A healthy dog should have clean, bright eyes that aren’t irritated or discharged (redness). Red or yellow should not appear on the eye’s whites.
Common signs that your dog may have an eye problem include:
- reddened inner eyelids
- Surface debris or particles in the corners of the eyes
- cloudiness inside the eye
- drab eye surface
- The third eyelid, which looks like a pink curtain or membrane fold, crosses the eye.
- Extra tears or strange discharges
- Fur with tear stains around the eyes
How can I determine the health of my dog’s eyes?
Your dog’s eyes, in addition to her tail, may tell you a lot about how she is feeling, including whether she wants to play, go for a walk, or is happy. The health of her eyes, one of her body’s most priceless and intricate organs, is essential to her happiness for the rest of her life.
Dog eyes are different from human eyes in a number of ways, including:
- larger pupils to improve vision in low light
- greater ability to perceive movement than color and detail
- Long-nosed dogs have excellent peripheral vision because they focus intensely at a distance.
- Short-nosed dogs are excellent at understanding facial expressions and other short-range visual cues.
- a thin shutter-like third eyelid that serves as protection for the eyeball.
These variations explain why they view the world differently than we do. Similar to how we see at dusk, most dogs see shapes rather than clearly defined images. Dogs rely more on their keen sense of smell than on their vision to “see the world around them.
The health of your dog can be learned a lot from looking into her eyes. The ASPCA provides nine health recommendations to assist you in identifying both healthy eyes and warning signals that your dog may require veterinary or eye care attention.
- Look directly into your dog’s eyes in a well-lit environment. The white area around the eye should be white, and they should be bright and clear. Healthy eyes should not tear, discharge, or have crust in the corners. The pupils should be the same size. Bring your dog to the vet if you see cloudiness, yellowish whites, uneven pupil size, or a visible third eyelid.
- Gently roll down the lower eyelid of your dog with your thumb to reveal the lining. Instead of red or white, it should be pink.
- Your dog may have some dirt in her eyes if you see discharge or runny eyes. Wipe a damp cotton ball gently from the corner of the eye outward. Please avoid touching her eye or rubbing the cornea. If the issue persists, your dog can have an eye infection that needs medical attention from your veterinarian.
- To prevent hairs from scratching or poking your dog’s eyes, groom the region around their eyes. Use round-tipped scissors with great caution. You might ask a friend or family member to hold your dog’s head while you do this.
- If you are using any sprays or flea-control solutions, keep your dog’s eyes safe. Avoid using grooming items that can irritate your dog’s eyes.
- Watch how your dog acts. Keep an eye out for any frequent rubbing or squinting. These could be signs of something else going on that needs veterinary care.
- When you’re driving, resist the urge to let your dog hang her head out the window. The risk of infection or harm if debris or an insect touches your dog’s eye is not worth it. The wind might dry up your dog’s eyes.
- To ensure that your dog’s eyes remain in the best possible condition throughout her life, research her breed.
- Make sure your veterinarian examines your dog’s eyes during routine well-animal visits.
Your dog will age naturally, going through changes brought on by growing older. Many dogs get lens clouding beyond the age of six. Your dog will adjust to these changes as this process unfolds gradually.
With aging, their night vision will become less sharp. Extra illumination can help your dog feel more at peace so she will be more willing to venture outside at night.
As they age, certain dogs may become more sensitive to light, but they will adjust as the change takes hold.
An antioxidant-rich, healthful food is crucial for supporting your dog’s eye health. These items should be fed raw unless otherwise stated. For optimum digestion, lightly purée the fruits and vegetables:
- Carotenoids, phytonutrients, and flavonoids in blueberries
- Vitamin A and beta-carotene in carrots
- Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants in kale
- Beta-carotene and anthocyanins from sweet potatoes (always serve well cooked)
- Lutein, sulfur, and cysteine in eggs (lightly cooked or raw)
- Salmon and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (raw salmon must be deep-frozen before serving)
The commercial food of your dog will benefit greatly from the addition of these antioxidants in order to enhance eye health. The consequences of the free radicals produced by oxidation will be mitigated by them. Similar to human bodies, cells and tissues can be attacked by free radicals brought on by stress, improper metabolic processes, and a poor nutrition.
Although free radicals can harm other body tissues as well as the immune system of your dog, they are particularly damaging to eye tissues. A diet high in antioxidants at a young age will benefit their general health as they get older.
Our hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and only human-grade meats are used in our bland diet recipes. They are free of pesticides and colours and are gluten-free. produced and sourced in the United States.
When is it time to worry about my dog’s eyes?
Glaucoma, or elevated pressure in the eye, is indicated by the eye being larger than usual.
The eye is forced from its socket. Tumors or the distinctive shallow eye socket of brachycephalic breeds like Pugs may be to blame for this.
Swollen Eyes in Dogs
An accident, an allergy, or an infection can all result in swollen eyes. It may also be connected to eyelid anomalies such entropion skin infections or corneal damage.
A veterinarian should examine your dog’s eyes if they are swollen to determine the cause and the best course of action.
Irritated/Red Eyes in Dogs
Dogs’ red eyes are frequently a sign of various eye conditions. It might be brought on by anything as straightforward as an allergy. On the other hand, infections, corneal ulcers, protracted dry eye, tumors, glaucoma, and a host of other issues could also be to blame.
If your dog’s eyes are red, take them to the vet. Other symptoms like discharge from the eyes, squinting, and cloudiness in the cornea can help your veterinarian identify the reason.
Squinting in Dogs
Dogs who are in agony with their eyes will squint. Numerous eye conditions, such as allergy, infection, corneal ulcer, chronic dry eye, and glaucoma, are associated with it. Additionally, it may be connected to painful conditions of the eyelids such entropion, tumors, and skin infections.
Glassy Eyes in Dogs
Glassy eyes are a sign of inflamed eyes, which can be brought on by allergies, chronic dry eye, or pink eye. Glassy eyes are another symptom of dehydration.
Finding the cause and treating it are necessary for the problem to be resolved. So, if your dog has glassy eyes, is lethargic, isn’t eating, or is otherwise acting out of the ordinary, take him to the vet as soon as you can.
Cloudy Eyes in Dogs
Dogs’ foggy eyes have a variety of causes, including:
Eyelid conditions like entropion or eyelid tumors that irritate the cornea
A veterinarian should evaluate cloudy eyes as soon as possible to determine the cause and the best course of action.
The sooner the problem is fixed, the more comfortable your dog will be and the less likely it is that the eye will sustain long-term damage.
Goopy Eyes in Dogs
It is typical for all dogs to create a tiny quantity of clear or white discharge in the corners of their eyes. Important indicators of the type of eye disease your dog may have include the color and quantity of ocular discharge.
The inside corners of some dog breeds’ eyes develop rust-colored stains as a result of their increased tear production in comparison to other dog breeds. Allergies or a nasolacrimal duct obstruction are both known to cause watery, transparent discharge. The normal discharge from a bacterial infection is yellow or green. Chronic dry eye is typically accompanied with an extremely thick and dry discharge that clings to the eye.
Growth/Lump on a Dog’s Eyelid
Meibomian cysts, which are benign tumors along the edge of the eyelid, are typically not an issue unless they are big enough to rub against the surface of the eye. Surgery will be required to remove the cyst if it swells up to an unhealthy size or becomes inflammatory enough to harm the dog’s eye.
Mast cell tumors, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are a few examples of malignant tumors that can develop on the eyelid and need to be surgically removed.
Third Eyelid Visible in Dogs
The third eyelid of a dog is a crucial component since it protects the eye and houses the eye’s biggest tear gland.
The tear gland can be seen on the third eyelid as a huge, smooth, crimson mass on the upper margin of the third eyelid when it prolapses (becomes displaced). Tumors include lymphoma, melanoma, hemangiosarcoma, and squamous cell carcinoma can potentially develop on the third eyelid. The third eyelid becomes enlarged and noticeable in tumors.
The third eyelid may rise into view as a result of the eye rolling back into the socket due to a neurological disorder, such as Horner’s syndrome or tetanus.
Dogs who are experiencing eye pain may also draw their eyes further into their sockets, which may cause the third eyelid to become visible. A third eyelid that is apparent can also be caused by dehydration and a shrunken eye.
What do the eyes of a typical dog look like?
You’ve probably heard that dogs have poor vision and can only see in black and white. According to popular perception, a dog’s strongest senses are scent and hearing rather than sight. However, that is a narrow perspective on dogs’ eyes.
Dogs utilize their eyes for so much more than just sight, as anybody who has ever been conned out of some food by a dog’s plaintive gaze or had a dog follow you around the house as you do chores can attest to.
Although dogs’ eyes are not as sharp as those of other hawk-eyed animals (such as hawks), they are nevertheless essential and evolutionary wonders. Dogs’ eyes are an often-overlooked wonder that have contributed to these animals becoming the devoted companions and diligent workers we know them to be, whether they are used for spotting something in the distance, giving the whale eye in a tense situation, gazing lovingly and blasting oxytocin at their human, or using their best pleading puppy dog eyes to score treats.
What eye colors can a dog have?
The eyes of most dogs are varied tones of brown. However, dogs can also have eyes that are nearly any other color. There’s a good chance you’ve seen huskies with blue eyes or perhaps a pair of blue and brown eyes (a condition called heterochromia). Dogs can have green or hazel eyes, however these are less common. As pups age, their eyes may change hue just like humans’ do.
How alike are human and canine eyes?
Dogs’ eyes are eerily similar to humans’, from the pupil shape and iris colors to the seeming capacity to express emotion with the simple lift of a brow, and there’s a reason for that, unlike the occasionally striking differences between humans’ and other species’ eyes.
Human and canine eyes are structurally quite similar. Similar to a camera, our eyes capture light and translate it into perceptible images. Both of us have circular, black pupils that are ringed by colored irises that control how much light enters the eye (this is why your pupils dilate depending on how bright or dark it is). The retina, the tissue lining the eye, receives the light from the pupil and iris and transmits it through the lens to the retina. The retina analyzes the light and converts it into an image, which the brain then interprets.
However, there are a number of notable contrasts between our perspectives on the world and those of our dogs, all of which reveal something about the nature of dogs both before they first joined us around the fire thousands of years ago and as we have evolved together.
Dog eye anatomy
Dogs have three eyelids instead of just two. As with humans, your dog has two eyelids that move together to blink, but they also have a third lid, known as a nictitating membrane or a haw, that moves across the eye from the inside corner.
The three functions of the haw are to keep the eye moist, shield the cornea from physical impurities that can scrape it, and support immunological function all while allowing your dog can see. This is crucial because dogs are so low to the ground that strolling through grass and other vegetation puts their eye health at greater risk than it does for people.
As the membrane is relatively conspicuous in these breeds, dog owners who live with hounds, spaniels, and other droopy eyed puppies are probably already aware that dogs have haws, but in most dogs, you can only see a very small portion of it near the inner corner of the eye. On occasion, when a dog is sedated or falls sleepy, you can see the membrane begin to drag across the eye.
How well can dogs see?
We have dogs beat when it comes to optical acuity, despite the fact that dogs can easily outsmell and outhear people. Humans normally have 20/20 vision at their peak, which allows them to see objects clearly from 20 feet away that have a certain size. Experts believe that many dogs have 20/75 vision, which effectively implies that they must be 20 feet away from an object in order to see it with the same accuracy that a human can at 75 feet, despite the fact that visual acuity might vary by breed.
Are dogs nearsighted or farsighted?
Dogs are often neither nearsighted nor farsighted, which means they have trouble seeing objects that are farther away. However, some evidence suggests that some breeds, like Rottweilers, German shepherds, and small Schnauzers, are more prone to having poor vision. Additionally, one study discovered that as dogs mature, their nearsightedness may worsen.
Do dogs see in black and white?
Dogs do not, despite popular assumption, see in black and white. Though not as many hues as humans, they can nevertheless see color. So life isn’t exactly a riot of color either, even though they’re not wandering around in a perplexing landscape of various shades of gray.
Cone cells, which enable mammals to see color, are less common in dogs than in humans. Dogs only have two of the three cone types we have, thus they only see yellow and blue, which is analogous to red-green color blindness in humans. It’s hard to tell that bright red toy from your hardwood floors in this environment full of dull browns, greys, yellows, and blues.
Dogs employ smell, texture, and other sensory clues to compensate for the absence of color and appropriately comprehend their surroundings. Dogs “look with their noses, which is an indication of exactly how much information they process through their olfactory system,” as you’ve surely heard.
Humans are undoubtedly nocturnal beings. During the day, we go about our daily lives, eating, working, and moving in the sunlight. Dogs, on the other hand, descended from wolves, who hunted and moved mostly at dawn, dusk, and at night, necessitating the ability to see in dim or no light situations. As a result, dogs’ eyes reflect this ancestry.
Dogs not only have more rods, which are the photoreceptors that allow mammals to see in the dark, but they also developed the tapetum lucidum, a reflective layer beneath the retina that functions as a mirror at night to increase light sensitivity. Dogs’ eyes glow in photos or at night because of this layer.
Dogs’ eyes sit relatively wide on their skulls compared to ours, giving them larger fields of vision than humans. A dog’s field of vision ranges from 240 to 270 degrees depending on the breed (compared to our 180-degree field of vision). This makes hunting and keeping an eye out for danger easier because they can view more of their surroundings without having to move their heads.
Although improved depth perception aids in jumping and catching, it also reduces field of vision, which is why so many dogs struggle to catch treats or toys thrown at close range.
A large, slightly hazy, dull field of vision doesn’t exactly seem like the optimal evolutionary path for these crucial organs when you consider all of these variations together. But that doesn’t fully convey the situation.
How dogs use their eyes to communicate
The fact that we can’t simply converse with our dogs is one of life’s greatest injustices. Dogs may interact with their two-legged companions, however, by employing a combination of body language, verbal communication (like as barking), and eye contact.
In contrast to their wild counterparts, dogs have evolved more expressive facial features over the course of their 30,000+ years by our sides, giving them the astonishing capacity to transmit complex emotions with just a raise of the brow.
Recent studies have revealed that, in contrast to wolves, dogs have a complex of muscles around their eyes that enable them to express human emotions including melancholy, doubt, defiance, and others. The retractor anguli oculi lateralis (RAOL) draws the eyelid towards the ear, emphasizing the enlarged look of the eye. The levator anguli oculi medialis (LAOM) elevates the inner eyebrow, increasing the appearance of the eye and giving canines an almost baby-like appearance. Both the LAOM and RAOL muscles are present in all dogs, with the exception of Siberian huskies (making their puppy dog eyes ever so slightly less prominent).
Dogs may have developed these muscles expressly to interact with and control their human counterparts, essentially “weaponizing their attractiveness,” according to researchers. This could be seen of as your dog’s method of asking for something or expressing a need or want.
Puppy-dog eyes are extremely successful at getting what a dog wants, whether that be a bite of your food, a softer expression after they’ve done something bad, or a leisurely stroll outside.
Dog eye contact: bonding or threat?
Staring can be used by dogs to communicate danger, show respect for people or other canines, or even to form bonds with their human family members. Their motive depends on the situation, the person looking, their body language, and the prevailing mood.
Make eye contact with the owner of the dog. According to a 2015 study, eye contact between owners and their dogs fosters sentiments of affection and bonding by raising oxytocin levels. Even parent-infant connection has been used as a comparison by researchers.
However, eye contact isn’t always beneficial. Staring is relatively high on the canine aggressiveness scale and might be an indication of tension or nervousness. Additionally, any form of extended eye contact might be interpreted as a display of dominance or a threat depending on how your dog was socialized.
Finally, even though it may seem humorous, if you ever see your dog giving the side eye, also known as the whale eye, take it as a hint to soothe them or help them escape the circumstances they are in. Find out more about the meaning of a dog’s glares here.
How can I tell if my dog’s eyes are healthy?
Your dog’s eyes can let you know about underlying health issues based on their color, shape, and even moisture content.
Similar to people, your dog’s eyes may reveal a lot with just a quick glance. Are they hazy or clear? The eyes’ whites appear to be crimson, but are they really white? Does dampness make them shine? Are there any discharges or alterations in color? Are your dog’s eyes being pawed at? They could all be symptoms of canine eye conditions that are common.
Common dog eye problems
Cataracts: A medical disease known as cataracts causes the eye’s lens to gradually become opaque. Cataracts are easily recognized as thick, white spots at the center of the eye. They can cause vision impairment and even blind areas. Cataracts are distinct from the age-related general eye clouding in dogs, which typically has a blue tinge. A veterinarian may advise surgery to remove the tissue and improve your dog’s vision if the symptoms are severe enough. Cataracts can be brought on by eye trauma or other underlying eye disorders, but they are frequently hereditary. Diabetes and cataracts are related conditions. This is only one of the many benefits of maintaining your dog’s healthy weight and physique.
Cherry eye: In some dog breeds, the muscular fibers that link the nictitating membrane, or haw, to the rest of the eye are weaker. The tear-producing gland, which is a component of the haw, can prolapse and become apparent in the inner corner of the eye when those muscle fibers fail. Surgery can be used to fix it. In the interim, your dog can also be given eye drops to help with comfort; your veterinarian can explain whether this is a viable choice.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the eyelids (including the third eyelid) and loops back over the eye to protect the sclera. Conjunctivitis is more generally referred to as pink eye (the white part of the eye).
Dogs can scratch their corneas, the transparent membrane that covers the outside of the eye, just like people can. This can result in mild discomfort, weeping, or even a milky, pus-like discharge. If left untreated, ulcers can result in infection, visual loss, permanent damage, and even necessitate the removal of the affected eye. A veterinarian will typically prescribe medication to cure ulcers.
Dry eyes are not simply bothersome for your dog; they are frequently characterized by redness, excessive blinking, and even yellowish mucosal discharge. Insufficient tear production in dogs might result in more serious issues including recurrent corneal ulcers and irreversible vision loss. Lubricating eye ointment is often applied daily to relieve dry eyes.
Glaucoma: Glaucoma is an unhealthful rise in eye pressure, and symptoms include watery discharge, redness, protruding or enlarged eyes, and even lethargy. Glaucoma can hurt and even kill the retina, rendering the patient legally blind. In addition to secondary causes like tumors behind the eyes or scar tissue build-up from recurrent infections, glaucoma can also be hereditary. A veterinarian will provide medicine that encourages fluid drainage and lowers eye pressure to treat glaucoma and stop it from worsening and causing serious damage. The affected eye may need to be removed if the condition is advanced or acute, or if your dog is in excruciating pain.