When your dog doesn't seem interested in eating his food, do you know what to do? When your dog vomits often, could there be something serious wrong with him? If he struggles to get up the stairs, does he need to see a vet? Having never owned an older dog, I knew nothing about the things that can begin to go wrong when dogs age. I adopted this guy when my neighbor moved into a nursing home and had to learn a lot about how to care for an older dog. My blog is filled with the many things that I have learned over the last year through the help of my vet.
Pugs are adorable pets, but the features that make them cute—their flat faces and bulging eyes—also put them at risk of health problems. Exposure keratopathy is one of the many health problems that your pug is at risk of. Here are three things pug owners need to know about exposure keratopathy.
What is exposure keratopathy?
Keratopathy is a medical term that refers to any disease or damage that affects the cornea, which is the tissue that covers the front of the eyes. Exposure keratopathy occurs when the cornea is exposed to the elements, instead of being protected by the eyelids. This lets the cornea get dried out.
If your pug develops exposure keratopathy, you may notice that their eyes look red or irritated. Since dried out eyes are uncomfortable, your pug may also try to rub their eyes with their paws.
Why is it a problem for pugs?
Your pug's anatomy puts them at risk of exposure keratopathy. Since pugs are bred to have flat faces, they don't have enough room in their skulls for their eye sockets. This forces their eyes forwards, leading to the bulging appearance that pugs are famous for. The problem with these bulging eyes is that your pet may not be able to close their eyes fully when they blink or sleep. If you look at your pug while they're sleeping, you may notice that a sliver of their eye is still visible from between their eyelids.
How is exposure keratopathy treated?
Exposure keratopathy needs to be treated to protect your pet's eyes. If their eyes are allowed to remain dry and exposed to the elements, they could develop corneal abrasions or even become blind.
To keep your pug's eyes moist and protected, your vet may prescribe a lubricating eye drop or ointment. To apply the drops or ointment, sit behind your pug and hold them between your knees. As you pet their head, apply the medication to their eyes. If they don't want to cooperate, try distracting them with cheese, peanut butter or another tasty snack. Once the process is done, praise your pug. This makes them associate the eye drops with snacks and attention from you, so they won't struggle as much.
If your pug has trouble closing their eyelids and now has red, irritated eyes, they may be suffering from exposure keratopathy. This uncomfortable condition can be treated with eye drops or ointment, so see your vet or dog care provider right away.