When you look at a dog’s face, what’s the first thing you’ll notice? For a lot of people, it would be those round, twinkling eyes.
Dogs, like a lot of living beings, use their eyes to see the world around them. The eyes play an important role as it allows dogs to have a better view of their surroundings. That’s why for many dog parents, taking care of their dog’s eyesight is a big deal.
Eye Care For Dogs
Dogs’ eyes are fascinating in plenty of ways. While they do not have 20/20 vision, nor can they see a wide spectrum of color, dogs can see up to 240 degrees wide and are capable of seeing better in the dark. That’s why it’s important for owners to maintain their dog’s eyesight.
Dogs can experience a wide range of illnesses when it comes to their eyes. Just like humans, dogs rely heavily on their eyes. That’s why it’s important to be aware of anything wrong when it comes to their sight.
Common Eye Illnesses Dogs Can Have
Dogs can suffer from a wide range of diseases related to their eyes. Most of these illnesses are easily manageable with medication. Here are some common canine eye illnesses.
The most common illness a dog can get is an infection in the eye. Viruses, bacteria, or foreign material can get into your dog’s eyes, leading to an infection. An eye infection can spread, and if left untreated, can lead to blindness.
Eye infection can take up different forms. One type of eye infection is conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye or red eye. This is the infection of the eye’s conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that thinly covers the dog’s eye,
Other eye infections include uveitis, the inflammation of the inner portion of the eye, and keratitis, the inflammation of the cornea.
This illness is seen more often with older dogs, so owners tend to not intervene and give their dogs proper treatment. However, cataract is not something to be taken lightly.
A cataract is when the normal lens of the eyes starts to get cloudy. This clouding of vision is typically common for old dogs, but the causes can also be hereditary, congenital, from other illnesses like diabetes and glaucoma, or eye trauma.
You will know when your dog might be developing cataracts when you see their eye color changing to an opaque, lighter color. A veterinarian will know if the dog has cataracts by a simple eye test.
Dogs, unlike humans, have a third eyelid, which is hidden from plain sight. This third eyelid is where the tear glands are located. Sometimes, these glands can pop out of place and appear like tiny cherries on your dog’s eyes.
Cherry eye occurs when the ligaments that hold the third eyelid and gland in place fail to do their job. Medically known as third eyelid prolapse, cherry eye can cause irritation to dogs and makes it hard for them to close their eyes. This condition is commonly seen in dogs that are 2 years and younger.
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) or Dry Eye
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, or simply known as dry eye, is a condition where the dog’s tear ducts can’t produce enough tears. Tears are important to lubricate the cornea and to protect the eyes from foreign objects. Without tears, the cornea and conjunctiva become inflamed.
Plenty of issues can cause dry eyes, including issues with the dog’s immune system, medication side-effects, and trauma to the eyes. Dry eyes can also be congenital to certain dogs. Dogs with dry eyes produce yellow-green discharge as well as painful ulcers.
As mentioned above, tears are important for lubricating the dog’s eyes. However, if the tear ducts are blocked, these tears will start to overflow. Epiphora is when a dog either produces too many tears or has a problem with its tear ducts.
A major sign of epiphora is tear stain on the dog’s face. These stains usually appear reddish-brown. Epiphora may or may not be harmful, depending on your dog’s breed.
Glaucoma is a serious illness that can lead to blindness in dogs. It is when fluid retention occurs within the eye and causes pressure. This pressure can lead to the retina and optic nerve damage.
Glaucoma usually occurs on one eye, but if left untreated, it can move to the other. Some symptoms of glaucoma include pain and discomfort, cloudy cornea, squinting, tearing, pupils appearing to have different sizes, and vision problems. Glaucoma can either be genetic or acquired through infections, injuries, or trauma.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited condition where the cells of the retina progressively degrade until it leads to complete blindness. PRA occurs over a long time, so symptoms may not be spotted easily. The eye may appear healthy so a lot of dogs can go undiagnosed until it’s far too late.
PRA is, fortunately, not painful. However, there is no available treatment that can help reverse this illness.
Symptoms to Watch Out
There are plenty more illnesses that can be mentioned, but what’s important to know is that these illnesses usually look almost the same. That’s why a visit to the veterinarian is very important. A veterinarian has all the resources and knowledge to diagnose your dog appropriately.
Still, being aware of the symptoms of a potential eyesight issue can save you a lot of time from going to the vet. These symptoms can be a sign of an acute health problem or something underlying.
These symptoms include:
- Bloodshot or reddish eyes
- Discharge coming out from the eyes
- Tear stains
- Visible tears
- Discoloration of the cornea
- Growth of any lumps or bumps near the eyes
- Eyes always squinting or close
- Worrying changes in behavior (like lack of appetite or reclusiveness)
- Coordination problems
These are the few things owners can observe if something is wrong with their dog. If your dog is experiencing one or more of these things, a visit to the vet is highly advised.
Thankfully, for almost every eyesight illness that exists, there is a cure for them. Your vet will mostly prescribe you medicine and dog eye drops to help relieve the symptoms and to cure your dog of illnesses.
Common eye infections are easy to cure. Your vet might prescribe a specific eye wash for dogs that can get rid of the infection, discharges, and any gunk that is left by the infection. Certain illnesses that can leave tear stains on the dog’s face can also be washed off with dog tear stain remover. Dry eyes are also treated with eye drops that promote the production of tears.
Some illnesses, though, don’t have easy remedies like over-the-counter drops or topical medicines. For example, glaucoma requires more medication like Analgesics to reduce pain and discomfort. Vets will also prescribe different medicines to slow down the growth of glaucoma. In advanced cases, surgery is needed.
Cherry eye also needs surgery if eye drops don’t work. The first option for surgery is to replant the prolapse back into the eye. But if that does not work, the gland will instead be completely removed.
As for cataracts; cataracts require surgical procedures as well. But there is hope. There is a new dog cataracts eye drops that scientists are experimenting with.
Currently, cataract drops are not easily available to every dog owner, but it might mean a future where invasive surgeries are no longer needed to cure a dog’s cataracts.
Sadly, some illnesses just don’t have a cure at all. Illnesses like PRA don’t have any feasible cure and the dog has no choice but to live blind. But while an actual cure is not around, support and lifestyle management can always make life easier for a sick dog.
At the end of the day, the best treatment for any illness is prevention. Immediately spotting red flags in your dog’s behavior and appearance can greatly help reduce the risk of further complications in the future. Prevention also means taking good care of your dog by providing adequate care, food, water, shelter, and medical needs.
If anything out of the ordinary starts to happen to your dog, immediately bring them to the vet to get them checked up. Being on top of your dog’s health means that they can stay healthy for a long time. Regular checkups, being up to date with vaccines, and immediate medical attention is crucial if you want your canine pal to stay healthy for a long time.
The eyes are windows to the soul, so it’s important to protect and nurture your dog’s eyes to make life easier for them. Dogs’ eyes serve plenty of purposes, so they must be protected at all times.
Different diseases can affect a dog’s eyes. But thanks to modern medicine, most of these illnesses have a cure. In a case where sickness cannot be cured, lifestyle change will be beneficial for the dog’s longevity and comfort.
Good dog parents will always take care of their dogs, including their pups’ eyesight. Keep them healthy, and your dog will be seeing your gorgeous face for a very, very long time. Here are 9 Effective Tips for Raising Healthy Puppy Dogs.