Written by Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Linda Simon.
We look closely at our dog’s eyes every day and most owners will notice if something is different right away. Realising your dog may have an issue with their eye health can be jarring, as we all know just how important their vision is for their day to day life.
There are a range of signs your dog may display when something is going on with one or both of their eyes. These signs may progress slowly or come on seemingly overnight. Watch out for the following:
Home is not the place to be diagnosing or attempting to treat an eye issue. It is important that a dog with an eye problem be seen by a vet right away. This is especially true if they seem in discomfort or are a dog breed known to suffer with significant eye issues such as a Pug or Shih Tzu.
The vet will check your dog all over and ask you questions about the signs you’ve noticed. They will assess your dog’s vision and ocular reflexes and should look right into the back of the eye to assess the retina. It is likely your vet will measure your dog’s tear production and stain the cornea for any scratches or ulcers. If there is a concern for glaucoma (raised pressure), the eye pressure will be measured. All of these tests can be done quickly and during a routine consultation by a ‘GP’ vet.
While there are a huge range of eye conditions that can affect dogs, below is a short explanation of some of the more common ones.
For some dogs, a mild discharge that is clear is ‘normal’ for them. These dogs will have brown or red tear stains under their eyes and will not show signs of ocular discomfort.
Certain dog breeds, such as the Maltese and Poodle are notorious for tear stains and the colour is due to a pigment called porphyrin. This tear staining is not a concern and is more of a cosmetic issue. However, it is sensible to confirm with your vet that there is nothing more going on.
If your dog has a medical reason for their eyes to be discharging or crusty, your vet will advise you on how best to clean them. This will usually involve warm water or saline washes before the application of medicine.
For those with tear staining, there are several products on the market that claim to reduce the appearance of tear stains. In my experience, none work brilliantly. Owners can gently clean under the eyes with rose water each morning, being sure to dry the fur well after. This prevents crusts from forming and keeps the dog more comfortable.
Want to know more about how to take care of your dog's grooming needs at home? Read our article by award winning dog groomer to find out her top tips for grooming your dog at home.