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Everything you need to know about cloudy eyes in dogs

White dog with cloudy eyes advice
© Pixabay

Watch a dog’s eyes carefully, and you’ll see the world go by in reflection – because that’s what he watches all day. But cloudy eyes in dogs do not indicate that he is watching the clouds. In fact, when his eyes are hazy, it could be a symptom of one of many illnesses.

By G. John Cole

A dog’s eye colour may become paler as he ages. But that paleness may also by a sign that something serious is wrong. Your dog’s vision could be at risk, so it’s time to see his vet!

Cloudy eyes in dogs: what could be wrong

From cataracts to glaucoma, any number of issues can cause your dog’s eyes to lose their natural brightness. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes for cloudy eyes.

Cataracts

There’s a lot going on in a dog’s eye. Lots of different parts, layers, and substances. One part is the lens, which is made of water and protein. When those proteins clump together, they make cataracts – strands of coagulated protein that make it hard to see.

Sometimes cataracts happen by themselves (especially to breeds such as the Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, Poodle, Spaniel, Alsatian, and Retrievers). But sometimes it can be a result of a knock, scratch, or illness like diabetes.

Cataracts may tip your vet off to a more serious underlying condition. But they are serious in themselves. Untreated, they can damage your dog’s eyesight and even lead to glaucoma.

Nuclear sclerosis

This one sounds more serious than it is! In fact, it’s not too bad. Really, it’s just the natural aging of your dog’s eyes.

It takes place through a process like that of cataracts. But the cloudiness in your dog’s eyes will look blue rather than white. It can harm your dog’s vision a little. So it’s important to take him to the vet for some advice. Your vet can also make sure that it is nuclear sclerosis and not cataracts.

Dry eye

Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), as you might imagine, is a lack of lubrication in your dog’s eyes. He does not produce enough tears. He may produce mucus instead.

It may be something your dog will have to deal with his whole life. Some dogs are just dry eye dogs. So you should go to the vet together, where the dog doctor will prescribe medication or even surgery. Left untreated, serious dry eye can lead to ulceration and scarring.

Ulcers

Eye ulcers don’t sound much fun, do they? They are usually caused by other issues, such as dry eye (see above) or a scratch or stray hair. It could be blue or red, and there is likely to be discharge.

Your dog will clearly be in discomfort, and you should try to prevent him from rubbing his eye. This may be a case for the collar of shame. Anyway, he needs to see a vet, so the doctor will advise you.

Ulcers should clear up with medication, but it’s important to take them seriously as complications can lead to further damage.

Corneal Distrophy

The cornea is the transparent layer at the front of your dog’s eye. Corneal dystrophy is an inherited condition that can cause ulcers. Certain types of corneal dystrophy, including the epithelial type that is common in sheepdogs, can be distressing to a dog. But his vision should be fine.

While this illness cannot be cured, it’s important that your dog’s vet provides means to manage the condition. You should also keep an eye on your dog as he is more likely to get eye ulcers.

Glaucoma

This serious illness requires immediate attention, as it can permanently damage your dog’s eyes in just a few hours.

Glaucoma occurs when the pressure between your dog’s cornea and lens builds up. The eye fails to drain fluid properly and so the eye becomes misshapen. Sometimes it is genetic, and sometimes it happens as a result of trauma.

If you notice one of both of your dog’s eyes bulging, or a difference in size between the eyes, it could be glaucoma. His eyes might be red, watery, and certainly causing him discomfort. Contact his vet immediately.

How to deal with cloudy eyes in dogs

The eye is a sensitive technology, and should not be dabbled with by non-experts! If your dog has symptoms of glaucoma, call the vet immediately. Never use eye-drops that aren’t intended for dogs. Check his eyes regularly and keep notes so that you will be aware of any changes.

Of course, your dog’s eyes will fade with time, as will ours – but a sudden or complicated change is well worth looking into.