Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma is an ocular condition that causes damage to your pet’s eyes and vision; it can be subdivided into primary and secondary forms. All forms of glaucoma are caused by inadequate drainage of a fluid inside a pet’s eye called Aqueous Humor; this results in an increased intraocular fluid build-up inside of the eye, causing pain. It can also cause permanent blindness. In the following article, I will discuss the causes of Glaucoma, as well as treatment options available if your pet is suffering from this painful disease.

Glaucoma most commonly affects purebred dogs, and in cases of primary glaucoma, a genetic cause has been suspected. However, all dogs can develop the disease. Some breeds predisposed include the Cocker Spaniel, Chow Chow, Shar-Pei, Basset Hound, Shiba Inu, and Shih Tzu. Primary Glaucoma develops from an anatomical variation, which results in decreased drainage of Aqueous Humor, resulting in the build-up of fluid inside the eye. Secondary Glaucoma develops when an obstruction inside the eye prevents this fluid from draining.


Glaucoma symptoms include vision loss, increased squinting, redness to the white part of your dog’s eye, protrusion of the eye, and dilation of the pupil. Over time, other changes can occur, including cataract formation. It is important to note that if only one eye is affected, vision loss may not be noticed, while when both eyes are affected, blindness may be observed.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you notice any abnormalities in your dog’s eye that you believe might demonstrate the initial stages of Glaucoma, you should immediately bring him or her in. During your dog’s Physical Examination, your veterinarian will test the intraocular pressure inside of your dog’s eye. Variations in pressure between both eyes and absolute increases in pressure can reliably predict if glaucoma is present.

The objective of treatment is to restore normal eye pressure and decrease associated pain. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss and blindness. When intraocular pressures are above 50 mmHg, treatment must be started as quickly as possible to reduce the chance of permanent blindness. Treatment for glaucoma varies based on the cause (primary vs. secondary) and level of vision present in your dog’s eye.

In some cases, surgical correction may be recommended to correct the underlying cause. Other issues can be managed medically with topical medications, which reduce intraocular pressure. If you suspect your dog has Glaucoma, please schedule an examination with a member of our Veterinary Team as soon as possible.