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Causes of corneal ulcers in dogs

Downtown Charlotte, NC

Joshua J. Broadwater, DVM, DACVO, breaks down how he categorizes dogs suffering from corneal ulcers

In this dvm360® interview, Joshua J. Broadwater, DVM, DACVO, with Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency in North Carolina, discusses dogs predisposed to corneal ulcers, what may cause them in young and old dogs, and diseases that can put pets at risk.

Broadwater will be delivering ophthalmology lectures at our Fetch Charlotte conference taking place March 15-17, 2024. Register here today to secure your spot.

The following is a partial transcript of the video.

Joshua J. Broadwater, DVM, DACVO: When we talk about corneal ulcers in dogs and cats, mostly dogs, because that's who I see most frequently, but I think about them in my mind separated into a couple of different categories. So, one category is the genetic or breed predisposition that we see. So, Shih Tzus, I make the joke all the time that we could literally build a clinic just off the Shih Tzus because they are here with ulcers all the time, along with pugs and Pekingese and Boston terriers. A big reason for that is their breed predispositions because they have a lot more prominent eyes that make them a lot more predisposed to get ulcers or scratches. They're a lot more predisposed to getting dry eye or exposure keratopathy where they get dry spots on their cornea just because they don't blink or close their eyes as well. Also there's some thought that they have decreased nerve sensation in their corneas. So, they're a little bit more prone to get ulcers and infected ulcers because of the nerve plexus that's in their cornea as well. So, we have that group that is more related to genetics or breed.

Then, we have young dogs and when we see young dogs for ulcers, there's certain rule outs that should be on our mind. So, you start thinking about eyelid abnormalities like entropion, where the lid rolls in and those hairs are rubbing on the cornea. We think about other abnormal hairs, so distichia, those little hairs coming up through the meibomian gland openings and rubbing on the eye. Ectopic cilia, which are those really bristly tiny hairs that come out up underneath the eyelid and rub on the cornea when they blink. Things like corneal dystrophy, where dogs at a very young age develop mineral deposits or lipid fat deposits in their cornea that can cause irregularities whenever they blink. Trauma for sure, a lot of these young guys are wrestling around with other puppies or getting a little too friendly with cats and get a scratch on the eye. So, that would be the other category we would think of—young dogs. And that's some of the rule outs we would see.

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