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Caring for Your Dog's Eyes - Tips for Keeping Them Clean and Healthy

Caring for the health of your dog's eyes begins with close observation. I usually did at least a cursory "physical exam" whenever I bathed my dog (once a month) and that included looking deeply into her gorgeous, big brown eyes! Below is a list of things to look for:

  •  Discharge or crustiness around the eye/s
  • Tearing
  • Either red or white eyelids - they should be pink
  • A closed or partially closed eye or eyes
  • Cloudiness/milkiness in the eye or a change in eye color
  • Difference in the sizes of the pupils
  • Visible third eyelid (the opaque membrane located in the inner corner of the eye under the lower lid) 
  • Tear stained hair around and below the eye (this reddish-brown discharge appears especially in brachycephalic dogs, those with very short muzzles and protruding eyes such as the Shih-tzu)
  • Pawing at the eye or eyes (this is an attempt to get rid of something that causes discomfort but it may make the situation worse if your dog scratches the eyeball).

Whenever you examine your dog's eyes, make sure that your hands are clean and dry in order to reduce any risk of possible infection. Be gentle when probing so as not to cause any further irritation. As a general rule of thumb, if a condition persists more that 2 days despite your care, make an appointment to bring your dog in to see your vet.

Some preventative measures you can employ include trimming any excess hair near your dog's eyes. For dogs with "bangs", make sure that the hair is not long enough to hang down into the eye area. Wash the eye area gently with tepid water or a sterile solution of veterinary recommended eyewash. When your dog is riding in the car, leave the window open partially, but not enough to let him put his head out. There are many potential air-borne particles and insects that could end up in your dog's eyes. Research and become familiar with any possible genetic eye conditions your breed of dog may be prone to.

Optimal health for your dog's eyes starts with common sense observation and prevention. Dogs may not need to wear sunglasses like we do, but they do need their humans to be consistently vigilant about helping to maintain their eye health.

Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer