Eyes are delicate, intricate marvels that convert reflected light to nerve impulses; the brain uses these to form the imagery of the world before them. A dog’s eyes are no different. To perform this process well, all of the structures within the eye need to be healthy. Unfortunately, there are a variety of conditions and diseases capable of disrupting the function of your dog’s eyes. You may find the knowledge of eye problems in dogs helpful just in case your dog begins to show symptoms.
One of the leading problems in canine eyes, eye inflammation tends to suggest an underlying disease. Some common symptoms include pain, redness, squinting, and discharge. Often an indication of infection within or near the eye, inflammation can indicate everything from tumors to dog eye allergies, from autoimmune diseases in dogs to injuries.
Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye
Pink eye or conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. These are mucus membranes covering several parts of the eye: the interior of the eyelids, each side of the dog’s third eyelid, and various portions of the eyeball. Pink eye has symptoms that include swollen and reddened conjunctiva, discomfort, and drainage from the eye. Pink eye is generally considered to be a symptom rather than a disease in and of itself. Physical irritations like inward growing eyelashes and dust, viral and bacterial infections, and allergic reaction can all result in inflamed conjunctiva. Depending on the cause, your dog may even give you pink eye in rare cases. Dog conjunctivitis home treatment relies on the cause of the underlying the symptom.
Dry Eye or Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca
A dog with keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or KCS, has dry eyes due to tear glands that produce tears in insufficient numbers . Tears are important; they remove material from the eye’s surface before it can cause damage and provide nourishment to corneal tissues. A dearth of tears can unsurprisingly lead to serious problems. These include the eyes producing mucus in chronic drainage, pain, and corneal ulcers. Generally, medications to stimulate tear production are necessary treatments. Sometimes, in mild cases, canine artificial tear solutions will suffice. For severe cases, surgery is possible. This redirects a saliva duct to moisten the eye.
The cornea is the clear part of the eye covering the surface. It is skin-like, and like skin, it can be injured, with lacerations, cuts, ulcers, and punctures all common events in dogs. Trauma is a frequent culprit when it comes to corneal wounds. A dog may bound through tall grass only to be jabbed in the eye. In other circumstances, eye problems like abnormal anatomy and poor tear production put dogs in danger of corneal damage. If your dog’s eyes are red or if he often squints and rubs at the damaged eye, excessive drainage may be the cause. Treatment involves alleviating pain and preventing infections while permitting the cornea adequate time to heal.
Dogs possess three eyelids. The main two are easily visible. The other, known as the third eyelid, normally hides out of view beneath the eye’s inner corner. This third eyelid is the home of a tear-producing gland. This gland should also be invisible. Unfortunately, some dogs possess a congenital weakness found in the ligaments holding it in place. The failure of these ligaments leads to the gland popping out. It looks rather like a cherry in the eye’s inner corner. Often caused by genetics, both eyes generally become affected as time passes. A simple surgery by your veterinarian will put cherry eye right, attaching the gland in a normal position.
Glaucoma is the disruption of the careful balance of fluid production and drainage within the eye; it causes increased pressure inside the eye. Its symptoms include discomfort or pain, excessive tearing, yellow or green discharge, the third eyelid visible, cloudiness in the cornea, dilated pupils, slow reaction to bright light, and when it is advanced, an eye that is clearly enlarged. Suspicions of glaucoma should lead to an immediate call to your veterinarian. Delay of treatment can lead to full or partial blindness. This treatment may include topical and oral medications to decrease the eye’s inflammation, lower fluid production inside the eye, absorb optical fluid, and promote fluid drainage from your pup’s eyes.
In the middle of the eye lies the lens, which under ideal circumstances is clear. Sometimes the lens, wholly or in part, develops an opaque, cloudy cataract. Such cataracts block the light from traveling to the back of the eye. Poor vision and blindness may result, depending on the cataract’s severity. Cataracts may be confused with lenticular sclerosis, which is a normal change to the eyes as a dog ages. Both give the dog’s pupils an appearance of paleness or milkiness. A standard eye exam at the veterinarian’s office can reveal the difference. For severely compromised vision, cataract surgery may be an option, but most dogs adapt well to poor vision.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA
A severe condition in the eyes of dogs that leads to blindness, PRA has a general lack of symptoms . Night blindness is often the first indication. This genetic disorder has no prevention or effective treatment. As it is painless, dogs generally adapt well to the onset of blindness.
Entropion or Ectropion
When the eyelids of a dog roll inwards, the state is called entropion. This condition leads to hair rubbing on the eye’s surface, leading to pain, excessive tearing, and corneal damage in the end. Entropion can be congenital, which means the dog was born with it. It can also develop due to chronic squinting because of discomfort or scarring to the eyelid. Surgery can fix this abnormality. Ectropion is similar; it differs in that the eyelid rolls outward, rather than inward. The treatment remains the same.
Corneal Ulcers in Dogs
A corneal ulcer sounds serious but usually is fairly standard; it is a common eye problem . It refers to erosion to the surface of the eye. Corneal ulcers tend to occur after injuries by foreign objects. They can be caused by many things, however, from eyelashes to clothing. High intraocular pressure, lack of proper tear production, and scratches from dog hair are sufficient to cause corneal ulcers. They can be difficult to spot. Watch for your dog keeping an eye fully or partially closed much of the time. Avoidance is the best bet with corneal ulcers; try to keep your dog from potential eye injuries or trauma. Households with both dogs and cats must use particular caution as cats frequently cause ulcers with a scratch to the eye of the dog.
Signs of Vision Problems in Dogs
Different conditions have symptoms unique to them, but there are several indications to look for if you suspect your dog has vision issues. Watch for your dog bumping into things, especially large objects like furniture. Check for cloudy appearance of the eyes that may impair your dog’s vision. If your dog is easily startled, displays hesitation or anxiety in new spaces, or has inflamed eyes, the pup is probably experiencing problems with its vision.
Never Use Eye Drops for Humans on Dogs
Not all ingredients found in human eye drops should be used on dogs’ eyes; the ingredients simply are not suitable for canine use. They can drop a dog’s heart rate and cause low blood pressure. Human eye drops for glaucoma may be poisonous to a dog.
Healthy Canine Eye Care
Prevention of problems with a dog’s eye is not always possible, but you can take steps to help your dog’s eyes remain injury-free and healthy. Regularly look into your dog’s eyes, not just to admire how pretty they are, but to check for cloudiness, redness, or tearing. Schedule routine wellness exams. When you bathe your dog, use a small wad of cotton or soft cloth on the area around its eyes. Wipe outward from the eye’s cornea, being careful not to cause any scratches to the eye. Use the best dog nail grinders to maintain your dog’s nails so no injury occurs when your dog paws its face. Keep the hair around your dog’s eyes trimmed so it isn’t an irritation. Finally, close your car windows. While dogs love hanging their head out of the windows of moving cars, dirt and debris can harm the eyes of your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are common eye problems in dogs?
Many problems can afflict the eyes of dogs, but a dozen of the most common include cherry eye, wounds to the cornea, KCS or dry eye, pink eye or conjunctivitis, glaucoma, cataracts, entropion, ectropion, progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, a mass on the eyelid, corneal ulcers, and basic inflammation of the dog’s eye or eyes. A viral or bacterial infection may also afflict your dog’s eyes.
What are the symptoms of eye disorders in dogs?
While each disease has symptoms unique to it, some signs indicate a general problem in your dog’s sight. They include cloudy eyes, bumping into objects, anxiety in new places, hesitation to explore new places, inflamed eyes, being startled easily, dilated pupils, and eye irritation. Your dog may also paw at its eyes, display sensitivity to light, or discharge a watery substance from its eyes with a thick smell.
When should I be concerned about my dog’s eyes?
While many problems with a dog’s eye are no great cause for worry, you should still consult your vet if your dog’s eyes appear swollen or reddened and your dog is constantly scratching them. Staying alert for signs of damage to your pup’s eyes allows you to get ahead of developing conditions before anything serious can take hold. Eye conditions may also be a symptom of underlying issues in your dog’s health; even kidney or liver disorders can be associated with eye problems. Bring your concerns to your veterinarian.