Flossie, a 2½ year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel suffers from a congenital and hereditary condition affecting the eyes and skin, called keratoconjunctivitis sicca and ichthyosiform dermatosis or more commonly known as ‘dry eye and curly coat’. These two conditions occurring together in this breed is well recognised by many breeders but rarely by the veterinary profession.
The first record in a scientific journal appeared last year in the Journal of Small Animal Practice and was from the Centre for Small Animal Studies at the AHT.
Puppies with the condition often have difficulty in opening their eyes, which appear dry, sticky and painful. In severe cases ulcers can occur on the cornea.
The curly coat is usually seen from birth but other skin signs become more obvious as the puppy grows, such as itchy skin causing the dog to scratch and chew the coat. Soon after birth, puppies’ paws present problems, often shedding one or more nails. The pads also show an excessive thickening of the outer layer of the skin which can lift away leaving sores underneath.
Unfortunately successful treatment for this condition is not possible although some improvement can be achieved, particularly with the eye problems. Perhaps more importantly the hereditary nature of the condition is an important factor for control.
Flossie’s owner, Diana Stevens says “Flossie suffers from all of these conditions. Her claws come off leaving the exposed quick and her foot pads also thicken and then lift away but I rub vasaline into them to stop them becoming so sore. She also has skin dryness and itching but only for a short time and I treat this with oils and a special bath.”
Diana continues “Her eyes are often red and sore and last summer she had an eye ulcer. I think this was due to the sand on the beach and so now I have bought her some ‘doggles’ that she happily wears! She causes quite a stir as you can imagine!! This is just a way of life for me and Flossie now and it is not as bad as it sounds – she is such a happy, funny little thing and is a joy to own.”