Pannus In Dogs

Pannus is a common eye condition in dogs that many pet parents are unaware of. With having the potential to lead to eventual blindness, this makes it even more of an important topic for dog owners to be educated on.

So what is Pannus, and what does the diagnosis mean for our furry friends?

In this article we will introduce you to the details of Pannus in dogs, and help you understand how this disease can impact the vision of your canine companion.

What Is Pannus In Dogs?

Pannus In Dogs

Pannus is an immune-mediated eye condition that can lead to eventual blindness in our canine friends.

Pannus, or chronic superficial keratitis, develops due to an inappropriate inflammatory response that occurs within the eye.

It is a result of the body observing some type of abnormal change within the cornea, causing the immune system to attack the cornea as if it were a foreign invader.

Pannus often begins as a small red mass on the cornea, and the third eyelid may appear inflamed or thickened.

The mass will typically flatten and spread across the eye as the condition progresses, leading to obvious changes to the eye’s appearance.

Not only will the eye display noticeable changes at this point, but a dog’s vision will also be significantly impaired.

Pannus is often seen in both eyes when it is present, making it even more impactful to the dog affected.

Pannus in dogs cannot be cured, but it can be slowed or managed with veterinary care.

How Do Dogs Get Pannus?

Like many other immune-mediated conditions, the exact cause of the condition is still unknown.

Certain breeds are more prone than others to developing Pannus, creating a strong argument for genetic links.

Though Pannus is more common in some breeds than others, there are a few outside factors that are thought to contribute to the development of Pannus in our canine friends.

Some of the predisposing factors that are believed to contribute to the development of Pannus include living in high altitudes, exposure to UV light, and even long-term exposure to smoke.

This is likely why Pannus is most common in active dogs with increased sun exposure, and why canine athletes are often seen wearing protective goggles.

Are Some Dogs More At Risk Of Getting Pannus?

Some dogs appear to be more at risk of developing Pannus than others.

Pannus is seen most often in German Shepherds or German Shepherd mixes, though it can develop in other breeds as well.

Other breeds that are most affected by Pannus include:

  • Greyhounds
  • Rottweilers
  • Belgian Shepherds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • and Dachshunds

Pannus is so common In German Shepherds that they are often seen as the poster child for the disease.

Most informative articles on the topic sport photos of a GSD, proving just how prevalent it is among the breed.

If your dog is on the list of at risk breeds, it’s best to limit your dog’s exposure to any of the listed triggers we discussed above.

Monitoring your dog’s eye appearance is essential if you have a high risk pup, as early detection is essential for long term management.

What Are The Signs Of Pannus In Dogs?

Pannus can be tricky to diagnose in the early stages, as owners may not even notice the minor changes in their dog’s eye.

Some owners may even write these changes off as the normal aging process in dogs, leading to further progression of the disease.

Some of the most common signs of Pannus in dogs include:

  • Small pink mass on the cornea
  • Inflammation of the third eyelid
  • Change in eye color
  • White growths near the cornea
  • Eye irritation
  • Cloudy appearance of the eye
  • Eye discharge
  • Evidence of vision impairment

If you notice any of the above changes in your dog’s eye appearance, it’s time to take your pup to the vet for a thorough eye examination.

How To Diagnose Pannus In Dogs

The only way to accurately diagnose Pannus in your pup is by having them examined by a veterinarian.

Your vet will likely discuss any signs and symptoms you are seeing at home, perform an eye exam with an ophthalmoscope, stain the eye for any evidence of injury, and perform an eye pressure test.

Some of these tools are not necessarily testing for Pannus, but rather ruling out any other eye conditions.

They may even suggest a visit to your local veterinary ophthalmologist if your dog’s case is unique, just to make sure they are not missing anything along the way.

Once your vet feels confident in their diagnosis of Pannus in your dog, they will then move forward with the best form of treatment for your pup.

Treating Pannus In Dogs

Once your vet diagnoses Pannus in your dog, there are a few ways they may attempt to manage the condition going forward.

There is no set cure for the condition at this point, but there are ways to slow the progression of the condition.

At first, the main goal will typically involve halting the disease progression in its tracks. This will often involve suppressing the immune response occurring within the cornea, leading many vets to turn to the use of topical steroids or Cyclosporine (in eyedrop form).

These medications will be applied to the eye multiple times a day, with doses changing as the dog begins to respond to treatment.

Your vet may rely on one option over the other, or even use both medications at once. When your pup begins to respond to treatment and the condition plateaus, your vet will then decrease their doses.

If the dog has already experienced significant vision impairment, there is an option involving an injection of corticosteroids beneath the conjunctiva.

This can be performed in addition to the use of daily eye drops, hoping to reverse some of the damage that has already occurred.

This isn’t always successful, but it’s usually worth a shot.

No matter how well your pup responds to topical treatment, your dog will need to maintain a close relationship with their veterinarian for the rest of their lives.

Pannus is a lifelong condition with occasional flare ups along the way, making it essential to always have your vet on standby.

It is important to note that dogs diagnosed with Pannus younger in life tend to have more severe cases, and seem to be more difficult to manage long term.

This is also true of dogs living in high altitude regions, as their condition seems to be more aggressive.

These cases often require the guidance of a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Prognosis Of Pannus In Dogs

When Pannus is diagnosed early on, most dogs have a fair prognosis.

As long as you maintain a close relationship with your vet and adhere to their recommended medication schedule, Pannus can be well managed long term.

It’s often the cases that are not properly managed that struggle the most, or those that were diagnosed in the late stages of the condition.

Every case of Pannus in dogs will vary, but there appears to be one common factor that makes all the difference; early detection.

Those who notice changes in their dog’s eye and seek advice early on, generally offer their dog a better chance at a life free of significant vision impairment.

Final Thoughts

Pannus is a strange eye condition that should always be taken seriously.

Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can have a better idea of what to look for in your furry friend.

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