No one knows your pet like you do. So you can tell when they are happy, sad or maybe not feeling like themselves. This month, we explore what your pet’s eyes can tell you and indicate to a veterinary professional. Their eyes can share insights into their current mindset, age, visual health and overall condition.

When looking at your pet, their pupils should be the same size, be crust-free and display white around the iris (the outer, colored portion of the eye). There should be little or no tearing, no squinting, and the inner eyelids should not be visible. Gently pull down your dog’s lower lids and on the inside they should be pink — not red or white.

Mindset
Our pets tend to be very expressive, and nothing reflects their emotions more effectively than the disposition of their eyes. A happy or energized pet often has a wide, fully rounded eye — accompanied by an undeniable sparkle. This indicates they are healthy, ready to play or spend time with you.

Pet Eye Expression
A sad or infirmed pet may have oblong-shaped eyes, indicating their immediate lack of enthusiasm or energy. When you see this expression, it’s your job to engage your pet to determine if they are simply tired or if there might be an underlying issue that requires attention.

It is a good practice to review your pet’s eyes daily to see how they are feeling, and if you can help elevate their spirits or address any health concerns.

Age
For young pets, it’s not uncommon for the color of their iris to change within the first few months of their life. For some breeds, this is the normal process of maturing.

But as pets age, their pupil (the center of the eye) may change from a dark to a lighter color almost grey. This is typically a normal by-product of the aging process and can best be seen by pet owners in low light level situations.

Pet Cateracts
However, if your pet bumps into items within the home, you suspect they cannot see well or you notice excessive greying of the eye, please contact us. They may have cataracts which may appear as eyes with a cloudy or bluish gray color. Cataracts may need immediate attention.

Visual Health
There is a wide variety of eye-related issues that your pet may develop. Below is a partial list of symptoms you might want to monitor as you spend time with your pet.

If one or both of your pet’s eyes continually tear, they may have an irritant requiring the eye to be carefully examined and flushed with a sterile saline solution. Alternatively, they may have an allergy that needs to be explored and treated.

 

Pet Tears
If your pet’s eyes are red, inflamed, or excrete a mucus, pus or watery discharge, they may have conjunctivitis which may require the eye to be flushed — followed with an antibiotic eye drop or ointment. Red eyes for a prolonged period may also indicate dry eye (or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, KCS). Short-term treatment may involve artificial tears, but a longer-term solution may require surgery.

Repeated eye squinting or repeated rubbing may be a sign of a corneal injury or cut — typically caused by long grass or an eye scratch or poke. Treatment often involves antibiotic eye drops or ointments to prevent infection and manage pain. Of course, time to heal is an essential remedy.

If your pet’s eye appears large and swollen, you should contact us immediately. Your pet may have Glaucoma, or an elevated eye pressure. Treatment may involve medication to reduce fluid production or absorption by the eye. In some cases, surgery may be required.

If you see a large red “ball” in the corner of your pet’s eye, they may have Cherry Eye which is the failure of a ligament that holds the “third eyelid” or tear producing gland in place. The resolution requires a simple surgery to reattach the ligament.

Pet Cherry Eye
These are just a few examples of the symptoms you will likely notice when you examine your pet’s eyes on a regular basis. The specific symptom and treatment will depend upon your pet.

Contact Us
If you see tearing, discharge, tear-stained fur, cloudiness, a visible third eyelid, closed or squinted eyes, or pupils of unequal size then please contact us.

To help keep your pet’s eyes bright and healthy, do your very best to keep long hair out of their eyes. Of course, also keep all irritants such as shampoos, soaps, and flea medicine away from their eyes. And finally watch for signs that may indicate an eye problem — like ongoing pawing or rubbing.

Your pet’s eyes are among their most prized senses, so please help keep their eyes and spirits healthy!