eyelid tumors in dogs

Eyelid Tumors in Dogs

Overview of Canine Eyelid Tumors

The eyelid is a common site of tumor formation in dogs. Most eyelid tumors occur in middle-aged to older animals. The vast majority of eyelid tumors in the dog are benign.

Canine eyelid tumors often originate spontaneously from the glands located within the eyelid margin. Complete surgical removal is the recommended treatment and is usually curative.

Eyelid tumor enlargement can interfere with proper eyelid blinking and cause ocular irritation from rubbing of the tumor against the cornea. Conjunctivitis and increased ocular discharge are common in animals with growing eyelid tumors.

Not all nodules or masses of the eyelids are tumors. Certain types of inflammation may also mimic the appearance of eyelid tumors.

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Eyelid Tumors on Dogs

Veterinary care includes diagnostic tests to determine the type of eyelid lesion and to direct subsequent treatment. Your veterinarian may recommend some of the following:

Treatment of Eyelid Tumors on Dogs

Treatments for eyelid tumors may include one or more of the following:

Home Care and Prevention for Eyelid Tumors on Dogs

If an eyelid nodule or swelling is observed, call your veterinarian promptly. Immediate evaluation of the eyelid lesion is very important if accompanying symptoms of ocular discomfort are observed, such as increased blinking, tearing and redness of the eye.

Gently wipe away any eye discharge with a warm moist cloth as needed to keep the eyelid area clean. Do not allow the pet to rub or self-traumatize the eyelids. After diagnosis of an eyelid tumor, lubricating or antibiotic ointments may be prescribed until the time of surgical removal.

There is no preventive care for most types of eyelid tumors. It is well known that squamous cell carcinoma develops more commonly in dogs with pink or white eyelid margins that have prolonged sun exposure. Reducing sun exposure in these dogs by always allowing them shaded area may help to reduce the risk of developing this type of tumor.

Information In-depth for Canine Eyelid Tumors

The vast majority of eyelid tumors in the dog are benign. Malignant tumors tend to grow more rapidly than benign tumors and local invasion of surrounding tissues can be more extensive.

Canine eyelid tumors most often originate from the glands located within the eyelid margin. Sebaceous gland (meibomian) adenoma, squamous papilloma and benign melanocytoma represent the most commonly diagnosed eyelid tumors in the dog. Other less common benign tumors include the fibroma and histiocytoma. Complete surgical removal is usually curative for these tumors.

Malignant tumors that occur in the eyelid of dogs include the basal cell carcinoma, mast cell tumor, lymphosarcoma, malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous adenocarcinoma (rare) and fibrosarcoma (rare).

The most important aspects of treating eyelid tumors are to determine the specific tumor type and the degree of local invasiveness and/or spread to other parts of the body. These two factors are essential to determine the most appropriate therapy for each animal.

A few other eyelid conditions can mimic the symptoms similar to those observed with eyelid tumors. It is important to exclude these conditions before establishing a conclusive diagnosis.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are performed to determine the cause for the eyelid nodule/swelling, verify that the lesion is of a specific tumor type, define the degree of local invasion of the tumor, and determine if the eyelid tumor will spread. The following tests are often recommended:

Treatment In-depth for Dogs with Eyelid Tumors

With respect to treatment eyelid tumors may be divided into two types, those that can be managed with medicines and those that require surgery. Most eyelid tumors in dogs require surgery, and the surgery may be followed by the application of certain topical medications.

In the early stages of eyelid tumor development, clinical evidence of eye discomfort or irritation is often not evident. Invariably, as eyelid tumors enlarge, they result in irritation to the surface of the eye and interfere with adequate blinking resulting in discharge from the eye. The irritation caused by enlarging eyelid tumors may be difficult to treat medically until the eyelid tumor can be treated and removed surgically.

Medical Management

Surgical Management

Home Care for Dogs with Eyelid Tumors

Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Most dogs are sent home wearing an Elizabethan collar to prevent self-trauma to the surgery site. Follow-up visits are important, especially if recurrence of the eyelid tumor is possible. Administer all prescribed medication as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet. If any signs of squinting or yellow-green infected discharge occur following the surgery, notify your veterinarian. Sutures are usually removed 10-12 days after the surgery.

The risk of recurrence or re-growth of eyelid tumors after surgical removal is a possibility for some of the malignant tumors. Fortunately in the dog, the majority of eyelid tumors are benign, and complete removal of the tumor prevents recurrence. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment result in the best outcome for all eyelid tumors. The chance of recurrence for malignant tumors depends upon the type of tumor, whether or not chemotherapy effectively caused decrease in size of the tumor, the stage of tumor development at the time of surgery, and whether or not the entire tumor could be surgically removed.