When to Take Your Pet to the Vet: Top 5 Warning Signs of Eye Problems

In the world of pet care, eye problems can be especially concerning. It’s not always easy to know whether a particular symptom is a cause for alarm or a harmless quirk. Failure to recognize and treat eye issues early on can lead to further complications and, in some cases, irreversible damage. This guide will help pet owners learn about the top warning signs of eye problems and when it’s time to take your pet to the vet for an examination. 

Keep reading to learn more about pet eye health and how best to care for your furry friend’s peepers.

Understanding Pet Eye Problems

Just like humans, pets can develop various eye issues throughout their lives. Some of these might be mild and treatable, while others could be more serious and require quick intervention. Knowing the warning signs of eye problems can help you make informed decisions about your pet’s health and when to seek veterinary help. 

Some common pet eye problems include redness, discharge, swelling, dullness, or closure.

Red Eye

Do your pet’s eyes appear red or inflamed? A red eye in pets could indicate irritation or infection. Don’t assume your pet has allergies or is merely tired. In some cases, the redness may be due to a more severe condition like glaucoma, which requires immediate attention. In some cases, your pet’s eye problems may require the expertise of a dog & cat ophthalmologist

These specialists possess advanced training and certification in diagnosing and treating animal eye issues. An ophthalmologist can help manage complex cases, provide specialized surgeries, and administer advanced therapies that general practice veterinarians may not offer.

Discharge From Pet’s Eye

A healthy pet may occasionally have a small amount of white discharge in the corner of its eye. However, if you notice a thick, yellow-green discharge from your pet’s eye, it’s time to call the vet. This type of discharge can indicate an infection that may require antibiotics or even a diagnosis of an underlying issue. Don’t be tempted to disregard this minor symptom; it could signify something more serious.

Swollen Eye

Is your pet’s eye noticeably swollen, or does its face appear asymmetrical? Various factors, such as trauma, infections, or allergies, can cause a swollen eye in pets. Consult your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and receive the appropriate treatment. Neglecting a swollen eye can lead to more severe complications, so addressing the issue as soon as possible is essential.

Dull Eye

Does your pet’s eye seem lackluster or dull, with a diminished or absent reflection on the surface? A pet’s dull eye can indicate a dry eye or a corneal ulcer. Both conditions require timely attention; the former may lead to scar tissue and vision impairment, while the latter may cause eye perforation. 

Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet’s eye appearance.

Closed Eye

If your pet keeps one eye closed or squints constantly, it could signal pain or discomfort. A closed eye in pets may result from an injury, corneal ulcer, or foreign body. Seek the advice of a veterinarian who can apply a local anesthetic and examine your pet’s eye closely. Delaying treatment can lead to permanent damage or even loss of vision.

Common Eye Emergencies in Pets

Beyond the top five warning signs, several additional pet eye problems require immediate attention. Understanding these emergency issues can help you take action quickly and potentially save your pet’s eye.

Corneal Ulcers

A pet corneal ulcer refers to damage or erosion of the eye’s outer layer. Common causes of corneal ulcers include scratches, abrasions, or foreign bodies. Treatment typically involves medications and close monitoring, but severe cases might need surgery. Failure to treat corneal ulcers promptly can lead to worsening conditions, including rupture.

If your pet’s eye problem requires surgery, it’s crucial to find a qualified veterinary surgeon specialist who can perform the procedure. These specialists have extensive experience in performing various surgical procedures on pets, including those involving the eyes. Timely surgical intervention can mean the difference between saving your pet’s vision and not, so research and choose a competent surgeon.


Proptosis occurs when the eye bulges out of the socket, often entrapped by the eyelids. This condition is a genuine emergency, particularly for flat-faced breeds. Even with immediate treatment, some pets may lose their eye due to damage to muscles, nerves, or blood supply. Promptly consult a veterinarian if your pet experiences proptosis.

Corneal Laceration

A corneal laceration is a complete tear through the cornea and can occur from injuries such as cat scratches or contact with sharp objects. Cats and dogs with corneal lacerations often hold their eyes shut due to significant pain. Immediate surgery may save the eye if caught in time, so take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect a corneal laceration.

Veterinary Services for Pet Eye Problems

In addition to regular check-ups, specialized veterinary services can provide targeted care for your pet’s eye health. From diagnostics and imaging to surgery and specialized ophthalmology, familiarize yourself with the various resources available to keep your pet’s eyes healthy.

Veterinary laboratories offer various diagnostic services that can help determine the cause of your pet’s eye problem. Services like pet diagnostics and imaging enable veterinarians to monitor, treat, and manage pet eye infections and inflammations more effectively.

The Takeaway

Pet eye problems can be both concerning and challenging to navigate. However, understanding the warning signs and knowing when to take your pet to the vet can help prevent severe complications. Stay vigilant, monitor your pet’s eyes regularly, and don’t hesitate to consult a professional if you suspect any issues. Timely attention can save your pet’s vision and ensure their overall health and well-being.

Get more stuff

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.