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Dog Eye Problems

There are quite a few dog eye problems, some if left untreated can lead to sight impairment or blindness. Learn some of the signs and symptoms of common canine eye problems here.

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How can you tell if your dog has an eye problem? There are some telltale signs. For example, your dog's eyes may be red and/or watering, he may squint, blink frequently, and paw at the eye. If you notice any of the above signs, you should take a careful look at your dog's eyes to look for other symptoms so that you can determine whether your dog's eye problem is an emergency.

How to Give Your Dog an Eye Examination

To give your dog an eye examination, you need:
  • an assistant to help restrain your dog
  • a flashlight
  • a magnifying glass
If possible, examine your dog's eyes in a dark room with a single light source (flashlight).

Use the following table as a guideline as to what to look for:

Part of Eye How What to Look For
Whole Observe both eyes and compare one eye to the other.
  • Is your dog squinting?
  • Are both eyes the same size, same color, and same shape?
  • Are both pupils the same size?
  • Is there a watery or mucoid discharge?
  • Are the eyelids swollen and inflamed?
  • Is the third eyelid visible?
Eyeball Through closed eyelids, press gently.
  • Does your dog feel pain?
  • Is one eye harder or softer than the other?
  • Is one eyeball bulging?
Eyeball Surface Pull down lower eyelid to expose the third eyelid and cornea. Use a flashlight to examine the surface carefully.
  • Does the cornea look cloudy, smoky, or hazy?
  • Can you see any dull spot on the cornea?

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Eye Problems

Now that you have examined your dog's eyes and noted the signs and symptoms, let's look at what some of those signs and symptoms may indicate.
  • Pain

    If your dog shows sudden sign of severe pain in the eye, it may indicate glaucoma, corneal injuries, inflammation of the cornea (keratitis or cloudy eye), or inflammation of the iris (uveitis).

    How do you know if your dog is in pain? Usually, a dog with a painful eye squints, and the eye is watery, sensitive to light, and tender to the touch. A dog in pain also drools, whines, becomes lethargic, and has no appetite.
  • Important!

    If your dog has a painful eye, you should take him to the veterinarian immediately! Don't wait! Some dog eye problems such as glaucoma can cause irreversible damage in just a matter of hours!

  • Eye Discharge

    Not all eye dicharge is the same. DIfferent types of dicharge indicate different dog eye problems. For example:

    Discharge Other Signs Possible Dog Eye Problems
    Clear No Tearing mechanism problem
    Clear Redness Conjunctivitis
    Yellow/thick green; mucoid With or without pain Infection; foreign body in eye
    All kinds of discharge Pain Corneal or inner eye problems
  • Eyelids

    Eyelids that are swollen, red, and encrusted may indicate that your dog has inflamed eyelids (blepharitis). If the swelling occurs suddenly, it may be due to an allergic reaction to insect bites or some foods, in which case the eyelids may also appear puffy and fluid-filled and your dog may feel itchy.

  • Cloudiness

    If your dog's eye appears cloudy but he is not in pain, it may indicate cataracts. Cloudiness accompanied by pain indicates glaucoma, inflammation of the cornea (keratitis or cloudy eye), or inflammation of the iris (uveitis).
  • Hardness of Eyeball

    Inner eye problems can alter your dog's eye pressure, causing the eye to change its hardness. A hard eye with a dilated pupil is typical of glaucoma, whereas a soft eye with a small pupil may indicate that your dog has uveitis.
  • Bulging Eyeball

    Glaucoma or tumors can cause a bulging eye.
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