What Is Entropion in Dogs & Cats?
Entropion (the opposite of ectropion) is a condition in which the eyelids roll inward toward the eyes. One or both eyes may be affected on the upper eyelid, lower eyelid, or both eyelids.
This causes the eyelashes, or other eyelid hairs, to rub against the surface of the eye. The end result is pain, corneal ulcers (scratches or abrasions on the surface of the eye), conjunctivitis, scars that interfere with vision, or other eye problems.
Think your pet may have entropion or another eye condition? Book a free phone consultation with our surgery concierge.
What causes entropion?
Usually, this is a genetic or hereditary condition. Dog breeds that are especially prone to entropion include Chinese Shar Peis, Chow Chows, Bulldogs, Saint Bernards, Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds, Poodles, Pugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Mastiffs, or any dog with lots of skin folds on their face.
Entropion is rare in cats. When it does occur, it’s most likely in breeds with short noses and facial skin folds, like Persians.
Sometimes, entropion can be secondary to another condition, such as loss of nerve function in the eyelids, but this is much less common.
SEE ALSO: Ectropion in Dogs & Cats
What are signs your pet may have entropion?
You may be able to determine that your pet’s eyelids look unusual. But, more commonly, you’ll see symptoms like red, irritated, or watery eyes, squinting, mucus, or “gunk” from the eyes, or pawing at the face.
How is entropion diagnosed?
Entropion can be diagnosed just by looking at your pet’s eyelids, especially if the entropion is severe and corneal ulceration are present. Your veterinarian may use a numbing drop to make the eye exam more comfortable if your dog's eyes are painful from the entropion.
Your vet may also recommend basic eye tests, such as an eye “stain” to look for ulcerations or damage from the entropion that need to be addressed.
What is the surgery for entropion?
Surgery is the only way to correct entropion in adult dogs, and to prevent the pain and irritation that would otherwise happen in the eyes on a daily basis.
Entropion surgery involves removing a small section of the outer surface of the eyelids. The surgeon then closes the incision in a way that “lifts” your pet’s eyelids up, so the eyelids sit normally and don’t roll inward.
Usually, your veterinarian will recommend waiting until your pet is done growing to have this procedure, since your pup’s eyelids may change as they mature.
If you have a very young puppy with entropion, your vet may recommend a “temporary tacking” procedure, which uses a suture (stitch) to hold the eyelids up in a more normal position until your puppy is grown (between six to twelve months of age) and ready for the full surgical correction. This prevents pain and damage to the eyes. For some pups, this temporary measure may hold them over until they grow into their eyelids — and they may not need the full surgery at all.
Can you prevent it?
Unfortunately, since entropion is hereditary, it’s not possible to prevent the condition in your pet. However, if you’re adopting from a breeder, you can ask the breeder about any family history of entropion in your puppy’s lineage.
Some pets with mild cases — especially if entropion only affects the corner of their eye, rather than the central area — may be able to live with the condition comfortably. Eye lubricants and close monitoring of the eyes can help to prevent some of entropion’s complications.