With his undershot jaw, big head and adorable wrinkles, you can't get cuter than an English bulldog. But sometimes that cuteness comes at a price. Those distinctive features, particularly the shallow eye sockets, can lead to eye problems. Fortunately, your vet can easily fix these, provided you spot them early.
Dry eye is the informal term for Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS. This treatable condition occurs when an English bulldog experiences a diminishing production of aqueous fluid, an important component of tears. Tears are comprised of mucus, aqueous fluid and a lipid. Without aqueous fluid, your dog can't produce tears. Without tears, he is unable to clear away irritants and pollutants from the eye. This causes dryness, leading to inflammation and irritation. Dry eye is largely idiopathic, meaning it has an unknown origin, although it is sometimes the direct result of an eye infection. Symptoms of dry eye include redness, blinking and rubbing of the eye with the paw. Treatments include Optimmune, a topical treatment that stimulates tear production.
Although glandular hypertrophy, or "cherry eye," looks pretty gruesome, it's a relatively minor complaint caused by an enlargement and resultant prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. The condition is common in younger dogs. Depending on severity, your veterinarian may elect to treat this condition either with anti-inflammatory drugs, by suturing the prolapsed duct back in position or by completely removing the duct. In cases of the latter option, your English bulldog may go on to suffer from dry eye.
Brachycephalic Ocular Disease
The flatness of the English bulldog’s face and shallowness of the eye sockets causes him to suffer from a number of eye problems. Collectively, eye problems related to the head and socket shape are called brachycephalic ocular disease. Symptoms include protruding eyeballs, dryness, redness and excessive tear production. Dogs with extremely protruding eyeballs are also prone to impact trauma to the eyeball due to the lack of protection afforded by the shallow eye sockets. So it's essential to remove any potential hazards, such as plants with pointed leaves. Your vet will determine suitable treatment based on the severity of the symptoms and impact on quality of life.
If your bulldog's eyelids are a little droopy, they can rotate downward, causing the eyelashes to impact inwards on the eyeball. Depending on the severity of the entropion, this causes mild irritation, tearing, scarring and infection. Your vet will correct this by surgically removing the offending eyelash. If the entropion returns or persists, your vet may carry out a minor procedure to remove a portion of the eyelid, to shorten it and prevent further rotation.
- American Kennel Club: Bulldog
- University of Wisconsin Veterinary Care: What is KCS?
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine: Many Causes for Pet's Red Eye
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare: Brachycephalic Ocular Syndrome
- North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Entropion
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.