Q & A: My cross breed dog’s eyes are constantly watering. What could be the problem?

Q. My cross breed dog’s eyes are constantly watering. What could be the problem?

A. Epiphora is the scientific name for this common condition of watery eyes and may have many causes. Epiphora may result from either an increase in production of tears or a decrease in drainage of tears. Increased production is a defensive response of the eye to an irritation – an attempt to wash it away – which may be due to infection (viral or bacterial), foreign bodies (eyelash, grit, fine hairs on the inner surface of the eyelid, folding of the eyelids), increased pressure in the eye (glaucoma), and reaction to some eye medications.

Decreased drainage via the normal nasolacrimal duct (a small drainage system from the inner corner of the eye to the nose) may be congenital or acquired. Congenital problems occur in some breeds – Poodles, Pekingese, Shar Peis and many more – which include genetic issues like shallow eye sockets or missing or malformed nasolacrimal ducts.

Acquired problems that may result in blockage are infection or trauma. In some cases the blockage can be relieved by surgery and flushing. Testing for patent ducts is fairly simple by means of the Jones test: a drop of fluorescein stain is applied to the surface of the eye which should appear a short while later in the nostril on the same side if the duct is open. My recommendation is to take your dog to your vet for an eye examination as soon as you can since some of these conditions can lead to loss of sight.

Donald Leask, Southdale

Q. My Golden Retriever (8) has mammary cancer. My vet said that she will remove the fist-sized tumour, but what are the chances that the cancer will return? Could the cancer already have moved to other organs? What other treatments are available for dogs with cancer?

A. Mammary cancer is usually caused by being spayed too late or not being sterilised at all. Themalignancy of the cancer (metastasis or spread) can only be determined after a biopsy has been done and a specimen sent for histopathology. Some mammary cancers are localised to mammary tissue. To check if it has spread, do an ultrasound scan after three months (only if it is declared malignant), then six-monthly. However, this is academic. If it does spread, you cannot do anything about it.

Dr Melvyn Greenberg, veterinarian

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