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Health & Wellness

The 7 causes of cloudy eyes in dogs

There might be other symptoms, like eye redness, too.

If you notice your dog's eyes getting cloudy, you're probably not imagining things. Several health conditions can cause an eye's surface to turn gray, blue or hazy — sometimes, it can even seem hard to look into.

The conditions that cause cloudiness affect certain dog breeds more than others and can have serious consequences beyond just murky-looking eyes. Keep reading to find out what causes this to happen to our dogs.

What causes cloudy eyes in dogs? 

There are several reasons why a dog might experience cloudy eyes, including corneal ulcers, corneal trauma, glaucoma, dry eye, corneal degeneration (breakdown of the cornea), dystrophy (abnormal cornea formation) or cholesterol deposits in the cornea. 

“Cholesterol deposits can be more common in dogs with hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, Cushing's disease, chronic pancreatitis and liver disease,” Dr. Emily Singler, VMD, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, adds.

Certain dogs might be more susceptible to specific causes of cloudy eyes. Blind pups or those with vision issues are at a higher risk of bumping into things, which can lead to corneal trauma or ulcers. Dogs with eyes that bulge out of their head might also injure the area and can also experience dry eyes. 

Pups who take certain medications, have lupus or breeds like pugs, German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese, American Cocker Spaniel, dachshunds, English Bulldogs and West Highland White Terriers are also at a higher risk of developing dry eyes. 

“Glaucoma is common in many breeds, including American Cocker Spaniels, basset hound, chow chows, Shar Peis, Boston Terriers, Siberian Huskies, miniature poodles, beagles, Welsh Springer Spaniels and Great Danes,” Dr. Singler shares. 

It’s common for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, Rough Collies, beagles, Airedale Terriers and Shetland Sheepdogs to develop corneal dystrophy.

RELATED: Why are my dog’s eyes swollen?

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Are there other symptoms pet parents should know about? 

Eye redness, discharge and enlargement might also accompany cloudiness. You might notice your pup squinting, keeping one eye shut or pawing at the area. 

“Depending on the cause of the cloudy eye, a dog may be in pain as well,” Dr. Singler says. “This is particularly true for a corneal ulcer, glaucoma and trauma. Pets in pain may eat less, hide more or be less active.

Make an appointment to see your veterinarian if you think your dog has cloudy eyes (or any accompanying symptoms). If your pup is pawing at their eyes, consider using an e-collar to keep them from causing any harm to themselves. 

How do veterinarians diagnose cloudy eyes in dogs?

Your veterinarian will likely ask you about your dog’s eye history (like what changes you’ve noticed and if they’ve had any trauma). Then, they’ll do a physical examination, which could include tests to measure tear production, eye fluid pressure and corneal ulcers. 

“In some cases, veterinarians can make a diagnosis from these examinations,” Dr. Singler explains. “Other times, they may need to refer a dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist for more testing and treatment.”

Treatment options for cloudy eyes in dogs

Treatment for cloudy eyes depends on the underlying cause. A topical drop or ointment that goes into the eye, sometimes combined with oral pain medication are normal courses of action — some instances only require monitoring. For issues like dry eye and glaucoma, treatment is usually life-long. 

Cloudy eyes in dogs can’t always be prevented, but there are some ways to get on top of it. If they struggle with limited vision, helping them navigate around will avoid trauma. Regular vet appointments will increase the risk of catching underlying conditions early and finding solutions — especially for those that cause scratching.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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