When your dog develops health issues, it's never easy to deal with them, but catching them early reduces the odds of them becoming serious. It's not just senior dogs who have eye troubles; a variety of disorders can affect dogs of all breeds at any age. Providing a good diet, being aware of common issues, and taking precautions can all optimize your dog’s eye health.
Common canine eye issues
If you have a dog, you've probably dealt with some form of eye problem, whether it's a minor irritation or a more serious illness.
There are a few common dog eye problems that top the list:
- Dry Eye: The scientific term for dry eye is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. When a dog's tear glands don't produce enough tears to properly lubricate and clear the eye of dust and other particles, this problem develops. Scratches, ulcers, and other eye disorders can occur as a result of dry eye. Redness, squinting, blinking, and pawing at the eye are all symptoms of dry eye. If you feel your dog has dry eye, consult your veterinarian. To assist alleviate the condition, they may propose putting sterile saline or artificial tears in your dog's eyes.
- Pink Eye: Like us, our dogs can experience pink eye with the same symptoms we have: redness, irritation, and sticky ocular discharge. A viral or bacterial infection can produce pink eye. If it's bacterial, your dog's eyes will need to be treated with an antibiotic eye treatment. An allergic response or something getting into your dog's eye can also cause pink eye. If your dog is allergic to something, like something in the air or grass, or inside your home, you should try to keep them away from it as much as possible. Ask your veterinarian about using a saline solution or artificial tears to drain irritants from your dog's eyes when they return inside if they have outdoor allergies or hay fever.
- Cataracts: Cataracts may be at fault if you see your dog's eyes becoming white or clouded. This condition appears in dogs as they get older, just like it does in humans. Cataracts can obstruct your dog's vision and lead to blindness as they age. Cataracts can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as diabetes. If you discover evidence of cataracts in your dog's eyes, contact your veterinarian.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma develops when the fluid in the eye does not drain properly, causing pressure to build up inside the eyeball. Redness, tears, cloudiness, dilated pupils, and bulging of the eye are some of the symptoms. It can be excruciatingly painful and lead to blindness.
- Lumps and Bumps: You should consult your veterinarian if you discover a bump on or around the edge of your dog's eyelid. Fortunately, most of these lumps aren't cancerous. They can be caused by a cyst or a benign tumor. Your veterinarian can assess whether the lump is malignant and, if so, whether it requires treatment, such as surgical removal.
- Cherry Eye: Dogs' eyes have three layers of lids. Normally, the third one is tucked in the inner corner of the eye. However, if the ligaments that hold it in place weaken, it can protrude from the corner of your dog's eye like a red cherry. Repairing this issue usually necessitates surgery.
- Entropion: Entropion is a genetic condition in which the upper eyelid folds inward. When this happens, the exterior of the eyelid's eyelashes or hairs can brush against the cornea, causing irritation and injury to the eye. It can also result in corneal scarring, impairing your dog's vision. Squinting and excessive tearing are two symptoms of entropion.
Keep ‘em clean for healthy dog eyes
Normal dog eyes will naturally have some watery and mucousy discharge. But, unlike us, their eyes are encircled by fur, which can collect this discharge, as well as dirt and debris from the environment! To keep eyes clean on most short-haired dogs, all you need is a cotton ball and a little eye flush. Longer-haired dogs and those with chronic eye disorders, on the other hand, should be groomed on a regular basis to avoid matting and buildup of debris.
If you notice irritation in your dog’s eye, you can flush them and observe to get rid of any debris. To remove any irritants or dirt from your dog's eyes, flush each eye several times with a specially prepared eye wash for dogs. Bring your dog to the veterinarian for an examination if the inflammation persists. Flushing your dog's eyes on a regular basis is a smart way to avoid irritation, keep eyes clean, and reduce the chance of infection, especially if your dog is frequently exposed to dirt, dust, or water.
Rinse your dog's eyes frequently when mucous forms or irritation appears to be occurring to avoid eye boogers from causing an infection.
To remove tear stains, dampen a cloth with an eye rinse or use a commercial wipe developed for the job. If your dog's tear stains are caused by a clogged tear duct (one of the most common symptoms is tearing in only one eye), he should consult a veterinarian.
Feed foods that provide nutrients and vitamins for dog eye health
Supporting your dog's eye function requires a balanced diet rich in antioxidants. These items should be fed raw unless otherwise specified. To aid in digestion, lightly purée fruits and vegetables. The following are well-known for promoting optimal eye health:
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh sardines
- Fresh salmon
Your dog may be hesitant at first to consume a few of the items listed above, but when mixed with the others, they can become a tasty treat. In addition to being tasty, they will help soften the impacts of free radicals caused by oxidation. Stress, metabolic activities, and a poor diet can all cause free radicals to harm cells and tissues, just as they can in our own bodies. These foods can reduce the heavy impact everyday stressors can have.
Heads INSIDE the car!
No matter how much your dog loves it, you should never allow them to hang their head out the window of a moving vehicle. It's just not safe. When your dog is in the car, you should also close the windows. Bugs, dirt, and other debris could get into your dog's eyes through the open window causing irritation or injury.
Know the issues your breed is prone to
Eye infection and irritation are more likely in dogs with long hair on and around their faces, such as Sheepdogs, Poodles, and Maltese. The following conditions are also most likely to appear in the listed breeds:
- Glaucoma: Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Chow Chows, Boston Terrier
- Cataracts: English Springer Spaniel, Siberian Husky, American Cocker Spaniel
- Dry Eye: West Highland White Terrier, English Cocker Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu
- Cherry Eye: Beagles, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Bloodhounds, Shih Tzu, Shar Pei, Saint Bernard
- Entropion: Bulldogs, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terriers, Great Dane
- Lumps and Bumps (potentially cancerous): Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels
Make sure to look into your dog's breed to determine whether she requires extra care to keep her eyes healthy throughout her life.
Don’t ignore the warning signs
Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions regarding eye care for dogs. If you observe anything unusual about your dog's eyes, such as excessive tearing, colored discharge, lumps or bumps, redness, swelling, or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately- don’t wait. Ignoring the signs can do more harm than good, and could result in blindness if left untreated or not handled properly.