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Pannus in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

What is pannus?

Chronic superficial keratitis, also known as pannus, is an immune-mediated condition that affects the cornea. This condition is most common in middle-aged German Shepherd dogs, Belgian Tervurens, and other breeds.

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What are the clinical signs and symptoms of pannus?

A non-painful, pinkish mass on the cornea will appear at first. It is most common on the lateral or outside side. If you picture the eye as a clock face, it will be located in the eight to eleven position on the right eye. On the left, the mass will be found in the one to four positions. Although both eyes can be affected, one eye may seem worse than the other.

Commonly, the third eyelid appears inflamed and thickened. The pannus will progress and the lesion will begin to flatten. It will also spread out and become darker or pigmented. Scarring will then spread across the cornea. Mucoid discharges may also occur. Visual impairment can occur in advanced cases due to the inability of the eye to see through the corneal dark pigment. The pet may become blind if the condition isn’t treated.

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What causes Pannus also?

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Pannus dogs

Pannus is a hereditary condition that develops with age. Pannus is most common in Belgian Shepherd breeds and Border Collies, but it can also occur in any breed.

As we have said, we don’t know the exact cause of autoimmune diseases. Some breeds of dogs, including greyhounds and border collies, are genetically predisposed to developing pannus.

Scientists and vets agree that UV radiation can make the disease worse. Due to increased UV exposure, dogs living at higher elevations are more likely to contract the disease.

Studies have also shown that environmental allergens can cause an allergic reaction in dogs’ eyes. Some holistic practitioners also treat pannus with diet. This suggests that food allergies could contribute to the disease’s progression, but this is not scientifically supported.

“Pannus” is a hereditary condition that develops with age.

Pannus can be exacerbated by factors like increased ultraviolet light exposure, high altitudes, and smoking.

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What is the diagnosis of pannus?

The medical history and clinical signs are used to diagnose the patient. Diagnosis can be made by corneal staining using fluorescein and intraocular pressure testing (IOP). These tests are frequently done to rule out other eye conditions.

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What is the treatment of pannus?

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Topical corticosteroids are used (typically prednisolone and dexamethasone) as well as other immuno-modulating drugs like cyclosporine. Sometimes, steroids may be injected under the eye. Secondary infections may require antibiotics. Your veterinarian may recommend dog sunglasses (e.g. Doggles(r),) to provide extra protection due to the effects of ultraviolet lighting on the pannus.

“Treatment won’t cure the condition, but it will stop the progression of the condition and possibly reverse some of its effects.”

The treatment will not cure the condition, but it will stop the progression of the disease and reverse some of its effects. Treatment for pannus can be continued for the rest of your life. Your veterinarian should be consulted and medication administered as directed. It is important to keep your condition under control.

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What is the prognosis of a dog with pannus?

Most cases can be treated with topical medication. For more severe cases, some dogs may need to be referred to a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Surgery to remove scar tissue from the pannus can be recommended in severe cases to improve the pet’s vision.

The condition can get worse if the prescribed medications are not taken as directed. Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough history, physical examination, and eye exam to determine the condition of your dog’s eyes. Your dog’s needs will dictate what the veterinarian may recommend:

  • An additional visit to a veterinary surgeon who specializes in eye disease.
  • To measure the amount of tear production, use the Schirmer Tear Test
  • Fluorescent staining is used to determine if the eye has ulceration
  • Cytology is a microscopic examination of cells using samples taken by “scraping the cornea” and/or the lining of an eye (conjunctiva).

To determine the root cause, blood tests may be recommended. These tests could include:

  • Tests using chemistry to assess kidney, liver, and pancreatic disease, as well sugar levels
  • To rule out infections, inflammation, anemia, and other conditions, a complete blood count is required.
  • Screening tests are performed to rule out infections such as Lyme disease.
  • Spezial tests: PCR testing and cultures

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What dogs are at risk for developing pannus?

Pannus, which is an auto-immune condition, is more common in Greyhounds and German Shepherds. Pannus is thought to be an inheritable condition, as certain breeds are more likely to develop it. The pannus is made worse by UV light, so dogs who live in the Southern US or mountain regions are more at risk.

Dogs typically are between 5 and 8 years old at diagnosis.

The following breeds are most often diagnosed with pannus: German ShepherdsGreyhoundsAustralian ShepherdBelgian TervurenBelgian ShepherdBorder CollieRottweilerRhodesian RidgebackSiberian HuskyMixed breeds may also be affected.

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what are the different common treatment options?

Although there is no cure, there are many ways to manage pannus.
Most people seek treatment that reduces blood vessel growth and cloudiness. The most common anti-inflammatory medications are corticosteroids and tacrolimus. They can be administered via eye drops or injections. These medications must be administered for the entire life of the animal. However, the dosage can be reduced over time.

We are here to help! Rex Specs should be used with medication to prevent the condition from getting worse. You can find more information below about dog owners who have used Rex Specs to reduce the need for eye drops to control pannus.


Your dog may require surgery to reduce/remove scarring or pigmentation from the cornea. This is for the most severe cases. This will not heal the disease and the condition can recur if you do not continue with other treatments.

Some cases have shown that a diet change can slow down the progression of pannus. All cases that we have seen include an anti-inflammatory diet and a view of food allergens. Although we are not experts and will recommend that you consult your veterinarian about this matter, here are some references:

Dr. Cathy Alinovi serves pets in Illinois and Indiana (we don’t have any connection to Dr. Alinovi).
In an article published in Dogs Naturally Magazine, Dr. Jeffrey Feinman suggests nutritional supplements as part of a homeopathic approach. (We have no affiliation with Dr. Feinman).

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