Pannus is when a film or dark coloring grows across the surface of the eye, the cornea. This condition happens in dogs, especially German Shepherds, but really any breed. Typical treatment uses several different types of eye ointments; the ointments can be quite expensive. And, many dogs get tired of having medication put in their eyes and can get a touch grumpy about the treatment. Conventional medicine tells us once dogs develop pannus, it is quite difficult to treat and in most cases, it becomes progressively worse, maybe even taking over the whole surface of the eye and causing blindness.

In the last couple of years, I’ve had 2 special patients develop pannus, but we were successful in treating the condition. For both dogs, we followed conventional treatments with anti-inflammatory eye ointments, but we also looked at anti-inflammatory diets. For the first patient, we simply changed his diet to a grain free kibble and added his parents’ meat and vegetables from dinner. His pannus completely resolved after a few months and medication was discontinued. For the second patient, we finally discovered his trigger – rice! Even though he had been on a grain free diet, some supplements contain rice bran – even that tiny amount of rice was a trigger. By taking any remote source of rice out of his diet, we reversed the pannus in one eye and slowed it in the other.

It’s always exciting to see what specific treatment works for each specific patient – these two cases were similar but just different enough that each one received individual care to treat the problem.

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