There are many diseases that can affect a dog's eye, and have a major impact on his eyesight, and his health in general. Before talking about the specificities of the dog's eye, we will look at its anatomy.
We will then detail the possible diseases, in order to help you to detect them and act as soon as possible. And we will also give you advice on how to care for and feed your dog's eyes!
Understanding the composition of the dog's eye
The composition of the dog's eye is very similar to that of the human eye:
• the upper eyelid (the one above, in men, it is mobile)
• the lower eyelid (the one below)
• the conjunctiva surrounding the eye
• the third eyelid or nictitating membrane (often visible in the corner of the eye and especially when our companions are infested by worms)
• the medial angle (more commonly known as the "corner of the eye")
• the cornea and the sclera (as in humans)
• the iris whose color changes according to the animals
• the pupil which is more or less dilated according to the luminosity
• the lacrimal glands
Indeed, the composition of the dog's eye is very similar to that of humans, but there are also differences:
We have often heard that dogs do not see colors but only black and white. This is a misconception, in fact the dog sees colors less well than man but it is a gradation of yellow and blue color that he sees. The dog sees less well from afar objects or still things than man.
On the other hand, the night vision of the dog is much higher than ours thanks to a kind of fluorescent envelope that amplifies the light in his eye. It is thanks to this envelope that we often see the eyes of animals at night. The light is reflected in their eyes and sends us back a fluorescent eye effect.
The range of vision of the dog is higher than ours. This will vary from one dog to another. Indeed, parameters such as the shape of the dog's head, the distance between the two eyes can modify the extent of the dog's vision.
The dog sees much better than man everything that is in motion. It is certainly his hunting instinct that must have developed this ability. Some dogs can sense a movement up to 1.5 km away. Moreover, because of the position of the eyes on the dog, they see much better on the side than the man.
Products to take care of your dog's eyes
It is essential to take good care of the eyes of our companions. They can be put to a severe test. We must always keep in mind that our dogs are closer to the ground than we are and therefore closer to all the dirt that could attack their eyes.
We can meet as types of problems, the spikes often present in summer, a small gravel following the game, pollen or sand in case of wind... We will see that some breeds of dogs are predisposed to have problems at this level and require daily care.
Indeed, breeds such as Bichons, Yorkies, Pugs or Shi Tzus have curved tear ducts. Because of this, the canal can become blocked and the animal's tears flow out. You may have seen brown or red marks in the corner of the eyes of white dogs, which is usually a sign that the tear duct is blocked.
Other breeds such as griffons or korthals have long hair, especially around the eyes, which can cause aggression and irritation around the eyes. To avoid these inconveniences, you just have to clean regularly the eyes of your dog with an ocular solution.
The purpose of this solution will be to clean and disinfect the eyes of your companion. It is important to perform the steps in the right order.
• If your pet is compliant, you can apply the solution directly into the eye by applying pressure to the bottle. A jet of the solution will go directly into your dog's eye. You will just have to wipe off the excess with a compress.
• If your pet is afraid of the bottle or the spray, you can apply the solution to a compress and clean the eye with it. Always use a compress, not absorbent cotton, because you could put a filament in your pet's eye, which would be considered an aggression for your pet. Always start from the inside corner of the eye towards the outside so as not to bring back bacteria. Change the compress when you change eyes.
• If you don't have a dog eye solution at home, you can use saline solution without any risk. If, despite daily cleaning, you notice abnormal discharges, one eye more closed than the other, discomfort, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
Recommended foods to help your dog's eyesight function properly
As with humans, food is the foundation of good health. That's why it's important to choose a food that's adapted to your dog and its possible problems. There is no specific food for your pet's eyes, but you should choose a diet adapted to his general condition.
For example, a dog that is overweight will need a "light" food or even a diet, a dog that has kidney problems will need a food that is less rich in proteins, an old dog will need a completely different food than a puppy.
Often eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts appear with age, so a senior dog food will be well adapted with of course a complementary treatment if the animal has an eye disease.
What are the most common eye diseases in dogs?
And yes, like us, dogs can be affected by this condition. How to recognize the symptoms of this one? Conjunctivitis is an irritation of the conjunctiva which will cause an inflammation of these. Often you will notice a swollen eye, a little closed, red, itchy or runny.
The causes of this condition can be diverse: An irritation which can be due to a foreign body like sand for example by day of wind, Parasites, in fact an animal that has worms can present a conjunctivitis. In general, its third eyelid is more visible than normal (it goes up more). Allergic: again like us, the animal can have allergies. In conclusion, in general, conjunctivitis is not a serious condition but you should not wait too long to avoid more dangerous lesions.
Entropion and ectropion
Entropion is present when there is a malformation of the eyelid where the edge of the eyelid curls towards the inside of the eye. Ectropion is also a malformation of the eyelid, but unlike entropion, the edge of the eyelid curls towards the outside of the eye. Here only surgery will be able to solve this problem durably.
Often we see a cataract appear on an animal that ages. The cataract is an opacification which can be total or partial of the crystalline lens. The main symptom will be a white veil on the eye of your dog. The causes can be various: old age, a trauma, diabetes, hyperthension... Today, treatments against cataracts are effective, especially if the disease is treated as early as possible.
In this disease, it is the optic nerve that is affected. To better understand this disease, you need to know that inside the eye there are fluids that circulate, in the case of glaucoma, there is an excess of fluid and it can no longer be evacuated properly. This will lead to an intraocular pressure which will have harmful effects on the optic nerve. This will lead to a decrease in vision first at the peripheral level (on the sides), then at the central level of the eye. Again, it is important to catch this disease in time because it can lead the dog not to see at all.
Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea. It is often a consequence of a disease of the eye. It is therefore important to find the cause in order to adapt the treatment. In the case of uveitis, you can observe a red, runny eye, sensitivity to light.
My pet scratches his eye, what should I do?
As we have seen previously, eye diseases can be potentially serious. If your pet scratches his eye, it means that he has a discomfort and can be the beginning of one of the diseases mentioned.
The best thing to do is not to touch his eye and to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Never put eye drops in your dog's eye without consulting a veterinarian first, you could make the problem worse.
The only thing you can do to relieve your pet while waiting for your appointment is to rinse the eye with saline.
If your pet is scratching his eye, the most effective solution is a collar. This is not always a comfortable solution for the animal and its owner, but it will prevent the animal from injuring itself by scratching its eye.