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Eye Health In Dogs: Common Vision Problems & Their Symptoms

As a dog lover, you know there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

You cherish every wagging tail, excited bark, soft nuzzle, and playful romp.

Their joy is your joy, and their well-being is your priority—a testament to the unbreakable bond you share.

Dog ownership is soaring worldwide, with over 900 million dogs as of 2022.

As part of this crew, ensuring they’re in excellent health is in your best interest.

Despite your best intentions, it’s easy to overlook one crucial area: your dog’s eye health.

From minor irritations to serious vision problems, issues with eye health can seriously impact your pet’s quality of life. 

This article is here to guide you in recognizing common factors that may cause a dog losing vision, their symptoms, and ways to prevent them.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to support your four-legged friend’s overall well-being.

dog vision problems

Canine glaucoma: Knowing the symptoms and risks

Just like humans, dogs can also get glaucoma. It’s a group of eye conditions damaging the optic nerve, the vital link between the eye and the brain.

High pressure in their eyes is the culprit.

If it goes over 40–50mm, you must provide urgent care to your dog.

If not treated, it could cause permanent vision loss.

Being aware of this risk is your first line of defense.

So what are the signs of canine glaucoma?

Keep an eye out for redness and cloudiness in your dog’s eyes.

You might also notice excessive tearing.

These symptoms can indicate an issue requiring immediate attention.

Remember, some dog breeds are more prone to glaucoma.

Breeds such as cocker spaniels, poodles, and Siberian huskies fall into this high-risk category.

If your pet belongs to one of these breeds, be extra vigilant about their eye health to prevent issues.

Regular vet checkups are critical to early detection and treatment.

Cataracts in dogs: Unveiling the signs

Cataracts in dogs aren’t uncommon.

They occur when the lens inside your pet’s eye becomes cloudy, preventing light from reaching the back of the eye.

This can significantly affect your dog’s vision, so it’s essential to be aware of the signs.

Cloudiness or a noticeable change in eye color can indicate the presence of cataracts.

These symptoms might seem subtle, but they shouldn’t be ignored.

If you notice these changes, it’s time to consult your vet. Remember, your dog’s vision depends on your vigilance.

Cataract surgery is the only way to bring back your dog’s vision if cataracts affect it. It’s a costly procedure and can have some complications.

So if your dog can still see well, your vet might not recommend surgery right away.

The operation needs a general anesthetic, special tools, and regular follow-up visits.

In some rare cases, complications can lead to eye removal.

But don’t worry; severe problems are rare, and the surgery is successful about 80% to 90% of the time.

The procedure involves taking out the cataract and putting in a new artificial lens.

This can almost entirely restore your dog’s vision.

After surgery, your dog will need time to heal, possibly a few weeks to months.

But after that, they’ll be back to locking eyes with you and catching their favorite ball.

welsh corgi dog closeup

Dry eye syndrome: Spotting the discomfort

Another common issue is dry eye syndrome.

It’s not about your pet’s emotional state but a physical condition.

Dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is when your dog’s eyes don’t produce enough tears.

This lack of moisture can lead to chronic inflammation and, in severe cases, cornea scarring.

Keep an eye out for signs of discomfort in your dog.

Symptoms of dry eye include redness, irritation, and a thick, stringy discharge from the eyes.

If you spot these signs, don’t wait. It’s time to call the vet and get your pet the help they need.

It’s worth mentioning that certain breeds are more susceptible to dry eye.

Bulldogs, West Highland white terriers, and Shih Tzus are among those at a higher risk.

If your dog is one of these breeds, it’s essential to regularly monitor their eye health.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): Recognizing the decline

Progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA, represents a group of genetic diseases causing gradual retina deterioration in dogs.

As this condition progresses, it can result in severe vision loss, even complete blindness.

Being informed about PRA can help you detect it early.

Dogs can experience two types of PRA.

The first type, early-onset PRA, happens in puppies around 8–12 weeks old.

In these pups, the rods and cones in their eyes don’t form right. Sadly, they quickly lose their sight.

The second type is late-onset PRA. It affects adult dogs between 3 and 9 years old.

In this case, the rods and cones stop working, causing the dog to lose vision.

It’s considered a ‘true’ atrophy because the cells are there, but they’re not functioning.

Night blindness is often the first telltale sign of PRA, followed by a gradual decline in daytime vision.

These symptoms might seem daunting, but catching them early can make all the difference.

If your dog struggles to see in low light or appears to lose their daytime vision, it’s time to seek veterinary care.

The Siberian husky, Irish Setter, and several types of spaniels are more prone to PRA.

vet checking dog eyes

Cherry eye: Identifying the protrusion

Cherry eye is a condition where a dog’s third eyelid becomes visible and inflamed.

This can lead to an uncomfortable and noticeable change in your pet’s eye.

The key symptom of cherry eye is a red, swollen mass that shows up in the corner of your dog’s eye.

While it can look alarming, identifying this protrusion early can help your pet get the care they need quickly.

Don’t hesitate to contact your vet if you spot this symptom.

Cherry eye is common in young dogs and certain breeds like bulldogs, beagles, and cocker spaniels.

Being informed and proactive is the best way to keep your pet’s eyes healthy.

Final Word

Knowing about typical dog eye issues is a game-changer.

The conditions highlighted above are potential threats to your pet’s vision.

Your awareness is crucial to catching these problems early.

Your furry friend depends on you. So keep an eye out for the symptoms discussed.

Unusual redness, cloudiness, or vision changes?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet.

Your proactive actions can lead to effective treatments and a happier, healthier pet.

Finally, regular vet checkups are essential.

They’re not just routine visits but a chance for early detection.

Remember, your pet’s eye health is vital to their overall well-being. Be the informed and caring dog owner your pet deserves.

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National Canine Research Association of America