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Dog Eye Problems: The Most Common Issues Your Canine Can Have

Dog Eye Problems: The Most Common Issues Your Canine Can Have

While all of us know how precious the health of our beloved dogs is, there are some aspects of their overall health that are often overlooked. One of them is their eyes and vision. Dogs don’t have the best vision to start with, and when they reach senior age, the years will truly have a tool on their eyesight. Treatment at that stage will be almost impossible, so it’s important to know all of the dog eye problems that could occur, to also know how to prevent them. 

Vision isn’t the primary sense of our canines. They rely much more on their smell and sound. However, knowing what obstacles are around them and seeing where the treats are that you just gave them will make their life much easier. While blind dogs can still lead a fulfilled and happy life, it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure your dog is as healthy as he could possibly be. 

We have already written many articles about all of the different dog eye problems that could affect the life of your dog, however, in this article, we will do a quick run-down about all of them. Remember that prevention is always the best treatment, and as many of these diseases have a hereditary aspect to them, the first step is always to buy your puppy from a reputable breeder. Make sure your future dog has all of the necessary health screenings done. That could save you a lot of heartache in the future. 

So let’s start and learn about all of the health of your dog’s eyes that you as a dog owner are supposed to know. And let’s see what the most common dog eye problems are, and what you can do about ’em. 

A quick overview of a dog’s vision 

Our dogs’ eyesight isn’t the best, as we’ve already explained. Their vision is fuzzy, and they don’t generally identify us from afar. They can’t see humans, at least not visually, but their keen sense of smell allows them to detect us, their dog friends, and other humans and animals as well. We have a full article on how dogs see the world, in which we explain their vision more. 

In addition, dogs are unable to see some colors that we do. It is a common misconception that dogs see the world in black and white because they still see some colors. Just not as many as we do. Green and red are particularly difficult for them to see, and they can’t really distinguish between the two. 

Dogs’ vision is similar to that of color-blind people. Color blindness does not imply that a person cannot see any colors, but rather that they cannot perceive certain colors. The majority of people with color blindness have trichromatic vision (three-color variations). Dichromatic people can’t see red and green (two color variations).

Our canines’ retinas can distinguish between two colors: blue-violet and yellow. They can also distinguish between different shades of gray. They can’t tell the difference between green, orange, and red. Instead of these colors, our pooches will just see different shades of gray. 

But on the other hand, dogs see much better in the dark than we do. That is because the ancestors of our sweet canines were nocturnal hunters. They had to see at night so that they could catch some prey and get themselves food to eat. Today, our dogs don’t rely on hunting to get their tummies full, but their ability to see in the dark has stayed.

Dog Eye Injury

One of the most common eye conditions any canine could experience is dog eye injury. Not all eye injuries are equally as dangerous, however, all of them should be checked by a professional. So make sure you take your dog to the vet either way. The symptoms of an eye injury, however, won’t always be the same. This will depend on how the injury was caused, and how severe it is. 

Eye injuries in dogs include foreign bodies, scratches, and chemical contact trauma. All forms of eye injuries in dogs can possibly lead to permanent scarring, and in the worst-case scenario, even blindness. They can be separated into two groups: simple eye injuries and complicated eye injuries. 

The most common symptoms of all dog eye injuries include: Distress or discomfort, pawing at the eyes, squinting, tearing eyes, red eyes, cloudy eyes, excessive blinking, and discharge. If the injury was caused by a foreign object, you could also be able to see the object in your dog’s eyeball. 

When seeking a diagnosis from a veterinarian, the most important thing you can do is provide a detailed description of when the symptoms first appeared and how they presented. Also, try to recall what may have caused your dog’s eye injury. If the reason is obvious, such as a foreign object, giving a diagnosis won’t take too long. 

The treatment for a dog eye injury is determined by the type of injury, the severity, and your dog’s overall health. Of course, your veterinarian will be the one to choose the appropriate treatment that is best for your dog. Simple eye injuries are most commonly treated with an Elizabethan collar along with a prescription antibiotic. Complicated injuries may even require surgical removal. 

Canine Conjunctivitis

Pink eye isn’t something that only affects humans. It can affect your canine companions and other animals as well. You could notice that the white part of your dog’s eye changed color and wonder: Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red? While there are many possible reasons like keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye), cherry eye, and corneal damage, the most common cause is canine conjunctivitis or pink eye. 

Conjunctivitis is a condition in which the conjunctiva of the eye becomes inflamed. If you didn’t pay attention in biology class, the conjunctiva is the part of the eye that covers the surface of the front of the eye. There are two different types of conjunctivitis: Infectious, and non-infectious. It’s pretty self-explanatory how each of them is caused. 

Infectious conjunctivitis is caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. Non-infectious conjunctivitis is much more common. It can happen for a number of different reasons, such as allergies, trauma, cigarette smoke, and basically anything that may irritate your dog’s eyes. It could also be dust or sand, which are especially common for dogs who love to explore the outdoors. 

Some dog breeds are more prone to pink eye than other dog breeds. Especially dogs that naturally have drier eyes, such as Bulldogs and Cocker Spaniels. The most common symptoms are redness of the eye, discharge, swelling, and pawing. If you notice any of these changes, contact your vet immediately. 

Treatment will depend on the type of conjunctivitis your dog has. If it’s caused by a bacterial infection, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. In other cases, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. Or medications to treat the primary condition that caused the pink eye. Such as different allergy medications, for example, if the redness is caused by an allergic reaction. 

Dog eye infection 

Eye infections are one of the most common dog eye problems. There are a variety of reasons why your dog could get an eye infection, but whatever the cause, eye infections in dogs can be uncomfortable or even unbearably painful, and they must be treated quickly to avoid complications. 

In addition, the causes of these diverse forms of infections vary from case to case. If your dog has an eye infection, one of the following causes could be to blame: Viruses, bacteria, fungus, and parasites. In certain situations, your dog may show signs of eye infection when he or she is actually suffering from a different type of eye disease.

Glaucoma, tear duct defects, dry eye, vitamin insufficiency, exposure to or ingestion of toxins, tumors, cherry eye, or structural disorders of the eye itself, such as ectropion in dogs, are some of the eye illnesses in dogs that are usually considered to be infections by pet owners. But they could be much more severe than that. 

Your veterinarian can perform a complete eye exam to establish the cause of your dog’s symptoms and administer appropriate medication to help your dog’s eyes feel better. If left untreated, eye infections can progress to the point of blindness. So if you notice symptoms such as redness, itching, discomfort, discharge, and squinting take your dog to the vet right away. 

The treatment for your dog’s eye infection will depend on the underlying cause, but it may include a mix of topical and oral treatments, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs. But the most important thing you could do is prevent an infection from ever happening in the first place. Avoid trauma, cut the hair around their eyes, wash your dog’s face, and wash your own hand before touching your dog’s eyes.

Corneal ulcers 

The cornea is a clear membrane that covers the front of the eyeball. You can consider it similar to a clear windowpane. The cornea is made up of three layers, each of which is made up of highly specialized skin cells. The epithelium, which is a very thin layer of cells, is the outermost layer. The stroma, which is the main supporting tissue of the cornea, lies beneath the epithelium. Descemet’s membrane is the deepest layer. 

A corneal abrasion is the erosion of a few layers of the epithelium. A corneal ulcer is a more severe erosion of the epithelium that extends into the stroma. Fluid accumulates in the stroma of a corneal ulcer, giving the eye a murky look. If the ulcer is deep, and also affects the most inner layer the liquid inside the eyeball spills out, the eye collapses, and irreversible damage occurs.

There are several causes of eye ulcers in dogs. However, by far the most common cause of dog eye ulcers is trauma. A dog eye ulcer can be a consequence of blunt trauma, a scratch, or contact with a foreign body.

Without proper tests and equipment, minor corneal abrasions are usually not noticeable. Special stains, like as fluorescein, are used to detect corneal ulcers. On the cornea, a drop of this stain is applied. The dye will turn green and stick to ulcerated areas. Large ulcers are easily visible, but small ulcers can benefit from the use of ophthalmic lights and filters.

Corneal abrasions heal in three to five days on average. Antibiotic drops or ointment are used to prevent bacterial infections, as well as to reduce spasms and discomfort. Antibiotic drops are only effective for a limited period of time, so they must be administered regularly. Some can even require surgical treatment. 


Nystagmus is a disorder in which the eyeballs of a dog move involuntarily and in a repetitive pattern. Eyeballs can move up and down as well as side to side. This is especially common in dogs who have a condition called vestibular illness. This is a disease that affects the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining body balance.

When dogs get older, they are more likely to develop vestibular illness. As a result, the disorder is also known as canine idiopathic vestibular syndrome and geriatric dog vestibular syndrome. But nystagmus can also be the symptom of other health conditions as well.  

Nystagmus is divided into two types: jerk nystagmus and pendular nystagmus. Jerk nystagmus is defined by slow eye movements in one direction followed by a rapid corrective phase in the opposite direction, whereas pendular nystagmus is defined by small eye oscillations with no movement being significantly slower or faster than the other. Jerk nystagmus is more common in dogs than the other two forms.

Your veterinarian may advise you to get your dog’s CSF fluid examined by a neurologist in order to determine the underlying cause of nystagmus. This procedure can also detect inflammation linked to an eye imbalance. Some veterinarians use CT scans to look for any brain defects that may be causing the dog’s eyes to be out of alignment.

The optimal nystagmus treatment approach is determined by the underlying cause of the symptoms. If viral infections are the cause of nystagmus, the vet will treat them first. It’s crucial to always go to your vet so he can prescribe the best treatment for your dogs condition.


Dogs get cataracts in the same way as people do as they age. A foggy coating forms on the lens of the eye, preventing light from entering. Water and proteins are present in your dog’s eyes naturally. But cataracts arises when proteins in the lens of the eye clump together and produce a cloud-like material.

Proteins build up over time, eventually clouding the entire lens. Cataracts can start small and become larger over time, or they can arise suddenly and blind your dog. Cataracts are an inherited trait, so if a dog belongs to one of the cataract-prone breeds of dog, there’s a significant possibility they’ll have them.

Another common cause of cataracts in canines is diabetes mellitus. Just like in humans, this is one of the leading causes. However, there are other reasons besides diabetes and genetics, the ones worth noting are: Injury or trauma to the eye, uveitis, high eye pressure, lens luxation, aging or senile cataracts.

If a dog with cataracts is not treated, he or she may go blind in the most severe cases. Your dog will be unable to see since the cataract entirely prevents light from entering the eye through the lens. The problem is still manageable with surgery at that time, but it can progress to glaucoma if not treated.

Glaucoma is a disorder in which the optic nerve is damaged by excessive pressure in the eye. If the nerve is damaged, your dog will be blind in the eye where the nerve was damaged for the rest of his life. It’s worth noting that not all cataracts result in glaucoma or blindness. They can sometimes only progress far enough to cause some vision loss.

Dog eye goop

Eye discharge in dogs is a common condition, especially in tiny dog breeds. Goopy eye in dogs can be caused by a variety of things, from minor irritations like allergies to more serious illnesses like glaucoma. While in more cases than not there isn’t anything to worry about, you should still be careful when it comes to the health of your dog. 

Tears keep eyes healthy by providing nutrients, oxygen, and hydration to the outer layers of the eye, as well as removing debris from the surface. Tear glands produce tears, which wash over the eye to clean and moisturize it before draining out through tear ducts in the inner corner of the eye. Eye gunk, goop, boogers, and crusts are various terms for debris that collects in the corner of the eye. A tiny amount of light brown crusts is common and can be visible shortly after a dog wakes up in the morning.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s eye discharge, observe whether it’s around the eye or clinging to the eye’s surface, as well as the color. The most common types of discharges are watery discharges, dark red/brown discharges, white eye discharge, green/yellow eye discharge. 

Watery eye discharges are caused by allergies, something in the eye, clogged tear ducts, blunt trauma to the eye, or sores to the eye’s surface. Watery eye discharge can also be caused by anatomical defects, such as protruding eyes in smaller brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and Pekingese. Dark red/brown eye stains are seen in dogs with chronic tears caused by the structure of their eye socket or a clogged tear duct. Green discharge is caused by infections while white discharge can be caused by conjunctivitis, inflammation, keratoconjunctivitis sicca or injury. 


Why are my dog’s eyes watery? 

Watery eyes are the most common eye issue you could experience with your dog. No, your dog isn’t crying, contrary to popular belief. Instead of that the watery discharge coming from your dog’s eyes is a sign of irritation. 

The irritation could be caused by a number of different factors. But the most common one are allergies. Your dog can be allergic to pollen, dust, dander, smoke, or even food ingredients. It’s best to contact your dog’s veterinarian in order to run a few tests. Your vet might put your dog on a special elimination diet to figure out the cause of the allergic reaction.

Another common reason for a watery eye discharge is a blocked tear duct. This eye discharge is called epiphora. If your dog really has epiphora the area around your pooche’s eyes will be wet, and may even start to swell. Your dog could even develop a skin irritation or have brown or reddish fur around its eyes. This condition requires veterinary care.  

Why are my dog’s eyes red and swollen?

The most common reason your dog’s eyes are red and/or swollen are eye infections or also known as conjunctivitis. We already explained how your dog’s eyes could get infected, and what the most common causes are. 

The other possibilities include physical damage to the eye. For example a splinter, foreign body or some other type of injury. Another condition that could cause these symptoms are dry eyes. This is especially common if you live in a dry and windy area and you took your dog on a long walk around in nature.

However, you shouldn’t be the one deciding on the final diagnosis. Unless you have a doctorate in veterinary medicine, you should seek some professional help to treat your canine. You never know what the underlying reason can be, and it could be much more serious than you may expect at first. 

Eye infections and injuries especially dangerous and they need to be treated immediately. In some severe cases, they could even lead to permanent blindness in one or both eyes. So you don’t want to risk your dog losing it’s eyesight. 

Why are my dog’s eyes cloudy? 

Cloudy eyes in dogs might be a sign of a developing eye disease or a natural component of the aging process. The cloudiness usually appears on the eye’s cornea. The cloudiness is easy to spot because it occurs on the cornea, which is the clear dome in front of each of your dog’s eyes.

There are a variety of ophthalmic disorders that can cause cloudiness in a dog’s eyes, some of which are more dangerous than others. Many individuals presume cataracts are to blame for the cloudiness. Although this isn’t always the case, cloudy eyes can also be caused by other eye issues.

Lenticular sclerosis is a common eye disease that affects older dogs and causes the lens of the eye to become cloudy. A deposit of ancient fibrous tissue in the lens of the eye, which is positioned behind the iris, causes the disorder to develop. In middle-aged and geriatric dogs, lenticular sclerosis is common. Fortunately, there is no pain or blindness associated with the illness.

Another common reason is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure inside a dog’s eye increases. The optic nerve can be irreparably injured if intraocular pressure is high for an extended period of time. This is a very painful disorder that can lead to blindness.

The prognosis for dogs with clouded eyes is usually favorable, although it depends on the cause of the condition. Even if your dog’s cloudy eyes cause him to go blind, he can live a long and happy life.


Now that you know just how much can be wrong with your dog’s eyes, you shouldn’t take his eyesight for granted. Like we already explained, our canine friends don’t have the best vision as it is. So if a disease struck your pup’s eyes, it could even further compromise the way he sees. 

Just like with any other disease, the best treatment will always be prevention. Make sure you take your dog to his regular vet visits. He should gets his eyes checked at least once a year. If you ever notice any type of change in your dog’s eye, the best option would be to take him to a professional immediatley. 

Also be on the lookout for weird eyegoops. We already explained how important the color of eyegoop is, so if you for example notice yellow discharge, it may be due to the fact that your pup has an eye infection. All in all, the better care you take of your dog’s eyes, the better his quality of life will be in his senior years. While their ability to see is humble, even a blurry vision is still better than no vision at all. 

My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.