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Ask The Vet

Why a Spaniel's Sore Eye Is Nothing to Blink at

March 17, 1988|Dr. GLENN ERICSON

Q My 8-month-old female cocker spaniel is having a problem. A swollen red sore pops up on the inside of her right eye. She has never been injured but rubs the eye occasionally. My vet examined her and put the mass back in place. He told me that it may happen again and would have to be removed by surgery. Is there something else that can be done? Why does this happen?

Mrs. Jon Roberts,

Garden Grove

A What you described is commonly called "cherry eye" and is enlarged glandular tissue from behind the third eyelid (nictitating membrane). It occurs primarily in small-breed dogs, especially in beagles and cocker spaniels, and may be from a congenital defect in the development of the connective tissue that supports the gland. The glandular tissue is involved in normal tear production.

In most cases, just one eye is affected, but occasionally the gland in the other eye may enlarge at the same time or after repair of the first eye. Sometimes treatment with corticosteroid injections and topical eye medication after replacing the gland in its normal position will reduce or eliminate the problem if it is caught early enough.

However, most cases tend to recur and require partial surgical removal of the gland. This must be done carefully because any great reduction in tear production can lead to a drying of the cornea and damage to the eye. After surgery, the dog may need to be treated with a form of artificial tears to keep the eye moist.

Q Our toy poodle has recently developed a limp in his rear left leg, but it happens only once in a while and doesn't seem to hurt him. He will often run and play with our other dog with no problems but will suddenly skip or hop with his rear leg held up. I have felt the leg, and he doesn't cry, yet it must hurt him if he doesn't use it. Could his leg be dislocated?

Mrs. T. Guss,


A Your dog may have a problem with the kneecap of his left rear leg. This condition is called a medially luxating patellaand occurs mostly in small or toy-breed dogs, such as poodles and Pomeranians. The kneecap moves to the inside part of the leg, causing him to flex or pull his leg up. With further motion, the kneecap will pop back into place, and he will walk normally. If this problem goes untreated, arthritis or joint deformity may develop and cause permanent lameness. The dog needs to be examined by your veterinarian. Radiographs may be needed, either to deepen the groove that the kneecap slides on or to repair ligament damage that may have occurred.

Q After my cat died at the age of 17 in August of 1986, I got a new cat called Scoobie who at the time was about 9 months old. By February, 1987, she was a real "pal-of-mine" right down to sleeping right up against me in bed. Since I am in sales and was doing a lot of traveling I got Scoobie a companion, a 1-month-old kitten, and named her Squeakie. Immediately Scoobie took offense to her even though I got them both different litter boxes and different feeding dishes in different areas.

For the last seven or eight months Scoobie has refused to come back into the house and stays outside in the rain and cold no matter what I do. As you know there have been some really cold nights this winter. On virtually a daily basis, I bring her inside for a few minutes, talk to her very gently, put her on my bed and pet her for a few minutes, stroke and love her a lot . . . then she runs outside and won't come back.

Is there any way I can salvage this cat's love and trust to get her back inside? Living as she does in this kind of weather I know her life span won't be too long. I do not want to keep her a prisoner or put her on a leash unless you think it may solve the problem.

Larry Frankfurt,


A Non-acceptance of one cat by another is a common, yet very difficult problem with no easy answers. I consulted with Sue Myles of Irvine who is a trainer and also handles behavioral problems. The problem Scoobie is having is an introduction problem with Squeakie. There may be several ways to help you deal with this situation. One method is to deny the cats any visual contact with each other. You may have to keep each one behind closed doors or keep in separated parts of the house. This will allow Scoobie to stay indoors without threat from the new cat.

Another method is to put the new cat in a carrier or crate and allow Scoobie to investigate without direct contact or threat. The use of a heating pad to attract Scoobie to sit and stay in the same area may be effective. You might start with the pad away from the confined Squeaky. Repeat these episodes daily and gradually move the pad toward the carrier. Chances are that Scoobie will become accustomed to the new cat and continue to stay with you. Patience and affection are very important.

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