You have the cutest dog in the world. You know it and everyone who meets your dog knows it too. It probably feels like you and your dog can talk, and maybe even carry-on conversations. You’ve learned your dog’s body language and know what every tail wag and lifted paw means. Barks, yips, and growls have their own meaning, and you know when your dog wants to play, eat, or is bored. Your dog also uses their beautiful, soulful eyes to tell you how much they love you, in addition to how much they need some of that chicken you’re preparing. Your dog’s eyes communicate as much as their tail and their barks. So you want to keep your dog’s eyes healthy and are doing some research on eye health for dogs. You’re such a good pet parent. In this article, we’ll discuss how your dog’s eyes work, how to assess your dog’s eye health, how to keep your dog’s eyes healthy with nutrition, pet CBD, and grooming, and signs of eye injury or disease to watch out for.
What You Need to Know About Dog Eyes
Your eyes and your dog’s eyes are very different. You probably know that your dog’s senses, including their eyesight, are stronger than yours. However, humans see some things better than dogs. Here are a few of the ways that your dog’s eyes are different from yours.
- The pupil is the part of the eye that is open to and collects light. It’s the dark spot in the middle of the eye that’s surrounded by the colorful ring, or iris. Your dog’s pupils are bigger than yours. This allows your dog to see better in dim light and darkness.
- Your eyes detect color and detail in a way that your dog’s eyes don’t. However, in contrast, your dog is far more keenly attuned to movement. This is a testament to your dog’s ancestry of hunting in the wild.
- If your dog’s nose is long, it helps them to focus at a distance. This is why many hunting dog breeds, like Labrador retrievers, have long snouts. This ability to focus at a distance also gives dogs excellent periphery vision. Periphery means to the side, so dogs can see out of the corner of their eyes very well.
- Interestingly, short-nosed dogs, like Boston Terriers, are more attuned to your mood through your facial expressions. This is because, with their short noses, they can focus more closely at short distances. This gives them a greater ability to see your facial expressions, so they can more easily tell if you’re in the mood to play or hand out treats.
- Dog’s have a third eyelid, which protects the eyeball, and helps to move tears across the surface of the eye. It’s called the nictitating membrane.
Your dog sees the world very differently from you. Dogs tend to see forms, rather than distinct, detailed shapes. This is similar to how things look to humans during sunset. However, a dog’s eyes are not their primary sense. They “see” the world through their nose in far more vivid detail than we can imagine.
One final note—it is dangerous to let your dog ride in the car with its head out the window. Dirt or debris could strike your dog’s eyes at high speeds, leading to injury. Also, the fast-moving wind blowing dust in their eyes is irritating to their eyes.
Feeding your dog a high-quality, high-protein diet is one of the best ways to support their overall health as well as the health of their eyes. A diet high in antioxidants is also a good way to help maintain eye health for dogs. You can supplement your dog’s diet with healthy foods and nutritional supplements that will help keep your pup’s eyes strong and healthy.
- Blueberries are high in carotenoids, phytonutrients, and flavonoids. And, as we all know, beagles love blueberries. For small dogs, please cut blueberries in half to prevent choking. Otherwise, blueberries and other berries make highly nutritious, low calories snacks for dogs.
- Essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements, like fish oil or hemp seed oil, contain omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs, which help support eye health.
- Cooked fish is also a good snack for dogs since they are natural sources of EFAs and also high-quality protein. Salmon, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel all make good snacks for dogs.
- Hemp CBD oil is also an excellent supplement for dog eye health. Hemp CBD oil, particularly full-spectrum, is full of antioxidants that may help protect your dog’s eyes. CBD helps to maintain regular eye function and health, and it supports normal vision function and proper vision development. Pet Releaf offers a Liposome Hemp CBD oil that’s mixed in a base of sustainably sourced Wild Alaskan Red Pollack fish oil. This CBD absorbs quickly and can be given with food. You also use less of this CBD oil, because it is so fast-acting. And dogs with picky palates will love the fish oil taste. The Liposome Hemp CBD oils come in concentrations for small, medium, and large dogs. If you’d prefer your pet CBD with a side of healthy berries, then Pet Releaf’s Immunity Edibites are for you. Edibites are tasty, pup approved, CBD and herbal supplement soft chews. They aren’t regular treats, but your dog won’t believe you. The Immunity chew has CBD and healthful blueberries and cranberries. Edibites make giving your dog CBD as easy as sweet potato pie.
- Speaking of sweet potatoes, they make a great, eye-healthy snack for dogs. They are rich in beta-carotene and anthocyanins. Always give your dog cooked sweet potatoes, because raw sweet potato can upset their stomach.
- Eggs can be given raw or cooked, just don’t let your dog eat the shells. Eggs contain lutein, sulfur, and cysteine, which support eye health.
- Broccoli is another good choice because it contains high amounts of beta-carotene, which is particularly helpful to the eyes. Broccoli can be served cooked or raw.
- Kale is best served cooked and pureed. It contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
Cleaning and Grooming
One way to support eye health for dogs is to clean your dog’s eyes if you notice them running or having discharge. Dampen a cotton ball and, starting at the corner of the eye, wipe outward, or away from the eye. Don’t touch the actual eyeball itself, that could scratch it. If the running or discharge doesn’t resolve or go away, then your dog may have an eye infection, which requires a visit to the vet.
Some dogs have hair that grows around their eyes, which can become irritating to the eye. Either take your dog to the groomer’s regularly or use round-tipped scissors and carefully trim the hair around your dog’s eyes. It often helps to make this a two-person job-one person to hold, and another to clip.
Veterinary Exams and Check-Ups
Part of your regularly scheduled veterinarian exams includes the vet checking your dog’s eye health. Eye health for dogs requires regular vet exams and visits as needed. Your vet is an expert and can help with any eye problems your dog is having. And, they’ll be able to detect if something is going wrong with your dog’s eyes. This means that treatment can start sooner rather than later
Watch Out for Signs of Eye Injury or Disease
How do you know if you need to take your dog to the veterinarian or canine eye specialist to get their eyes checked? Here are two ways to assess your dog’s eye health. Remember, any kind of eye abnormality is cause to call your vet.
- In bright light indoors or outdoors, take a good look into your dog’s eyes. Healthy eyes are clear and bright, and the white area of the eye is white, not discolored. The black spots in the center or pupils should be the same in size. There should be no tearing, discharge, or crust in the corners of your dog’s eyes. Signs you need to take your dog to the vet: cloudiness, yellowing whites of the eyes, pupils that are different sizes, or if you can see the third eyelid.
- This one might sound a little gross, but it’s ok and it will help your dog. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Gently use your thumb to roll down your dog’s bottom eyelid so you can see the tissue lining the eyelid. Healthy eyelids are pink, not red or white.
Here are signs of eye injury or eye disease in dogs. If you know your dog’s eye was injured, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Eyelid that is twitching or spasming
Squinting more than normal
Can’t open eye or eyes
Tears, runny eyes
Eyes that are bloodshot
If your dog is pawing at their face or eye
Cloudiness of the eye
Discharge of any kind
Can’t close eyes properly