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Why Does My Dog Suddenly Have A Lazy Eye? 9 Odd Reasons

Why Does My Dog Suddenly Have A Lazy Eye

Isn’t seeing your dog one of the most wonderful things in your life as a dog parent?

Looking at your pooch and them looking back at you is such a heartwarming moment. 

But all of a sudden, something is unusual in your exchange of gaze. Your dog’s eye looks somewhat confused. 

One is staring at you, while the other is staring at something else.

“What’s wrong with my dog’s eye? Is this something that I shouldn’t take lightly? What should I do?”

Let us save you the trouble of wasting time looking for answers.

In this article, you will learn: 

  • Discover what a  lazy eye is.
  • Learn what breeds are common to develop a lazy eye.
  • Find out what are the common treatments for lazy eye.
  • 9 reasons why your dog has a lazy eye all of a sudden so you will know what causes this.
  • 11 helpful tips on what to do when your dog has a lazy eye that you can do for your dog.
  • And many more… 

Why does my dog suddenly have a lazy eye?

Your dog suddenly has a lazy eye for the following reason/s: It is hereditary, due to an inner ear problem, due to hydrocephalus, injury, bone formation, tumor, muscle inflammation, neurological condition, or anomalies in the visual pathway.

What is a lazy eye?

Lazy eyes are scientifically called strabismus. 

Strabismus is an eye disorder that causes your dog’s eye to appear improperly aligned to the other. 

It can also have a negative influence on the dog’s eye pupil and irregular eye movement.

A lazy eye can be classified further based on the abnormalities of the affected eye:

  • Convergent is when the focus of the eye is drawn to the nose.
  • Divergent is when the glance of the eye is drawn to the side of the face.
  • Hypertropia is a condition in which the eye’s look is fixed upwards.
  • Hypotropia is a condition in which the eye’s focus is always downward.

9 reasons why your dog has a lazy eye all of a sudden

#1: Your dog is born with a lazy eye

“Don’t worry, hooman. It runs in my blood.”

Your dog’s lazy eye may come from their bloodline. 

You can trace if their biological parents have lazy eye. Your pooch might have gotten it from one of them. 

Their bloodline’s weak muscles may be passed down to your pooch.

Boston Terrier breed, for example, is most likely to inherit the disorder. On the other hand, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boxers can later develop it in life. 

#2: Your pooch has problems on the inner ear

Your dog’s eye appearing to be lazy might be because of an inner ear problem. Vestibular system failure is another name for it.

If you have elderly pooches, this is very likely to happen. Old dog vestibular syndrome is another name for this condition. 

What is the vestibular system and how does it work?

Your dog’s vestibular system helps them not to stumble and fall when standing or during a walk. 

This prevents injuries. It is also responsible for their eye coordination. 

The vestibular system’s sensors are responsible for the balance. They’re found in your dog’s inner and middle ear. 

These sensors interpret what your dog sees based on the position of their head.

It will then send messages to the brain’s control center. The location of the brain’s control center is found at the back of your dog’s brain. 

Your dog’s eye muscle and body then will receive the message. The muscles will move following your dog’s head posture. 

Making them keep their balance and the normal movement of their eyes. 

You may wonder how inner ear problems occur in your dog. 

Here’s a list of the factors that can damage the vestibular’s processing system:

  • Aging.
  • Tumors.
  • Hereditary.
  • Head injury.
  • Viral Infections.
  • Nerve diseases.
  • Inner ear infections.
  • Environmental factors. 
  • Side effects of antibiotics.

Now if your dog possesses what I have mentioned above. This can lead to:

  • Lethargy.
  • Stumbling.
  • Wobbliness.
  • Unsteadiness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Moving in circles.
  • Balance problems.
  • Spatial Disorientation.
  • Eye twitching movements.

How long does vestibular failure last?

It will only take days to improve if your dog goes under treatment based on the underlying cause (if not severe). 

However, your dog’s symptoms, as we’ve mentioned above, will last for more or less three weeks. Some of them will reoccur from time to time for a couple of months.

#3: Your pooch has Hydrocephalus 

Your Dog Has A Lazy Eye All Of A Sudden Due To Hydrocephalus

If you’re a dog parent of toy breeds, Hydrocephalus is likely to be the reason for their lazy eye. 

This can happen to any of the dog breeds. But it is mostly in puppies and toy breeds. 

Hydrocephalus is a severe and life-threatening condition. 

This is a condition that refers to the build-up of water in the brain. As a result, the tissues in your dog’s brain will be pressed. This can cause lifelong damage to the brain. 

The worst is death.

But don’t be hopeless! Your dog with hydrocephalus can be under certain medications to manage the condition.

The result of a study implies that a lazy eye is one of the symptoms of having hydrocephalus. 

The authors also stated that this condition is common to breeds with short heads (brachycephalic breeds). 

Examples of these are:

  • Pug.
  • Maltese.
  • Pekingese.
  • Toy poodle.
  • Chihuahua.
  • Pomeranian.
  • Boston Terrier.
  • English bulldog.

#4: Your dog is injured

Your energetic Fido can overdo their playfulness. 

Your dog pours out all his energy in playing, running around, and jumping wherever they can.

There will be times that they will injure themselves during play. For example, they can experience stumbling while running or bumping their heads. 

These kinds of accidents can be life-threatening and can be a cause of their lazy eye.

The most common are head or eye injuries. They will affect the brain’s control over your dog’s eye muscles. 

Moreover, A severe lazy eye can be a cause of zygomatic bone fracture. This bone is found below your dog’s eye area. Fracture to this area will result in nerve damage.

Read next: Why does my dog act like something is biting her? & Why do dogs howl at 3 am?

#5: Your dog has a bone formation on skin 

In rare cases, your dog’s lazy eye might be because of a bone formation on their skin. 

This condition is also known as Osteoma cutis. 

This is a condition where the skin begins to have bone development in the dermis. The dermis is the layer of the skin that is the thickest.

It starts with the build-up of soft tissues, which makes the bone remodeling. 

There was a documented case of Osteoma cutis that grew around the dog’s eyelid. The dog’s Osteoma cutis resulted in strabismus and deformation on the eyelid.

#6: Your dog has a tumor

Another possible reason for your dog’s lazy eye is a tumor. 

Eye tumor, brainstem tumor, and orbital tumor in particular. 

Eye tumor pressures the brain tissues. It can grow on the inside or around your dog’s eye.

A brainstem tumor is a tumor that affects your dog’s balance. The brainstem is responsible for controlling your dog’s eye movements. 

So, a failure to this part of their body will cause their muscles to move unusually. It includes your dog’s muscle around the eye causing a lazy eye. 

While the orbital tumor is a type of tumor that is near the part of your dog’s skull. The part where it holds the eye particularly.   

#7: Your dog experiences eye muscle inflammation

One of the underlying causes of your dog’s lazy eye is due to eye muscle inflammation.

The muscles that should be controlling your dog’s eye movement might be damaged. 

This can lead to long-term damage to your dog’s life. 

It can range from severe to minor.

For example:

  • Stroke.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Aneurysm.
  • Eye twitching.
  • Loss of vision.

You might also like: Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Eyes? 9 Real Reasons + 3 Tips

#8: Your dog has a neurological condition

Nerves that are responsible for your dog’s eye and muscle movement and balance could be the cause of their lazy eye.

Dogs can develop or be born with neurological disorders. 

A common one your dog can acquire is Horner’s syndrome. 

It damages the part of the nervous system that controls autonomic functions. Some examples are blinking and muscle control. 

Horner’s syndrome can affect any dog breed. But Collies and Golden retrievers have a higher chance of getting it. 

Other disorders that affect your dog’s nervous system can be hereditary. 

Symptoms can be seen in their early pup days. 

Some of these could be:

  • Lazy eye.
  • Walking disability.
  • Standing disability.
  • Not blinking to light.

Reading tip: 11 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Walls + How To Stop It

#9: Your dog has visual pathway abnormalities

The reason for your dog’s lazy eye is due to visual pathway abnormality. 

The one responsible for receiving and sending messages to the eyes and perceiving visual information is the visual pathways. 

Damage to your dog’s visual pathways will result in a lazy eye. 

It will happen when there is traffic in sending and receiving data from the eye to the brain. 

Both of the eyes will go in different directions. 

That’s what you may see on your dog. Your Fido’s eyes could appear crossed, the other one downward, the other on the side. 

Visual pathway abnormality makes eye coordination in poor condition. This could also lead to numerous visual defects.

What to do when your dog has a lazy eye? 11 tips

#1: Bring your pooch to the vet

The vet knows best.

Dog parents should watch closely if your dog starts to show signs of lazy eye. 

Pay attention if their lazy eye gets worse. 

Bringing them to the vet will give you the right diagnosis for your pooch. 

As some of the causes of lazy eye can be serious and life-threatening. Such as neurological disorders, tumors, and head injury. 

#2: Give your dog a muscle therapy 

Dog Muscle Therapy

This is for pooches who are lazy eye heirs. 

Also for those who don’t suffer from any illness that causes their lazy eye. 

If that’s your case, we want to let you know that there is no treatment. 

What you can do instead is give your pup a hand by doing muscle therapy or exercise. 

To give you an idea of how muscle therapy works. Here are the two ways to exercise your dog’s eye muscles:

  • Use your finger – Hold your finger in front of your dog. When they lock their gaze at it, start moving it to their nose. Then repeat. 
  • Use a treat or a toy – This goes the same as using your fingers. The only difference is you’re using a treat/toy this time. 

The good thing about this is that it is a penniless kind of therapy that you can do at any time of the day. Perfect for any dog parents out there.

Being patient is needed for this task. 

Keep on practicing till you see the best results.

It will be rewarding to see your dog’s lazy eye improve, for sure.

Note: Hereditary lazy eyes will not cause lifelong complications to your dog. 🙂

#3: Allow your dog to undergo surgery

This tip is applicable for dogs who suffer from severe causes of lazy eye. 

An operation is the best treatment for dogs with serious conditions. Here are some treatments for the following diseases & conditions:

Vestibular diseases

When treating dogs with Vestibular diseases surgeons use the Total Ear Canal Ablation. 

It is commonly abbreviated to TECA. 

The ear canal that is damaged will be removed in this type of surgery. Moreover, the chamber in the middle ear will be examined. The diseased tissue that can be found there is going to be removed as well. 


The most common treatment for developed hydrocephalus is to focus on the root factors. They may use medicine, operation, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy to treat malignancies.

Another is shunting surgery. This type of surgery transports the liquid in the brain away from the sensitive part of the brain and into a healthier location.


Surgery for a tumor is mostly determined by the nature of the tumor, its size, and location. As well as the dog’s overall medical state. 

Surgery may not be essential for noncancerous tumors that do not interfere with the dog’s daily life. 

Severe injury

A lazy eye due to injury can be fixed by surgery. A skilled orthopedic surgeon will surely make this possible for you. 

A documented case of achieved surgical treatment of severe strabismus due to fracture is proof of that. 

#4: Give your dog a love treatment

When they said, “prevention is better than cure.” 

The lazy eye didn’t seem to bother. 

There is no way you can prevent a lazy eye from happening.

Instead, you can assist your dog in coping with the situation.

We call this a “love treatment” since only dog parents who truly love their pooches can go to such lengths.

During this stage, your pet requires the most attention. Especially if their lazy eye is in severe condition.

You can show your dog that it is okay to have a lazy eye. Help them feel better by:

  • Making your dog a safe space home. Keep out the things that can potentially hurt them. 
  • Keeping a clean floor. It should be free from sharp objects. Your dog may stumble upon them. 
  • Giving your pooch the proper medication they need. 
  • Taking your vet’s prescription seriously. 
  • Keeping your dog away from high places. Don’t put them on your bed unattended or off the stairwell.
  • Helping them see better by turning the lights on at home. 
  • Using a baby gate if you need to leave them unattended.
  • Watching your dog closely. Keeping them safe is your priority.

#5: Give your dog anti-inflammatory medications 

This is for pooches who experience lazy eye due to muscle inflammation.

Bring your pooch to the vet for a check-up. Just to be sure if you really need to use anti-inflammatory drugs for your dog. 

You can’t just buy or use any anti-inflammatory drugs for your dog. 

Some of them will cause serious damages to your dog’s digestive system, liver, and kidney as a side effect. 

#6: Treat your dog’s injury as early as possible 

If your dog acquired the lazy eye through injury or trauma, It is best to respond immediately to it. 

Bringing your dog to the vet or the nearest animal hospital as soon as possible is the best thing to do. 

What they’re experiencing will be addressed as soon as you get there. Then, your vet will know and will give the most proper medication for your Fido. 

You can never go wrong with responding immediately to your dog’s needs. 

#7: Provide your dog the best ear care

A lazy eye can be due to ear infections. 

You can reduce the chance of ear infections by cleaning your dog’s ear correctly. 

Do you use pointed cotton buds to clean your Fido’s ears?

Little did you know that it brings harm, especially if pushed deeper than it should be. 

Save your pooch from an ear infection. You can give your dog the best ear care by doing these:

  • Don’t clean too deep.
  • Do the cleaning gently.
  • Don’t do this often. Only if it is needed. 
  • Use a vet-recommended ear cleaning solution. 
  • Use a damp cloth and wrap it around your fingers.
  • Use a canine ear solution and ball of cotton for dirt that is visible.

Now, You better spread the word. Stop other dog parents from cleaning their dog’s ears incorrectly.

#8: Keep your dog healthy

“Health & wellness always!” 

Visit your vet regularly. 

A regular check-up can prevent your dog from getting sudden medical problems.

Monitoring your dog regularly will keep you worried less. In addition, you will be certain that your dog is safe and healthy.

A healthy pup is a happy pup. 🙂

#9: Determine what causes your dog’s lazy eye 

The cause of your dog’s lazy eye must be addressed before treatment can begin.

The causes of a lazy eye range from dog to dog. Different reasons, of course, demand different treatments.

Severe forms of lazy eye can quickly deteriorate. If this is not addressed correctly, your dog’s life may be threatened.

The veterinarian is a sure bet for figuring out what’s causing this.

#10: Stress-free doggy 

When a dog has a severe ailment, they can be in a lot of pain. Also, for people who have recently had surgery.

Making them stress-free is one thing you can do to help them feel better.

Give them the support they need. Give them their favorite foods.

Accompany them and make sure they’re aware of your presence.

#11: Limit exercises

This is for dogs that have had surgery for a lazy eye and are still healing.

We understand that you want to keep your dog fit and healthy by exercising them.

A dog recovering from surgery, on the other hand, requires a lot of rest.

If they’re totally recovered, they can resume the workout. Allow your dog to regain his or her energy first.