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What is Squinting?

While dogs may squint slightly in the sun or bright areas, if prolonged squinting occurs it is most likely due to some underlying issue. It is important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior when attempting to decide whether squinting is due to an injury or disease. Symptoms of this type of problem may include excessive tearing, pain when opening the mouth, photophobia, excessive rubbing at the eyes, and mucus or pus-like discharge. 

  • Foreign material 
  • Corneal ulcer 
  • Glaucoma
  • Infection 
  • Trauma to the face or eye
  • Inadequate tear production 

Although none of these issues are life threatening, some of them may result in blindness. It is extremely important to get your pet to the veterinarian if you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms in order to preserve your dog’s quality of life.

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Why Squinting Occurs in Dogs

If your dog is squinting for any other reason than being in the sun or direct bright light, it may be due to a more serious issue such as a foreign material lodged in the eye, corneal ulcers, glaucoma, infection, trauma, or inadequate tear production. 

Foreign Material 

Just like human’s, if some kind of object gets stuck in your dog’s eye, irritation can occur. Whether that object is an eyelash or perhaps a small piece of wood, most likely the item will be washed out over time with tears. However, if irritation is prolonged or the object is lodged into the body of the eye, a trip to the vet may be required in order to remove the material.  

Corneal Ulcers 

Although there are quite a few other reasons for eye squinting, eye ulcers are one of the most common. This problem is when erosion through the whole epithelium occurs. When this happens, fluid from tears is absorbed into the stroma, creating a cloudy appearance within the eye. If the erosion continues through the stroma and into the Descemet’s membrane serious damage can take place. This is because if the fluid buildup causes the membrane to rupture, the eye can collapse which will then be irreparable. The most common cause for corneal ulcers is trauma, such as a laceration or your dog rubbing his eye on the carpet. If you notice that your dog has experienced any trauma to his eyes or face, get him to a veterinarian immediately in order to be sure no serious damage has occurred. 


Because this disease is something that creates pressure against the eye, it can be extremely painful for your dog. It is important to get your pet to a vet as soon as possible in order to get the situation taken care quickly. While Glaucoma is not life threatening, if it goes untreated for long period of time it can cause irreparable damage that will significantly lessen your dog’s quality of life. 


If an infection takes root behind the eye and within the socket, your dog will be in a lot of pain. Infections can occur from a number of different things and one of the most common symptoms is a difficulty opening their mouth. If you notice that your dog is squinting and cannot open his mouth from the pain, it is best to take him to the vet and get treatment for any infection that may be present. 


As mentioned earlier, trauma can be a predecessor to an eye ulcer. If your dog has experienced any recent trauma to the eyes or to the face, you may want to visit a vet in order to get your dog checked. 

Inadequate Tear Production 

Otherwise known as dry eye, inadequate tear production can cause your dog pain due to the lack of moisture keeping all parts moving well. Friction and dryness may cause your dog to paw at his eyes and squint often. This problem will call for a visit to the vet in order to determine the proper course of action for fixing the lack of tears. 

Despite the fact that none of these issues are deadly, it is important to get your dog’s eyes inspected if there is any squinting in order to solve the issue as soon as possible.

What to do if your Dog is Squinting

The first thing to do when you notice your dog squinting is to observe and inspect the eye as best you can. If you notice that there is something within the eye, such as a piece or grass or an eyelash, allow the eye time to wash it out on its own. However, if the problem persists you may want to visit your vet in order to get help removing the foreign object. 

If you know that your dog has experienced any recent trauma, and is showing signs such as pawing at the eye, redness, swelling, or discharge you will want to visit a vet immediately in order to determine what the underlying issue may be. Things such as Glaucoma and Ulcers will need to be taken care of with medical attention.

Prevention of Squinting

Due to the many causes of squinting, it is nearly impossible to prevent. The best steps to take are to ensure that if your dog has received any head trauma, that you get him to the vet as soon as possible for a checkup. This quick response will help to ensure that any problems can be discovered quickly and efficiently; therefore, resulting in quick treatment in order to restore your dog’s overall quality of life if possible. An annual  wellness check, a good idea for any pet, can often determine if an eye condition such as glaucoma is developing.

Cost of Squinting

Treatment cost will vary depending on the cause of your dog’s squinting. For instance, if your dog is diagnosed with eye inflammation, the cost of treatment can range from $200 to $2500. If your dog is diagnosed with an eye injury, the average treatment is around $600.

Squinting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Shih Tzu mix
5 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Pain in eye

Medication Used


My dog is squinting in one eye after a trip to the vet today. He was very very cranky at the vet because they gave him medicine for an ear infection. He had a decent amount of gook in it so I cleaned it and he had it open while cleaning him but once he was dry again he went back to squinting. Prior to washing it he would not let me touch it, but now it doesn’t seem too painful to him. I am going to take him to the vet tomorrow but they are closed now and my nerves are shot waiting for them to open.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1409 Recommendations
Cooper may have had a little trauma to his eye if he wasn't being cooperative for his ear exam or treatment. If he opened it while you were cleaning his ear, that is a positive sign. Keep him from rubbing his face or eye on the carpet or furniture, or from pawing at it, and have him seen as soon as you can tomorrow. They'll be able to make sure that he hasn't injured that eye and see if he needs treatment.

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Labrador Retriever
9 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

It looks a little hazy and run
It looks a little hazy and runy

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Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1409 Recommendations
If Max is squinting, and his eye looks hazy and there is discharge, he needs to be seen by a veterinarian. Eye problems can progress quickly, and need to be treated. He may have a bacterial infection, a foreign body in his eye, allergies, or an ulcer. I hope that all goes well for him.

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Pit bull
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Squinting both eyes constantly.

I just noticed my dog is Squinting both eyes constantly. What does this mean? There hasn’t been any trauma that I know of, she was normal yesterday today when I came home from work I noticed that she is squinting.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1409 Recommendations
Some reasons that dogs will squint include infection, allergies, trauma to the corneas, or retinal or corneal disease. Since I can't see Snickers, it would be a good idea to have her examined by a veterinarian, as eye disease is best not to be ignored. They'll be able to examine her eyes, determine what is happening, and get any treatment for her that she needs.

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