Dogs’ eyes: discharge, swelling or redness are indications of widespread eye diseases. Here is how to recognize and treat them in time to avoid unpleasant consequences or even blindness.

Gli occhi dei cani: patologie e trattamenti | Clinica La Veterinaria
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Dogs’ eyes are sense organs consisting of a complex anatomical structure, contained within the orbital cavity. Beware of oculopathies and the symptoms that reveal their presence.

They are made up of several components each of which may have pathologies, congenital or acquired, which must be accurately diagnosed and treated to ensure proper visual functioning.

The eyes of dogs: eyeball, sclera, cornea, and lacrimal apparatus

The eyeball is shaped like a sphere, slightly flattened, whose outer surface consists of the cornea and sclera.

The sclera makes up most of the outer surface of the eyeball and is white in color.

The cornea is a transparent membrane, continuously bathed by tears, and forms the first converging lens of the eye.

Tears are produced by the main lacrimal gland and the secondary lacrimal gland.

The eyelids of dogs’ eyes

They represent the outermost defense system of the eye; they are lined externally by skin and internally by a highly vascularized membrane, the conjunctiva.

In the eyes of dogs, in addition to the two main eyelids, upper and lower, there is a third eyelid, located behind and medial to the lower eyelid, with functions to protect the cornea.

Here are the diseases that most frequently affect dogs’ eyes.


This dog eye disease consists of inflammation of the mucous membrane covering the inside of the eyelids, causing redness and discharge. There are several triggers such as an allergy or the presence of foreign bodies.

Conjunctivitis can be:

  • Serous: with clear, transparent, liquid secretion, usually caused by wind or dust. It causes itching.
  • Mucoid: with mucous secretion originating in the follicles of the third eyelid after a reaction caused by any irritant or infectious agent.
  • Purulent: with the presence of pus due to the action of bacteria. This secretion forms crusts on the eyelids.

Dry keratoconjunctivitis

This dog eye disease is also known as dry eye.

The cause is a disorder of the lacrimal glands that causes insufficient tearing, so the cornea becomes dry.

The characteristic clue to this disease is the appearance of thick, purulent discharge that is normally accompanied by a dull eye.

There are several causes that can account for dry eye, such as an autoimmune disease or injury to the lacrimal glands.

The epiphora

Frequent in breeds such as Poodle, Maltese or Pekingese, where a reddish-brown spot can be seen under the eye, epiphora is a dog eye disease characterized by continuous tearing.

This is primarily a cosmetic problem, however, it could also be a symptom of further pathology or indicate the presence of a foreign body.

Lacrimal gland prolapse of the third eyelid

It consists of the leakage of the lacrimal gland from its seat.

Irritating the surface of the eye, it causes conjunctivitis.

It is typical of breeds such as Cocker or Beagle.


This dog eye disease involves inflammation of the iris and ciliary body.

It is a common symptom of several diseases and causes much pain, tearing, redness, photophobia and protrusion of the third eyelid, as well as producing aqueous humor.

The pupil seems shrunken and struggles to respond to light.

It is also possible to observe a kind of opacity in the eye.


Keratitis is an eye disease that produces inflammation of the cornea, which fogs up and loses transparency.

Intense tearing, photophobia and protrusion of the third eyelid is present.

There are several types of keratitis of dogs’ eyes, such as ulcerative keratitis, infectious keratitis, interstitial keratitis, keratitis pigmentosa and vascular keratitis.

All these types of keratitis in dogs must be treated in time to prevent them from going blind.

Corneal ulcers

This is a lesion that affects the middle and inner part of the cornea.

In most cases this dog eye disease is caused by trauma, however, other corneal ulcers may be related to dry keratoconjunctivitis, diabetes or Addison’s disease.

Corneal ulcer causes much pain, tearing, and photophobia.


It involves the loss of transparency of the lens, manifesting as a kind of grayish film over the pupil.

This dog eye disease can be hereditary or acquired.

Generally, cataracts are a consequence of aging.


This dog eye disease is serious and can cause blindness.

It occurs when more aqueous humor is produced than is excreted, so it increases the pressure inside the eye and causes alterations to the optic nerve and retina to the extreme consequences namely blindness.

Causes pain, tearing, corneal opacity and enlarged pupil.

To avoid blindness, glaucoma will have to be treated immediately.

The eyelid tumor

Among eyelid tumors, Meibomian gland adenoma is the most common.

This gland is located in the eyelids and produces a sebaceous substance.

Other frequent tumors in dog eyelids are sebaceous adenomas, normally benign, which appear in older dogs.

Papilloma, which looks like a wart and is caused by canine papilloma virus, is also common.

Myths to dispel in the treatment of dog eye diseases

There are many beliefs and myths to dispel concerning the treatment of eye disease symptoms in dogs.

The causes of inflammation or any other indication of dog eye disease should be evaluated immediately by a Veterinarian.

Chamomile and drugs for human use? Very wrong!

The opinion that the famous chamomile compresses for cleaning dogs’ eyes or the use of human medicines are effective in counteracting the symptoms of eye diseases is absolutely wrong and very dangerous.

Medicines for human use, in fact, possess a qualitative and quantitative formulation suitable for the treatment of diseases that affect only humans, and-unless otherwise prescribed by a veterinarian-should NEVER be used for the treatment of dog eye diseases.

Rather, at the first signs of pathology in your dog’s eyes, immediately seek a consultation with your trusted veterinarian to identify the nature of oculopathy and the treatments, whether pharmacological or surgical, to be performed.

Some oculopathies, if not treated in time, can have disabling consequences for the dog such as total or partial loss of vision.

Contact us for checkups and specialist consultations with a veterinary ophthalmologist: our Staff Physicians are always available to you.

We also remind you that in case of need and urgency Clinica La Veterinaria is always open h24 every day including holidays and with First Aid service from 8 pm to 8 am.

For the joy of seeing them HAPPY.

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