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Canine Dry Eye Syndrome

By Guest Author Ellen Troyer, MT, MA

A healthy tear film is essential to keep your dog’s cornea healthy. Tears supply the cornea with oxygen and nutrients, therefore if the cornea is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, destructive changes occur, leading to a condition called dry eye. The cornea can become pigmented, scarred and ulcerated, and vision loss can also result without treatment.

Your dog’s dry eyes sting and burn all the time, just like humans' do. After an extended period of dryness, the surface of the eye begins to accumulate dark scar tissue and blood vessels, to the point of blindness in some dogs!

The clinical signs of Canine dry eye include:

  • Heavy mucus production
  • Redness
  • Rubbing at eyes
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Corneal ulcers
  • General lethargy
  • Tear staining


Canine Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), results from the inability of your dog to produce healthy tears. The cause of your dog’s dry eye can include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Congenital disorders
  • Infections
  • Taking Sulfa-based antibiotics
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Immune system malfunction
  • Surgical removal of the gland of the 3rd eyelid in Cherry Eye cases.

Although all breeds can suffer from dry eyes, the disease is most commonly seen in Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Bichon Frises, Lhasa Apsos, Bulldogs, Schnauzers, and Terriers.

The Three-Layer Tear Film

Mucin Base Layer – The sticky layer closest to the surface of the eye is produced by ocular surface goblet cell mucins and lacrimal gland mucins.

Aqueous Layer – The layer between the mucin and lipid layers is secreted by the lacrimal gland and the canine nictitans gland. It incorporates all water-soluble components of your dogs tear film including nutrients and oxygen.

Lipid Layer – Think oil on water! The outermost layer is produced by the meibomian glands in your dog’s eyelids. It retards tear evaporation, thereby allowing the first two layers of the tear film to adhere to the surface of your dog’s eye. Tear staining is most often associated with biochemical disruption of the lipid layer of the tear film.


DogTears – The New Standard-of-Care for Canine Dry Eye Syndrome*

What and Why of Dog Tears Biochemically-balanced Ingredients.

What: Vitamins A, C, B-6, and the mineral magnesium
Why: They are nutritional co-factors required for all fatty acid enzymatic metabolism. Vitamin A stimulates goblet cell / lacrimal gland mucin production for the base layer of the tear film.

What: Black currant Seed Oil as a source of Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids.
Why: It’s the most biologically stable source of vegetable-based Omega 6 fatty acid and it’s vital to the production of the aqueous, or water, layer of the tear film.

What: Fish oil as a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Why: Because both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are important fatty acids in the production of the lipid top layer of the tear film. EPA also plays an important role in controlling the systemic inflammation frequently associated
With canine dry eye.

What: Apo-lactoferrin, an iron-binding protein.
Why: Lactoferrin stimulates wound healing and acts as an inhibitor of ocular surface viral and bacterial bio film formation frequently associated with chronic canine eye infection and canine dry eye.

What: Curcumin (Curcuma longa).
Why: Curcumin acts as a natural anti-inflammatory COX2 inhibitor.


*PLEASE NOTE: Dog Tears Oral Gel Caps has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

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