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  • Molly Weinfurter

Cloudy Eyes in Dogs: Why are My Dog’s Eyes Cloudy?

When I was younger, I thought cloudy eyes in dogs always meant their vision was worsening or they had eye problems. My senior dog’s eyes are starting to look a little cloudy, so naturally, I worried about her eyesight. But my vet assured me that cloudy dog eyes don’t always indicate eye problems. 


So, if you’ve ever wondered, “why are my dog’s eyes cloudy?,” let’s explore the possible reasons. Of course, every dog’s health is different, so if you’re worried about your dog’s foggy eyes, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet about it.


scruffy senior Chihuahua at beach

Please Note: This article talks about eye conditions in dogs, but it doesn’t show any gross pictures of these conditions.


Why Do Dog Eyes Get Cloudy?

There are lots of reasons why a dog’s eyes might look cloudy. Some are harmless while others require immediate vet care. While the following list can give you some ideas as to why your dog’s eyes are cloudy, it’s best to consult a vet to determine the exact cause.


Nuclear Sclerosis

Cloudy eyes are a normal part of aging for dogs. As dogs get older, the central lens of their eyes hardens, which is a condition known as nuclear sclerosis. Their eyes may appear cloudy as a result, but this is a harmless part of aging in canines. This is what my dog is experiencing, according to my vet.


Since this condition isn't painful and doesn't harm vision, there’s no need to seek treatment options.


Cataracts

Dogs can experience cataracts just like humans can. With cataracts, proteins clump together to make the dog’s eyes look cloudy and/or bluish. Even though it may appear similar to nuclear sclerosis, this condition is serious. It can cause vision problems and eventually lead to blindness.


Cataracts could be caused by genetics, injuries, or health conditions like diabetes. Your vet will likely need to run a blood test to determine that cataracts are the cause of your dog’s cloudy eyes. Surgery is usually recommended for cataracts to remove them so your dog can see clearly again.


Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause added pressure to your dog’s eyes. It’s often painful for your furry friend while also causing damage to your dog’s eyes. If not treated in time, your dog could experience blindness. 


Cloudiness is just one symptom of glaucoma in dogs. Other signs could include protruding eyes, watery discharge, redness, and irritation. If you suspect glaucoma is causing your dog’s cloudy eyes, contact your vet immediately. 


Your vet will determine the best treatment method based on the type of glaucoma and how severe it is. Some cases could just require medication while others could involve surgery.


Corneal Ulcers

The cornea, which is the transparent layer that covers the eyeball, could get damaged and make your dog’s eyes look glossy. Scratches, cuts, and burns on your dog’s cornea could be painful and harm their vision. If that’s the cause of cloudiness, you will likely see other signs of injury on or near their eye.


Brachycephalic dog breeds, like my Shih Tzu, are more likely to get corneal ulcers because their eyes stick further out of their heads than other breeds. So, I regularly look at her eyes to make sure they look healthy. 


In the event of an eye injury, your vet will likely prescribe medications or eye drops, but it depends on the placement and severity of the ulcer.


senior dog with cloudy eyes

Corneal Dystrophy

With this condition, your dog’s corneas could become very cloudy and even appear white. It’s caused by a buildup of fluids in your dog’s cornea, which could include minerals, cholesterol, or other substances. As a result, your dog’s cornea, eye, and nearby areas could swell and become uncomfortable. In rare cases, it could lead to blindness, but luckily, this condition is easy to catch early on.


Corneal dystrophy is often genetic in dogs, but it could be caused by lifestyle factors too. Eye drops are usually enough to help this condition. Sometimes, it may not even require treatment if it doesn’t bother your dog. Talk to your vet to determine the best course of action. Surgery is only needed in extreme cases.


Corneal Lipidosis

If fats are deposited in your dog’s cornea, it could make their eyes look cloudy. This condition is known as corneal lipidosis, but luckily, it’s not usually harmful to dogs. It rarely causes any vision problems. It usually occurs if the dog’s cornea didn’t develop properly. 


If it’s caused by underlying health problems, treating those issues should also treat the corneal lipidosis. However, if there are no underlying concerns and your dog isn’t bothered by it, they likely won’t need treatment. Your vet can determine the best steps to take based on your dog’s condition and health history.


Uveitis

The uvea is the part of your dog’s eye that sits behind their cornea. It’s the pigmented layer of the eye that contains the iris. Uveitis is when parts of the uvea are inflamed, which could lead to cloudiness in your dog’s eyes. It could also cause redness or excessive eye discharge.


This condition can be painful for dogs, so it should be addressed by a vet right away. Vets usually treat it by finding a way to reduce the inflammation, such as prescribing anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics. More severe treatment methods may be necessary if an underlying condition, like parasites or cancer, is causing the uveitis.


Dry Eye

Dry eye is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). It’s a condition where your dog’s eyes aren’t producing enough tears, causing their eyes to be dry and uncomfortable. The dry eyes could become itchy, irritated, or cloudy. In some cases, it could cause blurry vision.


This health problem is often caused by genetics, so there’s not a way to prevent it. However, vets can treat it with eye drops and other topical medications. In extreme cases, your vet may suggest surgery. This is because dry eye could lead to corneal scarring and ulcers over time, which could be very painful and cause blindness.


Pannus

Pannus occurs in dogs when unnecessary tissue forms in the corner of their eyes. It usually forms in both eyes at once, causing cloudiness or redness as it irritates the dog’s eyes. This tissue usually keeps growing until it’s treated. So, if it’s not noticed in time, it could cover your dog’s entire eye and obstruct their vision.


If caught early on, medications might be enough to treat this condition. While on medication, your vet may suggest using UV-blocking dog sunglasses to slow the disease’s progression. In extreme cases, surgery is necessary to remove the tissue completely. 


old man holding senior dog with cloudy eyes

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Does My Young Dog Suddenly Have Cloudy Eyes?

Cloudy eyes are a natural part of aging for old dogs, but it’s rare for young dogs to have them. If your young dog suddenly has cloudy eyes, it’s likely a sign of a medical issue or an eye injury. Take your dog to the vet right away to find the exact cause.


Do Cloudy Eyes in Dogs Mean Blindness?

Blind dogs often have cloudy eyes, but cloudy eyes aren't automatically a sign of blindness in dogs. They could be a sign that your dog is aging or that there's an underlying health issue. To check your dog’s vision, talk to your vet.


Why Does My Dog Have Red Eyes?

Dog eyes shouldn’t be red. If your dog has red eyes, it’s likely a sign of injury or irritation. It’s always a good idea to take your dog to the vet to determine the cause of your dog’s red eyes and treat it if necessary.


How Should I Clean My Dog’s Eyes?

You should regularly clean the area around your dog’s eyes using a damp cloth, soft sponge, or cotton ball. Remove any discharge or debris to reduce the risk of eye irritation. This is especially important for dogs with large eyes that bulge out of their heads.


Can Dogs Get Pink Eye?

Yes, dogs can get pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis. It’s a form of infection or inflammation that may make your dog’s eye or the area around the eye appear pink. If you suspect your dog has this condition, visit your vet.


senior dog resting head on blanket

When in Doubt, Ask Your Vet About Cloudy Eyes in Dogs

Canine cloudy eye happens naturally for most senior dogs, but it’s also a symptom of many more serious conditions. If your dog is developing cloudy eyes, you should mention it to your vet just to make sure it isn’t anything serious. If you notice any other symptoms paired with cloudy eyes, make sure to let your vet know.


It’s always better to be safe than sorry with your dog’s health. Even though my vet said my dog’s cloudy eyes were normal, I will continue to keep an eye on them and let my vet know if any issues arise. After all, the sooner dog parents spot health problems, the sooner those issues can be solved.

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