Causes and Treatments of Eye Problems in Dogs

Causes and Treatments of Eye Problems in Dogs

Dogs are man’s best friend. Let us discuss Causes and Treatments of Eye Problems in Dogs. And, to see that same friend in pain, causes untold misery to the owner concerned. Among the various infections that can affect canines, the ocular variety is probably the most common.

For a pet parent, being vigilant is the best recourse. Symptoms that ought not to be ignored are:

  1. Crust formation
  2. Persistent and/or excessive production of tears
  3. Lining of the lower eyelid appearing white or red [a healthy eyelid lining is pink in color]
  4. Squinting
  5. A tear-stained fur
  6. Irritation in the eyes 
  7. Change in color of the eyes
  8. Apparent cloudiness
  9. Unequal sizes of the pupils 

The most common infections that affect the eyes in dogs are — Conjunctivitis, Epiphora, Dry Eyes, Cherry Eye, Glaucoma, Ectropion, Cataract, and Progressive Retina Atrophy. 


A term to describe inflammation of the conjunctiva, the so-called white part of the eye. The conjunctiva is a soft tissue that covers the front portion of the eyeball and covers the inner eyelid. 


– Redness of the eyes

– Squinting

– Blinking in spasms

– Goopy build-up in eyes

– Swelling

– Eyelids that tend to stick together

– Irritable pawing at the eyes

– Discharge that is either clear or pus and/or mucus filled


Infections — viral, bacterial or fungal — can cause inflammation of the conjunctiva. Other causes include localized injury, mold, shampoo, any foreign material in the eyes, or even a problem with the normal tear production of the eyes. Conjunctivitis can also be allergic and caused by pollen, dander or perfume.


Eye drops and ointments are the best treatments for conjunctivitis. Other courses of treatment include the application of cold compresses to the eye and the administration of antihistamines. 


Commonly called “watery eyes”, this condition refers to over-production, or problems in the drainage of, tears in a dog. Epiphora is most commonly witnessed in breeds such as Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Miniature Poodles, Lhasa Apso. In these breeds, the overproduction of tears can be said to be congenital or by birth, owing to the fact that either their eyelids are turned in (entropion) or their eyelashes are turned in (distichiasis).


– Overflowing tears

– Tear drainage on face that appears as staining

– Redness 

– Ulcers that appear on the cornea

– Redness

– Irritation 

– Discharge from the eyes

– The skin around the eyes is sagging or loose 


Congenital Epiphora is when the genetic make-up of the dog breed is such as leads to a predisposition towards overproduction of tears. Acquired Epiphora is caused primarily by sinusitis or rhinitis, any injury to the facial bones, or some foreign particle trapped in the eyes. 


On physical examination, if the veterinarian suspects the lacrimal duct to be blocked, an instrument is inserted into the duct and the fluid is drained. If, however, there is another underlying cause for the narrowing of the lacrimal gland, the root cause is treated. 


Dry Eye Syndrome, or Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), refers to a disease fairly common across the various breeds. Dog breeds with a marked predisposition towards the disease are Lhasa Apsos, Samoyed, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels. KCS leads to the tear glands producing lesser tears than required to keep the eyes well-lubricated, resulting in the eyes becoming dry and itchy.


– Redness

– Dry eyes

– Excessive blinking

– Keeping eyes shut 

– Squinting

– Ulcers on cornea

– Scarring on cornea

– Thick mucoid discharge, often yellowish in color


Common causes include:

– Disorder of the immune system

– Congenital predisposition of certain breeds

– Adverse drug reaction

– Surgically caused by the removal of third eyelid


Effective treatment for Dry Eye encompasses a  two-pronged approach: that of stimulating the production of tears and  replacing the tear film in an attempt to save the cornea from any further damage. Usually a course of eye-drops is administered which includes medications such as cyclosporine as well as tacrolimus.


In dogs, Cherry Eye is referred to the condition when the gland of the third eye protrudes and bulges noticeably. It is usually found that if one eye is affected with the Cherry Eye, the other eye will eventually be affected as well.


– Discharge from the eye, either watery or of thick composition

– Noticeable red or pink blob in the inside corner

– Pawing at the face

– Redness in inner lining of the eyelid


Cherry Eye usually affects dogs that belong to the age bracket of 6 weeks old to 2 years old. The diseases is believed to be caused by congenital weakness of the gland of the third eyelid, sun damage, ermatitis, cancer, problem with the immune system. The dog breeds with a predisposition towards this disease are Beagles, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos and Bloodhounds.


This condition is treated by tucking the gland back into its proper place, while the dog is under local anesthesia. While some veterinarians suggest removing the entire third eyelid, it is not recommended as the dog runs the risk of developing Dry Eye later on.


This is caused when there is increases intraocular pressure in the eye, caused by inadequate drainage of the fluid aqueous humor. Glaucoma leads to enlargement as well as stretching of the affected eye causing irreversible blindness in the long run, regardless of treatment and medication.


Glaucoma can be either primary or secondary. General symptoms include:

– Increased pressure in the eye

– Redness in the white portion of the eye

– Pain

– Dilation of pupil

– Marked cloudiness in the eye

– Loss of appetite


Primary Glaucoma is caused by a congenital constriction in drainage. Secondary Glaucoma is usually caused as a by-product of some other condition. An injury to the eye can often lead to Primary Glaucoma as the inflammation caused by the injury might thicken the fluids and hamper proper drainage. 


Usually, drugs are prescribed to lower the pressure built-up in the eye. In the event that the optic nerve has been damaged, surgery is performed to drain the excess fluid as well as to alter the cells that produce aqueous humor. Treatment depends on the kind and extent of glaucoma. 


Droopy Eye, or Ectropion, is when a dog’s lower eyelid, either in one eye or both eyes, droops outwards. Ectropion is a condition opposite to Entropion (where the eyelid curves inwards).


– Drooping of lower eyelid

– Watering eyes

– Redness

– Swelling

– Inflammation 


As dogs with loose facial skins are more at risk, Ectropion is commonly found in breeds such as Great Danes, Bullmastiffs, Bloodhounds and St. Bernards. Ectropion can also be brought about by trauma to the eyelid, entrapment of foreign particle, or dramatic weight loss. 


Ectropion is treated by administration of eye-drops and lubricating creams. In case of bacterial infections, drops and creams that contain antibiotics might be prescribed. Surgery is rarely needed and is done only in cases of extreme Ectropion.


Cloudiness of the eyes is referred to as Cataract. Though a condition most commonly associated with Diabetes Mellitus, Cataract can also be genetic or induced by old age. 


– Cloudiness in eyes

– If the Cataract is caused by Diabetes, increased thirst and urination, as well as weight loss are witnessed


– Genetic

– Diabetes

– Old age

– Very low levels of the mineral calcium 


The only treatment for Cataract is surgery.


This medical condition is characterized by a slow degeneration of the rod cells of the retina, leading to eventual vision loss.


– Reduced vision at night

– Dilation of pupils

– Slow reaction to light 

– A noticeable shine in eyes

– Bumping into furniture


Progressive Retinal Atrophy is usually considered to be genetic from parents on to their offspring. 


No treatment is available. PRA affects both eyes simultaneously, and always results in blindness. 

With advancements and medical breakthroughs, there are many kinds of treatments available today to choose from. Along with various surgical procedures, both invasive and non-invasive, there are many Home Remedies available as well. 

Home Remedies to treat eye infections in dogs are:

* Cold compresses — greatly effective in Conjunctivitis, Dry Eye, Cherry Eye

* Herbal Medicine — Aloe Vera, green tea have antibacterial properties

* Vitamins — can be used to develop immune system 

* Homeopathy — painkillers as well as mild sedatives are available

* Mixes and concoctions — apple cider vinegar, a good antibacterial, can be used to clean the ears and paws of the dog; chamomile tea can be used to wipe the eyes

As a man’s best friend, a dog occupies a place of pride among all pets. We owe them a moral obligation to be taken care of when they need us the most. After all, though the tongue might not speak, the eyes say it all.