dog’s eyes are just as tender as your own – perhaps even more so.
But caring for them doesn’t have to be a mystery. Here are a few
things you can do to protect your dog’s precious vision, as well
as some common eye diseases to look out for.
avoid activities where your dog may be hit in the face. For example,
if you throw a stick for him, be sure you aim it well away from
his face. If accidentally struck, he may loose an eye.
– Similarly, don’t allow your dog to hang its head outside your
car window; flying insects and debris can easily damage his vision.
– When you bathe or groom your dog, don’t allow soaps or powders
to get into his eyes. Use a lubricating eye ointment provided by
your veterinarian whenever you wash your dog. A drop of baby oil
in each eye will also offer protection, but be sure to get the okay
from your vet first.
your dog has long hair around his eyes, trimming it will go a long
way toward preventing irritation and infection. If your dog has
dust or dirt in his eyes (perhaps after a romp in the park), you
can gently wash his eyes by mixing together 2 cups of water and
1 teaspoon of salt. Pour this concoction onto a cotton swab and
squeeze the liquid into your dog’s eyes. Do not touch your dog’s
eyes with your hands or with the swab.
there is a large object in your dog’s eye (like a thorn), take him
to his veterinarian right away.
grooming your dog, also make a habit of gently cleaning around his
eyes. Using the same salt water mixture, pour the liquid onto a
cotton swab (not a Q-tip or a towel), and carefully clean around
your pet’s eyes. Wipe from the outer corner toward the inner corner.
This washes away anything irritating that’s collecting around his
eyes, and helps protect against eye scratches and infections. Do
not use any eye drops in your pet’s eyes, unless specifically instructed
to do so by a veterinarian.
Any sign of mucus around your pet’s eyes demands immediate attention
from a veterinarian. Mucus can be a symptom of a condition called
conjunctivitis. This is contagious to both dogs and humans, so keep
a sharp eye out for it. (And always wash your hands after touching
or cleaning around your dog’s eyes.)
Similarly, many dogs tear excessively and “stain” the hair surrounding
their eyes. Most veterinarians think this is caused by a bacteria
or yeast infection. I n other dogs, allergies may cause tearing.
In still other dogs, an ear infection may be the cause. (After bathing
your dog, always gently dry his ears.)
the cause, if your pet has excessive tearing, have him checked out
by your vet, to ensure that nothing serious is going on. Your veterinarian
may then recommend an eye wash to control tearing. If you want to
remove the staining that tearing sometimes causes, your vet may
recommend a product for you to use. (It’s never a good idea to use
homemade recipes for removing tear staining, because if they are
even slightly mis-measured, they may permanently damage your dog’s
all cases, if anything looks unusual about your dog’s eyes, have
your veterinarian examine him immediately – because there are several
serious conditions that may endanger your dog’s eyes.
common problem among dogs is called abnormal conformation. This
means that the dog has something other than a tight-fitting, almond-shaped
eyelid. This may lead to a more serious medical problem called entropion
(when a dog’s eyelid rolls inward, causing painful irritation).
Entropion should be treated with surgery.
tumors (cancer) tend to be found in older dogs. Happily, such tumors
usually start out benign and don’t spread easily. However, if the
tumor isn’t treated, it may eventually grow and destroy the eyelid.
Tumors should be removed by your veterinarian while they are still
small. In 80 to 90% of cases, eyelid tumors do not reappear after
dogs have abnormal hair growth on their eyelids. Hairs grow from
the oil glands found on the dog’s eyelid and either stick out from
the glands at the opening edge of the eye (called distichia), or
the inner surface of the eyelid (called ectopic cilia).
Distichia is usually irritating to the dog, and may result in squinting
or rubbing of the eyes. Ectopic cilia is quite painful, often causing
ulcers to grow on the dog’s corneas. Young dogs are most commonly
struck with this eye condition. Both distichia and ectopic cilia
may be treated with surgery.
– Prolapsed Third Eyelid Gland
dogs are also born with a condition that allows a gland in their
third eyelid to be exposed on the outside of their eye. (The third
eyelid is for protection of the eye, and includes tear glands.)
When a dog has this condition, he appears to have a round, pink
object in the inside corner of his eye(s). This condition is called
Prolapsed Third Eyelid Gland, or PTEG. Dogs with PTEG are at risk
for developing dry eye; dogs may also experience pain or discomfort,
and vision is sometimes affected. Treatment for this condition is
also surgical, but even with surgery, a small percentage of dogs
still develop dry eye.
eye is exactly what it sounds like; the dog’s eye becomes dry and
irritated. Veterinarians believe the most common cause of dry eye
is the dog’s immune system mistakenly attacking tear glands as a
foreign object to be destroyed. The immune system attacks, the tear
glands cannot produce enough moisture, and eventually the eyes become
more and more dry. Dry eye often leads to infections, injured corneas,
and blindness. Symptoms of dry eye include red eyes, squinting,
rubbing of the eyes, a yellow discharge, and cloudiness of the eye.
Dry eye is most commonly found in middle aged to older dogs. West
Highland White Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel,
Shih Tzu, Miniature Schnauzer, Pekingese, Bulldog, Pug, and Lhaso
Apso are most prone to this condition.
the first sign of dry eye, take your dog to his veterinarian.
Cataracts and Glaucoma
may think of cataracts and glaucoma conditions as only affecting
humans, but dogs may also develop both diseases. Some breeds, including
Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, and Schnauzers
are predisposed to cataracts. Dogs who have diabetes also often
cataract seriously impedes a dog’s vision, and will eventually make
him blind. However, surgery can completely restore his vision. Cloudiness
of the eyes is one sign of cataracts, but may also be a sign of
can also lead to blindness. Symptoms include redness of the eye,
cloudiness, tearing, swelling of the eyeball, and sensitivity to
light. Laser surgery is used to treat glaucoma in dogs.
The Bottom Line:
your best efforts to prevent eye problems in your pet, some dogs
will go blind, probably due to genetics. But experts tell us that
vision isn’t as vital to dogs as it is to humans. Dogs have a much
more pronounced sense of smell and hearing, which they rely on heavily.
Dogs who do go blind can typically move around easily, as long as
they are in a familiar environment.
protect your dog’s vision as much as possible, and you’ll have a
happier, healthier “best friend.“