Ectropion is a canine disease in which the eyelid moves outward, unlike entropion in dogs, exposing the inside of the eyelid. With the inner eyelid exposed, the dog can be prone to eye problems of various kinds, and even runs the risk of losing sight.

This disease has different possible causes. One of the primary or direct causes is simply improper development of the dog from birth, while secondary or indirect causes may include previous diseases of the animal. In this article we will talk about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ectropion in dogs.

Symptoms of ectropion in dogs

The symptoms of ocular ectropion are very obvious and easy to detect. These include:

  • Lower eyelids drooping and eyeball separation, allowing you to see the conjunctiva (transparent mucous membrane that lines the eyeball from the limbus to the conjunctival cul-de-sac) and the third eyelid.
  • Red or swollen conjunctiva.
  • Marks on the face, caused by the flow of tears that do not cross the tear ducts.
  • Inflammation of the eye.
  • Recurrent bacterial eye infections.
  • Recurrent irritation of the eye caused by foreign objects.

Causes and risk factors

Canine ectropion is known as “primary” when it is caused by poor development of the dog, with a well-known genetic predisposition.

On the other hand, it is considered “secondary” when it is the result of other factors. In this case, it is usually due to trauma, inflammation, foreign bodies, infections, corneal ulceration, paralysis of the facial nerves, rapid and noticeable weight loss, and loss of muscle tone around the eyes. Dogs with hypothyroidism can also suffer from ectropion as a result of myxedema and facial paralysis.

Primary ectropion generally occurs in puppies and is more common in larger breeds, or those with very loose skin and folds, such as the Saint Bernard, Great Dane, Bloodhound, Bullmastiff, Newfoundland, Shar-peis, and some Spaniels and Retrievers. Secondary ectropion, on the other hand, is more common in older dogs.

How is ectropion diagnosed?

Canine ectropion can usually be diagnosed simply by observing and examining the pet. The breed and medical history of the dog help to identify the probable causes, which is very important to know in order to request other complementary studies.

Once ectropion has been diagnosed in dogs, the veterinarian will be able to perform a complete eye exam on the animal to identify probable causes and decide what is the best treatment for the condition.

Ectropion treatments

The treatment of this disease is usually very simple when it comes to mild cases. Once diagnosed, a prescription for eye drops or other lubricants is administered to help keep the eyeball moist, which in such cases, it is essential to keep hydrated so that other complications do not appear. Antibiotics are also given for secondary infections.

If the ectropion is caused by another disease, such as hypothyroidism, it should be treated in the same way. Treatment of severe cases of ectropion requires surgery. Whatever the case, the prognosis is positive.

But, in a large percentage of cases, dogs with ectropion will manifest eye problems or a very pronounced eversion. For this reason, it will be more than necessary to do everything possible to try to repair the defect through surgery. The operation, which of course has to be carried out by a veterinary professional, consists of creating a tension in the eyelids.

It is a simple procedure, but it must always be carried out by an ophthalmologist veterinarian or, at least, with ophthalmological experience. This consists of removing a small part of the tissue from the lower eyelid and joining the resulting edges to tighten the area. In this way, the eyelid skin becomes tight again, correcting the defect.

Ectropion vs entropion: what’s the difference?

Due to the similarity of both terms, and since both refer to eye disorders, it is not uncommon for confusion to occur between ectropion and entropion disease. But they are easy conditions to distinguish if you look at the words. Thus, if the ectropion is eversion of the lower eyelid, entropion consists of invagination of the lid margin.

Invaginate refers to the edge of the eyelids turning towards the inside, which can cause damage to the eyeball itself. It can be a very common congenital defect in breeds such as the Chow chow and can even affect both eyelids. It is an ailment that requires surgical intervention.

How to prevent ectropion in dogs

To prevent canine ectropion it is important to maintain a regular hygiene in the dog’s healthy eyes. In this way, you will avoid minor illnesses that can develop into bigger problems. Another recommendation is to avoid breeding with dogs that already have this disease.