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Dog Dry Eyes

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Dog Dry Eyes

Dry eye, which is also known medically as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition where a dog’s tear glands fail to produce a sufficient amount of tears in order to keep their eyes moist. This leads to a dry cornea in the eye. In this disorder, less of the watery substance and more of the mucus is found in the tears.

Causes of Dry Eyes in Dogs

A virus is thought to be the leading reason for dry eyes in dogs. It is more common in dogs than cats. Injury to the nerves in the eyes or the tear glands themselves can also lead to dryness of the eyes.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common sign of dry eyes is a thick, mucus like discharge from one or both of a dog’s eyes. This is due to the lack of aqueous tear production. This discharge is also common with Dog Pink Eye, which can lead to a misdiagnosis and treatment in dogs.

Another primary symptom of dry eyes in dogs is the dull, opaque appearance in the eye. For an animal with normal producing tear glands, the eyes will appear as if they were glistening.

Recurring episodes of pink eye, or conjunctivitis, are also common with dry eyes. If left untreated, Dog Blindness is likely to occur.


To properly diagnose dry eyes, the volume of tears is measured. The Schirmer tear test is used, which is performed by putting a paper strip into the pool of tears found in the inner corner of a dog's eye. The paper is left one minute to see how far the liquid will wet the strip. Normal tear pools will wet the paper to a length of 12-22 millimeters. Anything else is likely to suggest dry eyes.

Treatment Options

Treatment for dry eyes in dogs includes topical treatments and medications and, in some dire situations, treatment may include surgery as well.

Topical Treatments and Medication

Frequent use of artificial tears is beneficial in keeping the eyes moist. If the dry eyes are severe, an ophthalmic cyclosporin ointment is prescribed. The cream should be applied to the surface of the affected eye. The frequency of application will be determined by the veterinarian in response to the severity of the condition. Results from using the medication are typically not immediate, which is why artificial tears should be continued. Treatment is generally lifelong for dogs who have been diagnosed with dry eyes.


Surgical treatment should be seen as a last resort for eliminating dry eyes in dogs. The procedure involves implanting a salivary gland into the corner of the dog’s eye. This gland will take the place of the inoperative tear gland. The surgery brings several disadvantages with it. The most common con of the surgery is that the amount of saliva produced can be more than the eyes can handle, which will result in watery eyes and a buildup of mineral deposits.

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