Horner’s Syndrome in Dogs

horner's syndrome dogs

Is your dog’s eye all of a sudden looking weird? Perhaps your dog’s eye is drooping, his 3rd eyelid is protruding, or his pupils seem various sizes. Could it be Horner’s syndrome? Let’s learn more about Horner’s syndrome in dogs.

A sudden and drastic change to your dog’s face is disconcerting: a sunken eye, saggy eyelid, exposed 3rd eyelid or a pupil that looks smaller sized than the other could suggest your dog has Horner’s syndrome, a complex neurological disorder that impacts the eyes and muscles of your dog’s face. Let’s find out more about the symptoms, medical diagnosis, and treatment for Horner’s Syndrome in dogs.

What Is Horner’s Syndrome?

horner's syndrome dogs
Dog with Horner’s syndrome

All of it starts with the nervous system. The nervous system has a sympathetic and a parasympathetic part. The supportive element takes control of when an animal is terrified, frightened or anxious (the ‘flight or fight action’) and the parasympathetic component takes control of throughout times of rest, relaxation and sleep.

With Horner’s syndrome, damage to the supportive nerve system causes modifications to the look of a dog’s eye and face. When the favorable pathway to the eye is working correctly when stimulated, the muscles behind the eyeball will trigger the eye to be forward in the socket, the eyelids open broad, and the pupil dilated. The sympathetic path can be disrupted if an injury or disease is interfering with the nerves anywhere along this pathway, consisting of the brainstem, spinal cord anywhere down to the third thoracic vertebra, disease outside the vertebral column in the neck, middle ear disease, or disease in the tissues behind the eye.

Symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome in Dogs

With Horner’s syndrome in dogs, you might observe a couple of distinctive signs. Typically, all of these signs occur on the very same side of the body.

  1. A slightly sagging upper eyelid, which causes the eye on that side to appear somewhat smaller than the other eye.
  2. An eyeball that looks like it’s slightly sunken in the eye socket.
  3. A protruding third eyelid that partly covers the side of the eye that’s closest to the nose.
  4. One pupil that appears to be smaller sized than the pupil in the other eye and does not dilate entirely in dim/dark lighting.
  5. Rarely, the afflicted side may be warmer to the touch, and the skin might look “pinker” when compared with the whole side.

How Is Horner’s Syndrome in Dogs Diagnosed?

horner's syndrome dog

A medical diagnosis is usually made in the examination room, based on the findings talked about above. In some cases, a dog may just have a couple of symptoms so the vet may need to confirm the medical diagnosis by aiming to dilate the pupil with special eye drops. This can not only figure out if Horner’s syndrome exists, but it can also likewise help the vet identify what might be causing it.

Some dogs have other symptoms together with the Horner’s syndrome, which helps us with medical diagnosis. For example, a dog with extreme middle ear disease may have other symptoms (shaking head, scratching and discharge) in addition to the Horner’s syndrome.

Similarly, a dog with a back injury which is exhibiting Horner’s syndrome symptoms may have other neurologic signs like severe pain, visible wounds, internal injuries or paralysis. A dog with a brain growth may show other neurologic signs that can help the veterinarian narrow down what’s causing the problem.

Does It Affect Any Particular Breed or Age of Dog?

Any dog can develop Horner’s Syndrome although Golden retrievers and Cocker Spaniels have a somewhat higher incidence.

What Is the Treatment?

Many cases of Horner’s Syndrome will solve spontaneously. Dealing with any underlying disease is critical. Several diagnostic tests will be carried out to figure out if there is a hidden cause in your pet. Symptomatic treatment might include phenylephrine drops positioned in the affected eye every 12-24 hours.

What Is the Prognosis of Horner’s Syndrome in Dogs?

The prognosis for Horner’s syndrome in dogs is entirely depending on the cause. There is no specific treatment for Horner’s syndrome, as it is just a collection of symptoms, not an actual disease itself. If the underlying cause is treatable, then the prognosis readies. If the underlying cause is a severe neurologic injury, cancer or another major disease, then the diagnosis might be dangerous.

Reyus Mammadli
Having engineering and medical education, in recent years actively engaged in the study of the development, reproduction of domestic animals. Special attention is paid to the treatment and prevention of diseases of Pets.
Pet Health
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