Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Glaucoma in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Glaucoma is a very painful eye condition caused by pressure within your dog's eye. Today our Charlotte vets discuss the causes of glaucoma in dogs, and how primary and secondary glaucoma can be treated. 

Glaucoma & Your Dog's Eyes

Glaucoma is a painful condition characterized by increased intraocular pressure within the eye, caused by inadequate fluid drainage. Glaucoma can progress very quickly, and often leads to the optical nerve and retinal damage in dogs. It is estimated that 40% of dogs will be left blind in the eye which is affected by glaucoma.

Glaucoma in dogs is caused by insufficient drainage of fluid from the eye. There are two types of glaucoma, each defined by the cause of the condition; primary glaucoma and secondary glaucoma.

Causes Of Primary Glaucoma in Dogs

Primary glaucoma occurs in dogs due to inherited abnormalities in the drainage mechanism of the pet's eye. A number of breeds show an increased risk of primary glaucoma including (but not limited to) Boston terriers, cocker spaniels, shar-peis, beagles, basset hounds, Siberian huskies, Labrador retrievers, samoyed, toy poodles, and Great Danes. Each breed has its unique traits that make dogs of that breed more susceptible to developing glaucoma.

Primary glaucoma rarely affects both eyes equally or at the same time. The condition typically occurs in one eye months or even years before it affects the second eye.

Cause Of Secondary Glaucoma in Dogs

Secondary glaucoma occurs as a result of an injury to the eye or disease. The most common causes include: damage to the lens of the eye, inflammation of the interior of the eye, severe intraocular infections, anterior dislocation of the lens (blockage caused by the lens falling forward in the eye), tumors, and intraocular bleeding. 

Signs That Your Dog May Be Suffering From Glaucoma

Dogs suffering from either primary or secondary glaucoma may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Watery discharge from the eye
  • Eye pain (eye rubbing or turning away when being pet)
  • Bulging of the eyeball (whites of eye turn red)
  • Cloudy, bluish appearance to the eye
  • Dilated pupil – or pupil does not respond to light
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Less desire to play
  • Vision loss

Chronic glaucoma can take some time to develop and begin causing symptoms, but acute glaucoma occurs very suddenly. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above contact your vet immediately or visit the nearest emergency veterinary hospital for urgent care. Early diagnosis and treatment are your dog's best bet for good treatment outcomes.

Diagnosing Glaucoma in Dogs

Your veterinarian will measure the pressure within your dog's eye using a tonometer.  If your dog is experiencing blindness due to glaucoma, a veterinary ophthalmologist may use electroretinography to determine whether surgery can help restore vision to the eye.

Treatment for Dogs With Glaucoma

If your dog is diagnosed with glaucoma your vet will prescribe drugs to help reduce pressure within the eye as quickly as possible. Reducing the pressure quickly may help to prevent permanent blindness in some dogs.

Typically, painkillers are also prescribed to help your dog feel more comfortable.

Other medications may be prescribed to both promote drainage and decrease fluid production as a way of reducing intraocular pressure.

In many cases, surgery will also be an essential part of the treatment for advanced cases of glaucoma. If your dog has permanently lost their vision your vet may recommend surgery to remove the eye to relieve pain.

Regular eye examinations will be an essential part of your pet's ongoing care and treatment for glaucoma. Regular appointments allow your vet to monitor symptoms and keep the condition under control over the long term.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Although we do not provide ophthalmology services, we will happily refer you to a certified specialist.

If your dog is showing signs of glaucoma, contact Carolina Veterinary Specialists right away. Our team can refer you to a veterinary ophthalmology specialist if your dog requires specialized care.

Pet Care in Charlotte

Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Charlotte accepts all clients for our 24/7 emergency service. Our specialty services accepts new clients by referral only.

Contact Us