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Eye Problems in Dogs and Caring for Them


There are several eye problems a dog can suffer from and they can happen for a variety of reasons. In this article we take a look at some of the more common eye issues in dogs, symptoms and some things you can do to help prevent or treat them.

Common Eye Health Issues in Dogs

Epiphora –

Stains on the fur of the dog's face occur from an overflow of tears.

Pink Eyes (Conjunctivitis) –

When the conjunctiva is infected it can lead to pink eye. This is the most common eye issue dogs get and if ignored can affect deeper into the eye. It can be caused by a number of factors including allergies, irritants, viruses, fungi and bacterial infection. Secondary conjunctivitis can be caused by canine distemper.


Entropion/Ectropion –

Entropion is when the dog's eyelid rolls in and can tear and lead to a discharge. Ectropion is when the upper eyelid turns out leading the bottom lid to droop.

KCS (Dry Eye) –

The eye glands that make the liquid for tears do not produce enough to keep the dog's eyes lubricated. The conjunctiva and cornea can become red, dry, irritated and swollen. KCS when left untreated can lead to eye infections, corneal ulceration, poor vision and even blindness. Why KCS in dogs happens is not usually known though it is understood it is an autoimmune condition. Sometimes KCS can happen after trauma, surgery or general anesthesia.

Cherry eye –

The tear gland becomes enlarged and a mass like a cherry can form on their eye.

Glaucoma –

If more fluid than they eye can handle is made or there is a blockage this can cause pressure on the eyeball. The cornea gets cloudy and the eye gets bigger. It can lead to retinal and optic nerve damage and loss of vision. There is primary glaucoma and secondary. Primary is a genetic disease common to certain breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Beagles. Secondary is what develops after another eye disease or trauma. Acute glaucoma is a medical emergency and your dog needs immediate examination. Chronic glaucoma usually means the eyeball will need to be removed.

Progressive retinal atrophy –

The first sign of this is night blindness in your dog and is caused when the retinal tissue degenerates.

Cataract –

When the lens of the eye has an opacity this is cataract and it can lead to his vision being impaired and potential blindness.

Common Symptoms of Eye Problems in Dogs

Symptoms will vary depending on what the eye issue in your dog is. However they can include;



discharge colors can be yellow, white, green, red

change in consistency of discharge

light sensitivity

reluctance to open their eyes


lids that stick together

pupil size change

pain or discomfort


third eyelid may protrude


fur stained with tears

What to Do if You See any Eye Problem Symptoms

If you should see any symptoms of eye issues you should take him to the vet to be examined. When it comes to their eyes it is important to get it checked out by a medical professional to ensure it does not develop into something that could impair their vision or lead to a loss of vision altogether.

"With eye injuries, the sooner the specific problems are identified and treated the better the chance of saving eye function."

During the examination as well as looking for symptoms the vet may do other tests including checking for liver and pancreas function. If it is something that can be treated at home they will give you medication to treat your dog with. If he or she needs surgery there will be care instructions afterward for you to follow. The sooner eye issues can be diagnosed the more likely the outcome will be positive.

Things to Do at Home to Prevent or Care for Your Dog's Eyes

Prevention is not always possible but there some things you can do at home. While your dog may love sticking his head out of an open car window and feeling the breeze in his fur as your drive down that long road together, in fact this is one of the causes of eye infections and injuries. A small speck of dust or debris or even an insect just needs to get in the eye and it can cause a lot of pain and an long term injury. The wind can also dry your dog's eyes out which can also lead to infection or irritation.

If your dog has long hair this may be an issue too for it's eyes. Hair in the eyes can cause irritation and make the dog scratch at them which can lead to infection. Use some rounded tipped scissors to carefully trim away his bangs so he can see clearly and hair is not in his eyes all the time. Or take him regularly to a dog groomer who will do this for you.

Be careful with soaps when bathing him and topical medications like flea control formulas or ointments. They can irritate the eyes. When cleaning his eyes use a damp cotton ball and wipe gently moving from the corner outwards. Do not touch his eyeball as you could accidentally scratch his cornea. If you notice that you are having top wipe more often because his discharge has increased or changed take him to his vet.


There is an eye wash for dogs (a sterile buffered saline) that can be used to clean his eyes but it is not suitable to use on eyes that are already sore and inflamed. While dog eye drops or ointments for dry eyes are not usually going to hurt them, and may sooth in some conditions, they still need a trip to the vet for a proper examination and diagnosis.