They say that the eyes are the windows to one’s soul. And I do get that feeling when looking at my dog and cat. Their eyes tell a story that their mouths can’t speak of.
But what if the ‘windows’ are misaligned? Do you have a dog whose eyes seem to deviate slightly outwards or have different colored eyes?
This is known as wall eyes in your dog. Wall eyes in dogs can refer to a few conditions in dogs. It can be used to describe dogs with different colored eyes or when your dog has eyeballs that deviate outwards. This condition is usually congenital but certain medical conditions can cause wall eyes in dogs.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at this visual condition and whether is it something that you should be concerned about.
What Does Wall Eyed Mean?
Wall eyed in the English language can be used to describe a shocked or surprised look. The same look that my dear dog gives me when I refuse to share my dinner with him.
However, this isn’t the definition that we are going for in this article.
We will be looking at the various situations that the term ‘wall eyes’ is used to describe a medical condition in your dog.
Have you ever met someone with two different eye colors? Neither have I and it is a very rare condition in humans. Affecting only 1% of the human population in USA.
But when it comes to animals, I have seen a couple of dogs and cats with heterochromia. So I would think it’s more uncommon than rare.
When a dog has heterochromia, it will have one eye that is brown or black and the other eye will be blue.
To understand what causes coloration in our dogs, we need to take a look at melanin.
Melanin is a chemical compound in our bodies that give us our colors. How much or how little melanin that a dog has will determine the color of its eyes and fur coat.
The lack of melanin in one of your dog’s eyes causes it to be void of color. This issue doesn’t really cause your dog’s eye to be blue but it only looks like it when light reflects off its eye.
There are a few different types of heterochromia in dogs:
- Complete – Both eyes are of completely different color
- Sectoral- One iris is partially different in one color
- Central – The whole iris is different in color
The biggest cause of heterochromia in dogs is hereditary. This means that if one of your dog’s parents has it, there’s a good chance that it will have it too.
The secondary cause of heterochromia in dogs is due to an injury to its eye, eye infections or a tumor. A change in eye color has also been linked to the onset of glaucoma, retinal dysplasia and cataracts.
If you have a Maltese, this dog breed is prone to having retina dysplasia, even as puppies. This means that their eyesight will degrade over time till they become blind. If you are planning to mate your Maltese, it will be good to get it checked by the vet for this condition to prevent it from passing it on to its litter.
Dog Breeds With Heterochromia
Although any dog breed can get heterochromia, it is more commonly seen in certain breeds:
- Siberian Huskies
- Bordie Collies
- Great Danes
- Shetland Sheepdogs
Should I Be Concerned If My Dog Has Heterochromia?
If your dog has had this condition ever since it was born, there’s not much to be worried about as it’s just due to a difference in eye color.
Your dog will have a normal vision just like any other healthy dog.
But if you do notice a sudden change in color in one of your dog’s eyes, you need to take it to the vet to make sure it isn’t a medical condition that can affect its eyesight.
What Is Strabismus In Dogs?
Strabismus is another condition that can cause wall eyes in dogs. It can be used to describe a dog that has eyeballs that are pointing in an abnormal direction.
Dogs with eyes that are positioned normally will be pointing straight forward without any deviaiton in the eyeball.
However, dogs with strabismus can have eyeballs that are pointing inward or outward. Eyeballs that point outward is called convergent strabismus or esotropia. Dogs with esotropia are said to be cross-eyed.
If you also have a cat at home, there are cat breeds like the Ragdoll and Siamese that are prone to having strabismus.
Dogs whose eyeballs are pointing outwards have a condition called divergent strabismus or exotropia.
Strabismus in dogs happens when there is a weakness in the eye muscles. Our eye muscles help to rotate our eyeballs within the eye sockets and also keep the eyeball pointing in the right direction.
When one or more of these very small and fine eye muscles is weaker than the rest, this can cause the other stronger muscles to pull the eyeball off its normal axis which results in ‘crazy eyes’.
In this case, the eyeball is being pulled outward which is also known as ‘wall eyes’.
Some dog owners tend to mistake a lazy eye for strabismus in their dogs. A lazy eye usually means poorer vision in one eye. A dog with strabismus can still have perfectly good eyesight in both eyes.
What Causes Strabismus In Dogs?
The majority of dogs that have wall eyes that are caused by strabismus usually get it from birth. It can be passed down from the parents and is commonly seen in dog breeds like:
- Boston Terrier
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Shar Peis
- Shih Tzu
- Cocker Spaniels
Dog breeds that are at higher risk of brachycephalic due to their flat faces are also at risk of getting wall eyes. It is possible for the dog to develop strabismus in just one eye but it is more commonly noticed in both eyes.
Boston terriers are well known to have this condition. If your Boston Terrier develops strabismus out of the blue, don’t be too alarmed. Bring it to the vet for a check just to be safe.
Hydrocephalus In Dogs
Hydrocephalus is a condition when cerebrospinal fluid seeps into the skull and causes the brain to swell. This increase the pressure inside the dog’s brain which will then start to affect how the brain functions.
This medical condition can be a congenital defect from birth which can affect the development of the puppy. Dogs that have sustained an injury to the head or have a brain tumor can also develop hydrocephalus.
Toy dogs are more prone to having hydrocephalus due to their miniature sizes. Something which you need to be on the lookout for if you have a toy breed.
Symptoms of hydrocephalus include:
- wall eyes
- head pressing
- unable to walk properly
- lost of vision
The best way to treat this condition is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A CT scan will be needed to examine your dog’s skull followed by medication to manage the symptoms.
Surgery might be required in some cases to drain out the excess cerebospinal fluid in your dog’s skull.
Wall Eyes Might Be Common In Puppies
If you just adopted a puppy or your bitch just gave birth to a litter, don’t be too alarmed if you notice that a number of the puppies are wall eyed.
It is rather common for young puppies to look this way as their eye muscles have yet to be fully developed. They might be able to open their eyes but have trouble focusing on objects which might make them look cross eyed or wall eyed.
These puppies tend to grow out of this condition once their eye muscles start to strengthen as they get older.
Can You Fix Wall Eyes In Dogs?
If your dog is born with wall eyes, there isn’t much that you can do to correct the problem. Most dogs are able to see well and even if they have some visual handicap, they can adapt to it since they are still so young.
Some dog owners even find their wall eyed dogs really adorable. It is like having one eye looking at you and the other eye looking for you.
Dogs that develop strabismus suddenly are usually in need of medical attention as it could signal an underlying health problem.
One way to really try and minimize this issue is to get get a dog from a reputable breeder. Many dogs have this problem due to overbreeding and inbreeding by unscrupulous puppy mills and backyard breeders.
Why Do Dogs Give The Side Eye?
It can seem rather hilarious when your dog is giving you the side eye. This is also called ‘whale eye’ and it is your dog’s way of telling you to “back off, mate!”
When your dog gives you the side eye, it does look like they are guilty about something or trying to hide a secret.
But the fact is, your dog is trying to tell you that it can bite if you don’t give it some space.
When you notice your dog giving you such a visual cur, it might be a good idea to just back away for a moment and not interact with your dog.