Eye problems

Common Eye Problems In Dogs

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. February 17, 2019
Common Eye Problems In Dogs

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Have you noticed your dog squinting? How about apparent dog eye discharge? Although eyes have protective mechanisms such as a third eyelid or tears, they are still susceptible to alterations. These changes are often caused by climatological factors, foreign bodies, bacteria, congenital causes, etc. Any sign of a dog eye problem such as discharge, pain, swelling or redness is a cause for concern. Common eye problems in dogs generally require veterinary consultation, since many of these disorders, if left untreated, can end in blindness.

For more about eye problems in dogs, keep reading here at AnimalWised where we will list the top 10 most common dog eye problems.

You may also be interested in: Common Eye Problems in Rabbits


  1. Eye problems in dogs: list
  2. Dog eye problems: cherry eye
  3. Dog eye problems: conjunctivitis
  4. Eye problems in dogs: keratoconjunctivitis sicca
  5. Eye problems in dogs: epiphora
  6. Dog eye problems: corneal ulcers
  7. Cataracts in dogs
  8. Eye inflammation: anterior uveitis in dogs
  9. Dog eye problems: glaucoma
  10. Ocular disorders in dogs: keratitis
  11. Eyelid tumors in dogs
See more >>

Eye problems in dogs: list

The most common eye infections in dogs include:

  • Cherry eye.
  • Conjunctivitis in dogs.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca: dry eye syndrome (DES).
  • Epiphora in dogs.
  • Corneal ulcers in dogs.
  • Cataracts in dogs.
  • Anetior uveitis in dogs.
  • Glaucoma in dogs.
  • Keratitis in dogs.
  • Eyelid tumors.

Keep reading for more about the causes, symptoms and treatments of each of these above mentioned eye problems in dogs.

Dog eye problems: cherry eye

Is your dog’s third eyelid showing? Cherry eye in dogs is also referred to as the prolapse of the third eyelid tear gland. This common eye problem in dogs causes an exposure of the lacrimal gland that is located in a dog’s third eyelid. This expose gland irritates the ocular surface and may result in conjunctivitis, therefore it cannot be ignored. Some dog breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Beagles are more prone to this congenital defect than others.

Cherry eye in dogs symptoms include:

  • Eye redness.
  • Eye discharge.
  • Impaired vision.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Swelling.
  • Rubbing of eyes.
  • Squinting.

Cherry eye treatment usually requires surgery. This is because this gland produces tears and if removed completely, could cause dry eye syndrome in dogs due to a reduction in tear production. For this reason is it more advisable to replace it. Although, over time, it is common for the problem to reoccur.

For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss: why does my dog scratch its eyes?

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Dog eye problems: cherry eye

Dog eye problems: conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis in dogs, known also as ‘pink eye’, results in an inflammation in the conjunctiva causing redness and secretion. Canine conjunctivitis causes include, allergies (affecting both eyes) or foreign objects stuck in a dog’s eye. The different types of conjunctivitis include:

  • Serous conjunctivitis: apparent clear, transparent and watery secretion, usually caused by wind or dust. Produces itching.
  • Mucus conjunctivitis: apparent mucous secretion that originates in third eyelid follicles, caused by any irritant or infection.
  • Purulent conjunctivitis: apparent presence of pus due to bacteria. This secretion will form crusts on the eyelids.

Conjunctivitis treatment depends on the exact cause. The affected eye(s) must be cleaned thoroughly and medication must be administered by a veterinarian only. For more, we recommend reading our article where we tell you everything you need to know about conjunctivitis in dogs: causes and symptoms.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Dog eye problems: conjunctivitis

Eye problems in dogs: keratoconjunctivitis sicca

Also known as dry eye syndrome, Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is caused by a lacrimal gland disorder. This then results in an insufficient production of tears, which causes the cornea to dry out. The characteristic sign of this condition is the appearance of a thick, mucous-y or mucopurulent discharge. If you notice these symptoms and secretions, usually accompanied by a dullness in the eyes, you should go to the veterinarian. Immediate treatment is necessary to avoid the cornea becoming affected, which could result in blindness.

Different dry eye in dogs causes include:

  • Immune mediated diseases.
  • Lesions in the lacrimal glands due to canine distemper.
  • Addison’s diseases.
  • Idiopathic.

Diagnoses is done by measuring tear volume with a Schirmer’s test. Treatment, which include immunosuppresants, are often administered for life.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Eye problems in dogs: keratoconjunctivitis sicca

Eye problems in dogs: epiphora

Epiphora (eye discharge) is known as a symptom rather than an eye disease. Epiphora in dogs is characterized by continuous tearing. This constant moisture can cause the eye area to swell and become infected. This is commonly considered to be an aesthetic problem, but can also be a symptoms or sign of a foreign object stuck in a dog’s eye, which is why veterinary consultation is necessary.

Epiphora or eye discharge is a common dog eye problem which targets specific breeds such as Poodles, Maltese dogs or Pekingese. Epiphora may also appear as a reddish-brown spot under the eye. Epiphora treatment includes cleaning and wiping the dog’s eyes, possible surgery or a flushing of the eyes. All treatment, however, will be administered by a professional. For more, we recommend reading how to get rid of tear stains in dogs.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Eye problems in dogs: epiphora

Dog eye problems: corneal ulcers

Corneal ulcers are lesions that affect the middle and inner layer of the cornea. This dog eye disease often occurs as a result of trauma. Other causes of corneal ulcers in dogs include keratoconjunctivitis sicca, diabetes or Addison’s disease.

Corneal ulcers can be extremely painful, causing lacrimation and photophobia. A veterinarian confirms their presence by instilling fluorescein in the eye, dyeing them green. If you believe your dog is suffering from corneal ulcers, we recommend going to a veterinarian immediately because if not treated, it can result in eye loss. Medication is often prescribed and in more serious cases, surgery may be necessary. Indolent ulcers, more common in breeds like boxers, poodles or Samoyed, are a specific ulcer type that take longer to heal.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Dog eye problems: corneal ulcers

Cataracts in dogs

Cataracts involve the loss of transparency of the lens. Cataracts are visible as grayish covers over the pupils. This often hereditary disease can be considered congenital cataracts or juvenile cataracts. Juvenile cataracts generally appear before the age of six in both eyes, although not always simultaneously[1].

Acquired cataracts, however, are a consequence of aging or other diseases. They are senile cataracts that begin in the center of the lens and spread. Cataract in dogs treatment is surgical, although some juvenile cataracts spontaneously reabsorb themselves within a year. For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss what causes cloudy eyes in dogs.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Cataracts in dogs

Eye inflammation: anterior uveitis in dogs

Anterior uveitis in dogs or eye inflammation of dogs refers to when the ciliary body inflames, which continues to the iris and produces aqueous humor. It is a common symptom of several different diseases. Anterior uveitis in dogs is extremely painful and can cause lachrymation, redness, photophobia and a protrusion of the third eyelid. In addition,the dog’s pupil will appear dwarfed as well as have difficulty reacting to light. Another possible eye inflammation symptom may include misty dog eyes.

Anterior uveitis treatment includes treating the specific cause, which will be diagnosed by a veterinarian.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Eye inflammation: anterior uveitis in dogs

Dog eye problems: glaucoma

Glaucoma in dogs is a very serious condition which can result in blindness. Glaucoma occurs when a greater amount of vitreous humor is produced than is eliminated, which increases pressure inside the eye, resulting in alterations of the optic nerve and retina. Hereditary glaucoma is more common in breeds like the Beagle, Cocker Spaniels or Basset hounds. Secondary glaucoma results as a symptom of another disease or trauma.

Acute glaucoma symptoms includes pain, tearing, hardened eyes, corneal haze and enlarged pupils. Chronic glaucoma enlarges and protrudes the already blind eyeball. To avoid blindness, acute glaucoma must be treated immediately, implanting medication that lowers the intra-ocular pressure. Treatment may also include surgery. In chronic glaucoma, extirpation must be assessed, since the eye, although blind, may continue cause pain and injury[2].

For more, we recommend reading our article where we tell you everything you need to know about glaucoma in dogs.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Dog eye problems: glaucoma

Ocular disorders in dogs: keratitis

Keratitis in dogs consists of inflammation of the cornea, which becomes cloudy and loses transparency. Keratitis symptoms include intense lacrimation, photophobia and protrusion of the third eyelid.

There are different types of keratitis in dogs, such as ulcerative, infectious, interstitial, vascular and pigmentary. All types must be treated accordingly to avoid blindness. For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss the types, causes, diagnosis and treatment of keratitis in dogs.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Ocular disorders in dogs: keratitis

Eyelid tumors in dogs

Tumors of the eyelid in dogs include palpebral tumors, the most common being an adenoma in the Meibomian glands. These are glands that are located in the eyelids and produce a sebaceous substance. These tumors can look like a little piece (or pieces) of cauliflower.

Other frequent dog eyelid tumor types include sebaceous adenomas, which are usually benign and more common in older dogs. You may also notice an appearance of warts, caused by the oral papilloma virus in dogs.

All cases of tumors in dogs require surgical removal to avoid rubbing an corneal injury. For more, we recommend reading skin tumor in dogs.

Common Eye Problems In Dogs - Eyelid tumors in dogs

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Common Eye Problems In Dogs, we recommend you visit our Eye problems category.

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What did you think of this article?
Jacqueline. Cutten
It was great to see pictures of possible dog eye conditions The dog has gone to vets but it looks like a severe allergic reaction
Dianne Cameron
Will a Hilti lead affect my Great Dane’s Rosey eyes.
What is this?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Sally,

It could be due to many possible problems, so it requires veterinary diagnosis.
My Frenchie has a brownish section on the white of her eye that seems to have gotten closer to her iris, does she need a specialist?
Gwen S
My westie has developed like a white cover on his eye & he's squints
if my dog6s eyes are cloudy or white does it mean it is blind?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Deeshk,

It likely means they have a condition such as cataracts which can severely impair vision. We recommend taking them to the vet to confirm!
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Common Eye Problems In Dogs