Droopy Eye in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Droopy Eye in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Droopy Eye in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Droopy Eye?

“Droopy eye” is a condition in which the nerves to a dog’s eye have been inflamed or damaged, and may be a sign of what is called 'Horner's syndrome'. First, the dog’s upper eyelid may appear to droop or not fully open. The pupil may be very small and unable to open in response to lowered lighting. Finally, the “3rd eyelid” or nictitating membrane located inside the lower eyelid may appear inflamed or push out, leaving a reddened area above the lower eyelid. This syndrome indicates a lack of nervous system communication and may reflect a deeper problem, especially if your dog is having difficulty walking or swallowing. However, in breeds like Golden Retrievers, Horner’s syndrome may present idiopathically, that is, without any identifiable cause. While somewhat unsightly, Horner’s syndrome on its own may not present a serious risk for your pet.

Horner’s syndrome refers to a nervous system disorder affecting the eye. The pupils will be small, the eyelid partially closed, and the 3rd eyelid will be elevated and protruding slightly. While not serious on its own, Horner’s syndrome may indicate problems with the nervous system.
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Droopy Eye Average Cost

From 183 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$600

Symptoms of Droopy Eye in Dogs

  • Small, constricted pupil in one or both eyes
  • Top eyelid cannot fully open
  • Patch of reddened tissue above lower eyelid
  • General redness and inflammation
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Causes of Droopy Eye in Dogs

  • Infection of the spinal cord or brain
  • Trauma to the brain, neck or chest
  • Brain or spinal tumor
  • Infection compromising nervous tissue
  • Idiopathic (no identifiable cause)
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Diagnosis of Droopy Eye in Dogs

If you notice your pet’s eye exhibiting the above signs, you will need to see a veterinarian to make sure there are no associated conditions causing Horner’s syndrome. The veterinarian will want a history of any activities your dog has engaged in that might result in injury, and any observations you may have of abnormal behavior in your dog. Tell your veterinarian if your dog has recently had a tumor or any surgery.

The veterinarian will perform a number of routine tests, usually an analysis of a urine sample, a CBC (an analysis of a blood sample to count the types of cells and their relative proportions), and of course a physical exam. These tests will help the veterinarian to determine the underlying cause, if any, of the droopy eye.

If the veterinarian suspects a tumor, broken bone or injury, medical imaging will be needed. X-ray and ultrasound are useful for showing some types of injury, and can usually be done quickly in a vet’s office. MRI and CT scans require a larger machine, and so your vet may refer you to an animal hospital that has the equipment.

Finally, if your dog has presented with a fever along with abnormal behavior, your doctor may conduct a spinal tap. This involves shaving and sterilizing an area on your dog’s back, and inserting a needle between the vertebrae to collect spinal fluid. An analysis of this fluid will aid the veterinarian in determining if your pet has an infection of the nervous system like meningitis.

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Treatment of Droopy Eye in Dogs

The acute signs of droopy eye might be treated with eye drops. However, if there is an underlying cause, this will need to be treated according to the type of ailment. Spinal infections like bacterial meningitis will need quick administration of lifesaving antibiotics, whereas tumors will need surgical removal, radiation or chemotherapy. In the case of trauma (e.g. car accident, fall etc.), surgical intervention may be required to free pinched or trapped nerves and reduce scar tissue.

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Worried about the cost of Droopy Eye treatment?

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Recovery of Droopy Eye in Dogs

Idiopathic droopy eye may sometimes resolve on its own, but to ensure complete recovery, veterinarians often recommend medications of some type. These will need to be administered every 12-24 hours for about three weeks. The outlook for idiopathic Horner’s is typically good. The condition may re-appear in cases of dehydration or infection, but is not considered serious and can be treated the same way.

The outlook of other conditions with Horner’s syndrome as a sign will vary, but in general, the droopy eye portion can be resolved the same way, and the underlying cause treated according to a veterinarian’s recommendation.

Horner’s syndrome can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

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Droopy Eye Average Cost

From 183 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$600

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Droopy Eye Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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boxer bulldog

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7mon

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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Droopy Red Eyelid( Lower Eyelid

Are there any home remedies I can use. And should I be concerned?

Dec. 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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7 Recommendations

What a sweet dog! Unfortunately, the photo is not clear or close enough to assess the eyes. In his age and breed, we would be suspicious of 'Ectropion'. This is an outward drooping of the eyelids that usually needs a minor surgery to correct. Another possibility would be 'Cherry Eye' (prolapsed 3rd eyelid), which we typically also cure with surgery. Ensure he cannot rub at the eyes. Clean any discharge with cotton wool and warm water. If there are signs of an infection (green or yellow discharge, crusting, itchiness etc) the sooner he is seen the better. I do hope this helps.

Dec. 15, 2020

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Cocker Spaniel

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9 years

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2 found helpful

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2 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Droopy Eye

Our cocker has had eye problems for a year. Old vet said Dry Eye. Our new vet says eyes ok. He was castrated recently due to prostate problems. Now he doesn't want to walk and has a droopy left eye that comes and goes. He has had a course of Chloramphenicol but the eye seems uncomfortable for him and he uoften closes that eye. New vet tells us he has back ache and has given him a course of three injections. Still won't walk far.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without being able to examine your dog, I am not sure which of these problems might be going on. I think that you need to find one veterinarian that you do trust, and if the treatment that they prescribed does not help, make sure you do a follow up with them. Many times, we are using our best knowledge to see what might be happening, and we see a response to medication as sort of a test sometimes. If there are medications that do not work, that gives us a clue as to what might be going on. I hope that your veterinarian is able to help your dog and that he feels better soon.

Oct. 6, 2020

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Droopy Eye Average Cost

From 183 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$600

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