Pet winter survival guide




Wintertime can be lots of fun for all the family but only if you’re prepared for the hazards that come with it. Read our advice to help keep your pet warm, happy and safe from danger during the cold spell…

Dog winter survival guide

  • When the thermometer dips don’t leave your dog outside unattended – most pet dogs spend a lot of time inside and aren’t used to the extreme cold so could develop hypothermia or frostbite.
  • Short-coated breeds, like greyhounds, Dobermans and Chihuahuas really struggle to cope with the cold so make sure they’ve got a cosy doggy jumper or coat on when they go outside.
  • If your dog starts lifting up their paws, whining or stopping while out on walks it could well be because their feet are too cold, so it’s a good idea to invest in some boots for them to wear.
  • Trim the hair around your dog’s feet to help prevent ice-balls – these form between the pads and toes of the feet and are really painful.
  • If you walk on salted pavements wash your dog’s paws after a walk because salt and grit can really irritate their footpads. 
  • Stay away from frozen ponds or lakes and keep your dog on a lead near frozen water. If they do run on to it, it’s tempting to go after them but it’s really important that you don’t. Most dogs are strong swimmers and are more likely to get themselves out of trouble than you are. 
  • Don’t be a fair-weather friend – take your dog out in all weathers where possible but be careful in slippery conditions. If you’re elderly, don’t put yourself at risk, keep your dog at home and spend time playing games indoors to stop them from getting too bored or frustrated.
  • If your dog is less active during the winter months, don’t forget to cut back a bit on what you feed them.
  • When you’re out walking wear bright/reflective clothing so you can be seen by motorists during the dark evenings. You can also get some great reflective gear for dogs too.
  • It’s not just people who are tempted to overindulge over Christmas but eating human food can give your dog an upset tummy and turkey bones can choke them. Don’t forget to keep your choccies out of reach too because they’re toxic to dogs. 


Article with thank to






1. What is Resource Guarding?

Resource Guarding is behaviour shown by your dog in an attempt to keep others away from something that they perceive as theirs.

It is not a sign that your dog is just nasty. He just wants to keep something he thinks is worth something to him and he has learnt that by behaving the way he has, that he invariably gets to keep it.

It is a more common problem than you may have imagined and it is something that can be fixed.  You just need time, patience, management, clear guidance and lots of treats at the ready!

2. Understand what your dog might guard

Dogs guard things that they view as a prized possession.  Some of the things your dog may guard include:

  • “Their” people.  Your dog may not allow other dogs or people to approach you without getting defensive
  • Objects.  These could be their toys, your child’s toys, household items (remote controls, shoes etc) or it could be, seemingly, more random items too.  I have heard of dogs guarding toilet rolls or the trash bin.
  • “Their space”.  Their own bed, sofas, your bed, the car, their crate, that space under the table.
  • Food.  This is probably the most common type of resource guarding.  They may guard their bowl when eating, when the bowl is being taken away and/or with chews and treats or with items that have been scavenged.

There is nothing wrong with letting your dog on the sofa if you are comfortable with this, you just need to ensure that they don’t start guarding it.  Ask them to get off with a treat rather than a push

3. Learn to recognise the signs

Sometimes a dogs guarding may start out mild and if you don’t notice the signs it can escalate to a much more aggressive reaction.  By being able to spot the signs early, you can take swift and proactive action before things become more difficult to manage or remedy.

Some of the more subtle signs may be that your dog gobbles their food down extremely quickly (they want to make sure they finish it all before someone tries to take it).  They may go very still when a person or another dog approaches them when they are in “their” space or with the item that they are guarding. When this happens they often give a very hard stare too.  They may try to hide their object, they may take it into another room or shield it to try to prevent the chance of it being removed.

Usually, if these signals are ignored your dog will soon start to exhibit some of the more dramatic behaviours such as growling, snarling, snapping and then possibly even biting.

Don’t let things get to a stage where your dog feels they have to snap or bite.  Look out for the subtle signs that they are uncomfortable

4. Prevention is better than cure

If your dog is already exhibiting resource guarding behaviours obviously you need to work on dealing with this.  You may have taken on a rescue dog that has had to “fight” for its food or that has had a traumatic incident in their past that means they already have guarding issues.  Perhaps you got a dog as a puppy and you just didn’t realise the signs that guarding was beginning to become an issue until it is already in full flow.

If your dog is not showing any signs of guarding, there are lots of things you can do to make sure that it is not a problem that starts to develop.  Whilst some dogs will never exhibit resource guarding behaviours, we often create guardy dogs without realising it.

There are lots of strategies that you can use in everyday life to help decrease the chances of your dog becoming guardy:

a) Teach your dog to trade

Your dog loves your slippers.  He loves the smell, texture and chew factor.  You don’t like that so much. He really wants to keep hold of them but has found you will often chase him around the living room trying to get them and then you yank it out of his mouth, give him a row and leave the room.  You are not teaching your dog anything other than that he will have to try harder to hold onto what he wants to keep.

Instead, teach your dog that when he trades something with a “give” command (or something similar), that he will get something else he loves instead.  So, next time he picks up your slipper, ask him to give it to you and offer a super tasty and smelly food reward instead. When he lets go of the slipper in exchange for the food reward he gets another and lots of praise.

Trading is a much more positive way of getting your dog to surrender the item.  They learn they are getting something they like even more than the slipper, they are happy and are receiving praise and it does not turn into a battle that leaves them feeling frustrated.

For certain items, you may decide that you will give the item back to them after they have given it to you.  So, if you actually don’t mind your dog having your slipper, this way he learns that even if he releases something it won’t always be permanently taken away, but giving it up temporarily will result in something rewarding.

If you are wanting to avoid guarding of food bowls, you can try offering a bowl jackpot.  When you walk close to the bowl you can drop a super tasty extra bit of food into it, maybe a piece of chicken.  That way he starts to associate you coming close to the bowl with yummy things. When you are picking the empty bowl up, give your dog a tasty treat then too.  That way, the bowl being lifted becomes something positive too.

Teach your dog to trade the item they have for something super tasty 

b) It is important to teach impulse control

Dogs that are very impatient and get over excited when they are anticipating something they want, can be the types of dogs that may develop guarding issues.  They get themselves worked up, they may barge in, they may accidentally nip when trying to get to their food bowl. If they are already worked up and their nip causes you to jump out the way in fright, this can then gradually morph into something they may guard.

Teaching your dog a “wait”, a “leave it”, a “down stay” can all be valuable tools in helping to prevent guarding issues surfacing.

They will be rewarded for calm, patient and polite behaviour so they will be more likely to continue offering this going forward, especially if you always work on reinforcing this good behaviour.

c) Help your dog understand that when you approach, good things happen

It is all about ensuring that your dog knows that your approach means something positive is about to happen, they are going to get something they love even more than what they are guarding, and that you are not just going to yank away their treasured item with nothing in return

5. Management is also crucial

Whilst you work on modifying your dog’s resource guarding habits it is important to manage situations carefully to try to minimise incidents occurring. Some people choose management as their way of handling guarding issues permanently rather than trying to address it.  If you choose this option then you need to carefully assess the level of severity and other factors within your home and with your lifestyle.

For example, if one of your dogs guards their food bowl against other dogs in the house, you could choose to always feed this dog in a separate room.  You could also use baby gates or crates when feeding chews.

This may not always work, your dog may also guard food that falls on the ground or that they find when outside.  If this is the case we would always recommend working to solve this issue.

Perhaps they guard slippers but they will give them up if you offer a trade for a treat.  This can be enough in some cases. However, if you have a child that may try to take the slipper from your dog, you will need to be more proactive in your approach.

In a multi-dog household or one with children, we would ALWAYS suggest working hard to resolve any guarding issues to prevent escalation and further risk.  It is much harder to guarantee that your child won’t approach your dog whilst eating or that they won’t try to take a toy of theirs back that the dog has taken.

If you have children, very careful management will be required whilst you are working to change your dog’s resource guarding behaviours 

6. Employ a desensitisation and counter-conditioning strategy to modify behaviour

If you are dealing with a dog that already has guarding issues, depending on how severe they are, you can employ a number of strategies.  We have outlined a suggested plan for a dog that has extreme food resource guarding issues but this can also be employed for guarding of a sofa, a household item or even a person.

So, if your dog has an extreme food resourcing guarding issue they may start to defend their bowl as soon as you, or anyone else, comes into sight whilst they are eating.

Initially try to ensure that no one else interrupts your training sessions.  This can spoil any good work you are doing to ensure your dog realises they don’t need to guard this way.

Start by being at a distance far enough away from your dog that they are not having an extreme reaction.  You may need to be on the other side of a threshold or across the other side of the room. From here you want to start throwing him EXTREMELY high value treats everytime you walk by.  Something that you know he absolutely adores. Keep throwing them for a few minutes.

If your dog is prone to lunging when they feel their item may be stolen, you may want to work on this from behind a baby gate as a barrier, as a precaution.  Keep your passing distance as far as it needs to be to avoid getting a reaction, if they do lunge or growl, you are too close and need to make your passing distance bigger.

Some people will tether their dog for safety, only do this if you are sure it is not going to heighten their anxiety.

Don’t pause when you are throwing the treat, keep moving on past to avoid them becoming suspicious that you are going to try to grab the bowl.

Repeat this exercise everytime that you are feeding your dog.  Once you start to see a change in their reaction to you passing them, to one where they are happily anticipating a treat being thrown you can start the exercise again having moved a few steps closer in passing distance.

You want to keep, very gradually, closing the distance between you and your dog/the bowl.  If at any stage, your dog starts to have a more negative reaction again you have moved too far or too fast and you need to take a breath and slow things down and make the distance you have moved less.

Once you have made it close enough to your dog that you can reach out to touch them you want to stop throwing the treat and offering it to them from your hand.  Be careful to observe body language at this stage, you want to ensure they are looking very comfortable and at ease so as to avoid any bite risk.

You can then gradually increase the amount of time you are pausing to treat them by a couple of seconds each time, being sure to always use high-value treats and praising in a gentle voice.

Remember, each step of the process needs to be built up gradually.  Be patient and don’t try to rush it. If your dog has a severe guarding issue, taking things slowly will be so worth it in the long run.

Once your dog is comfortable with you pausing to feed them treats for a decent amount of time (perhaps 15 – 20 seconds) and they are not showing any signs of anxiety, you then want to progress to bending down and drop the treat in or right next to his bowl or the item he is guarding.  Again this process must be repeated a number of times to ensure complete success.

The final step of the process will be to swap out their bowl for the treat.  You have reached the stage where you can work on trading out the item.

Once they are comfortable with this it is time to go back to start of the process but with another member of the household or perhaps if you have a dog sitter who has issues when looking after your dog they can be involved at this stage.

Depending on the level of severity of your dogs guarding issue the amount of time it can take to get to this stage can vary from a few days to a  few months. Just keep reminding yourself how worthwhile it is and how you are really building the bond of trust with your dog in a positive way.

Your ultimate goal will be for your dog to happily trade out their chew for a tasty treat without showing any signs of being uncomfortable 

7. What about dog-to-dog resource guarding strategies

There is no doubt this can be a trickier situation.  It is much easier to control our own actions to help make any strategies employed more successful.  When working with dogs it is more unpredictable.

The first thing to recognise is that it is okay to employ management techniques.  Feeding dogs in separate rooms if they guard their bowls is fine. Don’t allow the dogs on your lap if they get jealous of this type of attention. Keep them out of the bedroom if they guard the bed from one another.

Trying to avoid issues before they begin is important. It can be a good idea to try to minimise situations that may cause jealousy, setting the dogs against one another. So, if you are giving one dog a treat in sight of the other make sure that you immediately give the other dog a treat. Even if you are working on training with only one dog if the other one is around always make sure you give them a treat every time you reward your dog doing the session.  If your dogs are already grumpy with one another around food though this is not a good exercise to do. It is purely a preventative measure.

If your dog displays guarding behaviour towards another dog when there is food around the best strategy is to teach them that food around the other dog means food for them too when they are calm.

It is always best to work on this with a second person if possible and, to avoid any mistakes, working on lead is better.

Start with the dogs at a distance from one another that is far enough apart that they are not showing signs of being tense.  Give the dog you are holding a treat and then immediately after this the other person should give their dog a treat too. This process will need to be repeated multiple times until you can see the second dog anticipating their treat after the first dog has received theirs.

In the next session, you will work with the dogs one or two steps closer to each other.  Again repeat multiple times until you see reliably calm, happy reactions from both dogs. Build this up over a number of days until the dogs are then able to take treats very close to one another.  Don’t push too hard or fast though. You really want to set your dogs up for success so, at every stage, make sure the dogs are not showing any signs of being uncomfortable. If they are, you need to go back a step and work more on that distance before progressing again.

You should only remove the leads from the equation once you are really comfortable that the dogs now do not feel threatened or anxious in the presence of the other dog around food.

Working on remedying dog-to-dog resource guarding with careful management and positive associations 

8. What NOT to do

a) Stay safe – don’t put yourself in a risky situation

If you have not managed to sort out your behaviour modification strategy yet and your dog is being extremely aggressive towards you when they are eating don’t push it.  Don’t try to quickly grab the empty bowl, you are asking for trouble. Wait until they have left the room and then pick it up. If your dog is so guardy that they are not wanting to leave the bowl unguarded and they sit beside it for hours, tense and growling when anyone approaches, this is an extreme case and one that you may want to consult a behaviourist for help with.

b) Don’t punish your dog

Trying to dominate your dog or scolding them for guarding behaviour can just make the behaviour worse.  They already feel threatened enough to guard their item and you telling them off can heighten that feeling.  If you scold them and then pull the item from their mouth, it may mean that they just have a more extreme reaction next time to try to prevent you from taking it.  It also damages any bond of trust you may have built up with your dog. Changing your dog’s reaction to that of a positive one is a much more effective strategy.

c) Put your hand in your dog’s bowl to get them used to you having contact with their food

This is asking too much of even the most patient dog.  It doesn’t teach them anything other than that you disturb them whilst eating.

d) Recognise they are not trying to show you who is boss

Your dog is not trying to dominate you by trying to guard the sofa.  They just don’t want to have to get off or be moved. Teach them that if they do move or let you on too, they will get an even better reward and they will, eventually, be happy to share!

e) Don’t free feed

This means leaving your dog’s bowl with food in it throughout the day.  If he is already guarding food, having a bowl full of food out all the time will heighten his anxiety, increase the chance of there being an aggressive exchange and you can’t be around all the time to manage a behaviour modification plan with a bowl that is out and full all the time.

9. Know when to seek help

If your dog has serious resource guarding issues and they are displaying very aggressive behaviour we would always recommend seeking the assistance of a qualified dog behaviourist that uses scientifically proven force-free training techniques.  With severe cases, if you are not doing things right, things can get out of control quickly and having someone to guide you and keep you right will be hugely helpful. Not only will it reduce the risk of injury but it can speed up the route to success.

10. Don’t stop the training

It is important that, once you reach a stage when your dog is no longer exhibiting the resource guarding behaviours they were previously, you keep up with the training.  Continue to swap things out for treats or other high-value rewards, don’t revert back to doing things that are likely to cause the behaviour to rear its head again.

It is important to continue working on preventing issues occurring.  If you want to take a bone or chew from your dog, trade it out for a tasty treat

Want to read more

If you have found this article useful and you want to delve even deeper into the complex world of doggy resource guarding we would recommend reading the book  Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs by Jean Donaldson.  It is a really well written little book with lots of extra detail and training tips.





What is Hygroma?

Due to the repetitive trauma of lying on hard surfaces, your dog may develop a hygroma. A hygroma is a soft, swelling under his skin filled with fluid over a pressure point or bony prominence. Hygromas are treatable with the course of treatment depending on the size and severity of the hygroma and whether there are additional issues like ulceration or infection.

A hygroma is a noninfectious, inflammatory response to trauma presenting as a soft, subcutaneous swelling filled with fluid, typically over a pressure point or bony prominence.

Symptoms of Hygroma in Dogs

Should your dog have a hygroma, you will notice a soft subcutaneous swelling filled with fluid (yellow to red in color) over a pressure point or bony prominence. Hygromas vary in size, but can grow to two inches in diameter, and are often developed on the olecranon of the elbow. With a hygroma, your dog will typically show no signs of systemic illness and will not exhibit pain when touched. Hygromas are often bilateral. If the hygroma has been present for a significant length of time, severe inflammation may occur, along with:






Tissue erosion

Should a hygroma become infected, it may be painful and warm to the touch.


While there are not different types of hygromas, it is important to note that hygromas can be complicated with comedones and furunculosis. Also, follicular cysts or calcinosis cutis circumscripta may develop at the sites of the hygromas in some dogs.

Causes of Hygroma in Dogs

A hygroma is caused by repeated trauma. Lying on hard surfaces may produce an inflammatory response in your dog, which will lead to a dense-walled, fluid-filled cavity and the development of a soft, fluid-filled swelling. The swelling will typically be found over pressure points, particularly of the leg joints. A hygroma is more likely to occur in larger breeds of dogs, where more weight is put on the bony area, as well as those that are more sedentary (for example after recovering from surgery, or in the dog’s elderly years).

Diagnosis of Hygroma in Dogs

Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of your dog. You will want to let your veterinarian know when you first noticed the swelling on your dog, as well as whether you have noticed any changes in your dog’s behavior. Your veterinarian may choose to conduct a biopsy to confirm diagnosis, particularly if lesions look unusual.

When viewing a hygroma macroscopically, it can be seen that it is separated from the skin. It will show a tough, dense wall and be filled with fluid that can be somewhere between yellow and red in color. The color is dependent upon the degree of trauma associated with the hygroma, leading to a larger or smaller amount of red cells. The lining of the sac will appear pale and can be smooth or rough.

Treatment of Hygroma in Dogs

When hygromas are small, protective padding (bandaging the area and soft bedding) may lead to their being resolved. If that is not successful, the hygroma can be treated with aseptic needle aspiration and corrective housing. It is important that your dog have soft bedding or padding over pressure points in order to prevent additional trauma. After about three weeks a protective callus should have formed.

Should your dog have chronic hygromas, surgical drainage, flushing and Penrose drains may be recommended. Three weeks after surgical drainage the drained lesions should be dry; bandages can be removed at six weeks. Should lesions develop, small ones can be treated with laser therapy. If your dog experiences severe ulceration he may need extensive drainage, surgical removal or skin grafts. 

There is a chance that your dog’s condition will not respond to treatment. Should that be the case, your veterinarian will likely recommend a skin biopsy to determine the best way to proceed with treatment.

Recovery of Hygroma in Dogs

Your veterinarian will discuss with you the need for follow-up appointments, which will depend upon your dog’s condition. You will want to provide a padded environment for your dog in order to avoid repeated trauma, complications with the wound or recurrence of the hygroma.  Should your dog have had lesions surgically reconstructed, he will need to be confined with his limb supported in a sling to allow for the skin graft to take, and then the limb should be bandaged for three weeks.  Infection is common after aspiration, drainage, and reconstruction. You will want to work closely with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is healing well and that any infections developed are treated promptly.





Hip dysplasia in dogs is a disease of the hip in which the ball and socket joint is malformed. This malformation means that the ball portion and its socket don’t properly meet one another, resulting in a joint that rubs and grinds instead of sliding smoothly.


Canine Hip Dysplasia in Dogs


The hip joint is composed of the ball and the socket. The development of hip dysplasia is determined by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors, though there is a complicated pattern of inheritance for this disorder, with multiple genes involved. Hip dysplasia is the failure of the hip joints to develop normally (known as malformation), gradually deteriorating and leading to loss of function of the hip joints.


Hip dysplasia is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen in dogs. Gender does not seem to be a factor, but some breeds are more likely to have the genetic predisposition for hip dysplasia than other breeds. Large and giant breeds are most commonly affected, including the Great DaneSaint BernardLabrador Retriever, and German Shepherd. Rarely, small breed dogs can also be affected, but are less likely to show clinical signs.


Hip dysplasia often begins while a dog is still young and physically immature. Early onset usually develops after four months of age. There are also cases of later onset, where hip dysplasia develops later due to osteoarthritis, a form of joint inflammation (arthritis) that is characterized by chronic deterioration, or degeneration of the joint cartilage.


Symptoms and Types


Symptoms depend on the degree of joint looseness or laxity, the degree of joint inflammation, and the duration of the disease.


  • Early disease: signs are related to joint looseness or laxity
  • Later disease: signs are related to joint degeneration and osteoarthritis
  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty rising
  • Reluctance to run, jump, or climb stairs
  • Intermittent or persistent hind-limb lameness, often worse after exercise
  • “Bunny-hopping,” or swaying gait
  • Narrow stance in the hind limbs (back legs unnaturally close together)
  • Pain in hip joints
  • Joint looseness or laxity – characteristic of early disease; may not be seen in long-term hip dysplasia due to arthritic changes in the hip joint
  • Grating detected with joint movement
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip joints
  • Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles
  • Enlargement of shoulder muscles due to more weight being exerted on front legs as dog tries to avoid weight on its hips, leading to extra work for the shoulder muscles and subsequent enlargement of these muscles




Influences on the development and progression of hip dysplasia are concurrent with both genetic and environmental factors:


  • Genetic susceptibility for hip looseness or laxity
  • Rapid weight gain and obesity
  • Nutritional factors
  • Pelvic-muscle mass




Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. Inflammation due to joint disease may be noted in the complete blood count. As part of surveying the physical symptoms and fluid work-ups, your veterinarian will also need a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and any possible incidents or injuries that may have contributed to your dog's symptoms. Any information you have on your dog's parentage will be helpful as well, as there may be a genetic link.


X-rays are crucial for visualizing the signs of hip dysplasia. Some of the possible findings may be degenerative disease of the spinal cord, lumbar vertebral instability, bilateral stifle disease and other bone diseases.



Your dog may be treated for hip dysplasia on an outpatient basis as long as it does not require surgery. The decision for whether your dog will undergo surgery will depend on your dog's size, age, and intended function (i.e., whether your dog is a working dog, as many large breeds tend to be). It will also depend on the severity of joint looseness, degree of osteoarthritis, your veterinarian's preference for treatment, and your own financial considerations. Physiotherapy (passive joint motion) can decrease joint stiffness and help maintain muscle integrity. Swimming is an excellent form of physical therapy, encouraging joint and muscle activity without increasing the severity of joint injury.


Weight control is an important aspect of recovery and is recommended to decrease the pressure applied to the painful joint as the dog moves. You and your veterinarian will need to work together to minimize any weight gain associated with reduced exercise during recovery. Special diets designed for rapidly growing large-breed dogs may decrease the severity of hip dysplasia.


The TPO surgery rotates the socket for dogs less than a year old. The juvenile pubic symphysiodesis surgery is performed on dogs that are younger than six months, fusing part of the pelvis together to improve hip joint stability. A total hip replacement is done in mature dogs that are not responding well to medical therapy and that are suffering from severe osteoarthritis. Most dogs will handle this type of surgery, with acceptable hip function after the recovery period. Excision arthroplasty is performed when hip replacement surgery is cost-prohibitive. In this surgery the ball of the hip joint is removed, leaving muscles to act as the joint. This surgery works best for dogs weighing less than 44 pounds, and for dogs with good hip musculature.


Your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and inflammation, along with pain medications for lessening the severity of the pain.


Living and Management


Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments with you to monitor any changes in your dog's hip dysplasia. X-rays will be taken for comparison with previous x-rays. If your dog has undergone surgery, these x-rays will indicate the rate of post-surgical healing. If your dog is being treated as an outpatient only, the x-rays may indicate the rate of deterioration in the hip joint.


If your dog has been effectively diagnosed with hip dysplasia, it should not be bred out, and the dam and sire (the parents) of your pet should not be bred again, since this condition is often acquired genetically. Special diets designed for rapidly-growing large-breed dogs may decrease severity of hip dysplasia.

Notes and picture with thanks to



Ectropion in Dogs


Ectropion is a condition which describes the margin of the eyelid rolling outward, resulting in exposure of the palpebral conjunctiva (the portion of tissue that lines the inner lids). Exposure and poor tear distribution may predispose the patient to sight-threatening corneal disease. It occurs mostly in dogs; seldom in cats. Breeds with higher than average prevalence include sporting breeds (e.g., Spaniels, hounds, and retrievers); giant breeds (e.g., St. Bernards and mastiffs); and any breed with loose facial skin (especially bloodhounds). There is a genetic predisposition in listed breeds, and it may occur in dogs less than one year old. When it is acquired or noted in other breeds, it often occurs late in life, and is secondary to age-related loss of facial musculature skin tension. It is intermittent, and is often caused by fatigue. It may be observed after strenuous exercise or with drowsiness.


Symptoms and Types


  • Protrusion of the lower eyelid, with lack of contact of the lower lid to the eye globe, and exposure of the palpebral conjunctiva and the third eyelid – can usually be plainly seen
  • Facial staining caused by poor tear drainage - tears spill over onto the face instead of passing from the eye to the nose via the tear ducts
  • History of discharge owing to conjunctival exposure (the clear moist membrane that covers the inner surfaces of the eyelids and the front of eyeball)
  • Recurrent foreign object irritation
  • History of bacterial conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva)




  • Usually secondary to breed-associated alterations in facial conformation and eyelid support
  • Marked weight loss or muscle mass loss about the head and eye orbits may result in the disease being acquired
  • Tragic facial expression in hypothyroid dogs
  • Scarring of the eyelids secondary to injury, or after overcorrection of entropion - a medical condition in which the eyelids fold inward. Scarring may result in cicatricial disease, a diverse group of rare disorders based on new tissue growth over a wound, which destroys the hair follicle by replacing it with scar tissue, resulting in permanent hair loss





As part of the normal examination a blood test will be conducted to look for bacteria that might be causing the symptoms, and a thorough eye exam will be conducted to look for corneal ulcerations. A fluorescein stain, a non-invasive dye that shows details of the eye under blue light, will be used to examine the eye for abrasions or foreign objects. If your dog falls into the list of breeds that is predisposed to this condition, your veterinarian will take that into account. In non-predisposed breeds, and patients with late-age onset, an underlying disorder will be considered as a causative factor. In patients with inflammation of the muscles that affect chewing, loss of mass in the eye may cause the condition. Nerve paralysis in the eye, a condition associated with lack of muscle tone of the eye muscles, will also be considered.


Notes with thanks from



Page 1 of 4

© 2020 Brooklea Mastiff Rescue. All Rights Reserved.