Close-up of a dog's eyes

Eye Problems

Your dog’s eyes aren’t a part of their body where it’s wise to take a 'wait and see' approach to treatment, because some eye problems can become very serious very quickly. Any eye problem should therefore be assessed by a vet, and sooner rather than later.

Mucky eyes

Many dogs wake up with a small amount of muck in the corners of their eyes. This is normal and shouldn’t reappear once you’ve wiped it away. A larger amount of yellow or white mucous or discharge that keeps recurring, however, indicates there might be a problem. It may be an allergy, a mild infection, or it could also be something more serious requiring a trip to the vet.

Red eyes

This can be simply an irritation, or an indication of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies, infection, physical damage or even dry eyes.

My dog is always crying – is he sad?

Some dogs have persistent weeping and tear staining of the fur on the inside corners of their eyes. While it could be an eye infection that’s causing it or ingrowing eyelashes, another possibility is blocked or 'lazy' tear ducts.

Tear ducts drain tears from the eyes into the nose. When they’re not functioning properly, however, the tears spill over the eyelids and stain the fur.

Flushing the tear ducts under anaesthetic can help, although in many cases, the problem returns soon afterwards. Treating the symptoms at home and reducing the risk of infection means wiping the area a couple of times a day. If it is wet, wipe with a dry tissue; if it’s dry and crusty, use a damp one.

Squinting

If your dog is always squinting or winking one eye, it could be that there's something under the eyelid (e.g. a grass seed), or a scratch on the outside of the eye.

Swollen eye

There can be several causes for a swollen eye. It could be a tooth root abscess behind the eye that makes they eye look swollen, or something more sinister such as glaucoma. In some flat faced (brachycephalic) breeds, the eye can be “popped” outside the eyelids, where it will swell. This requires a quick trip to the vet.

Cataracts or cloudy eyes

Often owners look into their dog’s eyes and think they have cataracts, as the inside of the eye looks cloudy. Cataracts do occur in dogs, especially diabetics, but often it is confused with a common clouding of the lens seen in older dogs. This clouding is called nuclear sclerosis and is an irreversible process. In contrast, a cataract can be surgically treated by an eye specialist (yes, there are eye specialist vets!).

My dog has cherries for eyes

There is a condition in younger dogs called Cherry Eye. This is where the cartilage in the third eyelid kinks and bulges out near the nose side of the eye. The only treatment for this is surgical repair. Owners need to be aware that if Cherry Eye has occurred in one eye, it will probably occur in the other.

Can my dog see properly?

This can be difficult to test. The easiest way is to place a bandana over one of your dog’s eyes and set up an obstacle course in a long hallway. Call your dog and see if they can avoid the obstacles. Cover the other eye and repeat the test. Do this in bright light but also in very dim light to thoroughly assess your dog’s vision.

Can't see a vet?

If you don’t have a local veterinarian, use our handy 'Connect with a Vet' feature on the website at http://www.pawclub.com.au/Community/VetFinder/Default.aspx