Beagles are fantastic family pets and can bring yourself and your children years of joy and love. Owning a Beagle, however, also includes several commitments. One of the most important commitments you can make to your Beagle is financial. Though Beagles are generally a very healthy breed, they do have certain eye disorders that are pretty common to these types of dogs. These conditions can be costly and dangerous if not taken care of quickly, and any Beagle owner must be ready to take the steps necessary to treat these disorders if they arise.
Retinal atrophy, glaucoma, and cataracts are probably all eye disorders you have heard of before. These are commonly found in many different breeds of dog, not just the Beagle. These conditions can be extremely serious and will eventually cause partial or complete blindness.
A condition that is more common in Beagles than in other breeds is
nicititans gland prolapse, casually referred to as “cherry eye”. Cherry eye occurs when the inner eyelid (a transparent lid that shields the eye from debris) becomes infected and turns red. This will be a very unpleasant appearance, hence the name “cherry eye”. This condition is specific to animals that have a protruding nicititans gland, which is the scientific name for this transparent inner eyelid, often called the “third eyelid”. When animals have this protruding gland, like the Beagle, it is more exposed to bacteria and will often become infected far more easily than for an animal on which it does not stick out. Scientists do not know the reason for a protruding nicititans gland, but it is assumed to be a hereditary flaw as opposed to having some sort of biological reason for being different.
In the past, in order to treat the cherry eye disorder, veterinarians would remove the nicititans gland entirely. This process would cause a persistent and recurring dry eye condition which can be difficult to manage and extremely uncomfortable for the Beagle. More recently, veterinarians have begun to replace the gland with tissue from the other eye or reconstructing what is left of the original gland after removal.
Distichiasasis is another common Beagle ailment. Distichiasis is, simply put, an ingrown eyelash. While it sounds harmless, it can become very painful and infected easily. Distichiasis is not normal and is usually caused by eyelashes growing in the wrong place on the eyelid. At times this condition is actually nondestructive and does not require extensive treatment. In these cases, veterinary eye drops will usually help clear up any irritation that flares up. If these ingrown eyelashes become infected, however, the Beagle must undergo surgery in which the eyelashes are removed by burning or freezing them off.