially true if the lashes are extremely soft. On the other hand, some pets experience varying degrees of inflammation and pain. When the condition is left untreated, the cornea can become ulcerated leaving the eye vulnerable to infections. Chronic distichiasis in a pet can result in corneal scarring, hyperpigmentation of the cornea, corneal neovascularization and blindness.
Common Symptoms of Distichiasis
Symptoms of distichiasis in pets will vary as well depending on your pet's unique condition and how severe the problem is. However, there are some common signs you can look for, and if you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms, you will want to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Common Symptoms of Distichiasis in Canines: Inflammation of the Eye and/or Eyelids, Bloodshot Eyes, Eye Discharge and/or Pain, Watery Eyes, Ulcerated Corneas, Excessive Blinking and/or Squinting, Keeping One Eye Closed, Pawing at the Eye/s, Bluish and/or Dull-Colored Cornea and Dark or White Areas on the Cornea.
Treatments for Distichiasis
If your dog is not showing any symptoms and its condition does not seem to be bothering it, no treatment will be required. However, if your pet is displaying any of the above signs of distichiasis, you will need to seek treatment from a veterinarian. In mild cases, your vet may simply remove the distichiae and treat the eyes with an ophthalmic lubricant. However, if your pet has a moderate to severe case of distichiasis and/or has corneal ulcers, surgery and antibiotics may be necessary. During the surgical procedure, your veterinarian will remove the distichiae and kill the affected hair follicles so that the condition does not return. Depending on your dog's unique situation, surgery may involve removing any affected tissue or a small portion of the eyelid. Additionally, the vet may choose to use either electroepilation, electrocautery or cryosurgery to remove the affected hair follicles.
As stated above, distichiasis mainly occurs in canines and humans. It is rarely seen in cats. The reason why eyelashes grow in abnormal locations on the eyelid is not known; however, it is thought that this is a hereditary condition. Some of the breeds that it seems to affect most often are listed below: American Cocker and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Golden and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Pekingese and Pugs, Shih Tzus and Lhasa Apsos, Shetland Sheepdogs, Bulldogs and Boxers, Dachshunds and Boston Terriers.
When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.