Eye problems in dogs - a guide to understanding
What to look for
and what to do.
A healthy eye.
To start with the basics, the cornea, or surface, of the eyes should be clear and the pupils should respond to light.
The white of the eye and the lens behind the pupil should also be clear.
The edges around the eye should be a light pink in colour, there should be no discharge, no excessive tears and the whole eye should be smooth
– but you know all this already!
Things to look for and their meaning.
Cataracts can be seen if the lens behind the pupil is cloudy. This can be because of age, an illness such as diabetes, or toxins in the body caused by ‘free radicals’ (more of them later).
The white area of the eye may be yellowish, perhaps indicating a liver problem such as jaundice.
Conjunctivitis can be seen by looking at the pink tissue around the eye. If this is infected it may produce a green or white discharge, and the pink colour will be much darker than it should be. It is also possible to see conjunctivitis by looking for the third eyelid which is at the bottom of the eye near to the nose.
This is not usually visible, but if it is red then that may indicate conjunctivitis. This can be triggered by a deficiency in the vitamin B2 or, once again, ‘free
Older dogs can get a few lumps and bumps around their eyes, which are usually benign and may be removed by a vet. It is important to get these treated quickly to avert more serious problems later.
If there are excessive tears in the eyes, this can indicate a blocked tear duct. It quite often can be caused by a bacterial or yeast infection, which needs
food rich in both pre biotics and pro biotics to combat the condition.
The opposite condition is dry eye, which, once again, is often caused by the faulty immune system incorrectly identifying the dog’s tear glands as ‘foreign’
and then attempting to destroy them. It can be treated by artificial tears obtained under veterinary advice, and the nutritional build up of a healthy immune
system (both Pre and Pro Biotics in the food – it’s important to have both).
The retina is a thin tissue layer lining the inner part of the eye, and the macula, which is responsible for central vision, is roughly at the centre of that.
A food rich in zinc and manganese is important to the eyes as they are linked to good vision and the protection of the retinal tissue from inflammation.
Degeneration of the macula can bring a loss of central vision.
The first step is to see your vet, and get advice on the most suitable course of action. Eyes are precious. Whatever the vet advises, this can usually be
aided by making sure the dog has the correct nutrition by giving vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the diet to encourage healthy eyes.
Antioxidants are set to be the next big thing in nutrition. They are invaluable in helping to protect an already healthy eye from inflammation and damage.
The Holistic Approach.
Prevention is better than cure. The holistic food should contain sufficient antioxidants in the vitamins and minerals. Industry minimum standards may not be enough. Check the pack to see what you are getting.
Antioxidants fight ‘free radicals’ which can damage the lens of the eye, increase the risk of cataracts, and cause degeneration of the macular (central
So to understand the holistic approach, we have to understand ‘free radicals’. Very simply, the body is made of atoms, which have a nucleus around which circulate electrons. These electrons like to be in pairs, and a free radical is an atom around which there is one or more unpaired electron. The free radical then tries to grab an electron from another atom, and in so doing causes it to become damaged (oxidised). An antioxidant is an atom which donates electrons to stop this oxidisation.
As protection and prevention is better than a cure, a good holistic food, such as Holistic Health, is rich in antioxidants and has the correct
balance of vitamins and minerals. The things to look for and why they are important to healthy eyes are discussed below.
Vitamins A, C and E fight the free radicals which damage the lens of the eye.
A shortage of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can trigger conjunctivitis. B2 is mainly found in ingredients such as egg and wholegrain.
A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which is an eye disease of the centre of the retina causing the loss of central vision. Research on human eyes indicates that a diet rich in Omega 3s can reduce the risk of AMD by a third, and patients with early AMD are 25% less likely to have it progress to the advanced form.
DHA is the Omega 3 fatty acid most found in the retina and brain, and is absolutely essential for healthy eye function. DHA comprises 60% of the
polyunsaturated fat in the retina. It also represents 40% of these fats in the brain, and is often called “Brain Oil”. It can be found in coldwater fish such as
salmon. A dog food should be high in Omega 3.
Zinc and manganese help to protect the eye tissue, especially the retina and macula, from inflammation and deterioration.
As we have seen, antioxidants are an essential tool in maintaining healthy eyes, and the top foods shown on this site take their role seriously, adding
cranberry, carrot, green peas and apple for their antioxidant properties, all of which support the work of the vitamins, minerals and Omega 3s.
Carrots also contain betacarotene, which is a unconverted form of vitamin-A. The body converts this to vitamin-A when needed, so we do not overload the
food with vitamin-A, but when a boost is needed, the betacarotene is then made into vitamin-A. This is just one of the ways pure and natural foods maintain the balance of the food which in turn contributes to eye health.
From what you have read above, you will see which ingredients a food should have to combat the deterioration of the eyes, or, better still, to help prevent
an eye problem occurring at all. Obviously a food has to do more than just give good eyes – it has to be perfectly balanced to meet all the demand of each
body part (holistic).
Golden Eagle Holistic Health is such a food. It is also nutrigenomic – which means it balances the body’s DNA with its nutritional requirements. Is the food
you are using now nutrigenomic? It should be.
A food particularly high in Omega 3 is our Holistic Salmon and Oatmeal, whereas a food which is high in vitamins A,B2,C and E is our Holistic Chicken
Formula. Both contain pre biotics and pro biotics and a good balance of zinc which is essential. Where the condition is not acute, or where a preventative
approach is taken, then the Chicken formula can usually be recommended.