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What are Strabismus?

You may notice that your dog’s eyes do not trace objects together and one or both are involuntarily going in different directions. Your dog will most likely not be in any pain or discomfort due to the strabismus, however underlying causes of his crossed eyes may cause him some other concerns or symptoms. 

While the condition is rare in dogs, strabismus is more common in certain breeds of dogs. The one thing to know right away is that while it may appear to be a large concern, there is no evidence that your dog will be in any pain or that his quality of life will suffer.

Strabismus is any abnormal position of your dog’s eyes. Typically, your dog’s eyes move together – left, right, up and down. This condition is more commonly known as lazy eye.

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Symptoms of Strabismus in Dogs

The only symptom of this condition that you will notice is your dog’s eyes are looking in different directions. He may struggle to focus both eyes on the same item at one time. He may be in control of one eye, however, the other eye may deviate in a non-typical direction. One or both of his eyes may be impacted by strabismus. If his eye or eyes turn towards his nose he may be diagnosed as being cross eyed, and on the other end, if his eyes turn away from his nose it is called divergent strabismus. 

  • Lack of focus in eyes
  • Deviation of direction in the eye
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Causes of Strabismus in Dogs

There are a few possible causes for your dog to develop strabismus. They are inherited/congenital cause, result of injury, or problems with his vestibular system (inner ear). 

Heredity

Certain breeds are prone to developing strabismus. These breeds inherit the weak muscles that cause the traveling eye and may have them at birth.

  • Pugs have been known to develop strabismus
  • Boston terriers tend to develop inherited strabismus 

There is some evidence that the following breeds are also at a higher risk of developing strabismus:

  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Shar Pei
  • Akita
  • Golden Retriever

Injury

Injuries caused to your dog’s eyes, head or the like that have injured his nerves in his eyes can result in a strabismus as a side effect afterward.

  • Head injury
  • Trauma to the eye
  • Falls
  • Car accidents

Vestibular Problems

If your dog has a problem with his vestibular system, this can also result in a strabismus. His vestibular system, just like that in humans, has a primary function of promoting balance. 

  • When your dog can not maintain his balance, his body may attempt to compensate for the sense of spinning and his eyes will move abnormally to adjust
  • Your dog may not want to jump on the bed and would rather sleep on the floor
  • The cause can be from inner ear infections, antibiotic side effects, thyroid issues and brain conditions 
  • However most of the time the cause is unknown
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Diagnosis of Strabismus in Dogs

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from strabismus and are concerned, a visit to his veterinarian will be necessary. Prior to your visit, it will be important to note and identify any symptoms you may have been noticing in recent days, weeks, or months that may have concerned you. It will also be important to share with the veterinarian if there have been any accidents or trauma to your dog to explain his new symptoms.

Your veterinarian will want to perform a physical examination of your companion and will want to evaluate his eyes to determine what could be the cause of his eyes looking in different directions. Your veterinarian may want to run blood tests to rule out any underlying causes of the strabismus as well. Testing could also involve MRI or X-rays to see any further damage and underlying issues. However, there is not a standard test performed to formally diagnose strabismus. Rather your veterinarian will diagnose by elimination of other possible causes of the presenting problem.

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Treatment of Strabismus in Dogs

Treatment for your dog will largely depend on the cause of his strabismus. Whether it is an inherited condition, or whether it was acquired via injury or a nerve disease, will determine the course of action taken to help him. 

Inherited

If your dog is found to have inherited strabismus and there are no other underlying conditions or trauma that could have caused his symptoms, your veterinarian will not recommend any treatment. It has been found that if your dog has the inherited strabismus no treatment is necessary and his quality of life should not suffer. Your dog will be able to adjust and you may be given exercises to try and strengthen his eye muscles.

These exercises involve having your dog track your finger as you hold it in front of his face and slowly move it in towards his nose. It can help increase his muscle strength in the weak eye but will take time. However, it is considered a cosmetic concern when it is inherited so there are no long-term effects to be concerned with. 

Acquired

If your dog acquired the strabismus with no injury or trauma known, your veterinarian will treat the underlying issue. Some of these issues can be inner ear injuries or infections which would be treated accordingly. Other issues can be nerve damage to his eyes which would need to be treated with anti-inflammatory medications. 

If your pet started getting his strabismus upon an injury, any immediate medical needs will be addressed first. After your dog is stabilized, your veterinarian will then discuss any further options for his strabismus if necessary. Medication can be prescribed for your dog if he is experiencing nausea due to his injuries or vestibular problems. A large part of treating his strabismus will be time and patience. 

Since most vestibular diseases are not life threatening to your dog, he will most likely compensate for his new symptoms but this will be where time and patience come into play. You will need to give him some time to adjust to his new world. Carrying him can cause him to take longer to recover from his symptoms and should be avoided for a while. Lastly, providing him with a lot of light so that he can use that for his own cues of distance, position and more will benefit his recovery as well.

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Recovery of Strabismus in Dogs

Recovery time can be as little as 3 days and up to 14 days before he is adapting or getting back to his normal self. Once again if it is the result of an injury, his recovery time will be dependent on the severity of his injury. If it is inherited there will be no recovery time as your dog will adapt to this on his own.

Follow up will be discussed with your veterinarian and will depend on your dog’s needs. If there is any type of treatment in place via medication, she may ask you to come back or check in with them after a certain period. Your veterinarian will ask you to keep an eye on him for any further or new symptoms to be aware of.

Providing your dog with space and some possible adaptations as recommended by your veterinarian will be beneficial to him. He should make a full recovery and will adapt to his new sensory input within a few weeks. Keeping him safe and his environment comfortable will help with his recovery as well.

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Strabismus Average Cost

From 245 quotes ranging from $500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Strabismus Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Shichon

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Two Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Puppies one eye is slightly off centered...

March 27, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

This may be something known as strabismus. A vet visit is best so the eyes can be assessed and to determine if this is significant or not and if treatment is needed or not.

March 27, 2021

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Dachshund

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

When we awoke this morning my dogs left eye was going left dramatically while the right eye is facing normally. i can barely see her cornea and the white part of her eye that I see is very red. Will this correct itself or do I need to take her to a vet to get it checked out? She has no prior issues with her eyes.

March 12, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, Yes I would recommend that you have this check out by your vet. There may be a scratch on his eye causing him to look this way. They can quickly asses his eye and see what is going on. Eyes can get worse pretty quickly if not treated correctly.

March 12, 2021

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Boston Terrier

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My puppy was a runt, weighing 1.5 oz, when he was born was scratched by another puppy in his left eye at 2 weeks . The breeder's vet treated his eye for the scratch and it still has a cloudy spot on it. My concern is that same eye loses focus and rolls to the left so his right eye will be looking forward and the left is looking directly to the left. His left eye also seems to be watering and he seems to squint it a little. Does this seem like a serious issue or something minor that eye exercises could correct? I'm having a CAER done next month, not sure if that will reveal the problem or not.

Jan. 15, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello If your pup was scratched in the eye he may have had a corneal abrasion which usually heals but can leave a cloudy scar. Also, it sounds like your pup has lateral strabismus which is also known as lazy eye. I haven’t seen that eye exercises work with dogs but you can certainly try it. Good luck.

Jan. 15, 2021

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Bichon Frise

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Nine Weeks

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Unknown severity

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12 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lazy Eye

My puppy I just got about a while ago and it seems to be that my pup has a lazy eye in one of her eyes I think it’s her left eye but the difference between the two is very small It took me a while to even see it I love her either way but I wanna make sure that she’s okay and not hurting in some way, I just put a photo and she does that once in a while which really worries me

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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12 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that the muscles in your puppy's eye are not as developed as they should be, and she may actually grow out of that overtime. It is quite a subtle difference, and I'm not sure that it is a reason to be worried. What I would probably do would be to mention it to your veterinarian at her next appointment, as they can assess the function and the nerves in her eyes, and make sure that everything is working okay. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Maltese

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8 months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Crossed Eye

my dog was born crossed eye is there anything i can give him

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There is not anything that you can give your dog to help with an abnormality in the muscles of the eye, no. If you are not sure if the dog is okay, it would be best to have him seen it by a veterinarian, as they can examine him. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Lilly

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Dachshund

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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None That I Can Tell. Her Other Ey

My 6 yr old Doxie woke up this morning to find her right eye is looking to the right side. No accident or ear infections. She seems to be sedated but she is not. There is kinda a film over her eye. Also her other eye is now seems to be be wanting to do the same thing.

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no name

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Aussie Bulldog

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9 Weeks

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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As Above

I picked up a 9week old Aussie Bulldog puppy yesterday, as I drop some ditance I didnt notice untill I arrived home both eyes are pointing out, she is bumping into things and cant seem to focus on food / water dish. She has a health guarentee. Will this issue get better, or will she have on going issues?

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Kimchi

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Pug

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2 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Strabismus

I have gotten a 2 month old pug puppy and noticed that her eyes are looking towards the east and west direction (people say it looks like frog eye) but doesn’t seem to have too much a problem following my finger. Is there a possibility that it can be corrected when she gets older or should I visit the vet sometime soon for a consultation. Or any other eye exercise to recommend? Thank you!

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UnUnnamed

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Mini Australian Shepard

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3 Weeks

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lazy Eye

My dog gave birth to 6 mini aussies and they are now 3 weeks old. I have noticed that one of her puppies has a lazy eye. It's one eye will look at me but its other eye is always looking left. I'm not sure if they have stabismus.

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not sure yet

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Beagle

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8 Weeks

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Crooked Eye

Hi, I just bought a 8 week old male beagle today and I noticed that it's left eye is slightly crooked and red. He received 2 doses of 1-DAPPv vaccine and his worming medication. I noticed no other defects or swelling anywhere else on his body he is still active and acts normal. I am a first time dog owner and am still doing research and need all the help I can get best regards, Andrey.

Strabismus Average Cost

From 245 quotes ranging from $500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

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