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What is Pigmentary Keratitis in German Shepherd?

One of the most common eye diseases in German shepherds is chronic superficial pigmentary keratitis, a disease that can also affect other predisposed breeds such as Husky, Greyhound, Kelpie, Collie, as well as other types of shepherds and their crosses.

The specialist in veterinary ophthalmology Raquel Rodríguez Udiz, director of the Veterinary Vision clinic , explains that this condition is mainly characterized by the appearance of pigments or spots on the cornea (corneal pannus) and, if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner, It can cause blindness.

Pigmentary keratitis usually occurs more frequently in dogs that live in high altitude areas and spend most of the day outdoors.

The keratitis or inflammation of the cornea can also be linked to other eye problems, such as affections in the nictitating membrane, commonly known as ” third eyelid “, whose function is to protect the GSD eyes from foreign bodies and possible infections.

This “third eyelid” is a white or pink film that is located between the eyelid and the cornea, at the vertex of the eye and towards the nose, from where it leaves and covers the eye when it needs to be protected from any environmental aggression. .


Because the main triggers of keratitis are environmental type, this disease arises as a response of the canine immune system to aggressors, as is the case of exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation).

For this reason it tends to occur more frequently in German Shepherds that live in high altitude areas and spend most of the day in the open air.

This condition in the cornea can affect canines of any age and the evolution of the lesions depends on the place where the animal lives.

“If the disease progresses and is not treated properly, blindness may occur, since corneal pigmentation will not allow vision,” warns the veterinarian.

Warning signs. How to detect the disease?

The main warning signs that indicate that we could be in the presence of a pigmentary keratitis are:

– Redness of the eyes

– Appearance of whitish or yellowish legañas

– Ulcers that are difficult to heal and appear repetitively.
– Appearance of corneal lesions (they appear as black, white or red spots).

Is it possible to cure keratitis?  

Because it is a chronic disease, its definitive cure is not possible, however, it is possible to control it and improve its evolution with a treatment for life.

In this regard, once keratitis has been diagnosed, it is essential that the veterinarian’s recommendations be followed to the letter: apply the treatment as often as prescribed and not suspend it without the specialist’s consent.

Among the most important recommendations that can allow us to stop the progress of this eye disease and avoid the deterioration in the quality of life of our dog are:

-Avoid direct sunlight (especially in times of maximum sunlight).

-Use of canine glasses with UVA protection.

-Make revisions scheduled by the veterinarian.

-In case of worsening of the picture, go immediately to the specialist to adjust the treatment.

How to prevent the disease?

Because it is a disease that occurs mainly in dogs that are in external environments, the specialist advised to avoid direct sun exposure for long periods of time, for which it is necessary to alternate the day to day of the dog between the outside and the inside the home or enable shaded areas.


The use of canine glasses with UVA protection is recommended to avoid the appearance of this disease

It is also recommended to avoid keeping the your German Shepherd outside on very bright or white soils, as they contribute to excessive reflection of ultraviolet rays. For the same reason, access to swimming pool areas should be restricted.

Likewise, it would be useful to accustom animals predisposed to the use of canine glasses with ultraviolet protection.

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