Dog: Ectropion

General information

Other common/scientific names: droopy eyelids

The eyelids are lined with a thin mucous membrane called the conjunctiva. The eyelids serve to protect the eyeball from foreign objects. The eyelids along with the conjunctiva produce some of the tears and help to keep the eye moist.

Ectropion is a condition where the eyelids are everted or hang and roll outward exposing the conjunctival surface. Chronic ectropion prevents the eyelids from closing and thus protecting and moistening the eye. This can result in chronic conjunctivitis, keratitis and dry eye. Ectropion usually affects the lower eyelids.

Abb. GGT7R9LY: Schematic illustration of the eye, side view.
The conjunctiva is colored in red and the cornea in gray.


Ectropion is usually inherited and seen most commonly in these breeds: Bloodhound, St. Bernard, Rottweiler, Bulldog, Newfoundland. Unfortunately, ectropion is a sought-after trait in many affected breeds. Ectropion can occur secondary to an injury and scarring of the eyelid or secondary to nerve damage. Ectropion can be seen concurrently with entropion which is the inversion or rolling in of the eyelids.

Cardinal symptom

Red eye


Clinical signs include a reddened conjunctiva, droopy lower eyelid and excessive tearing. Although not common, if ectropion is severe and left untreated, it can cause can cause chronic inflammation to the cornea resulting in the cornea becoming discolored with edema, vascularization and pigment.


Ectropion is diagnosed by physical examination and clinical signs.


If the ectropion is mild and no signs of conjunctivitis, corneal damage or entropion are present, no treatment is required. However, in more severe cases, ectropion should be treated with surgery. Different surgical techniques are used to remove excess skin and to tighten the lax eyelid depending on the severity. Skin sutures are placed where the skin is excised. These sutures are usually removed in 10 to 14 days. A special collar (E-collar) should be worn to keep the dog from rubbing at the eye and sutures.

Conjunctivitis and corneal damage are treated with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye medications.


Prognosis is good if the surgery is performed early. If the cornea is damaged and scarred, prognosis will depend on the extent of damage. Severe corneal scarring can result in impaired vision.


Due to the heritable condition, dogs afflicted with ectropion should not be used for breeding.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by
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