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What is Keeping One Eye Closed?

There are times where a dog may keep one eye closed for an extended period of time. He may also try to blink the eye that is affected. When your dog keeps one eye closed, something is amiss. You may want to try looking at the eye yourself to check for other symptoms, but it is a good idea to contact your veterinarian. 

If your dog is keeping one eye closed for more than a few hours, you will need a professional to examine his eye. It is important to address the situation so his eye does not become infected. Your dog may also be in pain, and if he paws at it to rub it, it could make the situation worse. Reasons your dog may be keeping one eye closed are because of:

  • Eye trauma
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye)
  • Conjunctivitis

Why Keeping One Eye Closed Occurs in Dogs

There are several different reasons why your dog may be keeping one eye closed. These conditions are treatable if not left without medical attention for too long. Reasons may include:

Eye Trauma

If the thin tissue on the eye surface is damaged by punctures or any lacerations, the cornea can become very sore and irritated. This will most likely be noticeable to you, as your dog may keep one eye closed or try to blink it repeatedly. He may also paw at his eye as if to relieve the pain. The eye may also be red and have a watery discharge.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, or Dry Eye

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, or dry eye, is when the tear glands do not make enough moisturizing tears. These tears are very much needed, as they keep foreign substances out of the eye and the tissues within the cornea. With no tears, your dog can get ulcers or irritations, and even eye infections.

Conjunctivitis, or Pink Eye

The mucous membranes that are in the eyelids are the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, and is caused by irritation to the eye and infections. Allergies can also cause conjunctivitis. In addition to keeping his eye closed, your dog may also have discharge and crust that develops within and around the eye. The eye will also be red in color.

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What to do if your Dog is Keeping One Eye Closed

If you notice your dog keeping one eye closed, it is time to make an appointment with your veterinarian. He will quickly assess your dog’s condition and take a close look at his eye. He may use an ocular instrument so he can see tiny particles that you may not see. If he notices an infection, he may go ahead and prescribe a medication for him. 

He may do a complete physical examination on your companion, as well, just to be sure he doesn’t have any other health issues. He may choose to do blood work, a urinalysis, and biochemistry profile just to get baseline data on your dog’s system and organ functionality.

If your dog has a foreign object in his eye, your veterinarian may also choose to remove it. He may need to numb your dog’s eye in order to do so, and this depends on his condition and the severity of the object and how much it is lodged in his eye area.

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Prevention of Keeping One Eye Closed

There are things you can do to prevent your dog from suffering from eye trauma, which is one reason why he may be holding one eye closed. When playing with your dog, avoid having any sharp objects around, especially at eye level. It is a good idea to avoid having any sharp objects that are eye level to the dog altogether in order to prevent any eye trauma. 

If you see your dog’s eye is beginning to look red, and if it has a discharge, make an appointment with your veterinarian to get it checked out. This may help ward off infection, as the medical professional may prescribe medication or drops to keep it from becoming worse. 

If your dog lives in a sandy area, or an area with a lot of dust, monitor his eyes frequently so they are kept debris-free. If he goes outside and gets sand or dirt on his paws, he may rub his paws on his face and this may cause the sand or dirt to get in his eye. It may be helpful to wipe off his paws as he comes inside.

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Cost of Keeping One Eye Closed

The cost for treatment or removal of a foreign object from the eye can be $600. The cost of any eye infection (conjunctivitis) may approximately be $500.

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Keeping One Eye Closed Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Belgian Malinois

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Redness

2 y/o Belgian malinois appears to be irritated in her left eye. Noticed slightly increased eye secretions x7 days and decreased ability to keep L eye open x4 days. Doesn’t appear to be in pain, no decreased energy or want to eat/drink. Looks to be in slight discomfort. Corner of eye appears to slightly increased erythema and slight swelling. Is this something that can be treated at home or is it recommend to go into a clinic.

Sept. 19, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your description, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian who can examine her eyes and see what is going on that is causing this. She may have a corneal ulcer, an aberrant hair or eyelash that is poking at her eye, a foreign body in her eye, or an infection of some type. Since it seems to be progressing and getting worse, it would be best to have her looked at sooner rather than later. Your veterinarian will be able to examine her, look at her I closely, and see what might be causing this. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Sept. 19, 2020

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Cihuahua

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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6 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Closing And Constant Crying And Following Me Around Wanting Me To Help Him

Does it warrant me calling a vet out at $280 for an office call at night

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without more information it is hard for me to make that call. If your dog seems generally okay, and is a little bit whiny, then he may be able to wait until the morning when you're a veterinarian is open. If he seems like he is in great distress, and needs help, then yes, I think it would be worth calling and having him seen. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Bull Terrier

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Eye, Keeping One A Eye Closed, And Discharge Coming From That Eye

This may be helpful, are bull terrier is a very active dog and is almost constantly outside where there is dirt and trees.

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your description, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian right away. If there is a discharge, there may be infection, an ulcer, a ruptured eye, or another type of problem with the eye. They will be able to examine his eyes, see what might be going on, and get treatment for him before it gets worse. I hope that everything goes well for him.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Bernedoodle

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Can’T Open Eye

My dog can’t open one of her eyes. Trying to figure out if we should go to the vet immediately or wait in the morning.

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she is comfortable and not pawing at the eye, you should be able to wait until your veterinarian opens on Monday morning. If she is pawing at the eye, or crying, then it would be best to have her seen right away. I hope that all goes well for her!

Aug. 3, 2020

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Labrador Retriever

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Eleven Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

My dog keeping eye shut but when outside playing fetch she will open it

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. With her holding it closed in the house it tells me that the eye is likely uncomfortable. Even though she’s holding it open outside my guess is playing fetch distracts her enough that she will hold it open for a bit. Because she is uncomfortable to the point of not wanting to open her eye I recommend seeing a veterinarian to have the eye examined. They can stain the eye to check for an ulcer to the cornea and based on results can prescribe pain medication and appropriate medication for the eye. They may also recommend an e-collar for her so she cannot rub at the eye. I hope she recovers quickly.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Asia

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Pitbull Terrier

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Eye
Eye Closing

I noticed this afternoon that my pup’s left eye was swelling up and it’s slowly closing every few moments. A friend of mine noticed the same thing was happening last night and thinks she could’ve poked it with her bone on accident. We aren’t sure what to do about her. We’re thinking of taking her to a vet on Saturday (2 days from now) but we just wanted to see what could be said here as well.

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Rosie

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Pomeranian and Yorkie mix

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Itchy Eye
Swollen Eye

I have noticed that my puppy wouldn’t open her left eye. She kept rubbing her eye with her paw and would only sleep on the couch. I called her over and looked at her eye closer to notice that her eye discharge(?) was yellow and left a stain on her fur. I looked at her eye and notice that it was red and looked like it had weird texture. What can she possibly have?

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Mya

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Jack Chow

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Shut

My Dog Mya has had her eye shut for quite a while now and we don’t know what would have caused it. We do have another younger dog that usually plays with Mya and sometimes catches her claw on Myas eye.

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Coco

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Shih Tzu

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Itching
Something In Eye

I have a shiz-tzu and her fur was matted around her eyes. We finally cut the hair off around it to notice that there is an object in her eye. Now she keeps it closed and when we get her to open her eye all we see is that furry looking object in her eye.

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Leo

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English Cocker Spaniel

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6 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Red Eye
Constantly Opened Eyes
Half Side Of Eyeball Can'T Be Seen

Hello. My dog Leo has been rubbing his eyes his eyes are open and its red i cant see the half part of his eyeball. it's on the upper side i saw this after i gave him a shower. just right after. please consult him..

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