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What Do Eye Injuries In Dogs Look Like?

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on October 24, 2017

Eye injuries can range from mild to severe, and need a vet’s attention the moment you notice your dog showing symptoms to determine the cause and severity, as they can lead to permanent scarring or blindness if ulcerative lesions develop. Even if you can see what might be bothering your dog, your dog’s eyes are very sensitive and important, and you shouldn’t try to treat the issue at home.

Eye injuries include foreign bodies in the eye, scratches, chemical exposure or contact corneal trauma. If your dog’s eye is closed he may be squinting to protect it, or the eyelid may not be functioning correctly,  but either way, get to your vet.

Symptoms of Eye Injuries in Dogs

– General distress or discomfort
– Squinting
– Rapid blinking
– Inability to open eye
– Tearing Bloody or bloodshot eyes
– Avoiding bright lights
– Pawing at the eye and face
– Distorted pupil
– Visible foreign object
– Cloudiness or change in eye color
– Discharge from eye

Causes of Eye Injuries in Dogs

There are many causes for eye injuries in dogs, but the most common include:

– Altercations with other animals, fighting or playing (commonly cats)
– Vegetation, i.e. running in the woods or digging in brush
– Dangerous projectiles such as fireworks
– Riding in a car with head out the window



A simple eye injury is one that penetrates or perforates the cornea or sclera of the eye – notice in the diagram above that these are injuries to the outer part of the eye. An example of a penetration would be a splinter piercing, whereas a perforation would be more like a scratch that goes across this part of the eye.


A complicated eye injury is more serious and will involve not only the cornea or sclera, but will also include the iris, retina, lens, eyelid, or other parts of the eye.

Diagnosis of Eye Injuries in Dogs

You can help your vet determine the diagnosis by providing a thorough report that includes when your dog’s symptoms began, if they’re getting better or worse, and any situation that might have caused him injury. If your vet can’t immediately see a foreign object in your dog’s eye, they’ll conduct an ocular examination, which will evaluate your dog’s reaction to visual stimuli, pupil size, shape, symmetry, and reflexes to light. This will determine if there’s a deeper injury, irritation, or bruising as a result of trauma.

Treatment of Eye Injuries in Dogs


A simple wound can be treated with an E-collar to keep your dog from fussing with his eye, as well as prescription antibiotics to treat bacterial infection, or atropine drops to help relieve pain. Your vet may also prescribe a soft contact lens to protect the wound further.


Most complicated wounds require surgical exploration to full diagnose and require surgery to repair your dog’s eye and restore function. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds will be prescribed to relieve swelling and help the eye heal. Analgesics can help relieve your dog’s pain.

Recovery of Eye Injuries in Dogs

You’ll need to keep and eye on your dog’s eye to monitor his recovery. Note any changes and let your vet know if it the wound doesn’t seem to be healing or is making negative changes. Follow all your vet’s instructions for care and medication administration.

The deeper the wound, the more likely your dog may suffer partial or total loss of vision. Dogs adapt well, though, and with a few changes you can make navigating your home easier for your pup.How much your dog recovers, and how long it will take will depend on the type of injury and severity.


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