How to Spot and Treat Eyelid Entropion in Dogs

Boxer Dog
MICHAEL LOFENFELD Photography / Getty Images

Entropion is an eyelid condition that can affect dogs, cats, and humans. This is a potentially painful condition that can cause serious damage to the surface of the eye if not treated. Fortunately, there are treatment options for entropion in dogs.

What is Entropion in Dogs?

Entropion in dogs is an ocular condition that causes the eyelids to roll inward. This makes the eyelashes and other hair around the eyes rub on the cornea (the eye covering), leading to irritation. Entropion can affect both the upper and lower lids and may be seen in one or both eyes.

The rubbing of hairs on the eye can be itchy or painful. It also causes irritation that can lead to corneal ulceration. Once a corneal ulcer is present, it will continue to get worse due to the entropion. This may cause scarring on the cornea that can affect vision. It can also progress to a more serious corneal ulcer that permanently damages the eye.

Signs of Entropion in Dogs

  • Squinting
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eye discharge
  • Apparent swelling around eyes
  • Rubbing at eyes
  • Eye redness/conjunctivitis
  • Excessive blinking/blepharospasms
  • Corneal ulcers
dog with entropion and corneal ulcer
Entropion and corneal ulcer Todorean Gabriel / Getty Images

Causes of Entropion in Dogs

Any dog can develop entropion, but certain dog breeds are genetically predisposed. The following breeds are some of those more prone to developing this condition:

Entropion may also occur secondary to other eye diseases, trauma, and neurological disorders. In some cases, another eye disease can cause temporary entropion. If this is the case, treatment of the primary eye disease can make the entropion go away.

How Vets Diagnose Entropion in Dogs

If your dog is showing any eye abnormalities, you should contact your veterinarian right away. Eye diseases can progress rapidly without treatment. The sooner your vet diagnoses entropion, the less damage it can do to the cornea.

Entropion can typically be diagnosed on an eye examination. In fact, your vet may notice early signs of entropion during a routine wellness exam, so it's important to bring your dog to the vet for check-ups once or twice a year.

After diagnosing entropion, your vet will perform a fluorescein stain test on the eye to look for corneal damage. A safe fluorescent dye is dropped into the eye, then the eye is rinsed with saline. The vet will use a light to see if there is an uptake of stain on the cornea. Stain uptake indicates the presence of an ulcer or abrasion. Dogs with corneal damage will need additional treatment.

Treatment of Entropion in Dogs

Your vet will determine the severity of the entropion and whether or not the cornea was damaged. Dogs with mild cases of entropion may not need treatment unless the condition worsens. Topical antibiotic ointment may be recommended to prevent infections and lubricate the eyes.

The condition may or may not progress, so it's important to use medications as directed, see your vet for recommended follow-ups, and contact them at the first sign of a change in the eyes.

If the entropion is severe enough to have caused corneal damage, then surgery is the only treatment option.

In puppies with entropion, the eyelids can be temporarily tacked back with sutures until the puppy grows. Some of these dogs' heads may grow and reshape enough for the entropion to become mild or resolve completely.

Adult dogs with entropion may need surgery to permanently reshape the eyelids so they will no longer roll inward. This procedure is called a blepharoplasty. It is a type of plastic surgery that involves removing excess eyelid tissue and suturing the eyelid in a better place for proper eyelid function. Blepharoplasty is typically performed by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist.

After surgery, your vet will send your dog home with an e-collar to prevent rubbing of the eyes. Topical and/or oral medications may also be needed to manage pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection.

Be certain to follow your vet's recommendations regarding treatment and follow-up exams. Your vet will also need to recheck your dog's eyes regularly to monitor recovery and make sure new problems are not developing.