How to Spot and Treat Distichiasis in Your Dog

How to Spot and Treat Distichiasis in Your Dog

Dogs can suffer from distichiasis regularly, although the American, English, Miniature, Longhair, Bulldog, and Weimaraner breeds are more likely to have it.

Hairs grow in an odd place on the eyelid in dogs with a disorder called distichiasis or having additional lashes. Usually, the hairs emerge from the meibomian glands on the eyelid’s lid. This may result in issues with the eye itself, depending on the hair’s quantity, stiffness, and orientation.

Canine Distichiasis Symptoms

For many dogs, the extra hair, or eyelashes, do not cause an issue. The extra hairs on the dog’s eyelid are not irritating, and many pet owners are unaware that their dog has them. Still, there are some signs to be aware of:

  • Stroking the eyes
  • Enhanced blinking
  • Narrowing of the eyes
  • A rise in irrigation
  • The eye’s redness
  • Ocular ulcerations

Reasons for Canine Distichiasis

It is unknown why extra hairs come out of the meibomian gland’s channels in cases of persistent distichiasis. Any dog may experience it. However, the severity may vary.
The shape of the eyelids, the quantity of hairs developing improperly, the length, and the coarseness of the hairs all affect whether your dog exhibits symptoms. Only a few susceptible dogs—such as Cocker breeds—will need treatment. Many dogs are impacted.

Identification of Dogs with Distichiasis

The additional lashes are visible to the unaided eye in extreme circumstances. Examining your dog’s eye, a veterinarian can assess whether therapy is necessary based on your dog’s medical history, breed, and the observation of misplaced hairs.

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Visiting vets recommend that your pet see a canine ophthalmologist to diagnose distichiasis properly. Utilizing a slit-lamp bio-microscope, canine ophthalmologists typically diagnose distichiasis. The canine ophthalmologist can see the eyelid in greatly enlarged detail thanks to a slit lamp bio-microscope. The extra lashes may be fully seen by the canine ophthalmologist, who can also determine whether or not they are obstructing eyesight. An initial inspection will identify whether your dog has eye irritation or ulcerations and the severity of the issue. A treatment strategy will be implemented after establishing the distichiasis diagnosis and severity.

Therapy for Canine Distichiasis

Distichiasis only needs to be treated if the hair irritates the cornea, produces ulcerations on the cornea, or causes conjunctivitis. There are treatments available if inflammation, conjunctivitis, or corneal ulcerations arise. The optimal course of action for your pet’s therapy will be discussed with you by your veterinarian or canine ophthalmologist.

Ocular moisturizers

In moderate cases of distichiasis, treatment may consist solely of a lubricating gel. By softening the hairs, the lubricating gel will lessen irritation. For the remainder of its life, your dog must use lubricating gel.


It is possible to pluck the excess eyelashes in certain situations. If just a few long hairs need to be removed, this can be the course of action. Since hair does grow back, your dog will require frequent plucking for its life.


During the operation, your dog would be placed under general anesthesia. To permanently remove the hair, electrolysis involves inserting a very thin electrode into the hair follicle and applying an electrical current. New hairs can still grow because only the visible hairs can be removed. The eyelids could be discolored or scarred.

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Cryosurgery (cryotherapy)

During the operation, your dog would be placed under general anesthesia. This process is applied in cases where many hairs are irritating the eye. The inner surface of the eyelid, which contains the hair follicles, is probed. To get rid of the hairs, the eyelid is frozen. The eyelid may be somewhat discolored or scarred. Should new hairs appear on the eyelid, cryotherapy might need to be repeated.


The eyelid is tacked and rolled outward during this surgery. The discomfort is eliminated by moving the eyelid outward and away from the cornea, which breaks the contact between the irritated hairs and the cornea.

Dogs’ Distichiasis Recuperation

Your dog may get impaired eyesight if distichiasis, which is irritating their eye, is not addressed. Although new hairs may grow in other parts of the eyelids, surgery usually prevents the hairs in the treated area from returning. Distichiasis may recur, and your dog will require continuous care.

The vet will provide particular aftercare recommendations after any surgery performed on the eyelid. To guarantee that healing is encouraged, follow the directions correctly.


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