Recognize Symptoms Of Common Dog Eye Problems

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
If you notice that your dog's eyes are watery or too dry, maybe your canine is going through some trouble. Read on and discover how to recognize the first symptoms of an eye infection.

Don’t you just love those puppy eyes and the look that your dog gives you? It’s actually one of the things that are specifically dog oriented – beautiful dog eyes and puppy look.

However, just like in humans, eyes can be a major indicator of overall health and eye problems in dogs, just like in humans. When there is a disorder in the body, eyes can show it. In addition, any disease of the eye should be considered serious and treated accordingly and under veterinarian’s supervision.

Dog Eye Problems

Every dog owner knows that dogs are prone to developing a range of different eye problems, from mild to severe ones. Each eye problem may differ, as each cause can be different, including age-related conditions, trauma, illness, or any other factor.

Also, the most important thing for any eye problem is to detect eye problems on time and visit your veterinarian as soon as possible for detailed examination. Furthermore, some conditions in dogs can be severe and lead to blindness, while others may lead to the psychical loss of an eye.

So, bear in mind that a dog’s eyes are not there just to let them see and explore the world, but to show you their overall health, as well. Simply said, any sign of a dog eye problem such as redness, swelling, discharge or pain is a cause for concern, especially as the dogs have protective eye mechanisms such as a third eyelid or tears, so if something is visible on the eyes it means that something is really wrong. So, healthy eyes, healthy dog.

Common Eye Problems

Eyes capture light waves that dog’s brain together with the neural network can convert into imagery. Also, your dog’s vision works best when they have healthy eyes.

However, injuries do happen and sometimes we can’t do anything when it comes to genetics, so eyes structure can be damaged in many different ways, less or more. Here are ten common eye problems your dog may develop.

1. Conjunctivitis In Dogs

Conjunctivitis or pink eye is a term that means inflammation of the conjunctiva. Inside your dog’s eyelids are mucus membranes called the conjunctiva, that covers both sides of the third eye and even parts of the eyeball. Symptoms of conjunctivitis mostly include irritated or reddened conjunctiva, pain, and drainage.

In addition, there are conditions like allergies, bacterial infections, viral infections, and inward-growing eyelashes that may lead to this condition. So, if your dog has pink eye, he will have swollen and red eye. As soon as you notice the difference in the eye you should contact your veterinarian before the condition becomes worse.

Furthermore, there are three different types of conjunctivitis in dogs:

  1. Purulent conjunctivitis: this type of conjunctivitis appears due to bacteria and it will form crusts on the eyelids.
  2. Mucus conjunctivitis: appears in third eyelid follicles and in most cases its caused by infection and irritation.
  3. Severe conjunctivitis: caused by dust or wind, usually results in itching. Moreover, comes with watery and transparent secretion.

In most cases, treatment of this condition includes eye drops or antibiotic ointment.

2. Cataracts In Dogs

Cataracts are known as common age-related conditions in which the lens of the eye becomes opaque and clouded. Moreover, they can significantly reduce a dog’s vision.

Cataract directly affects a dog’s vision by preventing light from reaching the back of the eye. Shortly said, cataracts involve the loss of transparency of the lens. Moreover, they are seen as grayish covers over the pupils. This is often a hereditary disease that can be considered congenital cataracts or juvenile cataracts (juvenile cataracts usually appear before the age of six in both eyes).

Luckily, cataracts are not painful and although they can significantly reduce dog’s vision, dogs can become accustomed to their reduced sight. However, if your dog is not able to adjust, surgery is the next logical step.

Often, cataracts are confused with lenticular sclerosis or the natural aging of your dog’s lenses. Both conditions can lead to a grey appearance or a milky white appearance to the black center of a dog’s eyes.

However, you won’t be able to see the difference. But your veterinarian will, so you should take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you notice something unusual in your dog’s eyes. Also, this is the best way to save a dog’s vision.

3. Glaucoma In Dogs

Glaucoma is one of the severe eye problems in dogs. Simply said, it’s dangerous and painful. As severe condition glaucoma can lead to blindness. In most cases, glaucoma is developed when liquid builds up inside the eye, which increases the pressure in the eye.

In some cases, usually severe ones, glaucoma makes dog’s eye appear enlarged. When this happens it means that the liquid is unable to drain like it would in a healthy eye.

Luckily, there are some early symptoms of this condition that can help you recognize this condition. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Dilated pupil
  • Visible third eyelid
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Excessive tear production
  • Redness
  • Eye pain

If you think, or you are not sure, that your dog has glaucoma, it’s important to get your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Furthermore, glaucoma can progress to that level that the dog’s eye may be blinded or ruptured.

Good to know: Hereditary glaucoma is common in breeds like Basset hounds, Cocker Spaniels, or Beagle.

The most common treatment includes anti-inflammatory oral and topical medications, including the drugs that are specially designed to improve the drainage of fluid from the eye.

4. Cherry Eye In Dogs

You may not know this but dogs have three eyelids, two of them are visible, while one is hidden. The third eyelid is located in the inner corner of the dog’s eyes. Furthermore, the third eyelid is unseen when it’s healthy. But, when it’s not healthy a tear gland will pop out, giving the dog a cherry-like look. Also, some breeds have a genetic predisposition toward this condition.

This is a problem that can affect both eyes over time. This conditions shouldn’t be ignored, as it may develop into conjunctivitis. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Swelling
  • Eye redness
  • Squinting
  • Rubbing of eyes
  • Impaired vision
  • Eye discharge

When it comes to the treatment of this condition, the most common action move is surgery. Is surgery mandatory? Yes, as its the best way to restore the third eyelid to its correct position.

This problem is usually seen in breeds like Beagles and Cocker Spaniels. Also, in many cases this condition may reoccur.

5. Progressive Retinal Atrophy In Dogs

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is one of the most common issues to detect in dogs. In addition, this condition can leave your pet blind. PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is hard to identify because in most cases eyes look normal and healthy.

Although your dog’s eyes may seem healthy it doesn’t mean that he didn’t lose a significant part of his sight. As a result, most dogs have difficulties seeing in darker environments. As a final outcome, your pet may become blind. You should also bear in mind that there are no veterinary treatments exist for PRA. That being said, PRA is one of the most difficult conditions to notice, especially that this condition is painless and there is no cure for it.

But, the loss of sight occurs gradually, so your dog may adapt to it.

6. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca In Dogs

This condition is also known as ‘dry eye’. This condition comes with dry dog’s tear glands, meaning that the dog’s tear glands do not produce enough tears to keep the eyes lubricated.

So, when a dog is diagnosed with KCS (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) it means that he is prone to even more severe conditions, more serious eye problems, like corneal ulcers.

Pain and excessive drainage of mucus from the eyes are the most common symptoms of KCS. Interestingly, the best treatment for KCS depends on the severity of the condition. Sometimes, in mild cases, the fast and effective solution may include simple use of artificial tears, while in more severe cases cyclosporine is often prescribed.

Cyclosporine is often prescribed in order to stimulate the tear glands. On the other hand, in severe cases, surgery may be the only solution, while saliva can be used to keep the eye lubricated.

7. Entropion In Dogs

Entropion is a genetic eye condition that can be caused by numerous and secondary factors. This condition is usually identified when a portion of the dog’s eyelid is inverted or even folded inward.

However, entropion is not fixed and it can cause inflammation and injury to the eye. Injury may be severe in cases where the dog’s eyelashes rub against the cornea. This can result in corneal ulcers forming or even the eye being perforated. In both cases, tissue can build up over the cornea to the maximum point that the dog is rendered blind in the affected eye.

Also, the most convenient treatment for this condition depends on the severity of the case and cause. And in mild cases, lubricating eye drops can help along with antibiotic ointments. Another option is always surgery and in significantly severe cases, reconstructive face surgery may be performed.

8. Ectropion In Dogs

Ectropion is one of the most challenging dog eyes problems. Basically, ectropion is sagging of the eyelid or an outward rolling. This condition can be seen in any breed, although some breeds are more prone to it like Newfoundlander, Bull Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Bloodhounds, and even some breeds of Spaniels.

This condition can also be caused by a traumatic injury. Furthermore, dogs with this condition are more prone to developing eye infections. In most cases, ectropion can be cured by using eye drops to help reduce the risk of infection and inflammation. In some severe cases, one of the best options for treatment is surgery. Surgery is also the quickest solution to help reduce drooping.

9. Eyelid Tumors In Dogs

This is a serious condition that cannot be treated without veterinarian help. Tumors of the eyelid in dogs include tumors like palpebral tumors (the most common being an adenoma in the Meibomian glands). These glands are located in the eyelids and can produce a sebaceous substance.

Overall, these tumors can look like a little piece of cauliflower. Other, often seen tumors in dogs are sebaceous adenomas that are bening and common in older dogs. Moreover, you can even notice an appearance of warts, that can be caused by the oral papilloma virus in dogs.

Any tumor presence requires surgical removal in order to avoid rubbing a corneal injury.

10. Lens Luxation

Lens luxation is a common condition for dogs between four and nine years old, so you can say that its more common in adult dogs. Furthermore, this condition occurs when the lens capsule separates from the zonules.

Shortly, zonules are known for being fiber-like processes that can ensure the eye lens stays in place. In most cases, the lens pops out of its normal area. Interestingly, this condition can start at the front, then progress through the pupil and the eye’s front chamber.

Moreover, it can also occur in the back area (known as posterior) of the eye. This condition is more seen in breeds like German Shepherd, border collies, and overall terrier breeds.

How Veterinarians Diagnose A Dog Eye Infection?

When it comes to eye exams for dogs, they are very similar to those for humans, according to the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. In general, a dog’s eye exam may consist of the following tests:

  • Schirmer Tear Test – this test measures the eye’s tear production and its required when dog’s eyes are discharge or have sign of redness.
  • Visual examination – this is a common exam with a focal light source of the eyelids and front half of the eye.
  • Intraocular pressure (IOP) – this pressure is measured with tonometer, an instrument specially designed to look for signs of glaucoma.
  • Allergy tests
  • Bacterial culture
  • Corneal staining – this test is done with a fluorescein dye that will reveal ulcers or other breaks in the surface of the cornea.

Of course, your veterinarian will prescribe your dog therapy based on his condition and the source of the eye infection. Moreover, your dog might be given a number of different medications, and you should make sure to have it at the proper time and in the right dosage.

How Can I Treat An Eye Infection At Home?

There is a number of home remedies that you can use in order to provide relief to your dog. However, bear in mind that home remedies cannot replace proper veterinary care. Also, always make sure to wash your hand properly before you touch your dog’s eyes. After all, you don’t want to cause more irritation.

In addition, make sure to check with your veterinarian before applying any herbal or homeopathic remedies just to be sure the ingredients are safe.

Preventing Dog Eye Infection

Although you can’t always help your dog when he is sick, you can help with the prevention of certain conditions, such as eye infections. So, there are a few steps that you can take in order to prevent eye infections in your dog:

  • Trim hair around the eyes regularly.
  • Keep dog’s face clean.
  • Avoid trauma to the eye or the introduction of foreign bodies. For example, if your dog is sitting next to you while you are driving, make sure to close the window. That’s the best way to avoid seeds, dust, or any other foreign bodies that can fly into the eye on the wind.

Dog Eye Problems – Key Takeaways

Dogs are known for having eye problems from time to time. Reasons behind it may vary, from mild to severe conditions. Actually, the range of conditions may vary from simple allergies to glaucoma. Most pet owners know that dogs are prone to developing a range of different eye problems. Therefore, it is important to do everything you can to prevent any eye infection.

So, make sure to regularly check your dog eyes and to keep him safe from dust or any other foreign object or obstacle. Make sure to contact a veterinarian as soon as you notice something strange in your dog eyes.