Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD
One of the things that pet owners love most about their dogs is their big, cute, “puppy dog” eyes. Dog eyes are a big part of what make them so cute and they often express a lot through them. It’s how they connect with us and one of the ways they show us that they want something like attention, a treat, or to go outside.
However, many dog owners will notice that their pup’s eyes may start to change colors, especially as they age. Their eyes may start to take on more of a blue-gray color or appear to be hazy. This is often a natural part of a dog’s aging process, but can also be a symptom of a number of different eye problems or underlying issues.
It can be difficult for the average owner to tell the difference between normal and abnormal eye changes, so you should contact your vet if you are concerned there may be an issue. With that said, it helps to be aware of the possible causes of cloudy or blue eyes in dogs.
Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs
Although nuclear sclerosis sounds scary and serious, it is actually a relatively benign, extremely common condition. In a nutshell, as your dog ages, the density of the fibers within their eyes increases and will give your dog’s eyes a cloudy, bluish look. Although, this can look very similar to cataracts, this condition rarely, if ever, causes any degree of vision impairment. It is simply a change in your dog’s lens that occurs as they age.
Cataracts in Dogs
Dogs, like humans, can develop cataracts in their eyes. These become even more likely as they get older. Cataracts will typically cause their eyes to take on a white, milky color and are the result of abnormal lens metabolism. As the lens in your dog’s eyes acts like a camera lens, focusing light on the retina so their brains can process the information, if it gets cloudy, it can inhibit vision.
Like humans, dog lenses are made up of water, protein, and other materials that are organized in a very specific way to enable vision. Cataracts are formed when those proteins start to clump together, either as the result of age or trauma. This protein gradually obscures the lens, making it difficult to see and, in some cases, causing complete blindness.
Some of the breeds most commonly affected by cataracts include the Australian Shepherd, Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, Havanese, Silky Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Siberian Husky, and West Highland White Terrier.
If your dog has cataracts that become serious or prevent them from being able to see at all, then there is a surgical option available. The earlier the cataracts are diagnosed; the higher chance of the surgery has of being successful.
Glaucoma in Dogs
Just like in humans, glaucoma in dogs occurs when the pressure inside the eye increases due to an excess of fluid build up, which causes damage to the structure of the eye itself. There are two types of glaucoma, primary or inherited and secondary. Primary glaucoma is usually genetically based and there is little you can do to prevent it. Secondary glaucoma is generally caused by another condition such as cataracts, a lens luxation or subluxation, cancer, inflammation, or retinal detachment.
Glaucoma in dogs can be a very serious condition. In addition to causing mild to severe pain, it also causes blindness in about 40% of cases.
Dog Corneal Ulcers
Corneal ulcers are caused by abrasions or lacerations to your dog’s cornea. Specifically, ulcers can result if these wounds are left untreated and do not heal properly. When an ulcer develops, the cornea has developed an opening to the internal regions of your dog’s eye. Dogs with bulging eyes, such as Boxers, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus, are most susceptible to corneal ulcers.
What to Do If Your Dog Has Cloudy Eyes
If you notice an issue with your dog’s eyes, the first step is to bring them to the vet for an exam. If your general vet is unsure of what exactly the problem is, they may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist for further diagnoses and treatment. As many canine eye conditions will only worsen with time, it is best not to wait if you notice any changes or issues.
The specific treatment for your dog’s eye problems will depend on the underlying cause, their age, the progression of the issue, and your dog’s level of discomfort. Your vet will determine the proper course of treatment and decide if any medication or surgery may be necessary.
Keep a close eye on your dog for other symptoms of eye problems, such as increased discharge, squinting, or a change in your dog’s eyes shape, size, color, or vision, and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice redness, squinting, or thick discharge from your dog’s eye, in addition to cloudiness.
If your veterinarian prescribes any medication, remember that you can fulfill all your pet’s drug needs conveniently online at ExpressVet Pharmacy!