The yellow discoloration of the sclera (the white part of the eye) is a clinical manifestation caused by the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood, called jaundice.
Why did my dog’s eyes turn yellow? What could it be?
With today’s article, I will try to explain what jaundice is and what it can cause.
The yellowish discoloration of mucous membranes or skin, visible in particular in the sclera (the white part of the eye), but also inside the mouth, or in the parts of the skin with less hair (abdomen, ears); represents a clinical manifestation ascribable to a pathological accumulation of bilirubin in the blood, called jaundice.
The animal organism in normal conditions produces and eliminates bilirubin. Jaundice, on the other hand, occurs when there is an alteration in the production and/or elimination process of bilirubin.
But what is bilirubin?
Most of the bilirubin derives from the catabolism (transformation process) of red blood cells which occurs mainly in the liver and spleen, where iron is recovered and transported to the bone marrow will be reused to synthesize new red blood cells.
Once produced, bilirubin enters the bloodstream and is released in the liver; from which it will be excreted in the intestine, and eliminated in the feces.
What diseases can yellow eyes cause in my dog?
Increased (pathological) destruction of red blood cells: for example, ongoing haemolytic anemias, caused by haemoparasites transmitted by ticks; but also Leptospirosis, as well as autoimmune or genetic pathologies can cause an increased destruction.
Primary hepatic causes: all those pathologies that cause severe liver damage (liver) could cause jaundice syndrome, this is because the liver is unable to “process” it and therefore accumulates in the blood.
Also in this case the causes are varied. Infectious processes, such as bacteria (the same Leptospirosis) but also viral (canine adenovirus for example), such as toxins or some types of tumors or genetic pathologies can cause the appearance of jaundice.
And finally, causes defined as ” post-hepatic “; that is, due to the inability of bile to pass from the liver to the intestine. In this case, the most common cause is obstruction of the duct that drains bile into the intestine or gallbladder.
If you suspect your dog is jaundiced, the advice I can give you is to contact your vet as soon as possible. This is not a clinical sign to be underestimated and your four-legged friend’s life could be in danger.