Crossed Eyes in Dogs

Crossed Eyes in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Crossed Eyes?

With this condition, your dog can be cross-eyed (both eyes turned inwards), walleyed (both eyes facing outward), or just one eye may drift either way. This may be hereditary, or it may be caused by weak muscles, a nerve condition, or injury. The eye condition does not usually cause any major problems, but the underlying cause can produce other symptoms that affect your dog. There is usually no pain or any type of discomfort of the eye unless there was an injury or if it is caused by a painful disorder. However, you should take your dog to see a veterinary professional if your dog suddenly has crossed eyes. This could be a medical emergency if your dog did not previously have crossed eyes before because it may be a sign of something wrong with his nervous system.

Crossed eyes (esotropia or convergent strabismus) is a condition in which your dog’s eyes do not work together, causing one or both eyes to drift wherever they want instead of focusing on what he is looking at. There are three nerves that control the muscles of the eyeball, which include the trochlear, oculomotor, and abducens. It is these muscles that help the eyes to move where they should be and each eye has its own set of muscles and nerves. The muscles must all be balanced properly for your dog’s eyes to work the way they should. If one of the muscles or nerves is not working correctly, that eye will not be aligned. With crossed eyes, a muscle or nerve in each eye is not aligned and this is causing the eyes to turn inward.

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Symptoms of Crossed Eyes in Dogs

The symptoms vary quite a bit depending on the cause, severity, and whether your dog has been able to compensate for the problem. In some cases, the eyes may be fixed over time on their own just by one compensating for the other. The most common signs include:

  • Both eyes turn inward
  • Eyes may sometimes be normal but turn inward when trying to focus
  • Tilting head
  • Squinting eyes
  • Dizziness and incoordination
  • Vision trouble


  • Fibrosing esotropia is a progressive condition in the Shar Pei and large and giant breeds of dogs such as German Shepherds and Great Danes. This condition produces fibrosis of the muscles that control the eyes (dorsal oblique and medial rectus). In some cases, only one eye is affected but it usually affects both, causing crossed eyes and impaired vision. Surgery can fix this if the condition is severe enough.
  • Hereditary (one or both eyes)
  • Traumatic (Injury or scar tissue from old injury)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nerve disorders

Causes of Crossed Eyes in Dogs

  • Genetics (large or giant breeds and Shar Peis)
  • Damage to the eye muscle from scar tissue (usually from previous trauma or inflammation)
  • Crossed nerves in the central nervous system causing weakness or improper movement of the muscles

Diagnosis of Crossed Eyes in Dogs

If your dog suddenly becomes cross-eyed or seems to be having trouble seeing, you need to bring him to see a veterinary expert as soon as possible. The veterinarian will need to know your pet’s medical history, whether he has been ill recently or has had any injuries. Also, make sure you tell the veterinarian if you have given your dog any medicine. Some drugs can adversely affect the diagnosis process and treatment plan. A physical exam will be done first to check your dog’s vitals and overall condition.

A detailed optical examination is necessary and your veterinarian may send you to a veterinary ophthalmologist at this point. The process will usually include a Schirmer tear test, intraocular pressure measuring, pupillary light response, and menace response. The veterinarian will also perform head x-rays and routine blood tests to rule out other conditions.

Treatment of Crossed Eyes in Dogs

The treatment for crossed eyes include medication or surgery to correct the muscle or nerve disorder, if that is the case. If it is an inherited condition, there is no reason for treatment.


Anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful in reducing the crossed eyes. Corticosteroids may help fibrosing esotropia, but surgery to resect the medial rectus muscles is usually required in severe cases.


There are surgical options for fixing the muscles or nerves or to remove scar tissue from previous injury or infection. However, this is not recommended unless your dog’s quality of life is affected.

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Recovery of Crossed Eyes in Dogs

If your dog has crossed eyes, you should not breed him because he can pass down the condition if it is hereditary. Your dog’s prognosis is excellent since it does not usually affect the quality of life at all. If the condition is severe, the surgery should have your dog seeing better in a few days. Be sure to follow all the instructions and call your veterinarian if you have any issues.

Crossed Eyes Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Pitbull chocolate lab mix



10 years


2 found this helpful


2 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My dogs pupils are not directly in the center of his eyes. They are off center and inward. Does this mean he is cross eyed? If so, how do I know if he sees double or blurry? He occasionally squints a little bit but no other symptoms.

Sept. 28, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to see both of his eyes, and examine him more closely, I cannot say what might be causing this problem. If it is not a new condition, it may be something that he was born with, but to know if he sees clearly or not, he would need a more thorough veterinary examination. This would be a good question to ask your veterinarian the next time he goes in for routine care. I hope that all goes well for him!

Oct. 5, 2020

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Pitt bull



Two Years


2 found this helpful


2 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Crossed Eyed Drooling Trouble Eating And Drinking Running Into Things
Why is my dog's eyes crossed after having tail amputated?

July 10, 2020

Answered by Dr. Sara O. DVM

2 Recommendations

hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. This would be really weird occurrence. It would be best for your vet to look at your dog and see if there is anything that could have caused damage to this area. Many times this will slowly improve. I hope your dog starts to feel better soon.

July 10, 2020

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