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Facial conformation and corneal ulceration in dogs

R. M. A. Packer, A. Hendricks, C. C. Burn

CORNEAL ulcers are a painful problem in domestic dogs and it is thought that selection for extreme facial morphology in certain breeds could increase the frequency of such eye disorders. This 14-month cross-sectional study investigated the relationship between the occurrence of corneal ulceration and conformational features, including wide palpebral fissures, nasal folds, brachycephalic craniofacial structure and visible sclera.

Dogs referred to the Royal Veterinary College's small animal hospital were recruited for inclusion and then classed as affected if they had previous diagnoses of corneal ulcers or were diagnosed in situ following the use of fluorescein dye. Morphometric data, measuring 11 conformational features, were collected for each dog. Data were analysed using generalised linear mixed models.

Of the 700 dogs that were recruited, examined and measured, 31 were found to be affected with corneal ulcers, of which 30 cases involved pure breed dogs. The most common breed was pugs, followed by shih tzus, bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Brachycephalic dogs were 20 times more likely to have corneal ulcers, while dogs with nasal folds were nearly five times more …

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