Blepharospasm is involuntary blinking or squinting. Blepharospasm in dogs can affect both eyes. A foreign object on the surface of the eye or some eye diseases can cause blepherospasm. Blepharospasm is common in dogs, especially in some dog breeds. In this article, you can find answers to frequently asked questions about blepharospasm in dogs.
What Causes Blepharospasm in Dogs?
Anything that causes discomfort on the eyelid can cause blepharitis. Hence “What causes blepharospasm in dogs?” There is no single answer to the question. Among the main causes of this ailment are congenital disorders, allergies, infections, tumors and other conditions that cause inflammation. Eyelid abnormalities that may predispose the dog to blepharitis include entropion, in which the eyelids turn inward, ectopic eyelashes, or distichiasis, which is the abnormal development of eyelashes.
The nose and face shape of dogs may increase susceptibility to blepharospasm. Blepharospasm is more common in dogs with long, thin noses and dogs with flat-faced lagophthalmos. Allergies caused by insect bites, allergies caused by breathing and food allergies are also among the causes of involuntary blinking. In some cases, fungal infections are also known to cause blepharospasm.
Blepharitis can be seen as a result of tumors located in the meibomian glands. These tumors are divided into benign sebaceous adenoma and malignant sebaceous denocarcinoma. In addition, mast cell tumors can also cause this disease. There are many causes of blepharitis such as trauma to the eyelids, conditions caused by demodex or sarcopes mites, dermatitis, fatty acid deficiency, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, diabetes or cigarette smoke. If the original source of blepharitis cannot be found, it is considered as idiopathic blepharitis.
Dogs often scratch or rub their face or eyelids, causing secondary trauma to the surrounding tissues. With secondary trauma, light colored or hazy discharge may come from the eye. In case of long-term inflammation, the surrounding hair tissue pigment is lost and the area becomes discolored. Scaly and dry appearance on the eyelid is also among the symptoms of blepharospasm. In some cases, boils and blisters may also occur. The meibomian glands, which keep the eyes moist and slippery, may swell, and in more serious cases, they may cause disorders such as conjunctivitis and keratitis.
Dog Breeds Prone to Blepharospasm
Certain face shapes increase susceptibility to blepharospasm. Especially dog breeds with narrow and long noses and low-faced dog breeds are at greater risk. Shi Tzu, Pekingese, English Bulldog, Tibetan Terrier, Pug, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Poodle, Chinese Sharpei, Chow Chow, Rottweiler and Collie are much more likely to have blepharospasm than other breeds.
How Is Blepharospasm Diagnosed?
In order for the diagnosis to be made, the veterinarian must perform a detailed eye examination. The Schirmer tear test is done to check the tear production in the eye. A cell sample is taken to check for bacteria, fungi or mites. In order to decide what kind of treatment to apply, the cell sample is controlled in the laboratory by multiplying it in culture medium. When allergies are suspected, tests need to be done to find out what is causing the allergy.
In cases of tumor origin, biopsy is required to understand the type of tumor and to create a treatment plan for it. When blepharitis cannot be determined exactly as a result of the researches, a blood test is required.
First, short-term easy treatments are carried out to alleviate or eliminate symptoms. Some of these are applying warm compresses for 5 to 15 minutes several times a day or cleaning the discharge from the eye. The underlying cause of the disease must be known in order for the treatment to be fully implemented.
Surgery is the only method to clear tumors or remove eyelid abnormalities. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibacterial ointments or drops. Medications that can be used include antiparasitic drugs, antihistamines for allergic conditions, or corticosteroids or immunosuppressants. Blepharitis, which occurs as a result of hormonal disorders, usually disappears on its own when the endocrine disorder is treated. In cases of food deficiency, food supplements are used.
When blepharospasm is idiopathic, symptoms are controlled with various ointments or oral immunosuppressant drugs. Recovery time varies depending on the cause of the blepharospasm. In congenital disorders, the problem is completely eliminated by surgical intervention and the recovery period is quite comfortable. Many eyelid tumors in dogs are benign and can be easily removed with surgery. In the remaining cases, blepharospasm cannot be cured completely, but it can be controlled medically.