Those bright eyes of your little wiener dog melt your heart. But behind all that sweetness lurks the potential for serious threats to your pup's eyesight. While many of the disorders suffered by dachshunds are experienced by other breeds, this short pup is often more prone than his canine counterparts.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca in veterinary terms, this ailment is the result of reduced tear production. According to Go Pets America, it can lead to blindness. While dachshunds are just one of several breeds prone to this disorder, of the breeds diagnosed, dachshunds are most likely to develop a related condition called pigmentary keratitis. It is an irregularity in the surface of the cornea due to its thickening from too much exposure to air when not properly moisturized. Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include a mucus-like discharge from the eye and the dog's pawing at his eye. Treatment includes the regular application of artificial tears as well as surgical repositioning of a portion of the salivary duct from the mouth to the eye.
A cataract is a thin, cloudy lining formed on the lens of the eye due to an imbalance of water and calcium in the eye. Its existence makes the eye appear milky. In its initial stages, a cataract causes distortion of the light as it filters through the lens. As the cataract becomes more established, it can block light from coming through the lens, causing blindness. According to Animal Eye Care, most canine cataracts are inherited, but diabetes is the second most common cause. The dachshund, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is at particularly high risk for developing diabetes. Surgical removal of cataracts can be performed by a vet, but it is a spendy procedure and most generally not reimbursed by pet health insurance policies. According to Animal Eye Care, the genetic component of canine cataracts excludes them from coverage.
This buildup of the natural fluid within the eye is characterized by red and cloudy bulging eyes is not life-threatening, according to Pet Wave. It can, however, adversely affect a dog's quality of life. It is caused when the exchange of the aqueous humor fluid between the eye chambers is out of balance. Specialized ophthalmic examination similar to what humans undergo when seeing an ophthalmologist is necessary to diagnose canine glaucoma, as its symptoms are similar to those of other eye disorders. Treatment options include prescription medication aimed at controlling the level of production of the fluid, and surgical implants designed to improve drainage. Unfortunately, according to Pet Wave, these surgical procedures only serve to slow the progression of the disease rather than cure it.
Gradual Loss of Vision
Known by veterinarians as progressive retinal atrophy, this eye problem is a decline in the dog's ability to process light as necessary for effective vision. According to Dachshund Owner Guide, it is a condition in which the cells of the retina slowly die. It is first noticed at night when less light for visual processing is available. This is the case for miniature long-haired dachshunds, which have a higher genetic propensity for this disorder than do other types of wiener dogs. The disease eventually makes its existence well known during daytime hours as well, when even more of the retinal cells have died off and the dog has an extremely limited light-processing capability. As the disease is a gradual one, most dogs are able to adjust as long as they are kept in familiar surroundings. Keeping furniture—especially items low to the ground, where a dachshund's short legs keep his body—is recommended to aid a dog losing his sight. The unfortunate reality, according to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, is that there is no cure for this disorder. As of September 2012, the kennel club has funded eight research projects totaling more than $650,000 in search of an effective treatment.
Abnormally Small Eye
Technically known by veterinarians and those specializing in canine eye disorders as microphthalmia, this disorder is a birth defect, according to Dogged Health. The Canine Inherited Disorders Database describes it as a significant condition affecting dachshunds. A dog's eyes appear sunken in to the eye socket and the third eyelid often appears larger than normal. There is no treatment for this genetic disorder.
- Dog Breed Info Center: Dachshund
- petMD: Dachshund
- Science Daily: Mutation Found In Dachshund Gene May Help Develop Therapies for Humans With Blindness
- ASPCA: Diabetes
- VetInfo: Dog Surgery: Estimating the Costs
- Dogged Health: Diseases and Conditions: Microphthalmia
- PetWave: Glaucoma in Dogs: Overview
- Animal Eye Care: Cataracts in Dogs
- American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation: Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.