You Make The Diagnosis: Name A Common Eye Problem In German Shepherds

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting Bruno, a six week old German Shepherd.  With his adorable face and sweet disposition, this little guy had me wrapped around his paw in an instant.  What a charmer!  I can’t wait to watch him grow into those paws.

German Shepherds are prone to an eye problem that usually develops between three and eight years of age.  The disease causes a fleshy-like material to grow over the cornea obstructing vision.  Name this disease.

Diagnosis:  Pannus

Pannus is an autoimmune disease found in many breeds.  Pink, granulation tissue spreads over the eye in response to antigens in the environment.  Although German Shepherds seem to be predisposed to this condition, no specific inheritance pattern has been established so genetic testing is unavailable.  If diagnosed early, the condition can be controlled with topical steroid therapy.  The tissue slowly disappears leaving a clear cornea behind.  In chronic cases, corneal scaring can impact vision. 

Unfortunately, pannus usually requires lifelong therapy to control it.  I had one patient with pannus that resolved when the dog moved with her family from Minnesota to Florida.   

As you can see from the photo, Bruno has beautiful clear brown eyes.  He was rewarded for his good behavior with a chew that kept him busy for the entire visit. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.