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Horner’s Syndrome in Dogs: Symptoms and Causes of the Eye Disease

Hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and seeing – are the five senses of humans and animals. The so-called Horner syndrome affects one of these senses in four-legged friends. It is about eyesight, as a certain optic nerve becomes diseased. Find out here how Horner’s syndrome manifests itself in dogs and how it can be treated.

Horners Syndrome Dog

  • Horner syndrome causes changes in and in the eye that affect vision;
  • The sympathetic nerve is either diseased on one side or on both sides;
  • Horner syndrome has three different and characteristic symptoms;
  • The causes of the syndrome are varied and range from accidents to tumors to intervertebral disc problems.

Horner Syndrome in Dogs: What is It?

Horner’s syndrome in dogs is a disease of the so-called sympathetic nerve. For example, he not only takes care of the eye muscles but also the muscles of the pupils. This enables the eye to create both tension and movement in the upper and lower eyelids. If this nerve becomes diseased, these functions fail. This means that the eye is without muscle activity. Horner’s syndrome in dogs can be bilateral or unilateral. If the dog suffers from it only on one side, it is usually doing well despite the usual symptoms. If both eyes are affected, it is severely restricted.

Horner’s syndrome is generally caused by another illness, an accident, or something similar.

This means that it always occurs in combination and not without a reason. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to pinpoint a cause.

Possible causes of Horner syndrome

The reasons why there is a disease of the sympathetic nervous system are multifaceted. Damage to the cervical or thoracic spine often contributes to this. But trauma, tumors, or infections can also be possible triggers. In some four-legged friends, Horner’s syndrome occurs due to a diseased thyroid gland or otitis media. Sometimes it is enough to pull too hard on the animal’s collar. It is also conceivable that Horner’s syndrome is favored by problematic teeth or skull features. In most animals, no cause is found. Then it is said in the technical jargon that the fur nose suffers from an idiopathic Horner syndrome.

Distinct symptoms for Horner syndrome

In dogs, Horner’s syndrome can be associated with pain, impaired sweat secretion, and dilated blood vessels. However, dog owners can recognize the disease most clearly from the following symptoms:

  • Drooping eyelid: The technical term is “ptosis” and means that the upper eyelid is no longer able to stand independently above the eyeball.
  • Sunken eyeball: If the eyeball sinks in, “turns away” and the third eyelid hangs up, the technical term is enophthalmos in dogs. This makes the eye appear smaller.
  • Constricted pupil: “Miosis” is particularly easy to recognize when the syndrome occurs on one side. The other pupil is used for comparison and the narrowing can be seen quickly.

It is also important to know that the three symptoms do not necessarily have to occur together. They can also occur individually and independently of one another.

Occurrence and frequency

In principle, Horner’s syndrome can occur in any dog. Older animals are more often affected. Labrador and (golden) retriever breeds are particularly susceptible to this disease. In addition, Cocker Spaniels, Collies and mixed breeds from five to nine years of age are among the breeds that often develop it.

Treatment and chances of recovery

Anyone wondering whether Horner’s syndrome is curable in dogs cannot be given a clear answer. It always depends on the underlying disease. For example, while otitis media is easy to fix, the case with a tumor can be different. For this reason, it is imperative to find out what causes the disease can be traced back to. Basically, the following treatment approaches for four-legged friends should be considered:

  • Eye drops can help dogs with Horner’s syndrome, for example, to “lift” the sagging nickel skin. The symptoms of Horner’s syndrome in dogs can generally be relieved by medication. An agreement with the veterinarian is absolutely necessary here.
  • If you want to try homeopathy for Horner’s syndrome in dogs, you can try vitamin preparations, for example. However, it is important to consult with the veterinarian here too, so as not to aggravate the situation through unauthorized action.
  • Depending on the underlying disease, the veterinarian may also consider the use of cortisone in Horner’s syndrome necessary. This depends on the cause and severity of the disease.
  • In order to strengthen the remaining impulses of the damaged nerve, the vasoconstricting agent phenylephrine in Horner’s syndrome can help the dog.

If the diagnosis is aimed at a tumorous disease, there may be no cure for Horner’s syndrome in dogs. However, there is also no one hundred percent certainty that the four-legged friend will be completely cured with other causes.

It usually takes several weeks for improvement to appear.

Spontaneous healing can occur within several months. It also makes sense to switch from a collar to a harness to reduce the risk of injury.

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