Pug wearing glasses
G Gail Michel

How to Keep Your Dog's Eyes Healthy: Understanding Eye Diseases, Symptoms, and Preventative Care

Jul 10, 2023 · Dog Health · Wellness

You have done your homework and you are confident your dog's mealtime is on point and they are eating the right things. But how are their eyes? Dogs rely heavily on their eyesight to navigate the world around them. As a dog pawrent, it is important to pay attention to their eye health to ensure they can continue to see clearly for years to come.

Common eye diseases

Dogs can get a variety of eye diseases but the most common are:

1. Cataracts: Cataracts are a common eye disease that affects dogs of all ages. They occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, making it difficult for your dog to see. Cataracts can be caused by genetics, aging, or trauma to the eye.

2. Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer that covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies, infections, or trauma.

3. Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when there is an increase in pressure inside the eye. This can cause damage to the optic nerve and lead to blindness. Glaucoma can be caused by genetics, trauma, or underlying medical conditions.

4. Dry Eye: Dry eye, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition that occurs when the tear glands do not produce enough tears to keep the eyes moist. This can cause inflammation and damage to the cornea. 1.

Symptoms and Prevention of Glaucoma and Cataracts in Dogs

Glaucoma and cataracts impact your dog's quality of health the most so let's "look" a little closer at these diseases.

As mentioned, glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve. This can lead to blindness if left untreated. According to the Animal Emergency & Referral Associates, symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Behavioral changes such as no longer wanting to play or interact
  • Increased sleeping or general lethargy
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Continual blinking or squinting of the eye
  • Pupil does not respond to light
  • Pupils are a different size in each eye
  • Redness of the blood vessels in the whites of eyes
  • Signs of vision loss, such as bumping into furniture or not recognizing familiar people
  • Swollen or bulging eye

Glaucoma is usually diagnosed with a complete eye exam by your veterinarian. Ways to help prevent glaucoma are to provide supplemental antioxidants, vitamins E, C, beta-carotene, lutein, astaxanthin, and lutin that promote eye health and reduce damage to cells in the eye may be helpful in preventing glaucoma. Additionally, weight management (indirectly impacting their blood pressure) and avoid any type of eye injury. The easiest thing you can do to help keep their eyes healthy is to regularly clean around them with an eye wipe.

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye's lens and are more often associated with your dog's quality of life due to their effect on vision. The most common symptom associated with cataracts is a gradual loss of vision. This is caused by the lens in your dog's eye becoming cloudy, which affects their ability to see colors and objects clearly. It will appear as a blueish or yellow haze over the eye. Look for the below changes in behavior and appearance to determine if you need to see a vet.

  • Cloudy pupils in one or both eyes
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty seeing in dimly lit areas
  • Reluctance to climb or jump
  • Rubbing or scratching of the eyes
  • Signs of vision loss, such as bumping into furniture or not recognizing familiar people
  • Squinting
  • Unsure footing, misjudging distances, or an unusual, high-stepping walk
  • Watery eyes

A veterinary ophthalmologist can examine your dog and decide on the severity and help determine the course of treatment.

There are many supplements on the market that can help reduce the risk of cataracts as well aid in treating them. Some supplements like vitamins C and E, Selenium, coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, bilberry, ginkgo biloba, grape seed extract, and turmeric. There are brands like Pet Eyez that have taken all of these vitamins and minerals and put them in one easy supplement to help reduce the risks.

My dog has vision issues, now what?

In addition to medical treatment, there are several things you can do to help your dog adjust to his new situation. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your dog's environment consistent: Avoid moving furniture or other objects around and keep his food and water bowls in the same place.

  • Use scent cues: Use scents such as essential oils or perfumes to help your dog navigate around the house.

  • Use sound cues: Use verbal cues or clapping to help your dog locate you or find his way around the house.
  • Use touch cues: Use touch cues such as a gentle touch or a pat on the head to communicate with your dog.

  • Provide mental stimulation: Provide your dog with toys and activities that stimulate his mind, such as puzzle toys or scent games.

  • Consider training: Enroll your dog in obedience training or work with a professional dog trainer to help him learn new skills and adjust to his new situation.

  • If needed get a halo device to help them not bump into things while navigating unfamiliar environments.

Remember, it is important to be patient and understanding with your dog as they adjust to the new situation. With time and support, many dogs are able to adapt to vision loss and continue to live happy and fulfilling lives.

In conclusion, taking care of your dog's eyes is vital to their overall health and well-being. By understanding the common eye diseases that affect dogs, their symptoms, and preventative care measures, you can help keep your pooch's eyes healthy and ensure they can continue to see the world around them clearly.

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