Yes that’s right, even our four-legged friends can develop eye problems! Think of those adorable Boston Terriers, Frenchies, Pugs and other dogs that have those bulging eyes which can be a propensity for ocular diseases such as corneal ulcers, dry eye, glaucoma and much more. Sine the focus on this month’s health initiative is harmful rays for people, let’s also chat about how harmful rays can be damaging to our furry friends’ eyes as well.
Dogs with light eyes (blue, dapple, merle for example) are susceptible to eye conditions like pannus, which occurs as a result of ultraviolet (UV) light damage to the side of the cornea. Pannus means limited time outdoors and can lead to blindness. Dogs can also get skin cancer from too much sun exposure, especially on spots with thin or no hair like bellies, noses, and ears. Yes, I often recommend using a sunblock (SPF 30) to dogs. I also try to tell my pet parents to keep those susceptible dogs away from sunbathing as much as possible (especially during the warm months). Skin prone areas include the nose, ears, around the eyes and the stomach. These are locations where dogs may have little or no fur and are therefore more at risk to sun damage. While all breeds require sun protection, certain breeds and dogs tend to be more sensitive to the sun, such as those with thin or short hair, light or white fur, dogs with exposed skin, and dogs that have had medical procedures and autoimmune skin diseases (discoid lupus for example).
Fortunately, protecting your dog from the sun is quite easy with just a few pieces of gear and awareness. Like humans, we need to consider eye protection for dogs because harmful UV rays from the sun can cause eye conditions like pannus, sunburn around the eyes, and cataracts. Certain breeds like German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Labs and Border Collies tend to be more prone to pannus, an inflammatory autoimmune disease of the cornea. It is most common in the Rocky Mountain West. Dog goggles (also known as “Doggles”) are specifically designed to prevent such diseases caused by exposure to the sun. Most dog goggles are rated UV400 to provide protection from 99-100% UVA/UVB to help keep the eyes safe from excessive sun exposure. I also do not like seeing dogs’ heads hanging out of the driving cars. This not only is overall dangerous, but can cause serious damage to their eyes.
So next time you want to ride in style with your dog, be sure to get them some dog goggles. They will thank you!
Adam Christman, DVM, MBA
Chief Veterinary Officer
MJH Life Sciences