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Pannus in Dogs (Chronic Superficial Keratitis)

Pannus in Dogs (Chronic Superficial Keratitis)

Canine pannus is a condition that affects the cornea and third eyelid of a dog's eyes. It can eventually result in blindness if not treated. In today's post, our Cordova vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment options for dogs suffering from pannus.

How Pannus Impacts a Dog's Eyes

Pannus (also known as chronic superficial keratitis) is a condition affecting the cornea and third eyelid of a dog’s eyes. This condition leads to a grayish-pink film covering the eye, and as the disease progresses, the cornea can become opaque. 

Although chronic superficial keratitis in dogs can be present in just one eye, it is more common for it to be found in both.

Causes of Pannus in Dogs

The exact cause of pannus isn't known, however, it is thought to mainly be a hereditary condition that appears as a dog ages. The disease is thought to be hereditary because it is typically found only in certain dog breeds, although it can appear in any breed.

Although pannus is not completely understood and the causes aren't certain, there are some factors that can contribute to the development of the disease, including:

  • Large amounts of sunlight exposure
  • Immune-mediated inflammation
  • Underlying eye conditions
  • High altitudes
  • Entropion (eyelids rolled inward)
  • Exposure to airborne irritants

Dog Breeds Susceptible to Pannus

Pannus typically begins to develop in middle-aged dogs (5-8 years old). Even though any dog can develop this condition, it is most often seen in the following dog breeds:

  • German shepherds (make up 90% of cases)
  • Belgian tervurens
  • Border collies
  • Siberian huskies
  • Greyhounds
  • Rhodesian ridgebacks

Although these breeds are more likely to develop this condition, it is important to remember that any dog can develop pannus. Also, if your dog is mixed with any of these breeds, you'll want to keep a close eye on them to ensure they aren't showing any signs or symptoms of the disease.

Pannus in Dogs Symptoms

The first signs of pannus appear as non-painful, raised lesions on the cornea. They will typically be a red or pink color, but can also present as brown or gray. These lesions are most commonly seen on the outer side of the eye. You may also notice the third eyelid becoming thick and inflamed. Both eyes are typically affected, but one may appear worse than the other.

Some other symptoms of pannus in dogs to watch for can include:

  • Redness and tearing
  • A grayish-pink film on the eye(s)
  • Cornea pigmentation
  • Cornea opacity

If your dog is showing any of the signs above, it is best to err on the side of caution and consult with a veterinary ophthalmology specialist.

Treatment for Pannus in Dogs

Unfortunately, pannus does not have a cure, and treatment will last for the rest of your pet's life. On the bright side, most dogs respond quite well to treatment with close monitoring from a veterinarian and diligent at-home care by the animal's owner.

Treatment will likely include topical corticosteroids in addition to other eye medications. In extreme cases, surgery or radiation therapy may be used to the point where more traditional methods will suffice.

Dogs with pannus will require ongoing, lifelong medication to prevent lesions on the cornea from returning. Regular eye exams are key in identifying any reoccurring flare-ups once the pannus is under control.

It is crucial that you follow your vet's directions carefully, and administer medications consistently as instructed. Regular check-ups and attentiveness are essential due to the likelihood of the condition relapsing throughout your dog's life.

The Prognosis for Canine Pannus

For dogs residing in regions with lower UV radiation exposure, topical treatment is often very effective in controlling pannus. However, treating patients living in areas with more intense UV light may be a more difficult task.

It is extremely important to remember to follow medication instructions carefully. Failure to follow instructions in detail can cause the condition to worsen over time.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of pannus? Contact our Cordova vets to have your pup examined. Your pet will be in good hands with our veterinary ophthalmologist. 

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