How can I tell if my dog has vision problems? The Ultimate Guide

A wide variety of conditions can affect a dog’s eyes, but the visible symptoms tend to be similar. Warning signs of an ophthalmic problem include squinting and discomfort exhibited by rubbing at the eyes. Some types of eye pain (for example from high pressure) can cause lethargy and decreased appetite. Redness, tearing or excessive discharge, cloudiness or vision loss are also signs something is wrong.

When your dog starts running into furniture, can’t find her water bowl and/or doesn’t want to go outside at night, she may be experiencing loss of eyesight. Dr. Gervais suggests setting up an obstacle course in both very dim/dark lighting and regular day lighting to see if the dog bumps into anything. The menace response can be used – wave a closed fist at the eye and if vision is present, the dog should blink the eye.

Kristen Gervais, Veterinary Ophthalmologist, DVM, MS, DACVO, at VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts, weighed in on how to tell if your best friend might exhibit symptoms that mean she has a health condition affecting her eye(s).

To best manage your dog’s eye health, pay close attention to her eyes so any problems can be identified in a timely manner, explained Dr. Gervais.

“Signs to watch for include squinting, cloudiness or redness of the eyes,” says Dr. Gervais. “For dogs with long hair around their eyes, it’s wise to keep this hair cut short so you can see the eyes better.”

Signs & Symptoms of Vision Problems in Dogs

Regardless of the cause of the vision issues, there are a number of symptoms you should be aware of if you are concerned that your dog is experiencing difficulties seeing, or even suffering from total blindness:

    • Confused, dazed, easily startled
    • Bumping into objects
    • Eyes become cloudy
    • Changes in behavior that indicate anxiety or hesitation in new places
    • Unwillingness to go up or down stairs, or jump onto furniture
    • Swollen, puffy or inflamed eyes
    • Obvious eye irritation or pawing at face

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Just as our eyesight can become impaired as we age, dogs can also suffer from vision loss as they enter their senior years. However, unlike humans, dogs do not rely on vision as their most important sense. Their noses and ears allow them to adapt quite well to changes in their eyesight. Here are the signs of potential vision impairment and some steps you can take to help your senior dog cope with any loss of sight.

How do I examine my dogs eyes?

Blindness can be surprisingly difficult to spot in dogs, thanks to their ability to compensate for loss of vision with their other acute senses. Here, our Cordova vets share ways to spot the early signs of failing vision and what you should do if you suspect blindness.

Dogs are extraordinary animals, and for many people dogs are both a loyal friend and a significant member of the family.

If your dog gradually loses their vision it may be some time before you realize theres a problem. Visually impaired or blind dogs will often memorize the furniture in your house and understand how to navigate your home in order to avoid obstacles.

Spotting the first signs of blindness in dogs is essential, since early diagnosis and treatment could help to extend your dogs vision.

Whether its due to aging, an injury, or other health conditions, below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of vision loss in dogs:

In dogs, the natural aging process can sometimes include vision loss, ranging from minor visual impairment to complete blindness. A dogs vision may also become impaired due to hereditary reasons, disease, or injury.

That said, blindness could be a symptom rather than the primary issue. Underlying conditions, such as heart disease, kidney or liver disorders, or systemic diseases can cause blindness to occur in dogs.