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What are Eye Proptosis?

Dog breeds that have prominent protruding eyes with short muzzles and noses are more prone to eye proptosis. A brachycephalic dog is the medical term for dogs with a flat and wide skull shape.  Common brachycephalic dog breeds, which are prone to eye proptosis, include the Pekingese, Pug, Boston Terrier, Chihuahua, Lhasa Apso, French Bulldog and Shih-Tzu. 

If your dog’s eye is displaced he must be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.  There are animal emergency hospitals, which are open 24/7.  It is important to remain calm.  The eye dries quickly so it is recommended that you place sterile gauze with a saline solution over the eye.  Contact lens solution may be used as a saline solution.  It is a good idea to call the veterinarian’s office or clinic beforehand and let them know you are coming in with an emergency situation. This way they will be ready for your dog.  

Please be aware that your companion is in a lot of pain and may not act as he usually does.  Pain, stress and fear can make any dog behave in an unpredictable manner.  To transport a small dog, it is recommended that you use his carrier.  This way he is in a safe and confined space.  When transporting an immobile, injured larger dog, a throw rug, beach towel, blanket, or a plank can be used as a stretcher.  Try to keep movement to a minimum to prevent further damage.

The eyeball (globe) and its supporting muscles and ligaments are situated within the eye socket (orbit).  Eye proptosis in dogs is when the globe is removed partially or entirely out of its orbit.

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Symptoms of Eye Proptosis in Dogs

Symptoms of eye proptosis may include:

  • Eye is bulging or hanging out of the orbit
  • The eye is bloody
  • Tissue around the eye is red and inflamed
  • Severed/torn muscles and or eye ligaments 
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Inability to blink 
  • Constricted pupils
  • Dogs that have experienced trauma (for example hit by a vehicle) may have other intensive injuries. The dog may go into shock.

Causes of Eye Proptosis in Dogs

Eyes proptosis may be caused by:

  • Dogfight
  • Dog was hit with a blunt object
  • Hit by a motorized  vehicle
  • Dog accidently hits head against an object
  • Falls or stumbles, which can cause head injuries
  • Choking, caused by the misuse of a choker collar

Diagnosis of Eye Proptosis in Dogs

If you are taking your dog to an emergency clinic where he has never been seen, it is important to let them know if the dog is on any current medications or if he has any medical conditions (diabetes, allergies, epilepsy, and pseudohemophilia).  Dogs that have experienced major trauma will need to be stabilized and assessed before evaluating the eye injury.  The veterinarian team will start an IV to administer fluids, analgesics, and other needed medications.  

The veterinarian may want the patient to have skull x-rays and chest x-rays.  A complete blood count and a serum chemistry panel may be suggested.  These blood tests can help evaluate the condition of the dog (low blood count, organ function).  If the dog has lost a lot of blood, a blood transfusion may be needed.  Once the dog is stable the veterinarian will perform an ophthalmic examination. The injured eye will be lubricated and moistened with antibiotic ointment to help prevent further damage to the cornea.

Treatment of Eye Proptosis in Dogs

If the patient has more than three extraocular torn muscles, optic nerve damage, a detached retina or if the eyeball is ruptured; globe replacement will not be attempted.  The veterinarian will recommend enucleation of the eye. After the removal of the eyeball, the edges of the eyelids are sutured together.  

If the veterinarian feels that there is a chance of retaining the patient’s vision he may suggest re-attaching the globe and performing a temporary tarsorrhaphy. The eyelids of the eye are partially sutured together for 2-3 weeks. This procedure is done to protect the cornea. Enucleation of the eye and temporary tarsorrhaphy are both performed under general anesthesia.

Recovery of Eye Proptosis in Dogs

Patients that undergo an enucleation of the eye have a good prognosis. The veterinarian will prescribe pain medication and antibiotics. Follow-up visits will be required to monitor your pet’s progress. An E-collar will need to be worn for approximately 10-14 days.  The veterinarian will provide you with post-operative instructions.

Dogs that undergo a temporary tarsorrhaphy will be prescribed topical and oral antibiotics, atropine, and anti-inflammatory and pain medication. An E-collar will help prevent self-trauma.

Only 20-40% of dogs that have the reattachment of the eyeball regain their vision. Additionally, there are possible complications, which may occur after the surgery (blindness, glaucoma, corneal ulceration, and keratitis). Follow-up visits will be required to monitor the patient’s progress and to determine if there are any complications.

Eye Proptosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Digger
Australian Cattle
8 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Eye protrusion,blind

My Australian shepard had RedNing of one eye and 3 days later he went blind in both eyes,one eye protrudes pupils are large,the vet gave him melodicam ,eye drops and cephalexin,my question is ,since he has been blind for 3 days now is there any chance of him regaining his vision ,if we do see an optometrist? He is 8 no glaucoma,and eye pressure test was good.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2959 Recommendations
Without knowing what the underlying cause of the blindness is, it is not possible to say whether vision may be restored or not as I don’t want to give any false hope. You should visit an Ophthalmologist for an examination to get a diagnosis and to determine if this may be treated and whether vision may be restored. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Rocky
Dachshund
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Scratching often.
Licking

What will happen if you do not take your dog to a vet within 24 hrs of an eye proptosis. It looks super dry, can I push it back in since I am short on money to get help.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2959 Recommendations

Under no circumstances can you simply push the eye back into the orbit, there may be a haematoma, abscess or other cause pushing the eye out. Proptosis is a painful condition and the eye will dry out; until you have the funds for a Veterinary visit, you can apply artificial tears to keep the eye lubricated. Other option is to have the eye removed which may be cheaper than correcting the underlying cause; also a charity clinic in your area may be able to help you. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My dog Belle Pom/Pekingese has been blind in one eye since she was 3 years old at adoption. Last year at the age of 7 she lost her sight completely. Two months ago proptosis appeared and I keep it moist so it doesn't dry out. She is not showing any signs of distress and is still the happy dog she has always been since adoption. Is it okay to just leave the proptosis eye or should I have it removed? Thank you in advance, Deborah

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Cersei
Chi/poodle
5 Weeks
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Eye Discharge

Medication Used

Buprenorphine

My 5 week old Chihuahua was fallen on by a German shepherd yesterday and he had or has a global proptosis. She was rushed to the emergency vet last night where they were able to cut a small slit beside her eye and put it back in place and suture her eye shut for a couple weeks. She has pain medication and antibiotics. Last night, her pupils were responding to light which is good so I'm told. A couple hours after giving her antibiotics I notice a yellow discharge from the eye. Is this normal? I know she may not have full use of the eye after this but I'm aiming for partial at least. Anything about prognosis would be helpful.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2959 Recommendations
Some clear to yellow fluid may leak from the eye, but if it is thick yellow pus I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian for an examination. Response of the pupils to light is a good sign but it is still early to say what the prognosis would be, but I would just look for day to day improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Jacky
Doberman Pinscher
4 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Nothing yet

Hi,my dog have a proptosis,and it's been 24 hours but i cant effort to have a surgery.the eye is pushed into its place now.and he's using antibiotics.what happens if he doesn't get a surgery?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2959 Recommendations

Proptosis may occur for a few different reasons with trauma being the most common cause, if surgical correction is required and is not performed Jacky will be at risk of corneal ulceration and keratoconjunctivitis sicca. The severity or degree of proptosis will have a bearing on the overall prognosis, artificial tears should be used if the eyelids are unable to close normally to keep the eye lubricated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Biscuit
Chihuahua
23 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Bleeding
swollen
Red Eye

When I came home today I found my dog with his eye popping out and went to the vet. She gave him some kind of shot and told me to apply solution to his eye every 6 hours and to come back 2 days later. After applying it 2 times, his eye got more red but it did get smaller. My question is if this is the right alternative approach other than the surgery? I am trying to avoid paying large amounts of money since I am a little bit in a money problem.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2959 Recommendations
The decision to take a surgical approach would be your Veterinarian’s decision based on their determination of the underlying cause and the overall severity; without examining Biscuit myself I cannot determine whether this is the best course of action (in my opinion) or not. You should monitor Biscuit for the time being especially if you’ve already noticed improvement and check in with your Veterinarian in two days; however if the protrusion of the eye gets worse, you notice discharge or anything else concerning return immediately to your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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CORA
Chihuahua
10 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Attack
Aggression
Pain
Loss of Appetite
Vision Problems

Medication Used

Carprofen
Tramadol
NEO/POLY/DEX/OPTH
Clavamox antibiotic- oral

H&P I have a chihuahua, 10 months old, 3.1 kilograms. Spayed female.

My chihuahua's name is cora, she had a larger dog bit her in the left eye causing proptosed. The vet went ahead and put cora under anesthesia to close the lids over the eye. This will protect the cornea, discussed the possible vision loss. Also went over that we can attempt to save the globe but it is possible it might still need to be removed.
cora was put on Carprofen 25 mg (1/3 tablet by mouth 12 hours until gone for pain and inflammation)
tramadol 50 mg tablets (give 1/4 tablet by mouth 8-12 hours for pain.)
clavamox 62.5 mg tablets (give 1 every 12 hours until gone. give with food)
fast forward to 10 days later when we scheduled an appt to get the sutures removed... Once the sutures where removed and ocular exam re-check was preformed. OS: blepharospasm, dilated pupil, hyphen, corneal edema, conjunctival hyperemia, mild mucoid discharge, no direct PLR, consensual PLR in fluoresce stain- Negative.
IOP 15/17/19

The vet warned us that the eye may still need to be enucleated. she had concern for uveitis, but the pupil is dilated and IOP is wnl. potentially could be starting with glaucoma 2 to uveitis.

for medication cora was give, tramadol 50 mg tablets (give 1/4 tablet by mouth 8-12 hours for pain) NEO/POLY/DEX/OPHTH (apply 1 drop to left eye three times daily for 5 days or until eye is re-checked)

so now that you know all the past history of cora, my question is are we doing everything we can to help cora? why would one vet tell us even if she is blind in the eye she can keep it in.. but another vet tell us the eye will get removed even if she is blind? is there anything we are missing?

we live in Alaska, where there is not a full time Ophthalmologist. we have one ophthalmologist that fly's into town seasonally. I have heard the eye heals pretty fast. if you have any recommendations please share. Cora means the world to me and I just want to give her the best care i can to make sure her eye heals properly.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1385 Recommendations
I'm sorry that that happened to Cora. If her eye is not visual, but does not develop glaucoma, it may not need to be removed as long as it is not painful. If there is a chance of glaucoma developing due to inflammation in the eye, it may be better to remove it, especially if it is not a visual eye. Often times it is easier to remove the eye than constantly worry about glaucoma, which is very painful. It seems that you and your veterinarian are doing everything possible to help her, and you may need to trust your veterinarian as far as what the plan is. Dogs adapt very well to missing an eye - it tends to bother us as owners more than it does them.

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Belle
Mix
8 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

blind, eye proptosis, ear infection

My dog Belle Pom/Pekingese has been blind in one eye since she was 3 years old at adoption. Last year at the age of 7 she lost her sight completely. Two months ago proptosis appeared and I keep it moist so it doesn't dry out. She is not showing any signs of distress and is still the happy dog she has always been since adoption. Is it okay to just leave the proptosis eye or should I have it removed? Thank you in advance, Deborah

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1385 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If her eye is actually out of the socket, it should be removed. She will be more comfortable without the eye than with it in, as it probably is quite painful. Sometimes dogs don't show pain the same way that we do, but they still feel it. If the eye is blind, and proptosed, it should be removed. You can ask your veterinarian their opinion as well. I hope that everything goes well for her.

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Sweetie
Pomeranian
8 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Redness around eye & pus covering e
Redness around eye and a pus coveri

My 8 year old pom had proptosis and it's been a month since surgery . As advised by the vet she's been on antibiotics and eye drops. Once the stitches were removed she started to have some discharge from the eye. Now the eye around the corner has turned red and right on the cornea there is a pus boil over the eye. The vet recommended surgery to remove the orbit from the eye as the next possible step. If she does have a surgery this would be her 3rd in a span of 6 months following a pyometra and eye proptosis. I'm worried for her and am hoping there's another option with the eye. She's slated for surgery on Monday.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1385 Recommendations
I'm sorry that that is happening to Sweetie. Without seeing her, I can't comment on what options might be available for her, but if your veterinarian has recommended removing the eye, that is a common result of proptosis. It would be a good idea to trust their opinion, and follow their recommendations. I hope that she does well.

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