Our Staffie’s recent diagnosis

I am very grateful to have found your site, but I am also now a little more worried about Zoe, our soon-to- be 10 year old female Staffie. With pressure in her left eye at 38 and her right at 27 the Doctor diagnosed her with glaucoma in both eyes. He prescribed 250 mg of acetazolamide for a total of 1000 mg in a 24 hour period.

Zoe had every possible reaction: vomiting, confusion, lethargy, loss of coordination in her hind legs and 2 three minute tremors. When I took her back to vet after 4.5 days of meds, the pressure in her left eye was down to 14 and 24 in her right .but now a week has gone by and her eyes are reddening again. I have not tried the Rx for Tomolil drops as the side effects for it too are very bad.

I have a few questions and would appreciate any wisdom from other dog owners who have been in a similar situation! Thanks!

1. Should I still be giving her acetazolamide but at a reduced amount? She weighs 46 lbs.
2. Should I try the drops and hope that she tolerates those meds better?
3. What do I need to look for? When I first took her in her left eye was beet red and very wet. Both eyes are now bloodshot, more so in the evening.
4. Should I change her collar to a harness? I read somwhere that a collar adds more pressure.
5. Should she continue to run and play as hard as she does? She acts like she is two!
6. Is blindness inevitable? How do I know it is happening?
7. Finally, the most dreaded question of all: what is the point of no return for her? Is it a pressure number or is it a cloudiness or perhaps even pain oriented? It seems a lot of dogs have had eyes removed.

I have owned other Staffies and a few other breeds but have not had to deal with glaucoma. I am still a bit shell shocked to say the least. As I said, any advice/ wisdom/ do’s and dont’s would be so very much appreciated!!!!

Thank you!

4 thoughts on “Our Staffie’s recent diagnosis

  1. I never heard of an oral medication for glaucoma, so I can’t help you there. Do you have an eye specialist vet in your area? If so, I think it would be money well spent to have your dog seen there. Are you saying you have tried the eye drops, but the dog had bad side effects, or are you just reading the prescription data sheet? If the latter, then realize that all prescription data sheets are scary and would make a rational person think twice about taking them. However, the eye drops will bring the pressure down immediately and that’s what’s really essential if you want to preserve Zoe’s vision as long as possible. Eye pressure is higher in the evening, which is why you’re seeing more symptoms then. I started using a harness as soon as my dog was diagnosed; I don’t know if it really makes a difference, but it made sense to me that it would. I wouldn’t restrict her playing; I don’t think there’s much she can do when she plays that would alter the outcome.

    And realize that you’re just preserving her vision for however long you can; sadly, she will go blind and you will have to have the eyes removed to obviate her pain. It’s too bad this is what happens in dogs, even though the vast majority of people with glaucoma will not lose their vision, nor do they have any pain. It’s quite different in dogs. Have the pressure checked regularly and increase or add medications as necessary to keep the pressure in check and preserve her vision. By the time my dog went blind, she had gone from one prescription for drops to three different kinds of drops. Each addition bought her a few more months when she could still see, although it meant I was administering eye drops 8 times a day. Still, it bought her two years of vision she otherwise wouldn’t have had, so it was worth it to me.

    Your eye vet should give you some glycerin and instructions on how to use it if you see her start to exhibit signs of blindness. It immediately reduces ocular pressure and can buy her a little more time. If you see her significantly reduce her level of activity, paw at her eyes or start bumping into things, administer the glycerin and take her to the eye vet pronto. At some point, though, it won’t work because the optic nerve will have been damaged by the pressure spike and the pressure just won’t come down. That’s when you have to make the tough decision of eye removal. There are other options, but they are expensive, don’t always work, and sometimes have to be repeated, which is traumatic for both you and the dog. Still, I wouldn’t discourage you from investigating them.

    You might want to join the Owners of Blind Dogs Yahoo group to see what other people’s experience with these alternatives have been: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/blinddogs/conversations/messages. Everybody there’s been through what you’re going through and will have good ideas for you to implement when the time comes. There’s also Caroline Levine’s book, “Living with Blind Dogs,” and you can doubtless find a used copy online, although I don’t think you’ll learn anything more than you can on the Yahoo group from the book.

    Hope that helps.

    1. Hi Diana and thanks for the response.
      Acetazolamide is a human glaucoma med that can be given to animals. I had Zoe’s pressure check again and both eyes are at 21. I have started the Tomolol drops – one in each eye every 12 hours – and I am hoping she does not react negatively to this medication.
      I will investigate a local veterinary opthalmologist. Although, I think you said it well: check the pressure regularly and watch for anything different.
      Zoe will be 10 in early June. I have no worries of her being a blind dog, but I do not like the idea that she will be in any pain. We are fortunate to be able to get control of the disease and grateful that it is not something worse, like cancer.
      I will probably have more questions to ask down the road. Until then, thanks very much!

  2. Hi Sue, very sorry about this sad situation with your staffie.
    Diana has given a lot of good advice, all of us whose poor dogs have suffered the terrible pain caused by glaucoma will definitely advise finding an eye specialist.
    There are several eye drops available, which help in different ways, but some really sting so you do ideally want a good opthalmologist to help get the best medication for Zoe which won’t cause her further pain. With our boy, we couldn’t keep the pressure low in his left eye and very quickly after diagnosis the eye had to be removed. However he coped brilliantly with one eye and we managed the pressure in his right eye for over four years before it became a real problem. Gradually we had to try more and more drops to relieve pressure, pain and ulcers, and for the last five months before that eye had to be removed, he was on four different drops three times a day, plus a lubricant. Ideally the drops shouldn’t hurt, so if Zoe displays signs of pain when you apply them, it is worth asking to try something else. We are in the UK, so our drops may have different names, but in case it’s helpful, the main drop that helped control Bailey’s eye pressure for almost five years was called Xalatan, also known as Latanaprost.
    I really hope you and Zoe find the best combination of medication to keep her pain under control for as long as possible, and that her sight remains a long time too. Please know that if she does go blind and you can’t save the eyes, she will still be your gorgeous girl and will be able to live a happy life 🙂 . One last little thing, we were told to use a harness rather than a collar, and not only was it best for Baileys health, but as his sight deteriorated, it’s also made it easier to guide him on walks. Am really hoping Zoe is feeling better very quickly 🙂 .

    1. Hi Emily. Thanks. I am so worried about not understanding the “pain”… but as of right now she chases her kong, loves her walks and her kibble time, and easily jumps up on the bed at night. I don’t know that the Tomolol stings… Zoe doesn’t like getting her toe nails trimmed so it is a little hard to tell… but as soon as the drops are in she runs around like a triumphant pup waiting for a treat! Her eyes are a bit drippy afterwards but not bad. I interpret all of this to be “okay” for her.
      I had suggested to my husband that we maybe have the worst eye ( the one that had a 38 pressure score at first) removed now and then foster the second eye until it gets bad. But with the pressure being 21 in both eyes, we are going to wait a little and see what happens.
      I can’t imagine the surgery, but it seems that folks say it is better than the pain of the glaucoma.
      I am in Canada.
      Thanks so much for your encouraging words!!!

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