So your Frenchie has been rubbing their eyes and indicating that something is irritating them causing redness, inflammation or weeping. Could this be an allergy, infection or some kind of genetic condition? By the end of this article you will have a broad knowledge of French bulldog eye allergies and irritants, how to prevent them and understand if your puppy needs a visit to the vet.
The most common cause of conjunctivitis (redness in the white area of the eye ball) in dogs is allergic reaction unlike humans who are more likely to get conjunctivitis from a contagious infection. The inflammation of the eye in allergic conjunctivitis can be caused by environmental triggers or man made products that don’t cause reactions in other French bulldogs.
There are many natural irritants in the environment which your dog is exposed to every day that can cause eye allergies. The most common allergens are cigarette smoke, household cleaning products, fabrics and materials, hair, feathers, dander, perfumes, colognes, dust, moulds, grass pollen, mildew, and certain medications including insecticide shampoo which treats fleas and lice .
French bulldogs who are already experiencing allergic skin symptoms are more prone to have allergic conjunctivitis. Temporary relief may be given by applying saline drops but it’s important to have a proper diagnosis and examination from a vet.
Other French Bulldog Eye Irritants
Dry eye is medically known as Keratitis Sicca. The condition develops when the eyes aren’t producing enough tear fluid due to disease, medication, or a congenital defect. Tears are essential for lubrication and the overall health of the eyes.
When there is insufficient moisture in the eyes it results in irritation and soreness on the surface. Dye eyes in French bulldogs is usually simple to treat with eye drops such as I-Drop Vet Plus or any eye ointment.
Dry eye can lead to corneal ulcers which usually is identifiable by a cloudy appearance across the eye. This can be a serious condition leading to further chronic infection.
Due to dryness, the cornea and the surrounding tissue of the eyes can get inflamed. The eyes begin producing thick yellowish or greenish discharge and you may notice that they begin pawing at the eyes and increased blinking due to discomfort.
How long does it take to clear up?
If dry eye is due to an underlying condition, infection or medication the dryness will continue until the underlying issue is resolved. Keep the area around the eye clean with a damp cloth, most prescribed eye drops will need to be administered twice daily.
When to see a vet?
If the condition seems only mild but doesn’t clear within a day or two and the cause is unknown it’s time to book in to speak with your vet. If your French bulldog is presenting more severe symptoms or has signs of corneal ulceration book in as soon as possible.
Cherry eye in French bulldogs develops due to the protrusion of tissue from the cornea of the eye. Due to protrusion, the gland of the eyelid becomes prolapsed. It can result in excessive watery discharge from the eyes.
If this condition is treated in time, it is not dangerous. Treatment of this condition requires suturing back to its normal place or complete removal of the gland.
Distichiasis : Irritation from Internal Eye lashes
In this condition, eyelashes grow around the inner surface of the eyelid or duct. The lash rubs against the eye causing discomfort and can develop corneal ulcers. Due to continuous irritation, these ulcers are difficult to heal. This condition can occur at any time during the life of French bulldogs.
There is no clear evidence that this disease is hereditary but due to higher incidence in some breeds of bulldogs, it is known as an inherited condition. The cause of this condition is eyelashes growing in irregular positions causing continuous eye irritation.
Regular eye check ups will help in treating this condition. Removal of the lashes has shown to cause them to grow back thicker and escalate the issue so treatment usually tends toward application of a lubricating film to help protect the eye.
The most serious eye condition is a corneal ulcer. These can cause in intense discomfort so dogs rub their eyes in response to the irritation. The factors involved in developing ulcers are any trauma, chemical burn, or dry eye condition.
This condition requires urgent care and medication. Antibiotic ointments are commonly prescribed by vets to treat this condition. Surgery is likley when the ulcer is very severe.
Eye Allergy Symptoms in French Bulldogs
The most common symptom of eye allergies is redness. It can be unilateral or bilateral depending on the condition (one eye or both). In the case of allergic conjunctivitis, the redness is usually bilateral.
Other symptoms related to eye allergies are spasmodic blinking or squinting of the eyes, inflammation, unilateral or bilateral discharge having puss, follicle formation (small white bumps on the inside of the eyelid) and pawing at the face. Symptoms may vary depending on the breed, age, health status, and eye conditions of the dogs.
Diagnosis of Eye Allergies and Irritation
Veterinarians can perform several tests to diagnose the cause of allergies, dry eye, corneal ulcers, and conjunctivitis. A test called cytology can show inflammatory cells which will help in the diagnosis of eye allergens. A biopsy is usually taken from around the eyes when the dog is under general anaesthesia.
Some veterinarians perform diagnoses through the process of elimination but it may be necessary to do a provocation test.
A provocation test is method to diagnose eye allergies which involves exposure to potential irritants. Veterinary dermatologists usually perform this test.
Prevention of Eye Allergies
Due to the genetic vulnerability of French bulldogs, they have a high risk of eye infections and allergies. Some basic steps can help in reducing the risk of these eye allergies.
Make examining the eyes of your dog a regular habit along with another routine event like when they get a wash. Check for any marks, cherry eye and dryness.
While bathing your dog, be careful about the contact of shampoo or soap solution with the eyes, chemicals present in shampoo can result in irritation. Anti-flea shampoos can cause allergic reactions.
Make sure eye check-ups are included in routine visits to the vet.
Saline eyewash can be used once or two times a day, to clean and remove the accumulated discharge from the eyes. Saline solution helps reduce irritation by removing dust, debris, and pollen from the eye.
Eye allergies are mostly commonly caused by natural sources present in the environment. There are several tests that vets can use to identify the cause of allergic reactions as it’s easier to avoid and manage once the cause has been identified.
Treatment of Eye Allergies in French Bulldogs
To deter French bulldogs from scratching, different corticosteroids (steroid hormones) can be given. The dosage is determined by the vet depending on the severity and type of eye allergies. Antibiotics ointments can help in reducing irritation.
Steroid eye drops are also helpful in minimizing the inflammation but long-term use can result in eye damage so it is necessary to use the steroid eye drops as prescribed by the vet.
Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine are effective in treating French bulldog eye allergies. This is the active ingredient in Benadryl which is more commonly know as an over the counter medication for humans. The overproduction of histamines results in itchy and watery eyes, this drug reduces the effects of natural histamines. The recommended dose is 1mg per pound weight of the dog but it should always be prescribed by the vet to avoid harmful reactions.
Corneal ulcers are much more difficult to treat and eye loss can occur in severe cases.