Dogs aren’t quite as dependent on their eyes as we are (nose, eyes, ears, remember?), but their vision is still a major way that dogs interact with the world. As the Pack Leader, you have to pay special attention to your dog’s eyes during her care routine.
Four common dog eye problems
How do dogs get eye infections? Sometimes they just get something in their eye that has bacteria. Other times they may come into contact with another dog that’s infected.
Signs of a canine eye infection include excessive crying and whining, light sensitivity, redness, and green or yellow discharge that crusts over their eyes. Breeds prone to eye infections include cocker spaniels, Maltese, Pekingese, poodles, pugs, and Shih-Tzus.
This largely genetic condition will make the lens of your dog’s eye appear increasingly white or cloudy, coinciding with a progressive deterioration in his vision and eventually blindness.
All dog breeds can develop cataracts, and it’s also possible to get them from disease, immune system problems, or injury. But some breeds are more susceptible than others. These include: American cocker spaniel, bichon frise, Boston terrier, Havanese, miniature schnauzer, miniature and standard poodle, silky terriers, and smooth fox terriers.
Also known as entropion, with this condition, your dog’s eyelids will actually grow or roll inwards, rubbing up against the cornea and causing damage and discomfort.
Though it can occur in any dog, entropion is a leading health concern in breeds such as the Akita, American Staffordshire terrier, bloodhound, Chinese Shar-Pei, chow chow, English bulldog, English mastiff, Great Dane, Neapolitan mastiff, Rottweiler, spaniel, vizsla, and Weimaraner.
Third eyelid prolapse
This may sound strange, but every dog has a third eyelid. The gland of this eyelid protects the cornea by secreting tears. Sometimes, though, this gland can become swollen and exposed.
When that happens, you may see yellow mucus indicating the irritation. Brachycephalic or “flat-faced” breeds like the Pekingese, pug, and Shih-Tzu commonly have this problem.
How to take care of your dog’s eyes
While each of the problems above are likely to require veterinary consultation and specific treatments to solve the issue, there are still a number of general things you can do to keep your dog’s eyes healthy and to catch things early on.
Gaze into her eyes
Check your dog’s eyes regularly by taking her to a bright area and looking for crust, discharge, or tearing, and making sure that there’s white around the eyeball.
You should also watch out for cloudiness, unequal pupil sizes, a visible third eyelid, a change in eye color, closed eyes, or rubbing of the eyes. These are signs your dog needs to see the vet.
Check the lining
While you’re there, look at the inner lining of his eyelid by rolling the lid down. You want it to be pink, not white or red.
Clean them out
Keep her eyes free of gunk and crustiness by using a damp cotton ball and wiping outward from the corner of her eye, being careful not to scratch the cornea. Use dog eye wash if you see redness, which is common during dry winters.
Keep your dog clipped
Long hair can scratch and poke your dog’s eyes, so trim those bangs using round-tip scissors.
Close the windows
It might bring a smile to your face — and your dog’s — when they stick their head out the window while riding in the car, but wind and debris can actually cause serious eye problems.
Has your dog experienced eye problems? What course of treatment did you use and did it work?