• Julie Gajewski, CPPS

Why is my dog squinting?

4 Common Eye Problems in Dogs

Many dog owners ask, why is my dog squinting? In most cases, squinting is a symptoms of a serious condition effecting one or both eyes. Knowing what symptoms to look for and bringing your pet into the veterinarian for an exam can help keep your pet's eyes healthy.

Corneal Ulcer/Scratch

What are the symptoms?

Corneal ulcers and scratches are extremely painful. Dogs will rub their eyes with their paws or rub their face on a surface to help relieve the pain. They will squint or keep the eye closed to protect it. There may also be discharge from the eye.

How is it diagnosed?

Most ulcers and scratches on the cornea are not visible with out the use of special ophthalmological equipment or the use of a fluorescein stain. When applied to the eye, fluorescein stain will adhere to the ulcer or scratch making it visible under a black light. In severe cases, a Veterinary Ophthalmologist will need to be consulted.

How is it treated?

Your veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic eye ointment to heal the eye. They may also prescribe a pain reliever as well since corneal ulcers and scratches are extremely painful.

Eyelid Protrusion aka Cherry Eye

What are the symptoms?

Most pet owners will notice a bump in the corner of the pet's eye that protrudes from the third eye lid. The bump may occur in just one eye or in both. The cherry eye may not cause any discomfort to the pet, but some eye irritation and redness can occur. Cherry is caused by a weak gland attachment to the eye. It can occur in any breed of dog, but Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Beagles, and Bloodhounds are most likely to develop this condition.

How is it diagnosed?

A good old fashioned exam by your veterinarian is all that is needed to diagnose your pet. Your veterinarian will determine the exact cause of the cherry eye.

How is it treated?

Topical anti-inflammatory eye ointments may be prescribed to reduce swelling. But ultimately, surgery may be needed to replace the gland. In severe cases removal of the gland may be needed, however, this is not the preferred method of treatment as it can cause the pet to suffer from dry eye.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) aka Dry Eye

What are the symptoms?

In most cases, the dog will have red irritated eyes accompanied by thick yellow discharge. They may squint, blink a lot, or hold their eyes closed. Dry eye may cause Corneal ulcers or Corneal scarring on the eyes. In severe cases vision may be reduced due to corneal scaring. The eye may have a dull appearance due to the scaring.

How is it diagnosed?

An exam will need to be performed and your pets medical history will be evaluated. In severe cases, the pet has perviously been diagnosed with ulcers, eye injuries, or conjunctivitis. During the exam, a tear production test will be one to evaluate with amount of tears the eye produces in one minute. This test is called a Schirmer tear test (STT). Additional tests may be performed to check for other conditions such as corneal ulcers, glaucoma, and blocked tear ducts.

How is it treated?

Topical eye ointments are prescribed to the pet to increase tear production and replace the tears the pet in not producing on their own. In some cases topical anti inflammatory and antibiotics are prescribed. These medication are administered every 4-6 hours. Cleaning the eyes gently with a warm, wet washcloth may help them produce more tears naturally and will make them feel better.

Conjunctivitis aka Pink Eye

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are watery discharge from both eyes, blinking, squinting, redness, and swelling around the eyes. In most cases both eyes are affected, but in some case only one eye may exhibit symptoms. The pet may also have sneezing, coughing and discharge from the nose.

How is it diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will first perform an exam on the eyes. Then they will determine if the pink eye is a primary or secondary problem. They will also determine if the pink eye is caused by allergies, if there any damage to the eye, and if there is any additional diseases affecting the eye. The exam will include a tear production test (Schirmer tear Test), fluorescein stain test, and a test for glaucoma. Additional tests may need to be performed as well.

How is it treated?

Your veterinarian will prescribe both topical antibiotic eye ointments and oral antibiotics. Depending on what was found during the exam, additional medications may be prescribed for conditions like dry eye and corneal ulcers. In cases of eyelid or eye lash abnormailities, sugery may be needed.

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