Updated at: 11-01-2022 - By: petstutorial

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. Squinting can also be called ‘blepharospasm’.


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 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
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Foreign body within the eye (e.g. grit or a grass awn)

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 lubricating 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 may also be red in color.


Increased pressure in the eye can be very painful and an affected dog can hold their eye shut in an attempt to relieve the pain.

Corneal ulcer

An ulcer on the surface of the eye is a little scratch. It can be caused by e.g. a scrape with a claw or a reaction to a foreign body. The vet will identify an ulcer by using a stain. It is important to assess the extent of the ulcer as deep ulcers need specific treatment.

Foreign body within the eye (e.g. grit or a grass awn)

While the eyelashes and eyelids usually work well to keep foreign bodies out, they are not always successful. The irritation they cause locally means a dog will struggle to open their eyes wide. Many can be flushed out with saline while conscious, as long as they are not too deep.

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 ophthalmoscope so he can see into the back of the eye. If he notices an infection, he may go ahead and prescribe a medication (e.g. topical antibiotics)  for your pet.

Oftentimes, a vet will assess tear production with the Schirmer Tear Test and will stain the eye for an ulcer with a Fluorescein stain.

If your dog has a foreign object in his eye, your veterinarian may also choose to remove it. For many, a quick flush with saline does the trick. For more deeply embedded objects, the vet may need to numb your dog’s eye in order to remove them. In some instances, a specialist surgeon will be called in.


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 right away. 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.

Susceptible breeds (such as Shih Tzus) should have their tear production measured at their annual exam to ensure it is adequate

What to Do with a Dog Keeping One Eye Closed

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Doing ѕоmе preventative еуе саrе іѕ still the bеѕt wау to maintain thе dog’s hеаlth. One way would be tо gеntlу and carefully wipe the dоg’ѕ еуе with a clean, dаmр cloth at least оnсе a day to remove аnу build-up of mаtеrіаl or punk around the eyes, wіthоut ѕсrаtсhіng or rubbing the actual еуе.

Another way would bе tо kеер the hair аrоund thе еуеѕ ѕhоrt to prevent them frоm scratching оr іrrіtаtіng the eyes. Have a groomer help you.

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