Contributors: David L Williams, James Oliver

 Species: Canine   |   Classification: Diseases

Introduction Pathogenesis Diagnosis Treatment Outcomes Further Reading


  • Cause: most commonly epithelial in origin and benign.
  • Signs: eyelid mass, ectropion/entropion, trichiasis, keratitis, ocular discharge.
  • Diagnosis: histopathological examination of biopsy specimen.
  • Treatment: surgical excision.
  • Prognosis: usually good.

Presenting Signs

Acute Presentation

Age Predisposition

  • Older animals usually (>8 years old).
  • Young animals for papillomas and histocytomas Skin: histiocytoma.

Cost Considerations

  • If tumor is large then complicated blepharoplasty may be required needing specialist referral.

Special Risks




  • Meibomian gland adenomas and adenocarcinomas:
    • Erupt through eyelid margin or palbebral conjunctiva.
    • May ulcerate and hemorrhage.
    • Can cause local irritation.
  • Melanomas - two types recognized:
    • Those arising from skin tend to be minimally invasive and are excised with low recurrence rates.
    • Those arising from eyelid margin act more aggressive locally Eyelid melanoma.
  • Fibromas and fibrosarcomas Fibrosarcoma can be locally invasive.
  • Papillomas:
    • May be viral in origin and may regress spontaneously Eyelid squamous papilloma Eyelid viral papilloma Eyelid papilloma.


  • Usually slowly growing over months/years.


Presenting Problems

  • Eyelid mass.
  • Blepharospasm.
  • Ocular pain.
  • Lacrimation.
  • Corneal ulceration.

Client History

  • 'Sore eye'.
  • 'Red eye'.
  • 'Watery eye'.
  • Eyelid mass.

Clinical Signs

  • Discreet eyelid mass.
  • Eyelid thickening.
  • Entropion/ectropion.
  • Chemosis.
  • Ocular discharge.
  • Trichiasis.
  • Keratitis (ulcerative or non-ulcerative).

Diagnostic Investigation

  • Clinical examination.
  • Biopsy Biopsy: skin (incisional vs excisional) and histopathological examination.
  • Thoracoabdominal imaging (conventional radiography or computed tomography) to check for metastases for malignant tumors.

Gross Autopsy Findings

  • Mulitple sites of neoplasia in metastatic disease (rare).

Differential Diagnosis


Initial Symptomatic Treatment

Standard Treatment

  • Surgical excision Eyelid: wedge resection - preparation - usually curative:
    • Most tumors can be completely excised via wedge resection Eyelid: wedge resection and two layer closure.
    • Removal of tumors >25% eyelid length require more complicated eyelid reconstruction.
    • For malignant tumors, enucleation Eye: enucleation /exenteration may be required to achieve adequate surgical margins.
  • Radiotherapy Radiotherapy for malignant tumors.
  • Chemotherapy for lymphoma Lymphoma: chemotherapy protocols.


  • Monitor tumor regression/recurrence.
  • Evidence of metastasis.



  • Depends on tumor type but usually very good and surgical excision curative in majority of cases.

Expected Response to Treatment

  • Surgical resection usually curative.

Reasons for Treatment Failure

  • Inadequate surgical margins.
  • Metastasis.

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Romkes G, Klopfleisch R, Eule J C (2014) Evaluation of one-vs two-layered closure after wedge exicsion of 43 eyelid tumors in dogs. Vet Ophthalmol 17 (1), 32-40 PubMed.
  • Wiggans K T, Hoover C E, Ehrhart E J et al (2013) Malignant transformation of a putative eyelid papilloma to squamous cell carcinoma in a dog. Vet Ophthalmol 16 Suppl 1, 105-112 PubMed.
  • Van Der Woerdt A (2004) Adnexal surgery in dogs and cats. Vet Ophthamol 7, 284-290 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Gould D & McLellan G (2014)BSAVA Manual of Small Animal Ophthalmology.3rd edn.
  • Gelatt K N (2013)Veterinary Ophthalmology.5th edn. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

Other Sources of Information