Dog Eye: All Your Questions Answered

What is the Anatomy of a Dog’s Eye?

A dog’s eye has similar anatomy to that of the human eye. While the shape, size, and eyelids may be slightly different among dog breeds, the structure and function are the same.

Let us take a look at the various parts of the dog eye:

  • Sclera: Also known as the white of the eye, this is a tough and fibrous layer found in the eye.
  • Cornea: This is the thin and clear layer at the front of the eye. However, this is easily prone to injuries.
  • Conjunctiva: This forms the lining of the eyelids that can often become inflamed or pink in color when dogs get excited, have allergies, get pink eye, or end up with an eye infection.
  • Iris: This is the colored part of the eye that also features smooth muscles. This helps to control the size of the pupil regulating the amount of light entering the eye.
  • Pupil: This is the black area found at the center of the iris. It varies in size depending on how much light is allowed inside the eye.
  • Lens: The lens is located behind the iris, and it is the most important part of the eye. It also helps to focus the light on the retina.
  • Retina: This is found in the back of the eyes and helps with image formation. It contains photoreceptors called rods, which sense light and movement, and other photoreceptors called cones, which sense colors.
  • Tapetum Lucidum: This is the main reason why dogs can see better at night. This is located behind the retina, and it reflects light through the retina helping with image formation and making your dog’s eye glow at night.
  • Upper & Lower Eyelids: The dog’s eyelids have a protective function.
  • Third Eyelid: Also known as the nictitating membrane, the third eyelid is found at the corner of the eye. It covers and protects a tear gland important for eye lubrication.
  • Eye Socket: The structure that holds and cradles the eyeball and its different structures.

How Good is a Dog’s Vision?

Dogs have a 20/50 to 20/75 vision. This means a dog needs to be 20 feet away from a target object to see it the same way a human would when standing 50 to 75 feet away.

However, the visual acuity varies among breeds. For example, the Labrador Retriever has eyesight that is close to 20/20, as it is bred for excellent vision.

Are Dogs Near-Sighted or Far-Sighted?

In general, dogs are nearsighted. This indicates they are good at visualizing nearby objects, while distant objects seem blurry. Basically, the further the object, the more blurry it will appear.

The medical term for nearsightedness or shortsightedness is myopia.

Can Dogs See Color?

Yes, dogs can see color, but not all of them.

Dogs have dichromatic vision and can discern only blue and yellow. This is because the dog’s eye has only two types of cones (the human eye has three).

In the past, there was a popular misbelief that dogs see in black and white. Today, we know this is not true.

How do Dogs Communicate With Their Eyes?

How do Dogs Communicate With Their Eyes

When communicating with other dogs or humans, dogs often use their eyes. For instance, if your dog is perceiving a threat, they will stare. However, to diffuse tension, they will avoid eye contact. They can alter their eyes into soft eyes or hard eyes to get their point across.

What Does a Normal Dog’s Eye Look Like?

The healthy dog eye is clean, bright, and with no eye discharge. Normally, most dog eyes are found to be various shades of brown. However, some dogs can have other eye colors also.

For example, the Husky can have blue eyes or one blue and one brown eye (an eye condition called heterochromia). Some dogs also have green or hazel eyes.

What Is the Most Common Eye Problem in Dogs?

Eye infections and irritations are the most common eye problem in dogs. Here is a closer look at some prevalent dog eye conditions:

  • Pink Eye. Most dog owners will agree that their canine companions can also get conjunctivitis (the medical name for pink eye). It is also a common eye problem in dogs that often progresses to cause eye discharge, excessive tearing, and irritation.
  • Damaged Cornea. Grass and dirt are common examples of debris that can make their way into their eyes. They can damage the surface of the eye. The damage will be bigger if the dog uses its paws to get rid of the irritant.
  • Dry Eye. Dry eye is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This occurs when your dog’s tear ducts are not producing enough lubrication. This can cause irritation as your canine is unable to clear its eyes. This can lead to corneal ulcers due to scratches on the various parts of the eye.
  • Glaucoma. This is another common eye issue that occurs when fluid does not drain properly from the dog’s eyes. This leads to excessive pressure and blindness if left untreated.
  • Cataracts. This is common in senior dogs. It can cause cloudiness in your dog’s eye and can even lead to blindness in some cases after their cloudy eyes become denser.
  • Eye Tumors. While not particularly common, tumors are possible and are worth mentioning. Eye tumors can be benign or malignant. They can cause eye irritation, excessive tearing or dry eyes, pain, and discomfort.

What Causes Eye Problems in Dogs?

There are many different conditions that can affect your dog’s eyes, including

  • Congenital Abnormalities. Sometimes puppies are born with eye defects that result in eye issues and changes in tear production.
  • Eye Injuries. Any external injuries can lead to eye problems. This can also impact your dog’s tear production and need a diagnosis from a DVM or an ophthalmologist at the earliest.
  • Pathogens. Eye infections are a common issue in dogs. Most types of infections in dogs are bacterial infections. They can be primary or secondary, due to another eye condition.
  • Allergens & Environmental Irritants. Dogs are sensitive to allergens (pollen, dust, mites) and irritants (smoke, perfume).
  • Intraocular Pressure Changes. Increased pressure within the dog’s eye is called glaucoma and is a common cause of eye problems in dogs.
  • Eyelash/Eyelid Problems. The dog’s eyelids can be positioned inward (entropion) or outward (ectropion), which may result in irritation of the cornea and eye issues. Also, the third eyelid can be prolapsed, resulting in a condition called cherry eye.
  • Other Diseases. Infections diseases (like canine distemper virus) and hormonal abnormalities (like diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, and Cushing’s disease) can result in eye problems.

Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop eye problems. Such breeds include Bulldogs, Pugs, Spaniels, Terriers, Poodles, and Bloodhounds.

How do I Keep My Dog’s Eyes Healthy?

How do I Keep My Dog’s Eyes Healthy

There are a few ways by which you can keep your dog’s eyes healthy:

  • Clean Environment: By maintaining a clean environment, you reduce the chance of an eye infection.
  • Proper Eye Care. Occasionally, your dog’s eyes require cleaning. Luckily, there are many eye care products on the market – from eye washes to eye wipes. There are also medicated eye drops and ointments (antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories), formulated for canine eye diseases.
  • Healthy Diet. A healthy, complete, and balanced nutrition is vital for overall health. It also helps keep the immune system strong that fight off potential pathogens.
  • Eye Supplements. In addition to a healthy diet, you can use eye health supplements – they are designed to support eye structures and good vision.
  • Regular Vet Visits. Taking your dog to the vet periodically can help prevent diseases of the eyes. They can also recommend eye care tips and products.
  • Vaccinations. Make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date. This can prevent the outbreak of various diseases and improve your dog’s eye health.

How Can I Prevent Dog Eye Problems?

There are several ways of preventing dog eye problems:

  • Proper Grooming. Keep your dog well-groomed and clean. If it has long fur around the eyes, ensure it does not get into them, as it can cause irritation.
  • Hygiene. Keeping your dog’s environment hygienic can add valuable years to your dog’s life. it also prevents various diseases from breaking out.
  • Vaccinations. This is another crucial step towards the betterment of your dog’s health. Make sure that they have their vaccinations when recommended by the vet.
  • Vet Visits. Finally, periodic vet visits can help your dog by preventing the outbreak of various diseases. Veterinary care is essential for optimal pet health.
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OneVet Staff

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