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4 August 2015

UK vets offer free eye disease test for dogs in ‘Take a Closer Look’ campaign Dog owners urged to take pets for check up to safeguard eye health

Dog owners are being urged to ‘Take A Closer Look’ at their pets’ eyes as part of a Dry Eye Awareness campaign being run this summer. Supported by MSD Animal Health, (known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada) the campaign aims to help prevent damage to the eyesight of the nation’s 8.3 million dogs from the disease.

Dry Eye is a painful condition caused by destruction of the tear glands by dogs’ immune systems. This means that too few natural tears are produced and if left untreated, the tear glands will be destroyed leaving the dog without the ability to produce tears and leading ultimately to permanent blindness.

As part of the campaign, participating vets across the UK will be offering a free eye tear test that will check dogs for the condition. Diagnosis of Dry Eye takes just 60 seconds and is simple and painless to perform. Called a Schirmer tear test (STT) the test involves placing a special strip of paper in the eye to assess tear production.

MSD Animal Health vet Fieke Bennett says: “This campaign is aiming to raise awareness about a very damaging disease that unfortunately can go undetected with tragic consequences for the health of the dog. The eyes of some dogs affected by Dry Eye look quite normal, despite severely reduced tear production and destruction of the tear glands. The sooner the disease is diagnosed and the correct treatment started, the better the long term outlook for the dog's eyes.”

Sadly Dry Eye is more common than many dog owners realise - a staggering one in every 22 dogs are affected by this disease and in certain breeds, this figure is almost doubled (1). Susceptible breeds include the English Cocker Spaniel, West Highland White Terrier, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Shih-Tzu , Yorkshire terrier, Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug and Lhasa Apso.

Fieke Bennett adds: “Veterinary eye specialists recommend testing susceptible breeds regularly and many owners elect to have their dog tested during a routine appointment, such as for vaccination. This ensures that Dry Eye is picked up early and treatment started before too much tear gland tissue is destroyed.”

A Dry Eye Awareness risk checker for dog owners is available. Early cases of Dry Eye may appear normal but signs may include: 

  • uncomfortable eyes - your dog may blink excessively, rub its eyes or try to keep its eyes closed
  • eyes that are red and inflamed
  • discharge from the eyes
  • dry looking eyes
  • frequent conjunctivitis, eye infections or corneal ulcers
  • dark pigment on the surface of the eyes

·         prominent blood vessels on the surface of the eyes.

After downloading the voucher, dog owners can contact their nearest participating veterinary practice to make an appointment for their ‘Free eye Tear Test’, making them aware of the voucher. Vouchers for the test must be redeemed by 31 December 2015. Dog owners also have the chance to win a handy dog water bottle in an online quiz during the campaign which is set to run until the end of September. During the campaign 10 lucky Dog Dry Eye Quiz winners will receive a branded dog water bottle each.

References

1. Pearce V.E, Harmer E.J & Williams D.L (2006) Evaluation of breed variation of Schirmer tear test values in 1000 opthalmoscopically normal dogs, BSAVA Congress, Birmingham: Scientific Proceedings.

About MSD Animal Health

Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD Animal Health, known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada, is the global animal health business unit of MSD. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, MSD Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. MSD Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit www.msd-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn.

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