I got this really good heads-up from Dakota a few days ago.
Just wanted to put an FYI out there. Took my dog to the vet for an eye infection. A week later turns out she has glaucoma.
Today, just came back from the ophthalmologist, good news her pressure went from 55 to 32. Still need to bring that down but we will. Turns out my 5 year old Bella is now blind in her right eye. I was told by the ophthalmologist that this common in Shiba Inu’s.
Once they get it in the one eye, Bella is predisposed to getting it in they other eye. We are doing preventative measures now. But GET YOUR SHIBA’S EYE PRESSURE TESTED. I haven’t stopped crying since I got home. My biggest fear, what do I do if she goes blind in the other eye?
Get your doggies tested!!!!!
** NOTE – I am not a vet so all the information in this article is based on my readings on the internet and chats with other dog owners.
What is Glaucoma?
As I understand it, Glaucoma is a condition of the eye where the optic nerve suffers damage as a result to increased fluid pressure inside the eye.
In particular, there is a fluid called aqueous humour between the cornea and the lens of the eye. This fluid is constantly produced and is normally drained out into the bloodstream through the drainage angle (Iridocorneal angle).
Problems occur when the drainage is obstructed, thereby cause a buildup of fluid and therefore pressure in the eye.
If left untreated, this could lead to permanent damage of the optic nerve and may even lead to blindness.
Dogs and Glaucoma – Should We Be Concerned?
In general, there are two types of dog glaucoma –
- Primary glaucoma is hereditary. Dog breeds specifically mentioned include –
Primary glaucoma occurs in many breeds of dogs, including the American Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound, Chow Chow, Shar Pei, Jack Russell Terrier, Shih Tzu, and Arctic Circle breeds (including the Siberian Husky and Elkhound). Primary glaucoma is rare in cats.
~~[Animal Eye Care LLC]
This is likely not a complete list. Dakota mentioned in her comment that Shiba Inus may also be susceptible. Since I have a Shiba and two Sibes, I am definitely concerned.
The key problem with primary glaucoma is that the symptoms are usually mild and may not be easily observable, even by a regular vet. By the time that it is detected, it could already be too late, and there could already be permanent damage to the optic nerve.
- Secondary Glaucoma usually occurs as a result of some other kind of eye disease such as inflammation in the eye (uveitis) or advanced cataracts. Since the dog is under vet care for the initial eye disease, this type of glaucoma is more easily detectable. Presumable we can also perform an eye pressure measurement test after our dog has recovered from the initial eye problem.
Detecting Glaucoma in Our Dogs
The first thing that I did after looking up dog glaucoma is to contact my Siberian Husky breeder. I asked her if she has experienced glaucoma before with her Sibes.
Since the less detectable type of glaucoma, (Primary Glaucoma) is hereditary, I wanted to check the family tree of my two Sibes. If their family tree is free of glaucoma, then they are probably less at risk of inheriting it.
My Sibe breeder tells me that none of her Huskies have gotten glaucoma before. Her mom’s Basenji had glaucoma, but that was a secondary effect from having cataracts when she was 14 years of age. My breeder also tells me that the Basenji had a lot of tearing (tears) before being diagnosed with glaucoma.
According to this very useful article on glaucoma in Samoyeds,
The early signs of glaucoma, which may not be recognized as such, may consist of mild conjunctival inflammation, which can mimic conjunctivitis; increased tearing and pain; and photophobia (sensitivity to light which results in some “squinting” of the eye).
My Shiba Inu’s breeder is not all that great and was uninterested in keeping contact with Sephy. I may get my vet to do an eye pressure test on him during his yearly exam.
Testing and Treatment for Glaucoma in Dogs
For the testing and treatment of dog glaucoma, it is best to consult with your vet or with a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Based on what I have read, there are two different glaucoma tests for dogs –
- Tonometry – This is the simpler test that measures intraocular pressure (IOP). Supposedly, more vets are equipped to do this and it can be performed with just a topical anesthetic.
- Gonioscopy – This is a more invasive test that is used when primary glaucoma is already present in one eye. This test examines the drainage angle of the remaining visual eye to see if it is also predisposed to glaucoma. It seems that this test is mostly performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
According to Animal Eyecare LLC, there are three classes of treatment for dog glaucoma –
- Glaucoma Eye Drops – These eye drops help to decrease fluid production and increase fluid drainage. Apparently, it is a short term solution and is not very effective at controlling glaucoma in the long term.
- Antioxidant Vision Supplements – These supplements can apparently help to reduce oxidative damage to the cells in the eye that are responsible for fluid drainage. It is also not a good long-term solution for dogs that already have glaucoma.
- Surgery – It is best to consult with an eye specialist for the list of possible surgical procedures.
Dogs with glaucoma or at risk of developing glaucoma should have leashes attached to harnesses and not neck collars, to prevent pressure on the jugular veins (which can in turn increase IOP and trigger a glaucoma attack).
~~[Animal Eye Care LLC]
If you have experienced glaucoma with your dogs, please share your stories with us. If you have more information on glaucoma, please let us know as well.
Many thanks to Dakota for bringing this important issue to our attention. Big hugs and best wishes to Bella.
** NOTE – I am not a vet so all the information in this article is based on my readings on the internet and chats with other dog owners.
Some Useful Sites and Resources
- Very informative article by Paula on eye-removal and what to expect.
- Dogster discussion on prosthetic eyes.
- Online forum on eye removal, care, and related issues.
- This site has some very good information on caring for a blind or visually impaired dog.
Kona's Mom says
My Shiba, Kona, developed a cataract in his left eye at
5 1/2 years old. He had surgery. Unfortunately, his retina developed a partial detachment. We found an excellent veterinary opthamologist in Virginia. His retina was re-attached. Less than a year later, cataract surgery was performed in the right eye. At the same time, his left eye needed laser surgery because of glaucoma and high eye pressure. He has been on drops since the first surgery. He has vision although it is described as “seeing through wax paper”. It has been five years since the cataract surgery on the right “the good” eye. The left eye has been stable. Five years no pressure spikes in either eye!!
Kona has recently had two bouts of high eye pressure in the right “good”eye. The first time the pressure was lowered with meds and there was no damage to the retina or optical nerve and his vision recovered after. A week later when we went in for a re-check his pressure had spiked again; higher than the first time. The pressure did not respond to drops. Fluid had to be drained from his eye to lower the pressure. It has been five days and his vision has not improved. Kona has a pressure check next week and a follow-up with the opthamologist the week after.
Get your Shiba checked early. Kona’s eye issues were genetic.
Hey! I have a shiba rescue from Korea and currently living in Virginia. My 7 year old babes is going in for surgery in Virginia Beach tomorrow since we were unable to get an appointment in Richmond before then. I was wondering where in Va you went? I am being asked to consider removal of the eye with glaucoma that is blind (happened quickly) and I’m having a hard time considering alternatives. We are going for the treatment of the eye that is not currently showing signs to prolong any onset of primary glaucoma since the test showed he has a predisposition. Thanks so much in advance!
It may have already been address but, unfortunately, with 3 children, 2 dogs and a full time job, I don’t really have time to read through 54 comments but, I am also scared. I Googled “Blindness in the Shiba Inu” and this was the site I came up with and the first thing I read is about Bella. My Shiba Inu, Pebbles, appears to have also began or gone blind in her one eye, the right one as a matter of fact, and I fear her going completely blind but, more-so, I am terrified she is in pain and I don’t know it because she cannot talk to me. I have no money. I live paycheck to paycheck and I don’t have doggie health insurance because I can barely afford the deductions from my paycheck for my human health insurance responsibilities. I love my animals. They are the highlight of my day. They wake up every morning, excited to see me and excited to go outside and play and be petted and watch me get ready for work and then they are ALWAYS waiting by the door, excited for my coming home. They follow me from room to room, sleep with me, sit with me, do EVERYTHING with me. They ARE my family, in addition to the children and, one of them has a medical issue, likely going blind and most likely in pain. I absolutely NEED, NEED to know how to help my family member with pain, reducing the pressure and even, possibly, the preventative measures to avoid or, at the very least, push back the other eye being effected? I can’t go to a vet. They won’t work on an IOU and I don’t have money to give them without putting all of us on the street and, what good would that do? The family living on the street, under a bridge, my dogs, at best, sleeping in a cardboard box, I need HELP! I don’t know how this message board works. If it is all one thread that I will always have to search through for answers or what but, anyone with the answer or help is MORE than welcome to message me in my email, @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I truly, truly, truly appreciate help with this. This may sound rude but, I have had issues before so, please do not spam my email with false hope. Pebbles is one of my family and I am leaving my child in the hands of the people who see this thread. I hope for positive results. Thank you ALL for reading this and for anyone for assists me!
Please have a vet check your dogs eye pressure my baby my ten ur young cairn terroir got glaucoma and went blind within a few weeks, no one caught it as dogs hide pain well and normal vet check don’t test eyes. It is very painful for the dog and the eye can rupture – it’s scary ! Who would of thought it would happen to my dog that still acted like a puppy. The humane service may help you or they may make you realize animals do cost money like kids and. Gotta be prepared for whatever happens . My dog is doing fine with just one eye – I didn’t want the disease to spread to other eye. I couldn’t take her sight from her. Buy dogs live mostly on scent and sounds,so blindness is doable for dogs like it is humans. Please get your dog check if there is even a small concern. Maybe you could prevent something.
My dog has glaucoma we adopted him from someone who could not take care of him but his eye is swollen and the owner said that the vet said it cannot be removed otherwise he would not survive, to no present his eye is still swollen i was wondering if he could live a happy life with his eye swollen its popped out and he is blind from it???
I would take him to the vet ASAP for a check-up and to see what they can do to help relieve the swelling in the eye.
? Not survive? Get a 2nd opinion. There’s something causing the swelling. Would u take that response from your md?
I really, really hope you got to a vet quick – enlarged eyes are EXTREMELY PAINFUL FOR DOGS – that is ridiculous about not being able to remove, you should do it ASAP or do a similar treatment (injection etc) to remove the pain. Yes, the eye is blind when its swollen from glaucoma and again its a terrible, terrible pain. Please don’t just accept some answer if it doesnt feel right. obviously an abnormal body part like this is not something to leave
I just want to comment and say how grateful and thankful I am to have come across this page and discussion. I too have a sibe(Neo) who lost his left eye from glaucoma at only 15 months old. We did all we could to try and save his eye but the pressure had gotten as high as 77 and we were unable to retrieve his vision. We made trips to the specialist who have confirmed that his right eye will also be affected overtime and that we should consider eye removal. We agreed to do this for my boys sake however because the pressure dropped below 25 we were told the procedure couldn’t be completed given it was too risky and could result in premature blindness in his good eye. So far we have kept up with the 3 different drops, 3 times a day and so far so good. We have however found ourselves grandparents to a litter of 8 puppies, all of which are a mix between blue and brown eyes.2 months ago one of the pups lost his vision (glaucoma) at only 8 weeks old :/ the other one seemed fine once the medication routine was on play. But I have just got news tonight that the poor little darling is losing the other eye as we speak. It’s such a heart breaking and emotional time, it’s do hard to make decisions whilst your baby is in so much pain.
Again thank you, for this article has been extremely helpful! If only I found it when my Neo lost his eye back in April 2014 :/
I have two 10 year old male Shibas from the same litter. Last Christmas I found Taro hiding under my son’s bed. When I got him out he had one eye closed. We immediately took him to an emergency vet clinic where they took his eye pressure. Only in the low 30’s. We made an appointment with a specialist who diagnosed the glaucoma. We were very lucky to catch it so early. Our vet said Shibas are usually very sensitive so Taro was very uncomfortable even though his pressures weren’t that high. We started drops and watched him closely. Made a few trips to emergency. Pressures were getting higher, couldn’t manage the glaucoma with meds. After exhausting all other options we opted for laser surgery. Recovery was awesome. At a six week follow up from surgery it was discovered the pressure in Taro’s other eye was over 75. We immediately did the laser surgery. Recovery was great but couldn’t get the pressure below 40. We repeated the laser surgery…another good recovery. Taro now has safe pressures below 20 in both eyes. He still needs drops every day, and will continue to need them as long as he has his eyes. His vision is still there but slightly impaired by the drops. Vet says its like looking through a paper towel roll…he can see in front of him but not a very large visual field. Was told he was genetically predisposed to the condition. His brother Jiro does not have glaucoma yet. The fact that Taro didn’t develop the condition until 9 years old is a blessing. Apparently it occurs much earlier in most cases. He’s good, but not the same. He is tentative on stairs and doesn’t jump up on the bed anymore, but we are happy he still has vision and no pain.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It is great to hear that Taro is doing well, and that the laser surgery option can be effective. Big hugs to your two boys.
Suzie Morgan says
I have a little jack Russell called blu he had a nasty eye and the vet said it was glucoma we put drops in every day but sadly he had to have his eye removed, he adapted really well but have to put drops in his other eye I am so scared he will get it in the other I keep looking and checking and got to have regular pressure checks don’t know what I would do if they say he is blind in that one as well
Hi we have the same problem with our jack Russell she is only eight had one eye removed and putting drops in the other. The vet has been very good and a straight talker which I like he said is only a matter of time up to eighteen month before she will will be blind. We are both devastated the wee dog is such a big part of our life don’t know how we will cope when the fateful day comes.
I have a siberian husky who is 10 months old .
5 months ago my dog right eye had red eyes and according to the veterinary it was ekenes after doin blood test. After 3 days my dog was ok and the eyes fully open. 2 weeks ago dog developed same problem. Accordingly veterinary doctor informed same problem. But this time I saw my dog not seeing well and bumping into objects. I was not happy with the doctor explanation and met 2 other doctors but I was not satisfied . Subsequently I drove 200 km to see an animal eye doctor and he confirmed that my dog had glaucoma.
Some medicines were prescribed but no guarantee was given that my dog would regained sight. We have given medicine for the past 5 days but still no progress. Accordingly we have to wait for 10 days before any results materialize.as informed by doctor.
We are quite worried and would like to seek for advise on the above matter.
Tina Borst says
Hi my name is Tina and one of my Shibas has Glaucoma. I could make this email really long with all the details but I’m going to leave some out and get to the jist of our story. Kaizo was our foster dog and we decided to adopt her. She came to the rescue as a stray with both eyes. Her left eye was very cloudy so the rescue took her to an opthamologist and she was diagnosed with Glaucoma. The left eye was already blind and so they had her left eye removed so she came to us with just her right eye. She is approx. 7 years of age at this time.
Now 2.5 years have passed and she has 2 Opthamologists that treat her. Last year she was within probably months of loosing her sight in the right eye so we had ECP procedure (Endolaser Cyclophotocoagulation) done on her on April 8, 2013 to relieve her pressure and to extend her sight. No guarantees with this procedure, she could eve wake up blind from it, the surgery cost was $3,000.00 and the recovery time was really pretty short and painless for her. She came out of the procedure just fine, he had to remove her lens so she came out of the surgery with a little less vison than she had going in but right now today she still has some sight (approx 40%)!!! We are SO happy that we chose this procedure for her!!! After the procedure she had ALOT of drops and meds to take so I just made a spreadsheet schedule and it worked out fine. In the end Glaucoma is going to win and she will go blind in this eye and we will probably have it removed also and leave it at that.
I feel everyone’s pain, Glaucoma SUCKS!!
POOR breeding by Puppy Mills/Pet Store dogs are the ones that end up with this disease so please don’t EVER buy animals from Pet Stores!!
Thank you for sharing Kaizo’s story with us Tina. It is good to see first-hand details on the ECP procedure, as well as what to expect during recovery. Very helpful.
I am glad that your girl is doing so well. Big hugs!
My litter of Labrador receiver was 7 there was a very small pup so i paid a little more attention on her she used to loll her head a lot i thought it was because it was because she was underwent, one night she started screeming an her eyes went blank an popped out, i rushed her to d vet an he treated her with eye drops that wasv2 weeks ago now he says she has glucoma in one eye an is still not sure about d other eye too i am really sorry an don’t know what to do.
We’re starting to go through something similar with our Syberian Husky. We adopted her 2.5yrs ago. Not sure if this means anything but she was 43lbs overweight due to poor care. I exercised her and got her into shape. My point is, she had joint and cholesterol problems. Fast fwd a year, the vet is surprised how healthy she is. Another year and a half goes by and her eye ball seems misshapen. She shows no sign of pain but seems to see just fine. Vet thinks its old age; shes about 8. I’m thinking of taking her to an opthologist bc after reading this I’m afraid it could be glaucoma. They did test her for tumors and that was a negative. I’m so scared. She’s had a tough life w her previous owner dying and all. I really don’t want anything to happen to my Fur-Baby. 🙁
Thank you so much for this article.