Aqueos - Common Eye Problems in Dogs

Aqueos - Common Eye Problems in Dogs

Common eye problems in dogs

Problems involving the eyes can be very painful! Some problems may also affect your dog’s vision, especially if left untreated. This means it’s really important to know what to look out for, and when to be concerned about your dog’s eyes. So, here’s how to care for your dog’s eyes.


Caring for your dog’s eyes

It’s important to pay attention to how your dog’s eyes look. Knowing what’s normal for them will make it much easier for you to spot any abnormalities. How do you know if something is wrong with your dog’s eyes? Watch out for:

redness in the eye (bloodshot)

swelling around the eye

abnormal discharge or tears

increased tears


blinking more than usual, or holding the eye closed

bulging or sunken eyes

a change in the size or shape of the pupil

the third eyelid showing

a lump in or around the eye

changes in vision

blood in the eye.

Any of these may indicate a problem. As soon as you notice any of them, or any other changes in your dog’s eyes, make an appointment with your veterinarian straight away. Eye conditions can deteriorate surprisingly quickly!

Make eye care part of the daily routine

Eye care should be included in your daily care routine. As well as checking for any abnormalities, you may need to keep the skin around your dog’s eyes clean. Some dogs are prone to ‘epiphora’, which means excessive watering. This can happen if a dog produces too many tears, or if their tears don’t drain properly. The shape of the face in some breeds makes the tear ducts too narrow, so tears spill down the face instead of draining through the ducts.

If your dog is prone to epiphora then it’s important to clean around their eyes daily. Otherwise, the fur stays damp, which irritates the skin underneath and can cause skin infections. You can clean around their eyes with warm water on a cotton pad or using dog-safe wipes. If your dog is also prone to skin infections, choose antibacterial skin wipes made for dogs.

Common eye conditions in dogs

Many conditions may affect your dog’s eyes. It’s a good idea to be aware of the more common ones, so let’s take a look!


Conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the membrane lining the surface of the eye and the inside of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, or it can happen as a result of another condition such as allergies or dry eye.

Conjunctivitis causes the eyes to look bloodshot, with a weepy or gunky discharge. Your dog may rub their face, since their eyes may be itchy. You may also notice your dog blinking more than usual.

Corneal ulcer 

Corneal ulcers are ulcers on the surface of the eye (the cornea). They are commonly caused by trauma, such as a scratch. They can also be caused by infection, dry eye, or a problem with the eyelids. For example, if the eyelids are rolled inwards (entropion) then the eyelashes can rub the surface of the eye, causing damage.

Corneal ulcers can be superficial, or they can go deeper into the layers of the cornea. Deep ulcers are a serious condition that can lead to loss of vision or even the eyeball rupturing. Any ulcer is extremely painful and needs prompt veterinary treatment.

The signs of a corneal ulcer are much the same as conjunctivitis, although the signs are often more exaggerated.

Dry eye, or KCS (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)

Dry eye is a lack of tear production by the tear glands. It is usually immune-mediated, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks the tear glands. It can be very painful if untreated.

Signs of dry eye include a gunky discharge, bloodshot eyes, and recurring infections or corneal ulcers. You may also notice your dog rubbing at their eyes. Dry eye cannot be cured, but it can be successfully managed with lifelong treatment.

Cherry eye

Cherry eye is where the tear gland of the third eyelid pops out. It looks like a cherry in the corner of the eye, hence the name. Some breeds are more prone to cherry eye, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, and it runs in families. It usually happens in puppies and may affect one or both eyes.

Surgery is usually needed to correct cherry eye, which involves sewing the gland back in place. While the gland used to be removed, we now know that this isn’t an appropriate treatment option, since removing the gland leads to other problems, such as dry eye.


Glaucoma is a very painful condition in which fluid builds up within the eye, causing the pressure in the eye to increase. Not only is it very painful, but it can also lead to blindness if not treated promptly. While there is no cure for glaucoma, it can be treated. Glaucoma can be primary (happen on its own), or secondary to other conditions, such as cataracts, which prevent the fluid in the eye from draining properly.

A dog with glaucoma would have very red, weepy eye(s) which may appear to bulge. The pupils may be uneven or especially wide. The eyes may appear blue or cloudy. The dog would most likely show obvious signs of pain such as squinting, avoiding light, and rubbing their face.


Cataracts are a change in the lens of the eye, which makes the lens appear cloudy. They reduce the amount of light passing through the lens, causing reduced vision and eventual blindness. Cataracts have many possible causes, such as old age and diabetes. Most dogs cope well with cataracts. There is surgery available to remove them at specialist centres.

Cataracts look cloudy. However, it is important to remember that cloudiness can also be caused by other, more serious, eye conditions. Therefore, you must get your dog’s eyes checked if you notice them going cloudy.

If you notice any of these signs, or any changes in your dog’s eyes at all, then it’s important that you take your dog to the veterinarian straight away. Eye conditions are often painful and can lead to more serious complications if left untreated.

Sarah-Jane Molier