Whole Dog Journal's Blog February 27, 2019

Puppy Odin's Eye Problems: An Update

Posted at 10:48AM - Comments: (25)

The little guy's eye took a bad turn recently and we still have no real answers.

puppy odin's eye problems

Over a week ago, I took Odin to what was supposed to be his last appointment with the veterinary ophthalmologists at the U.C. Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) on Tuesday. Three weeks prior, the resident doctor said it looked like Odin’s eye was slowly improving, and was stable enough to start reducing and then eliminating the medications I have been applying to the eye. He received no medications for a week prior to this last appointment.


Read previous coverage of Odin and his littermates:

Camp Fire: More Notes from a Disaster Area

Updates on Dog Food Recalls, the Camp Fire Aftermath, and My Sickly Foster Pups

Frustration and Heartbreak on the Road to Saving Sick Puppies

Thoughts from a UC Davis Veterinary Hospital Waiting Room

Foster Puppy Update: Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

Dry Dog Food Lists, Puppy Adoptions and Complications Along the Way


At the appointment, a different resident doctor (veterinary ophthalmologist) reviewed the notes from Odin’s past visits, and carefully examined his eyes with various instruments. She confirmed what I could see with my bare eyes – that Odin’s eye looked essentially unchanged since the appointment three weeks earlier. She noted that the eye still displayed signs of edema, and that I could consider continuing the doses of hypertonic saline ointment (which helps the eye rid itself of extra fluid), or not – it appeared that the eye was stable. I explained that I have a family waiting to hear the final prognosis, and ready to adopt him. She said there was no reason to not go ahead with that adoption.

One funny (not funny) thing: he was a little squinty during the exam. But, in my experience, I’ve seen him display more sensitivity on some days than others. I wasn’t worried.

I'm not kidding - THAT NIGHT he started squinting more and the eye got teary. I called the doctor the next day and asked whether the exam might have irritated the eye, and should I put him back on the antibiotic drops or something?

She said that the exam shouldn’t have caused any irritation (and, in fact, none of the previous examinations had) but that to be safe, I could start giving him the antibiotic drops and the hypertonic saline ointment again. And, of course, if his eye started looking bad, I should bring him back to the VMTH or take him to my local vet.

puppy odin's eye problems

That afternoon, Odin started moaning with obvious discomfort. I still had some liquid gabapentin in the refrigerator, left over from when his eye ulcerated many weeks ago. (You should see all the medicine bottles I have, as we have changed his medications many times in the past couple of months.) I started giving him the liquid gabapentin for pain. 

The next day, the eye looked even more blue with edema and he was still moaning in pain when the gabapentin wore off. I called my local veterinary hospital, but the one veterinarian who deals with eyes and who has seen Odin before was not on duty for days. So I resolved to take him back to the VMTH first thing on Friday.

Fortunately, the same doctor who saw him three days prior was on duty again. She immediately agreed that the eye is more swollen (has more edema), but there is no sign of an ulcer or infection. She told me to stop the antibiotic, keep him on the hypertonic saline ointment, put him back on the NSAID drops from many weeks ago, and gave me a refill prescription for more gabapentin.

Discouraged, I asked about the likelihood that this inflammatory process would keep recurring. All along, since his first visit to the VMTH ophthalmology department, we had hoped that the initial inflammation in the eye was from an event that started when he was still immune-deficient, when his body was still healing from the demodectic mange and malnutrition, and that we've just been trying to heal it all this time. The eye ulcerated early on, started healing, and then ulcerated again when a chunk of mineralization in the eye gouged the surface, but since then, it's been slowly getting better. This was the first time it got worse again, for seemingly no reason.

puppy odin's eye problems

She said, well, we don’t know why it has happened, there is clearly something wrong with the corneal endothelial layer in that eye . . . But then a little light bulb went off in her head and she said, “One of our residents is actually recruiting patients for some studies we are doing on a drug that is available in Japan that treats the endothelial layer of the cornea... Would you like information on the studies?”

Would I? Would I?  (Insert punchline of childhood joke here.)

So, currently, I am discussing Odin’s possible inclusion in the UCD VMTH studies of this drug with the family that is interested in Odin, to see if they would be willing to do what the study requires: apply drops of the medication to his eye four times a day for a year, and take him to the VMTH every three months for a year for follow-up examinations. We're still talking it over. 

But I would like to commit Odin to the studies whether my friends decide to adopt him or not. If they don't, I will just keep him, or keep trying to place him with someone who is willing to do the study follow-through. I think it's a great chance to treat his eye – AND to get all the follow-up exams, AND perhaps contribute to science, and possible FDA approval?

Also, as a study participant, if the drug doesn't work, he might be considered for another study on a corneal transplant! These are done frequently on humans with diseases of the same layer of the cornea. I know this because, bizarrely, my husband has an inherited disease (called Fuch’s dystrophy) that causes the same layer of the cornea to malfunction, and after years of management of the disease with medications (all the same ones that Odin has been prescribed!), my husband finally had corneal transplant surgery on one eye and then, months later, the other. 

But we hope it doesn’t come to that. The medication, which has been approved for use already in Japan, sounds very promising. I’m hoping that it can improve and perhaps stop the dysfunction of the problematic corneal endothelial layer in his left eye. He’s such a nice puppy – preternaturally calm and mature in his behavior, friendly to everyone he meets, and smart! And, he absolutely hero-worships Woody, following him around everywhere, sleeping intertwined with (actually, usually ON) the big dog, and play-wrestling with Woody at every opportunity. I’m NOT PLANNING ON KEEPING HIM! But he’s no trouble at all. And sweet. And cute. ARGH!

puppy odin's eye problems

Really, my only resistance to keeping Odin is wanting to give Otto his rightful space and time as king of the household until he’s gone. And I’m a bit worried about Otto right now.

In Otto’s last two examinations, tests of his urine have showed a worrisome trend. The urinalyses have shown that his urine is growing slowly less concentrated – often a sign of chronic kidney failure. We’ve been watching it.

Otto has always had this funny habit of drinking a lot of water right after my husband or I come home. We walk in the door, he greets us happily, and then goes to his water bowl and tanks up. It’s almost a tic – as if he doesn’t drink the whole time we are gone, but will only drink when we come home. But lately, we have both noticed that, in addition to his lengthy drinking sessions when we come home, he is drinking a lot more water at other times, too. So I collected a sample of Otto’s first-thing-in-the-morning urine and took it to the vet the other day; that’s the best sample to check the urine’s concentration, to see how well the kidneys worked overnight. The results indicated that his urine was too dilute. I made an appointment to see his veterinarian immediately. I’ll let you know what’s next as soon as I know.

Don’t get me wrong: Except for the drinking, he seems totally fine. His energy is good – so good, in fact, that the person I have been taking agility lessons from thinks that 11-year-old Otto – not super-athletic, three-year-old Woody – is my best prospect for taking to an agility competition.

One day, when I was getting ready to leave for an agility lesson, Otto was acting so dejected that I texted the instructor and asked if I could bring my older dog, too. She said, sure. I had last taken Otto to about 10 agility classes about six or seven years ago, but he loved it then (all except the weave poles, which we had barely begun to try).

At this lesson, when it was his turn, Otto bounded around me, full of excitement and enthusiasm. He raced toward every obstacle I indicated, flying through the tunnels and over the A-frame and teeter. He had to be reminded to “wait” with two paws on and two paws off at the end of those contact obstacles, but sheesh! It’s been YEARS since we practiced those things.

After the lesson, my instructor thoughtfully noted, “Woody is clearly the more athletic dog, and you guys have a good connection, and he’s got good basic obedience skills . . . but you can see that he’s not yet clear on the point of it all – he’s not excited about any of it yet. Otto doesn’t care what the point is; he’s just thrilled to be out there and doing anything you ask him to do!”

It was an easy observation for her to make. Otto is like the kid who always sits in the front row and puts his hand high in the air every time the teacher asks any question; he loves being praised (and treats!) for doing any behavior he’s asked. And if he doesn’t know what’s being asked, he happily starts offering random behaviors, trying to guess what might be rewarded. My New Year’s resolutions involved taking Woody to an agility trial some time this year, but it might be that Otto and I get there first. I’ll let you know about that, too.

Comments (25)

I haven't had a problem with excessive drinking or bladder problems but I can recommend U of Penn. We just had Dixie there because we thought she had liver cancer. When they did exploratory surgery the liver was OK just lots of benign lumps and bumps. Unfortunately she did have a large tumor on her Pancreas which was cancerous. They removed it with what they hope are clean margins, This was about 3 months ago and she who is an almost a 12 1/2 year golden is acting like a puppy. Her prognosis is questionable which I hate to think about. No matter what she is having a great quality of life. I recommend U of Penn highly. We have taken our other goldens there with great success, No matter what their treatment of them is kind and humane. The hour and a half ride is worth every minute of it.

Posted by: dixiegoldengirl | March 18, 2019 9:11 AM    Report this comment

Several things to share about dogs who pee in the house. My breed has 2 major problems (transitional cell bladder cancer and atypical Cushing's disease). You would see blood in the urine of the dog with TCC so don't automatically assume because the dog cannot hold his urine he has bladder cancer. You will see dogs with either of the diseases have difficulty postponing urinating just as you would with the dog who has diabetes mellitus or insipidus. As a temporary measure we put a belly band with a pantiliner on the boys. That keeps the house dry until the vet figures out just what is going on. If the chem panel shows an elevated Alk. Phosphatase we do the low dex suppression test and then draw blood for the ACTH Stim. test. The blood is sent to the endocrine lab at the U. of TN (guidelines are on their website) and they will diagnose whether the dog has atypical Cushing's or Cushing's Disease and suggest the appropriate treatment. If the blood sample is sent out to IDEXX they include a test called SDMA which is more sensitive than the BUN and Creatinine and is supposedly better at detecting renal failure at a much earlier stage. TCC is diagnosed by ultrasound and a bladder cancer antigen test. I've had Scotties for 50 years and been breeding and doing rescue for 30. The two things that I could not do without are my tile floors and the doggie door that leads into the fenced yard.

Posted by: Scotttiemom | March 4, 2019 1:49 PM    Report this comment

The homeopathic remedy Apis is indicated for swelling anywhere in the body. Apis 30C is widely available in heath food stores and even many supermarkets that have a natural food/organic section. It isn't expensive at all. Crush 3-5 pellets into a fine powder and put it on Odins tongue and hold his mouth shut for a few seconds. It tastes sweet. My dog will lick it right off a spoon. Start with three times a day then decrease the frequency as he improves. Also, keep him inside on windy days to protect his eye from additional irritation.

Posted by: sue15035 | March 3, 2019 8:55 PM    Report this comment

As I was reading the article on Odom’s eyes one thing especially caught my eyes. That was his eyes apparent difficulty healing. This might not be helpful but I remember having a similar problem when I injured my cornea removing a contact lense. The eye surgeon who saw me said that it was almost as if my eye didn’t know it was injured. The surgeon placed a collegan lense on the eye and It started to respond. In a few weeks it was completely healed. Are collegen lenses ever used to treat canine ophthalmic injuries to stimulate healing? Just curious đź’—

Posted by: Victoria G | March 3, 2019 6:16 PM    Report this comment

Thanks, again, for updating us on Odin and his eye problem! If I were retired I'd be all over adopting that little cutie and doing whatever it took to keep him in that test!
Maybe your friend can't take him because of the time committment that will be required? Working is the only thing in my way!
Give that boy a big hug for me, would you?

Posted by: Mutterma | March 3, 2019 3:56 PM    Report this comment

My cocker spaniel also has eye problems. Through my research I found that cod liver oil dropped into the eye greatly relieves eye pain. I have cod liver oil capsules, use a sterile needle to pick them, then put 1-2 drops into my dog's eye. Repeat as need.

Posted by: sue15035 | March 3, 2019 2:32 PM    Report this comment

My Great Dane has what seems to be the same eye issue as Odin. She was almost 7 years old a year and a half ago when it first occurred but she also had demodex when she was a puppy. She had the blue film across her right eye and it bulged a bit from the socket. It was light sensitive and occasionally she squinted it closed. My regular vet saw no scratches or anything on the lens. We tried some drops but there was no change.
Next went to a eye specialist. He put her on steroid drops and another med, I don't remember the name, that was supposed to stop her immune system from doing something to the eye. Within the next three days she started squinting her eye closed all the time and was extremely uncomfortable. I stopped the drops and she was able to open her eye again. It will be to long of a story to get into all the rest but nothing helped her eye. She lost her sight in that eye but it is no longer swollen, sensitive or painful for her. The one thing I often wonder about in the demodex. At the time it started she had some hair loss around her eye like when she was suffering from demodex and I had seen one article online about older humans who had demodex around their eyes. There was a picture of someone who had the blue film across her eye. And since steroids and anti-immune drugs are bad if the dog has problems with mites, I wonder it mites caused the initial problem with her eye. Sorry this is so long.

Posted by: tmtassone | March 3, 2019 11:17 AM    Report this comment

You write: "Otto has always had this funny habit of drinking a lot of water right after my husband or I come home. We walk in the door, he greets us happily, and then goes to his water bowl and tanks up. It’s almost a tic – as if he doesn’t drink the whole time we are gone, but will only drink when we come home."

Through 40 years of dog guardianship as an adult, my dogs have always done this. My raw fed dogs now rarely drink from the water bowl so I make sure to add at least a little bit of extra water to most of their meals now, but when the water bowl got more regular use, it seemed as if they instinctively knew that drinking while we weren't home might lead to discomfort holding their urine so they'd wait till we gt home. I've mentioned it to friends who've said the same thing, so I don' think your dogs are so very unusual in this. ;O)

Posted by: Gentlelake | March 3, 2019 11:01 AM    Report this comment

nothing to add re eyes or kidneys... but let Otto do the agility tests... he gets such joy from them!!!!

Posted by: Lilbit'sMom | March 3, 2019 10:08 AM    Report this comment

I'm so invested in your dogs & fosters! Just love reading all your updates & stories about Woody & Otto (been reading about him since you first brought him home) and also keeping up with the fosters. I've actually learned so much just from your stories, you have no idea! Thank you for sharing honestly both the highs & lows and everything in between!!

Posted by: JoyP | February 28, 2019 6:29 PM    Report this comment

I think you should just keep the little pup. Woody clearly loves him amd he loves Woody. Plus 3 dogs is really not a lot.....

Posted by: Flaquita | February 28, 2019 4:59 PM    Report this comment

My 14 year old “Gollie” golden retriever collie mix was diagnosed at 8 with renal failure. I tweaked her raw food diet and she live to 14, almost 15, and it was arthritis pain that we couldn’t control. The deal I have with my dogs is that thee bad time have stopped for them, give or take a vet visit. I waited until she let me know that life wasn’t good. Otto loves doing things. Enjoy every freaking second. Might be nice for Woody to have a good calm friend when that hard, agonizing choice is made. The puppy sounds incredible, I am cheering you guys on!

Posted by: lclass003 | February 28, 2019 4:48 PM    Report this comment

We have a golden that had the same symptoms of liver issues. Drank a ton of water, urine was diluted, blood tests showed high ALT & ALKP, peed a lot, liver was enlarged otherwise seemed normal. Local vets were stumped. Took him to UPenn Vet hospital for more tests. Turns out he had Leptospirosis. He had a bad habit of eating kitty/squirrel/bunny "snacks" found in the woods and could not pass a stagnant water puddle without taking a sip. Vet figured that's how he got it. Put him on heavy-duty antibiotics, Ursodiol, and Denamarin. Stopped heavy drinking right away. One year later, ALT is normal and ALKP is still a little high but way less than what it was before. Still on Ursodiol. Reduced Denamarin. Still acting normal. No other symptoms.

Posted by: JayZ | February 28, 2019 4:16 PM    Report this comment

I wish I could tell you how very much I LOVE WDJ, and all the people who love their dogs as much as I love mine. It’s so affirming to read about all the things people do for and with their dogs. I am an old woman, but I am continually inspired by the articles and the comments here. Thank you so much!

Posted by: Lulukay | February 28, 2019 4:15 PM    Report this comment

I am sorry, Nancy, that resident doctors are allowed to use your dog as a guinea pig in their learning curve. Please have a REAL, experienced doctor, preferably a holistic vet, examine and treat this poor boy. "No real answers" means no one knows what the heck is going on, and this is common with residents in both the human medical and veterinary worlds. A veterinary specialist with a load of experience would likely pinpoint the problem with a correct treatment. If you don't have answers, find other vets to treat this boy.

Posted by: Three Dog Mom | February 28, 2019 4:13 PM    Report this comment

I'm digressing a bit from the topic and asking for help from those who have experience with dogs who have abnormal urine specific gravity (diluted urine). We have a 4 year-old male golden that we got at age two as he failed hunting training. He was raised in a kennel with other dogs, but became a house dog when he came to live with us. He drinks a lot of water and then has a very specific limit to how long he can hold it. To the point that if we miss his signal he will pee in the house or if we are not home, he will pee in his crate. He cannot seem to go longer than 4-5 hours without peeing - sometimes less than that. All our dogs have been 8-hour dogs and our vet says he should certainly be able to last longer. He holds his urine all night just fine. He tested as having low urine specific gravity, but all his blood work came back normal. The vet thinks it's a learned behavior, but our observation is that he understands he needs to urinate outside, but there is a point at which he can no longer hold it and lets go no matter the location if he can't get outside when needed. Does anyone who has experience with this have any thoughts or advice? Thank you in advance.

Nancy, you have to keep Odin. He has become a part of the family. :)

Posted by: jomartinmn | February 28, 2019 2:27 PM    Report this comment

Sorry to hear about Odins eye problems. My Whippet was stung right on the cornea by a bee a month ago. It was terribly painful for him. A week later we were transferred to an opthamologist in Woodland Hills and she was able to sedate him and remove the stinger. He was put on antibiotic drops and rimadyl. One month later he was poked in the same eye by some wire! She then added another antibiotic in ointment form. It progressed well, but still edema in the eye. So she decided to put him on steroid eye drops two weeks ago. This has really cleared up the eye and it almost looks normal now. The ulcer from the sting healed before she added the steroid drops. Maybe steroid drops would help?

Posted by: julbird | February 28, 2019 1:22 PM    Report this comment

Wow so sorry to hear about these maladies for your dogs...i've been a subscriber to WDJ forever and remember when you first got Otto!!! My dog is 10 1/2 now and i hate seeing them age...their pain is my pain. (I got her to keep the geriatrics going and they lasted till 17 1/2) Hope you get the right treatment that helps them both. Your dedication to these dogs is remarkable and inspiring. I would hate to break up Odin and Woody! wish i lived close by and could take him cuz then i'd bring him over every day for a play date! All the best to you and the boys!

Posted by: meanmorgan | February 28, 2019 12:39 PM    Report this comment

Ouch, those corneal erosions are so painful! I know, I used to have them too. In addition to the Muro 128 saline solution, the MURO 128 ointment by Bausch and Lombe lasts longer and is more soothing, though it does cloud vision, so best used at night. I took Vital Choice Krill Oil and Astaxanthin twice a day for a few months and my corneal erosions went away and have not returned. Definitely worth a try! Other fish oils did not seem to work as well. I have Map Dot Corneal Dystrophy and used to have corneal erosions quite often. Worse pain I ever had. Hope this helps Odin!

Posted by: OM | February 28, 2019 11:51 AM    Report this comment

Regarding Otto's water drinking, I do rescue for Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I have had two Ridgebacks with Diabetes Insipidus not to be confused with Diabetes Mellitus. With Diabetes Insipidus there is a deficiency in the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) which causes the dog to drink a lot of water and urinate large quantities of dilute urine. One of the Ridgebacks with this condition, a male, developed the problem in old age. The other was a 4 year old female. The older Ridgeback had some other issues due to his age, but the young female seemed normal except for her excessive water drinking which I noticed first. Both were treated for their chronic problem with the drug Desmopressin. The female who was a lovely Ridgeback did very well, and I was able to place her in a home willing to treat her chronic condition. I have also had dogs with Kidney failure that drank a lot of water too, but I wanted to let you know that Otto's problem might be treatable.

Posted by: Cefran | February 28, 2019 11:45 AM    Report this comment

Regarding Otto's water drinking, I do rescue for Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I have had two Ridgebacks with Diabetes Insipidus not to be confused with Diabetes Mellitus. With Diabetes Insipidus there is a deficiency in the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) which causes the dog to drink a lot of water and urinate large quantities of dilute urine. One of the Ridgebacks with this condition, a male, developed the problem in old age. The other was a 4 year old female. The older Ridgeback had some other issues due to his age, but the young female seemed normal except for her excessive water drinking which I noticed first. Both were treated for their chronic problem with the drug Desmopressin. The female who was a lovely Ridgeback did very well, and I was able to place her in a home willing to treat her chronic condition. I have also had dogs with Kidney failure that drank a lot of water too, but I wanted to let you know that Otto's problem might be treatable.

Posted by: Cefran | February 28, 2019 11:45 AM    Report this comment

Just some thoughts. I two dogs here (I raise and show Lhasas) that have lost an eye. One was due to a corneal injury that did not heal. Multiple visits to the vet ophthalmologist here. She recommended a corneal transplant finally. My girl, she is my old matriarch - great grandmother of a wonderful line - was no longer showing, and in obvious pain, due to the constant recurrent infections from this. I was looking at maybe a one year healing process, possibly multiple procedures. The ophthalmologist here was adamant about doing the transplant. I took here to my primary vet, she removed the eye. It was obvious the second day after surgery that the pain was much improved. She is now a happy pain free girl, and I am so glad I did it. She adjusted to the "one eyed vision" very quickly, and is still ruler of the pack.

As far as dilute urine- it is a sign of early renal insufficiency. One of my rescues developed this at age 3, she is now 14, here creatinine (measure of renal function) has not changed in 11 years. It is on the high end of normal, with a slightly elevated BUN. She is on a low phosphorus food with good protein levels - and is doing great.

Posted by: Many Leaves | February 28, 2019 11:19 AM    Report this comment

I have two dogs with chronic renal failure, one much worst than the other, they has a enormous tumor on one of her kidneys, and only about half the function in her other kidney. The tumor cannot be removed and the tumorous kidney cannot be removed either because it is still offering a little support to the malfunctioning one. So our (wonderful) vet has her on a reduced protein diet, she disliked all of the prescription foods and I found Dave's Restricted Diet low protein and phosphorous Farmland Blend works well along with low protein kibble by Canidae and a bit of cooked chicken. And for your sanity pick up the water bowl at night! And shut the toilets if that is an optional water source. The other dogs will not mind. Mitzi is also on ProIn which works great, not sure if males can use it. Good luck!

Posted by: kimfatty | February 28, 2019 11:11 AM    Report this comment

WOW! Your Woody could be a twin to our puppy Rhett (Boxer/Hound mix) and one of Rhett's littermates is also named Woody :)

Posted by: pattylu | February 28, 2019 10:59 AM    Report this comment

It is so obvious that this dog wants to please. The fact that he remembers what he should do is great. I say take him to competition - whether he wins or loses he will be a winner.

Posted by: majiep@windstream.net | February 28, 2019 10:38 AM    Report this comment

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