Eye Conditions in Dogs: Symptoms & Care


Looking into our dog’s eyes, we can learn whether they are happy, sad, excited, or not feeling well. Common symptoms of ill dog health are cloudiness of the eyes, inflammation, or tearing. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, continue reading to learn more.

You can tell a lot about your dog by looking into his eyes. Their kindness, cheery mood, and empathy shine through them. We love looking into our dog’s eyes, which is good because it means if there is any eye illness, you’ll notice it, but when should you go to the vet with an eye issue?

She is a white poodle mix who had severe rust staining around her eyes, mouth, and paws. After we fed her Darwin’s, it’s gone. She was a finicky eater and we had trouble getting her to eat. After we started her on Darwins, she has never walked away without thoroughly licking her bowl clean – Sam C., California 

Common Eye Conditions in Dogs

Eye health is an essential aspect of your dog's overall well-being. Just like humans, dogs can experience a range of eye conditions that, if left untreated, can affect their quality of life. Understanding these conditions and their symptoms can help you identify potential issues early on.

Types and Symptoms

Eye conditions in our canine companions can range from temporary discomfort to chronic diseases leading to vision loss. Conjunctivitis in dogs, or more commonly called pink eye, is a dog eye infection that can cause your pet's eyes to appear red and swollen, often accompanied by a watery or pus-like discharge. Cataracts and glaucoma not only affect your dog's appearance, making their eyes look cloudy or bulging, but they can also lead to significant discomfort and vision impairment. Breeds like the Boston Terrier and the senior members of our dog community are particularly susceptible to these conditions, underscoring the importance of regular check-ups and breed-specific care.1

In addition to these, conditions like lenticular sclerosis, often mistaken for cataracts, present as a bluish haze over the lens (commonly called ‘cloudy eyes’) and are a normal aspect of aging in dogs, particularly in those golden years. Understanding these nuances in eye health can significantly impact your dog's comfort and happiness.

Causes of Eye Conditions

The reasons behind eye conditions in dogs are as varied as the conditions themselves, encompassing genetic, environmental, and health-related factors. Genetics can predispose certain breeds to specific conditions, such as retinal degeneration in the Labrador Retriever or corneal dystrophy in the Cocker Spaniel. Environmental factors, including exposure to pollutants, foreign bodies, or even the UV rays from the sun, can exacerbate or directly cause eye issues. Underlying health problems, such as hypothyroidism or systemic infections, can manifest in the eyes, making it crucial to address these conditions holistically.2

Seeking Treatment for Eye Conditions

When it comes to the health of your dog's eyes, timely intervention can make a world of difference. Knowing how to tell if your dog is sick and subsequently recognizing when to seek professional help and understanding the treatment options available are key steps in safeguarding your dog's vision and comfort.

When to See a Vet

Early detection is paramount in effectively treating eye conditions in dogs. If you notice any signs of discomfort, such as excessive blinking, redness, or your dog persistently rubbing their eyes, it's time to consult your vet. Eye conditions can escalate quickly, turning what might be a simple issue into something that could permanently affect your dog's vision or quality of life. It's especially important for dog owners to be vigilant and proactive, as our furry friends can't communicate their discomfort as humans do.

Veterinary specialists play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating eye conditions, employing a range of tools and techniques to get to the heart of the issue. Their expertise can be the difference between a minor treatment and a major intervention.

Treatment Options

The treatment for eye conditions in dogs varies widely, tailored to the specific diagnosis and severity of the condition. Mild infections might require only topical eye drops or ointments, while more severe issues like glaucoma or cataracts could necessitate surgical intervention. Innovations in veterinary medicine, including laser therapy and advanced surgical techniques, offer new hope for conditions that were once deemed untreatable. For genetic conditions leading to blindness, management strategies, including environmental adjustments and supportive care, can ensure your dog maintains a high quality of life.

Preventive Measures for Eye Health

Maintaining your dog's eye health isn't just about treating problems as they arise—it's about taking steps to prevent them wherever possible. Regular care and protective measures can keep your dog's eyes bright and healthy.

Regular Eye Exams

Just as humans benefit from regular eye exams, so too do our canine companions. These exams are crucial for early detection of potential problems, particularly for breeds prone to specific eye conditions. A veterinary specialist can offer comprehensive exams that not only assess the health of your dog's eyes but can also spot early signs of conditions that might not yet be causing visible symptoms. This proactive approach to eye care can prevent minor issues from developing into serious problems.

Regular eye exams are particularly vital for breeds with a genetic predisposition to eye problems and for senior dogs, whose eye health can rapidly decline with age. By ensuring these exams are a routine part of your dog's health care regimen, you're taking a crucial step in protecting their vision and quality of life.

Protective Measures

Beyond regular exams, there are several everyday steps you can take to protect your dog's eyes. Keeping their face clean and trimming fur that could irritate their eyes are simple yet effective strategies. When engaging in outdoor activities, consider protective eyewear for dogs, especially in windy or sunny conditions, to prevent injury and UV damage. 

Another easy step you can take every day with any breed is to feed your dog a proper diet. A poor quality, highly processed, high carb diet is one of the most common causes of crusty, runny, dull eyes. Commercial foods can also cause an allergic reaction, leaving your dog with red runny eyes.

By switching to a natural dog food full of quality meat and vegetables, your dog will naturally fight off toxins that would otherwise cause issues with their eyes, ears and digestive tract.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Vision's Ally

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are essential for maintaining the health of the retina and may help prevent conditions like dry eye and age-related vision decline. The retina, a critical part of the eye responsible for converting light into neural signals for the brain, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a type of omega-3, is a major structural component of retinal cells. This high concentration of DHA in the retina underscores its importance in visual development and the maintenance of normal vision. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, support the integrity of the retinal structure and function, potentially reducing the risk of developing age-related ocular conditions.3

Beyond structural support, omega-3 fatty acids offer potent anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for eyes prone to conditions like dry eye syndrome or uveitis. Inflammation can lead to discomfort, redness, and long-term damage to eye tissues. Found in various types of fish, sunflower seed oil, as well as meats and dairy products of grass fed-animals, omega-3s being added into a dog's diet can help modulate the inflammatory response, providing relief and protection for the eyes.

Protein for Eye Structure Support

Protein is a foundational building block in the diet of dogs, playing a critical role in the health and function of their entire body, including their eyes. The structural integrity of the eye, from the cornea to the lens and even the muscles controlling eye movement, relies heavily on the availability and quality of dietary protein. High-quality protein sources provide essential amino acids that are vital for repairing tissues and supporting the metabolic processes within the eye.4

In crafting a diet that supports your dog's eye health, consider incorporating a variety of protein sources to ensure a balanced supply of essential amino acids and nutrients. This approach not only supports the structural integrity and function of the eye but contributes to the overall health and vitality of your dog. Whether through carefully selected natural pet food or well-planned homemade meals, prioritizing high-quality protein can play a significant role in maintaining your dog's eye health and enhancing their quality of life.

Eye conditions in dogs can be a significant concern for pet owners, but with the right knowledge, care, and nutrition, many of these issues can be managed or even prevented. By understanding the signs and causes of common eye conditions, seeking timely treatment, and taking preventive measures, you can help ensure your dog's eyes remain healthy and bright.

At Darwin's, our menu consultants and pet advisors are dedicated to helping you choose the best raw dog food for your dog's specific health needs. Incorporating Darwin's natural pet food into your dog's diet means choosing a path of conscious care, inspired by nature and informed by science. It's a choice to support not just their eye health but their happiness and vitality at every stage of life.


  1. Canine Eye Disease

By Eye Specialists for Animals - Denver, Colorado Springs Container: Eye Specialists for Animals Year: 2020 URL: https://eyespecialistsforanimals.com/canine-eye-disease/

  1. 12 genetic eye conditions in dogs: An overview

By Anna Barden Container: All About Vision Publisher: All About Vision Year: 2022 URL: https://www.allaboutvision.com/eye-care/pets-animals/genetic-eye-conditions-dogs/

  1. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Eye Health: Summary

By W Hodge, D Barnes, HM Schachter, Y Pan, EC Lowcock, L Zhang, M Sampson, A Morrison, K Tran, M Miguelez, G Lewin Container: Nih.gov Publisher: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US) Year: 2005 URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11888/

  1. Top 10 foods for your dog's vision | Animal Wellness Magazine

By Suzi Beber, Suzi Beber Container: Animal Wellness Magazine Year: 2013 URL: https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/best-foods-vision/

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