Being able to see is very important to your dog. Although our dogs don’t rely on sight as much as humans do, their sight is still a major way they interact with the world. As pet parents, it is important we pay attention to our dog’s eyes and try to spot problems before they get out of hand.

Eye infections happen. Yes, some breeds are prone to infections more than others but any dog can get one. It’s important that pet parents know what to look for. Signs of a canine eye infection include excessive crying and whining, light sensitivity, redness, and green or yellow discharge that crusts over their eyes. Breeds prone to eye infections include cocker spaniels, Maltese, Pekingese, poodles, pugs, and Shih-Tzus.

Sometimes infections can be caused because they just get something in their eyes that have bacteria. At other times, they may come into contact with another dog that’s infected. If your dog attends doggy day cares, goes to dog parks or comes in contact with other dogs, you may want to pay attention to any changes to his eyes.

Cataracts, is largely a genetic condition that will make the lens of your dog’s eye appear increasingly white or cloudy, coinciding with a progressive deterioration in his vision and eventually leading to blindness.

All dog breeds can develop cataracts, and it’s also possible to get them from disease, immune system problems, or injury. But some breeds are more susceptible than others. These include: American Cocker Spaniel, Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, Havanese, Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature and Standard Poodle, Silky Terriers, and Smooth Fox Terriers.

In-grown eyelids, also known as entropion, with this condition, your dog’s eyelids will actually grow or roll inwards, rubbing up against the cornea and causing damage and discomfort. Though it can occur in any dog, entropion is a leading health concern in breeds such as the Akita, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bloodhound, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chow, English Bulldog, English Mastiff, Great Dane, Neapolitan Mastiff, Rottweiler, Spaniels, St Bernards, Vizsla, and Weimaraner.

While each of these problems are likely to require veterinary consultation and specific treatments to solve the issue, there are still a number of general things you can do to keep your dog’s eyes healthy and to catch things early on.

  • Check your dog’s eyes regularly by taking her to a bright area and looking for crust, discharge, or tearing, and making sure there’s white around the eyeball. Watch out for cloudiness, unequal pupil sizes, a visible third eyelid, a change in eye color, closed eyes, or rubbing of the eyes. These are signs your dog needs to see the vet.
  • While you’re there, look at the inner lining of his eyelid by rolling the lid down. You want it to be pink, not white or red.
  • Keep her eyes free of gunk and crustiness by using a damp cotton ball and wiping outward from the corner of her eye, being careful not to scratch the cornea. Use dog eye wash if you see redness, which is common during dry winters.
  • Long hair can scratch and poke your dog’s eyes, so trim those bangs using round-tip scissors.
  • It might bring a smile to your face — and your dog’s — when they stick their head out the window while riding in the car, but wind and debris can actually cause serious eye problems.

If in doubt, ask your veterinarian. He or she will be happy to examine your dog and treat problems or talk to you about how to avoid them.

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