Downeast Dog News

“Doctor, My Eyes…”

Does my pet need an eye doctor?
By Dr. Cory Mosunic | Aug 01, 2019

One common question veterinarians often hear from owners is, “How can I tell if my pet is having an eye problem?” Many of the people that ask this question are shocked to know that animals suffer from many of the same ocular ailments that people do, such as glaucoma, cataracts, corneal ulcers, and retinal disease. One concern pet owners often have is that they may miss signs that their pet can’t see or their pet may have ocular discomfort that they cannot recognize. Typically, owners are very in tune to their pet and often the signs are noted because their pet’s behavior and activity changes. Here are some other signs that your pet may need to see a board certified ophthalmologist.

- Is your pet hesitant to walk up and down stairs or jump on furniture?

- Does your pet bump into objects or startle easily?

- Is your pet more hesitant to navigate in dimly lit conditions?

- Does your pet avoid bright light or squint?

- Is there drainage or discharge from the eyes?

- Does your pet rub or squint its eyes?

- Is there any swelling of the eyelids?

- Does your pet’s eye have a cloudy or bulging appearance?

- Is there redness on the surface or the white of the eye?

- Is your pet “head shy?”

- Is there known or suspected trauma to the eye? (penetrating wound, foreign material, bite/fight wounds)

Change in appearance or color of the eye could be a sign that the eye needs to be evaluated and should not be overlooked. Typically, the sooner the eye is evaluated, the better chance to preserve vision and your pet’s overall health. Eye health can also be an indication of your pet’s overall systemic health. Some diseases that affect the whole body will first present with symptoms in the eye before showing symptoms in other areas of the body. The eye is very sensitive and can react far earlier than the rest of the body. Diseases such as infection, tick borne disease, and cancers in the body can first present with inflammation inside the eye. Uncontrolled inflammation in the eye is detrimental to ocular health and vision. It can also result in glaucoma (high pressures within the eye itself).

As your pet’s caregiver, you know your pet best. If you are noting a change to your pet’s eyes or changes in its behavior, have the eyes examined. Your quick action could save your pet’s vision or even its life. As the old adage goes, “The eyes are truly the windows to the soul.”


Dr. Cory Mosunic

Board certified veterinary ophthalmologist

Portland Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Care