The Potential Eye Issues in Alaskan Malamutes

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Your beloved Alaskan Malamute is not only a majestic and loyal companion but also a breed that may be susceptible to potential eye issues. As a responsible and caring owner, it is important to be aware of these potential problems to ensure the overall well-being of your furry friend. From conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy to cataracts, this article will shed light on the possible eye issues that can affect Alaskan Malamutes and provide valuable information on their prevention and treatment.

Common Eye Issues in Alaskan Malamutes

When it comes to the health and well-being of your beloved Alaskan Malamute, their eyes play a crucial role. Unfortunately, this majestic breed is prone to several eye issues that can affect their vision and overall quality of life. It’s important to be aware of these issues and take preventive measures to ensure your furry friend’s eye health. In this article, we will discuss the most common eye issues in Alaskan Malamutes and provide you with valuable information on preventive measures, treatment options, and how to cope with blindness or visual impairment.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

One of the most significant eye issues that Alaskan Malamutes may face is progressive retinal atrophy, commonly known as PRA. This hereditary condition causes the gradual degeneration of the retina, leading to eventual blindness. PRA typically starts with night blindness, followed by a progressive loss of daytime vision. While there is no known cure for PRA, regular eye examinations and genetic testing can help detect and manage the disease early on.


Cataracts, another common eye issue in Alaskan Malamutes, occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, causing vision impairment. Cataracts can develop due to various factors, including genetics, aging, or trauma. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness. However, cataract surgery is a viable treatment option, which involves removing the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one.

Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal dystrophy is a group of eye conditions that affect the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye. Alaskan Malamutes are particularly prone to one specific type called epithelial corneal dystrophy. This condition causes the cornea to become thicker and hazy, potentially leading to vision impairment. Fortunately, corneal dystrophy can usually be managed with the help of medication and regular monitoring by a veterinarian.


Glaucoma involves increased pressure within the eye, which can damage the optic nerve and ultimately lead to blindness. Alaskan Malamutes are at a higher risk of developing primary glaucoma, a hereditary form of the condition. Regular eye examinations are crucial in detecting glaucoma early on. Treatment options may include medication to manage intraocular pressure or surgery to drain excess fluid from the eye.


Entropion is an eye condition in which the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes and skin to rub against the cornea. This can lead to discomfort, irritation, and potential damage to the cornea. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to correct the eyelid position and alleviate the symptoms. Regular eye examinations can help detect entropion and ensure appropriate treatment.


Ectropion is the opposite of entropion, where the eyelid droops or turns outward, exposing the inner surface. While ectropion is more common in certain breeds, including Alaskan Malamutes, it is usually a cosmetic concern rather than a serious health issue. However, if ectropion causes significant eye irritation or discomfort, surgery may be considered to correct the eyelid position.


Distichiasis is a condition where extra eyelashes grow along the eyelid, rubbing against the cornea and causing irritation and discomfort. Although it is a common eye issue in Alaskan Malamutes, distichiasis is generally manageable through regular grooming and periodic removal of the problematic eyelashes.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a condition in which the tear gland within the third eyelid prolapses and becomes visible as a red mass in the corner of the eye. While it is not a painful condition, it can cause irritation and lead to secondary eye issues if left untreated. Surgery is often necessary to reposition the prolapsed gland and prevent further complications.

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)

Persistent pupillary membrane refers to the presence of remnants of the iris blood vessels that should have disappeared after birth. These remnants can form a web-like structure across the pupil, potentially affecting vision. In mild cases, no treatment may be necessary, but in severe cases, surgery may be considered to remove the persistent pupillary membrane and improve visual clarity.

Optic Nerve Hypoplasia

Optic nerve hypoplasia is a congenital condition where the optic nerve is underdeveloped, potentially causing vision impairment or blindness. While there is no cure for this condition, early detection through regular eye examinations is crucial in managing and providing appropriate support to ensure your Alaskan Malamute can have the best quality of life possible.

The Potential Eye Issues in Alaskan Malamutes

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Preventive Measures for Eye Health

Taking proactive steps to maintain and protect your Alaskan Malamute’s eye health is essential, especially considering their susceptibility to various eye issues. Here are some preventive measures you can take to promote good eye health for your furry friend:

Regular Eye Examinations

Scheduling regular eye examinations with a qualified veterinarian who is experienced in ophthalmology is crucial for early detection and management of any potential eye issues. These examinations can help identify any abnormalities and guide the appropriate course of action.

Genetic Testing

Before bringing an Alaskan Malamute into your life, it is highly recommended to obtain genetic testing from reputable breeders. This will help determine whether the puppy is at risk for any hereditary eye conditions. Responsible breeders will ensure that their breeding dogs are tested, reducing the likelihood of passing down genetic eye issues to their offspring.

Maintaining a Healthy Diet

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in the overall health and well-being of your Alaskan Malamute, including their eye health. Providing a balanced diet that includes essential vitamins and nutrients can help support healthy eyes. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate diet for your specific dog’s needs.

Proper Grooming and Eye Care

Regular grooming sessions that include inspecting and cleaning your Alaskan Malamute’s eyes can help prevent and detect any potential eye issues. Removing any debris or foreign objects and keeping the area around the eyes clean can reduce the risk of irritation and infections.

Avoiding Trauma and Injury

Alaskan Malamutes are an active and lively breed that enjoys various activities. While engaging in physical exercise and play is important, it is essential to ensure their safety to minimize the risk of eye trauma or injury. Avoid activities with high risks such as excessive roughhousing or encounters with objects that may harm their eyes.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of your Alaskan Malamute developing serious eye issues and provide them with the best possible eye health.

The Potential Eye Issues in Alaskan Malamutes

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Treatment Options for Eye Issues

Despite taking preventive measures, your Alaskan Malamute may still experience eye issues during their lifetime. It is crucial to be aware of the available treatment options to address these issues promptly and effectively. Always consult with a qualified veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and tailored treatment plan. Here are some common treatment options:


Some eye issues can be managed with medications such as eye drops, ointments, or oral medications. These medications are designed to alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation, or control the underlying cause of the issue. Adhering to the prescribed medication schedule and carefully following your veterinarian’s instructions is crucial for successful treatment.


In cases where medication alone is insufficient, surgery may be necessary to address certain eye conditions. Surgical procedures can involve correcting eyelid abnormalities, removing cataracts, repositioning prolapsed tear glands, or addressing other structural issues within the eye. Surgery should be performed by a specialized veterinary ophthalmologist to ensure the best possible outcome.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that can be used to manage certain eye conditions. It utilizes focused beams of light to treat specific areas within the eye, such as removing abnormal blood vessels or reducing intraocular pressure in cases of glaucoma. Laser therapy is generally well-tolerated by dogs and can provide relief from certain eye issues.

Artificial Tears and Lubricants

For certain conditions, such as dry eye, artificial tears and lubricating eye drops can help provide moisture and alleviate discomfort. These products work by supplementing the natural tear production in the eyes. It is important to choose products specifically designed for use in dogs and follow the recommended dosage and frequency.

Eyewashes and Eye Drops

Eyewashes and eye drops can be used to flush out debris, soothe irritation, or remove allergens from the eyes. These products are particularly useful in preventing and managing eye issues caused by environmental factors, such as dust or pollen. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate products and methods for your Alaskan Malamute.

Remember, the appropriate treatment option will depend on the specific eye issue and the recommendations of your veterinarian. Regular follow-up appointments and ongoing monitoring are crucial to ensure the treatment is effective and to address any potential complications.

The Potential Eye Issues in Alaskan Malamutes

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Coping with Blindness or Visual Impairment

Dealing with blindness or visual impairment in your Alaskan Malamute can be challenging, but with the right support and guidance, you can help your furry friend navigate their world with confidence and ease. Here are some tips for coping with blindness or visual impairment:

Creating a Safe Environment

Creating a safe and familiar environment for your visually impaired Alaskan Malamute is essential. Minimize potential hazards by keeping furniture and other objects in consistent locations. Use baby gates or barriers to restrict access to areas with potential dangers. Consider using tactile cues, such as textured mats or rugs, to help guide your dog around the house.

Training and Behavioral Support

Providing training and behavioral support is crucial to help your blind Alaskan Malamute adapt to their visual impairment. Teach them verbal cues and commands to navigate their surroundings. Using positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, can help build their confidence and reinforce desired behaviors.

Assistive Devices and Technologies

Various assistive devices and technologies are available to aid visually impaired dogs. These can include harnesses with handles to assist with mobility, booties to protect their paws, or even wearable devices that act as a vision substitute. Discuss with your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to determine the most appropriate tools for your dog’s specific needs.

Emotional Support and Bonding

Blindness or visual impairment can be emotionally challenging for both you and your Alaskan Malamute. Providing emotional support and strengthening your bond is crucial during this time. Offer plenty of affection, engage in interactive play, and continue with training and mental stimulation. Consider joining support groups or seek guidance from professionals to navigate this journey.

Remember, with patience, understanding, and the right support, your blind Alaskan Malamute can still lead a fulfilling and happy life.

In conclusion, being aware of the potential eye issues that Alaskan Malamutes may face is the first step in ensuring their long-term eye health. By implementing preventive measures, seeking regular eye examinations, and being proactive in addressing any issues that arise, you can help your furry companion maintain good vision and enjoy a high quality of life. Remember, your veterinarian is always there to provide guidance and support throughout your Alaskan Malamute’s eye health journey.

The Potential Eye Issues in Alaskan Malamutes

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