Canine Pannus

Canine pannus, also known as chronic superficial keratitis, is a condition that affects a dog’s cornea in their eye and is common in certain dog breeds. The main symptom of pannus is an opaque grayish or brown discoloration across the surface of their cornea which can be accompanied by inflammation, pain, tearing, and light sensitivity. Depending on the severity of their condition, it can cause vision loss or even blindness.

The exact cause of pannus is unknown, but there are some factors believed to play a role in its development. These include genetics, UV radiation, air pollutants, chlorine from swimming pools, and poor immune system responses. Some dog breeds such as German Shepherds and Australian Cattle Dogs are more likely to develop the condition than others.

Symptoms of Canine Pannus

The most common symptom of pannus is a grayish or brown discoloration across the surface of their cornea, usually starting in one corner of their eye and spreading outwards. Other symptoms can include:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Tearing
  • Light sensitivity

If left untreated, vision loss or complete blindness can occur.

Diagnosing Canine Pannus

In order to diagnose pannus, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and look for signs of discoloration or inflammation in their cornea. They might also use specialized equipment such as a slit-lamp or ophthalmoscope to get a better look at their eye. In some cases, additional tests can be necessary to confirm that they have pannus.

Stages of Canine Pannus

Pannus is typically split into four stages based on the severity of their condition. The stages are:

Stage 1

Mild discoloration in one corner of their eye, with no pain or discomfort. This stage can resolve spontaneously without treatment.

Stage 2

Moderate discoloration across the surface of their eye, which can be accompanied with inflammation and tearing. Treatment is usually necessary to prevent the condition from progressing.

Stage 3

Severe discoloration and inflammation, along with pain and light sensitivity. Treatment is needed in this stage to reduce symptoms and prevent further damage to their eyes.

Stage 4

Vision loss or blindness due to complete corneal scarring. Treatment is not likely to be successful in this stage.

Treating Canine Pannus

Treating pannus depends on the severity of their condition and can include topical or oral medications, immunosuppressive drugs, and surgery. In some cases, the eye discoloration can resolve spontaneously with no treatment needed. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are important to monitor progression of their disease and make sure that any treatments are effective.

Preventing Canine Pannus

There is no sure way to prevent pannus, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your dog’s risk. These include avoiding direct exposure to UV radiation, limiting contact with air pollutants and chlorine from swimming pools, and ensuring your dog has a healthy immune system by giving them regular veterinary check-ups and a well balanced diet. 

Certain breeds can be more prone to developing the condition, so keep this in mind when selecting a breed.