One of the more distressing eye problems that affects dogs is also one of the most common.

Eye injuries occur with astonishing consistency, with types of injuries ranging from lacerations to blunt trauma.

Foreign body injuries, like thorn lacerations, can also occur. Some dogs are even shot in the eye with pellet guns or other weapons, while there is also an ill-fated range of chemical injuries from paint or soap.

Other injuries come from things like insect bites.


Your Observation


Possible Problem


Slow vision lossUnwilling to go in the dark. Bumps into walls, etc.Neurological signs. Seizures, change in personalityBrain TumorSee Vet
Gradual vision lossUnwilling to go in the dark. Bumps into walls, etc.NoneCataracts, retinal or corneal degeneration, corneal pigmentationSee Vet
Sudden vision lossAfraid to move, bumps into walls and objectsNoneRetinal degeneration or detachment. Intraocular hemorrhage. Trauma - Acute glaucomaMake vet appt. immediately
Streaks of brown on fur below the eye (small poodles susceptible)Eye overflows and causes chronic wet furNoneAbnormal tear ducts or plugged Mild cases - no treatment. If serious, a specialist can perform surgery to repair tear ducts
Red mass - resembling beans in or near the corner of eye and noseUsually young Cocker Spaniels and Beagles most commonNoneCherry eye or gland swelling of third eyelidSee vet - Surgery usually required
One or both eyes has a substance resembling mucus

Dog doesn't seem to squint (if so - off an on)Eyes are bloodshot with a thick yellow or green dischargConjunctivitis due to irritant, allergy, infection, abnormal eyelashes or lidsTraditional Vet will prescribe antibiotic ointment. Holistic vets often recommend Eyebright which is what I use for my own dogs for Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye.
Stringy, thick discharge from one or both eyesTypically ChronicCornea changes over timeDry Eye Problem (lack of tears)Medication required from Vet
Eye out of socketTypically occurs in brachycephalic breeds (Pugs, Pekingnese)Lethargic - obvious painProptosed globe (eyeball falls forward from socket)Go IMMEDIATELY to emergency clinic
SquintingAppears uncomfortableEye tearing and bloodshotPossible corneal ulcer or deeper eye issueVet will examine for reason and prescribe medicine (surgery rare)
Eyelids swollenRapid onsetFace scratchingAllergic reactionVet will prescribe antihistamines/cortisone
Pupil size unequalMay squintPossible tearing
Corneal ulcer. Inflammation inside eye.
Eye trauma or brain tumorMake appt. with vet. If in pain - see vet right away
Eye larger than normal/forwardLethargic - no appetiteWhen mouth is opened it causes painTumor or abscess behind the eyeSee vet within 24 hrs
Dog eyes cloudy (cornea)Eye might look bigger, vision lossNone Cornea swelling, Edema (fluid). Possibly glaucoma or underlying life-threatening issue.Emergency-go to vet or clinic immediately
Lens cloudy
NonePossible vision lossCataracts. Old dogs nuclear (lenticular) sclerosisSee vet

So What Do You Do When Your Dog Experiences An Eye Injury?

Without hesitation take him or her to the veterinarian. But, you must work hard to prevent any further trauma to the eye. Your dog will want to rub his or her eye, but you can’t allow this to happen. There are restraint collars to prevent your dog from irritating his or her injury.

Also, eye irrigating solutions are useful for moistening the eye and keeping the area clean while you wait for the veterinarian. If you use the solution, collar and ensure that you get your dog to the vet as soon as possible, you are doing all you can to prevent long-lasting damage after trauma.

Common Eye Injuries In Dogs

There are many types of injuries that can occur, but some of the most common ones are the most dangerous. Consider the sort of injury that can happen when your dog and cat are fighting it out over a key parcel of your living room. With a simple flash of your kitty’s claws, your dog can be sent yapping for the hills.

1. But what if the claws get in your dog’s eyes?

These injuries are compounded by the fact that claws are often unclean (despite what the little duchess would have you believe) and can induce bacteria to the wound site.

This is a problem in many other sorts of injuries, hence the need for sanitation and swift medical attention.

And if the lens is ruptured by the cat’s claw, difficulties are compounded further because of possible damage. If the wounded lens is removed as soon as possible by an ophthalmologist, it can be saved before vision loss sets in. But even in the most innocent of cases (and despite your cat’s best intentions), vision loss can still occur if the claws tear the cornea.

2. Dogs cause damage to each other, too. If you have more than one dog and they like to play fight, eyes can be bruised through battles and scrapes. In some cases, the dog’s eye can even be squeezed by a bite and not display any signs of injury immediately after incident. Over time, conditions like glaucoma can result because of damage you can’t see on the surface.

Remember that your dog’s eye is an awful lot like a malleable ball. If it is squeezed, the ball compresses but can rapidly regain its shape. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any structural damage.

Pugs, Bull Dogs, Shih Tzus and other flat-faced dogs are prone to another type of injury called Proptosis. Because these dogs have shallow eye sockets and big eyelid openings, the eyes are actually forced from the sockets in some cases.

This is an EMERGENCY situation and must be addressed immediately by calling the veterinarian. Use a sterile saline solution and the aforementioned eye irrigation solution to keep the eye moist (do not use cleaning solutions under any circumstances) and keep your dog calm. Don’t rush for pain medication and do not let your dog rub the eye area.

There are many other types of eye injuries to discuss and other ways that dogs can get hurt, sadly. It’s a big world out there and it can be hard to keep them safe from harm at all times. Despite best efforts, our best friends can become seriously hurt. But with care and attention (and the right procedures), we can stave off some of the more severe vision problems and ensure our dogs’ sight is maintained.

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Showing 4 comments
  • alma pina

    I took my boxer for rabies shots and he was very hard for the vet to handle. They ended up taking him in another room after I muzzled him. When they brought him back he had a very tight choke collar on. Now one of his eyes is bright red and it has never been like that. I know he gave them a HARD time because I could hear him. I was wondering if the tight choke leash could have caused the eye redness. Does anyone have a answer?

    • janie knetzer

      Hi Alma:
      I can’t answer that one for you, but I do wonder why they took him into another room to vaccinate him? LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT VACCINATIONS AND THE HARMFUL IMPACT THEY CAN HAVE ON OUR FUR KIDS!


      Stuffy nose

      • alma pina

        Janie, the reason they took him in another room is that they needed more room to work with him. He weighs 80 lbs and was being very difficult. He needed the rabies vaccination to renew his license.

        • janie knetzer

          Okay, the room was too small I guess. Remember Alma; rabies is the only vaccination required by law. DO NOT get this vaccination more than once every three years (which is still too much according to holistic vets, but it’s the law) and NEVER bundle vaccinations (getting a bunch at one time which many vets like to do). I recommend a holistic vet who will perform a titer test to check your dog’s immunity against diseases that dogs are vaccinated for.

          Regarding his eye; my recommendation is to place a warm compress on his eye 3 x a day. I’m not positive that this will help in his case since we don’t know if it’s a broken blood vessel, etc. But, this simple little procedure is the one that’s most often recommended and helps. You have to make sure though that you keep the clean cloth very warm.


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