Your dog’s vision is important to his happiness and well-being. Learn how to keep him seeing well.
It’s easy to take sight for granted – unless something happens to damage it. Although your dog has a much better sense of hearing and smell than you do, he also relies heavily on vision to navigate the world. That’s why it’s vital to include your dog’s eyes in his wellness program.
Take a close look at your dog’s eyes on a regular basis to check for any signs of a problem. If his eyes are healthy, they’ll have a good, clear “coating” over them. The pupils will be shiny and dark and of equal size. They should constrict with light, and dilate when the light is removed.
The “sclera” around the eye should be pinkish white. If it’s all white, it signals anemia. Yellow indicates severe liver trouble (jaundice), while a red sclera means possible fever, overexertion or poisoning (with other severe symptoms). If it’s murky and oddly colored, it shows infection.
Keep your dog’s environment safe to avoid injuries to his eyes. Look at the world from his viewpoint. Trim and remove low branches in the yard, watch for sharp objects at canine eye level, keep chemicals out of his reach, control dust in the environment, and do not use chemical floor/carpet cleaners or pesticides.
Tear discharge should be clear and thin. Any thick, yellow or green discharge could mean an infection. A white, opaque discharge can also signal infection or be a reaction to a blow. Blood in the eye is an emergency — seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Preserving your dog’s vision and eye health is easy if you take the right steps. Regularly check his eyes for potential problems, and take him to the vet promptly if something doesn’t look right.
What causes tear stains?
“Tear stains are typically the result of porphyrins,” says Dr. Karen Becker. “Porphyrins are naturally-occurring molecules containing iron – waste products from the breakdown of red blood cells.” Dogs can excrete porphyrins through tears, saliva and urine. Think of rust, with its reddish brown color – that’s the iron you’re seeing in tear stains. Some small breeds with light-coloured hair are more susceptible. If the stains turn brown, it could be the result of a yeast infection, so have it checked out.
Steps to a cleaner face:
- Take a look at what your dog is eating. A poor quality and/or imbalanced diet can contribute to tear stains.
- Spend a couple of minutes each day cleaning your dog’s face. This will minimize staining before it builds up. Products containing harsh chemicals may do more harm than good to the soft tissues around the eyes. Moisten a sterile cotton pad with saline solution (pinch of sea salt in a cup of distilled, or boiled and cooled, water), and carefully rub underneath and around the eye area. Keep the hair around the eyes trimmed to prevent it from irritating the eyes and causing tearing. You can flush out the eyes with a gentle saline solution, as required.
10 foods for good vision
By Audi Donamor
Eye health in dogs has become the talk of the town. There’s more and more discussion about eye disease in canines, including macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis and glaucoma. According to veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Carmen Colitz, we can place a large part of the blame on free radicals.
“These highly unstable molecules are generated at the cellular level as a natural response to environmental stressors such as inflammation, radiation from sunlight and many environmental toxins such as air pollutants,” Dr. Colitz explains. “The cells of the canine retina are especially susceptible to oxidative stress-induced damage because of their high oxygen consumption and exposure to light.”
Fortunately, free radicals can be balanced with antioxidants, which the body produces naturally, but since these decrease in number with age, it’s important to think about diet and supplements to bolster your dog’s supply.
Here’s a list of the top ten foods containing all-important eye-worthy nutrients like anthocyanins, beta carotene, carotenoids, glutathione, Omega-3 essential fatty acids,
lycopene, phytonutrients – and featuring the very special partnership of lutein and zeaxanthin, sometimes referred to as sunscreen for the eyes. Of course, you can also look for a full spectrum supplement formulated specifically for eye health.
- Cold water fish
- Sweet potatoes
Katharine Lark Chrisley NHC, RMT has degrees in Natural Health Counseling, Veterinary Assistance and Reiki Mastership. She is the founder and president of Dharmahorse Inc., a sanctuary for unwanted horses, and has owned and operated three schools of classical horsemanship since 1973. She has taught courses on horses, dogs and meditation. Katharine is also an artist, illustrating articles and books.
Audi Donamor has been successfully creating special needs diets for companion animals for two decades. She is the founder of the University of Guelph’s Smiling Blue Skies® Cancer Fund and Smiling Blue Skies® Fund for Innovative Research. She is the proud recipient a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and most recently, was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for her work in cancer, from the University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College.