Common Dog Eye Health Problems

Dog eye health problems are common. There are a number of things that can go wrong with your dog's eyes, causing irritation, infection and vision problems. Here are some of the most common eye health problems facing your dog.

In-Growing Eyelids

Many dogs suffer from in-growing eyelids. When dogs develop in-growing eyelids, it means the eyelids have folded under that the eyelashes are rubbing against the cornea of the eye. This causes irritation and can even lead to ulceration of the eye. 

You can tell if your dog has in-growing eyelids. Pull your dog's eyelid up with your finger, then allow it to drop back into place. If the eyelid rolls under, then your dog has in-growing eyelids. Your dog will need surgery to correct this problem.


Cataracts are usually hereditary and occur mostly in older dogs. Cataracts cause the lens of your dog's eye to become cloudy and eventually opaque. Vision loss and blindness can occur. There is a corrective surgery available, which most dogs can benefit from.

Corneal Ulcer

Corneal ulcers can occur when your dog sustains an injury to the eye. In-growing eyelids can cause corneal ulcers, as can scrapes and scratches to the eye. 

It can be difficult to tell when your dog is suffering from a corneal ulcer. The cornea may appear cloudy and white, or it may seem normal. Dogs with corneal ulcers usually squint the affected eye, and the eye may express watery discharge. If the corneal ulcer becomes infected, discharge may become thick and green or yellow in color.

Dogs with corneal ulcers may rub at the affected eye. Treatment may involve medication and surgery. With treatment, most corneal ulcers heal up within a week or two, with no permanent damage to the eye.

Third Eyelid Prolapse

You may not have known that your dog has a third, smooth inner eyelid in the corner of his eye near his nose. The third eyelid usually remains in a retracted position, where it isn't noticeable. 

A number of eye health problems, however, can cause the third eyelid to prolapse, or slip out of position, and protrude from under the outer eyelid. Decreased nerve function, weakening of the muscles around the eye, or weakening of the ligaments around the eye can result in third eyelid prolapse. Tumors, cysts, dehydration, and weight loss can all change the position of the eye within the socket, allowing the third eyelid to slip out of place. 

If your dog suffers third eyelid prolapse, you'll notice a prominent membrane protruding from the inner corner of one or both eyes. The eye may water or squint. The eye itself may change in appearance or position. Treatment will vary, depending on the cause of your dog's third eyelid prolapse. 

Canine Conjunctivitis

Canine conjunctivitis, or dog pink eye, causes redness, swelling, and inflammation of the lining of the eye. The eye will itch severely and water excessively. Sensitivity to light is common, and your dog may experience depressed spirits and lethargy as well.