Vets have taken part in a presentation on the importance of healthy eyes in show dogs at The Kennel Club Healthy Eye Conformation Seminar, clarifying what needs to be looked for when assessing eyes at dog shows.

Vets have taken part in a presentation on the importance of healthy eyes in show dogs.

The talk, which took place at The Kennel Club Healthy Eye Conformation Seminar in Stoneleigh on July 4 2012, clarified what judges and vets needed to look for when assessing eyes at dog shows.

The Pekingese breed is one that is known to have eye problemsRetired Bristol academic and ophthalmic consultant at the Hampton Veterinary Group in Cheshire, Sheila Crispin, delivered the presentation to approximately 160 vets and high profile breed exhibitors, breed club representatives, breed health coordinators and judges and set out the visible signs that indicate a dog is suffering from low level discomfort or pain in the eye or eyes.
 
The parts of the eye and eyelid that should be assessed visually when confirming a healthy eye, said Prof Crispin, include:

  • upper and lower eyelids;
  • third eyelid (Haw);
  • lacrimal (tear production) system;
  • white of the eye;
  • cornea; and
  • eye prominence and size.

Prof Crispin also described the basic principles that should guide a judge’s assessment of a dog’s eye, which includes considering whether the eye is abnormal; whether that abnormality is relevant and causes pain and discomfort; and if it affects that dog’s ability to be fit for function and therefore fit for life. Presentations then followed from representatives from the chow chow, Pekingese, French bulldog, bloodhound, Neapolitan mastiff and mastiff breeds, detailing the work that was being done to improve the health within the breeds.

Speaking about the vet checks – which were introduced this year at Crufts and led to six best of breed winners fail due to eye problems – Prof Crispin said: “Judges and exhibitors normally feel comfortable about assessing a dog’s breathing, skin or mobility, but there is a lot more concern when it comes to judging eyes.
 
The French bulldog was one of the breeds who discussed the work being done to improve health“It is of critical importance that we all reach agreement as to what we mean by a ‘normal’ eye and clearly a good starting point is to ensure that the individual animal undergoing assessment has no discomfort, pain or vision loss that can be related to the conformation of the eyes and eyelids, or any conformational abnormalities that may lead to ocular problems later in life.”
 
Steve Dean, Kennel Club chairman, said: “The Stoneleigh eye seminar has been important step forward, setting in motion a discussion about canine eye health. We do not want judges or exhibitors to feel uncertain about what to look for when assessing a dog’s eye.

“Through discussion with breeders, exhibitors, judges and veterinary surgeons, we will be able to help ensure we all ultimately have the same understanding of what level of excessive conformation causes low level pain or discomfort in a dog’s eye. This in turn will enable us to move progressively towards increasingly healthy eyes.”
 
Prof Dean insists, however, there is more to be done. “There is still much to discuss between judges and vets. For example we need agreement about what level of ectropion (exposure of haw) that can be accepted as not being associated with health concerns; how we distinguish between corneal scarring resulting from natural trauma and that arising from excessive conformation; and whether the vet checks should be extended to any other breeds,” he said.

“We will build all of these discussion points into further seminars.”
 
The next eye seminar will take place at the Kennel Club, Clarges Street, on July 11. To keep updated on the vet checks, visit the website.

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