Detached Retina in Dogs

Detached retina in dogs occurs when the retina, or innermost layer of tissue in your dog's eye, detaches from the epithelium and choroid, the two outermost layers of tissue in your dog's eye. Detached retina in dogs is usually a symptom of a more serious illness. Detached retina can occur in one or both of your dog's eyes, and it can occur at any age. 

Causes of Canine Retinal Detachment

Sometimes retinal detachment in dogs is the result of serious birth defects to the eye.  Some large breed dogs and dogs with white coats are vulnerable to hereditary eye problems. If your dog's mother suffered from malnutrition or infection during pregnancy, your dog could have been born with a serious eye problem that led to retinal detachment.

High blood pressure is another common cause of detached retina. High blood pressure leads to bleeding from the blood vessels beneath the retina; the accumulated fluid eventually pushes the retina away from the underlying tissues. Hyperviscosity syndrome, a disorder in which the blood contains too many proteins and becomes too thick, can cause small blood vessels in the eyes to rupture. When these small blood vessels rupture, fluid can accumulate in your dog's eye and push the retina away from the underlying tissues.

Eye infections are often responsible for canine detached retina. There are a number of fungal, bacterial and parasitic infections, such as protothecosis, histoplasmosis or septicemia, that can lead to retinal detachment. Degenerative diseases like glaucoma can cause detached retina. Other causes of canine retinal detachment include poisoning, injury to the eye or inflammation of the eye tissues and cancerous tumors.

Symptoms of Canine Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment in dogs causes vision loss and even total blindness in the affected eye or eyes. Vision loss can occur slowly or quickly. If your dog's retinal detachment is the result of genetic defects or other chronic health problems, it could occur very slowly, but if your dog is suffering from infection, blindness could occur in as little as one to three days.

If your dog suffers a detached retina, his pupil will dilate and no longer respond to light as he loses his vision in the affected eye. If the eye has suffered injury, it may take on a changed appearance. Hemorrhages and inflammation in the eye tissue can cause your dog's eye to take on a discolored appearance.

Diagnosing and Treating Detached Retina in Dogs

Your vet will need a complete medical history and physical exam to determine the cause of your dog's retinal detachment. A thorough eye exam should be performed; your dog may need to see a veterinary ophthalmologist. Your vet may need to use a wide range of tests, including blood tests, urinalysis, X-rays and hormone level tests, to determine the underlying cause of your dog's detached retina. 

Treatment depends on the cause of your dog's retinal detachment. Your dog may need antibiotics or anti-fungals if he's suffering from an infection. Steroids are used to treat immune immune disease, and surgery, IV fluids, or vitamin therapy may be called for. Some forms of canine retinal detachment can't be treated.