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Dry eyes in dogs

Dry eye in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatments

Is your dog blinking excessively or do they often have discharge around their eyes? If so, they could be suffering from dry eye, a painful condition that gets worse the longer it’s left untreated.

Let’s take a closer look at dry eye in dogs: what it is, how to spot it and most importantly, what you can do to treat it.

What is dry eye?

Dry eye is a fairly common condition. It refers to a lack of tear film over the surface of the dog’s eye and within the lining of the eye lid, which prevents the tear glands from producing tears. This causes severe dryness and inflammation of the eyes and is incredibly painful for dogs.

Read more: How to clean your dog's eyes


Dry eye is often caused by a fault in the dog’s immune system which affects the tear glands. Other less common causes include faulty nerves, hormonal issues or in rare cases, a response to medication. Certain breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs and West Highland Terriers, are more susceptible to dry eye than others.

The prognosis for dry eye is usually promising – but this is dependent on how early it is found and how early you commence with treatment.

Symptoms: how to spot dry eye in dogs?

If your dog displays any of these symptoms, they could be suffering from dry eye:

  • Excessive blinking
  • Discharge surrounding the eyes
  • Redness
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Stickiness of the eyes
  • Recurrent ulcers or infections
  • Regular rubbing at the eyes

Your dog’s chances of a healthy prognosis are a lot higher if dry eye is spotted early on. Try to get into the habit of checking their eyes regularly and if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, be sure to get in touch with your vet as soon as you can.

Read more: Conjunctivitis in dogs

Dry eye treatment for dogs

Treatment for dry eye will depend on how serious and how advanced your dog’s condition is. As an owner, the most important thing you can do is contact your vet. They’ll be able to diagnose it (symptoms can belong to other conditions) and to prescribe a suitable course of treatment.

Treatments may include

  • Eye drops, ointments or false tears
  • Regular wiping
  • Surgery (in extreme cases)

Many cases of dry eye in dogs will require continual treatment. Treatments will also depend on what your vet discerns to be the underlying cause of the condition.

Need more info?

For more information on dry eye in dogs, or any aspect of their health care, have a chat with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.