An Interview with a Veterinarian: Dog Health Questions Answered

Jenna Matisz

There are so many questions that come up for us dog owners and, as we all know, sometimes Google just isn’t the most reliable source.

That’s why we’ve reached out to Colin Brown, a veterinarian and animal lover, to get some answers.  Colin specialises in veterinary ophthalmology (say that 5 times fast!), so he has special expertise in pet eye issues.

But first, a little about Colin:

I graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Canada in 2013.  I’ve always been interested in fitness and nutrition and how the body works so after working various jobs after high school I got myself a Bachelor of Science degree in human nutrition and physiology and then decided to pursue my passion for helping animals through veterinary medicine.

 Throughout all my schooling and experience I have never lost my passion for health and fitness so after veterinary school I started my own online health and fitness business and I inspire and support people on their health and fitness journey.  

My two passions in life are animals and health/fitness and I consider myself very fortunate that I get to do both of these as my career!

We asked you for your questions and Colin has answered. Check out his thoughts below!

1. What are your top 3 tips for dog health?

My top 3 tips for dog health:

1) Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise!  There are many benefits to exercise beyond maintaining a healthy weight for your dog.  Plus, if you take your dog for regular walks/runs then you are getting exercise as well!  You can both stay healthy and fit together.

2) Feed your dog a quality, well balanced diet intended for dogs.  Ask your veterinarian for their opinion – they can help you choose a quality food from a reputable brand that is tailored to your dog and any conditions that they may have.  Try and refrain from feeding your dog human food – this can easily lead to weight gain and not all foods are safe for animals.  

3) Regular, annual check-ups and vaccines with your veterinarian.  Although this may seem like more of an upfront cost, regular examinations/vaccines can actually help you save money in the long run by preventing or detecting early disease and extending the life of your pet.

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2. Can dogs get pink eye?

To answer this question let’s first define pink eye.  Pink eye is a very general term that simply means conjunctivitis, which is inflammation of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball.

Dogs can get conjunctivitis due to a wide range of causes.  So technically the answer is yes, dogs can get pink eye – which is just another name for conjunctivitis.    

3. Why do my dog’s eyes always have discharge/tear stains?

A small amount of clear discharge from the eyes can be normal in some dogs, but this normally does not lead to staining of the hair below the eyes.  If your dog has excessive tearing there may be a problem with the eyelids or the eyeball itself.  There are many different causes of excess discharge and your dog may need a full eye exam from your veterinarian to determine the cause.

4. What’s the number one thing you can do to keep your dog’s eyes healthy?

The number one thing you can do to keep your dog’s eyes healthy is monitor the eyes for any changes or signs of discomfort.  Many eye conditions can deteriorate rapidly and lead to blindness, so if you notice anything out of the ordinary it’s best to get it checked out by your veterinarian as soon as possible.  

Any dog is at risk for eye disease and blindness but some purebred dogs have more of a genetic risk for certain eye diseases, including blindness.  If you are purchasing a purebred dog such as a poodle it is recommended that the dog and its parents have a certifying examination by a veterinary ophthalmologist prior to purchase.  Poodles are historically known for getting a disease called progressive retinal atrophy which will lead to blindness.  Examination and possibly genetic testing by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help determine whether your poodle is at risk for this disease.  

5. Are dogs really color blind?

Dogs do see color.  The colors they see are just more dull.  Dogs don’t have as many types of cones (photoreceptor cells) in their retina (at the back of their eye) and these cones are what allow the eye to process color vision.  But dogs have more rods (another type of photoreceptor) which actually allows them to see better than their human counterparts in dim light conditions.

Thanks so much to Colin for sharing his insight and expertise! If you want to learn more about him you can connect with him online:

Blog: www.afitvet.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/colinbrownfitness/

Instagram: @afitvet

Email: colin@colinbrownfitness.com

What other questions do you have about dog health? Share ’em in the comments below!

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