Your Siberian Husky may have red eyes due to several reasons although it is not usually serious. Conditions such as Entropion, Crystalline Corneal Dystrophy, Dry Eye, Conjunctivitis, Cataracts, and Glaucoma have all been associated with the Husky in the past.
The Siberian Husky can be defined and recognized almost by its eyes alone and there is arguably no other breed of dog that has such distinctive eyes. This makes it all the more noticeable when there’s a problem with them and this is the subject of this article today.
The Siberian Huskies Eyes
When someone who hasn’t encountered a Siberian Husky before sees one for the first time the usual comment you hear is, ‘Wow, those eyes are amazing!’ – and this is true, they most certainly are. You can get lost in them – and I’m sure they know this 🙂
You will find Siberian Husky eyes in either blue or brown, one of each color or even eyes that are partly colored. They are seen in many subtle shades of these colors also. They are usually born with blue eyes although that doesn’t mean they will stay this color and there is certainly no guarantee that the eye color of the puppy you buy will stay with them for the whole of its life. This color change may happen somewhere between 1 to 2 months after birth and you may notice initially a slight color change to gray before adopting more of a brown color.
What Could Cause The Siberian Husky to have Red Eyes?
There are a few known problems that can occur with the Siberian Husky’s eyes, for instance:
Usually, this will be noticed within the first couple of years of the Husky’s life and is the name of the condition that occurs when their lower eyelid can roll inward and into the eye. The hair on the eyelid can rub against the cornea and this can be quite painful to the Siberian Husky. It is possible that corneal scarring can result from the damage caused and this can create long-term vision problems. It is easily noticed as they will appear to be squinting or trying to keep the affected eye shut when possible. Entropion is typically passed down genetically.
Treatment for Entropion is required and if the diagnosis matches the symptoms of the condition then surgery will typically be required. This is performed by the surgeon removing a portion of the skin from the problematic eyelid which should reverse the rolling inwards towards the eyeball. A couple of surgical procedures may be required to fully correct this problem as there is a risk of the initial surgery causing the eyelid to roll outwards instead of inwards (a condition known as ectropion). Surgery is not normally recommended until maturity at around 6 to 12 months of age.
The prognosis for Entropion is usually rather good and although several corrective procedures may be required your Siberian Husky should lead a completely normal life post-operation.
As the condition is painful, time should not be lost in assessing whether it will just go away. Contact your vet at the earliest opportunity. If possible, take some photos from your phone and send them over to your vet – this will help them diagnose the condition possibly quicker and could help keep the stressful visits to the vet to a minimum.
The prognosis for the surgical correction of entropion is generally good. While several surgeries may be required, most dogs will enjoy a pain-free normal life after the procedure. If the condition is treated late and corneal scarring has developed, there may be permanent visual damage but this is unusual.
Although many believe that Entropion is passed down genetically, further research is required to prove this and the suggestion is that dogs that are impacted with this condition are not bred from.
Crystalline Corneal Dystrophy
This condition can make the appearance of the cornea appear opaque with a milky tint to it and, like Entropion, is usually seen within the first couple of years of life. It is inherited genetically and is a recessive trait, which means a dog may have the gene but not the symptom of it. However, if both parents have the gene then their offspring may have it. So, only the Siberian’s with two of these genes will show Crystalline Corneal Dystrophy. Typically, if a dog is known to suffer from Crystalline Corneal Dystrophy they will not be used to breed.
This condition is not likely to cause any problems with vision and does not typically cause any discomfort to the animal. The exception to this is if some of the crystals separate which can create a corneal ulcer. An ulcer can be rather painful and would require medical attention and in some cases may need surgery.
Treatment, however, is not usually required. As long as the condition doesn’t cause them too much discomfort (it shouldn’t) then the best advice is to leave the eye as it is. Often, your vet will recommend a low-fat diet, combined with a high-fiber content and this is because the condition is related to fat-processing within the body. It is not generally agreed whether this diet actually works though and further research is required. In some circumstances, Topical Acid Treatment may be suggested by your vet but this is usually only recommended if your Husky is in discomfort and may need to be repeated. This process assists the body in dissolving the deposits that can lead to more problematic ulcers.
Otherwise known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, dry eye is the condition where the cornea (and local tissue) can become too dry and cause inflammation. It is caused by an inadequate amount of fluid produced by the lacrimal gland and is seen in about 1 in
Without the tears, it is possible a build-up of dirt and other potentially infectious material will have contact with the eye and cause associated problems. There are a few reasons why a Siberian Husky can acquire dry-eye such as diseases (for instance the canine distemper virus or feline herpes), some medications are known to cause it as well as hypothyroidism, which is when there is low activity of the thyroid gland.
If your dog has Dry Eye it can be quite painful, their eyes will be red and they will be in noticeable discomfort. You may also notice a yellow discharge which is a result of the condition. Your husky will be blinking frequently or may keep their affected eye closed as much as possible.
Your vet will most likely use something called the Schirmer tear test to diagnose the condition which just involves using a piece of special paper to measure the amount of tear film produced in a minute or so.
The treatment typically involves stimulation to produce tears and replace the tear film which will ultimately protect the cornea. These come in the form of drops and are administered daily (sometimes twice a day). These drugs (usually tacrolimus and cyclosporine) are quite safe and well-proven. There are other methods available which your vet will talk to you about if required. Occasionally, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication will also be provided.
Dry Eye is quite a common problem and the outcome is typically extremely good. You can also help relieve some of the discomfort yourself by gently cleaning their eyes with a cloth that has soaked in clean, warm water.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
This condition can be the result of many underlying reasons and basically just describes an infection of the eye conjunctiva – this is a membrane which covers the eyeball and should typically act as a defense to infection and other debris. When this becomes infected, it is known as conjunctivitis or sometimes referred to as ‘pink eye’.
If you think your husky has this then they may have a green discharge from the eye (or it may be transparent) and where the eyes are usually white, they may be red, as well as having a swollen appearance. This condition will be uncomfortable to the dog and you may notice them blinking or squinting.
Although quite common, it is important that professional help is sought quickly as if ignored conjunctivitis can cause permanent damage to the eyes.
The treatment for this condition will vary, depending on the suspected cause. For instance, if a foreign object is the cause of the problem it will be removed and surgery may be required for this, depending on the severity of the injury. If there is a bacterial infection then a course of antibiotics with potentially be provided with daily eye-drops. For an allergy-related issue, then antihistamines may be prescribed.
Note that depending on the exact cause and prescription provided, your husky may need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from doing further damage.
This condition comes about when there is not enough drainage of fluid in the eye. This can be serious if ignored and can cause blindness due to damage it inflicts on the optic nerve. If a dog is unfortunate enough to get this then almost half will become blind within a year, whether they are treated or not. Fortunately, it is quite rare.
Symptoms include redness of the white area around their eye, blinking, cloudy appearance, the eyeball receding into their head or even vision loss.
Your vet will provide drugs to decrease the pressure within the eye. Unfortunately, with glaucoma, damage limitation is often a priority. It is quite common that the Husky has had a long-term problem that has remained unnoticed and the damage is already done and the optic nerve is beyond repair. There are several types of treatments depending on the type of glaucoma present and in long-term cases, the eye will probably have to be removed.
Dogs adapt a lot quicker and better than we do in these situations though. They don’t get tied up with the mental anxiety related to the trauma like we do and just tend to get on with their life.
It is unlikely that your Siberian Husky will have a cataract if you notice their eye is red. Here, you will notice their eye looks a bit cloudy and will be more opaque than usual. For the dog, their vision will be impaired – the amount it will impact them depends on the severity of the condition as a small cataract will not cause much of a sight problem. This condition is typically inherited but can also come from injury or indeed just old age. If you do notice this then do contact your vet at the earliest opportunity.
There are a few ways to treat cataracts, depending on the severity. This may involve eye drops, an oral supplement or indeed surgery. The latter is the most effective treatment but it is, of course, the most expensive.
What can we do about it?
Our job is quite simple. We identify that there’s a problem then we do something about it. The worst thing you can do with animals after you’ve identified a problem is just to dwell on it and assume it will be okay in a week or so. Once you’ve noticed the problem, take a photo or a video of it. Call your vet and describe the symptoms and how they’ve been behaving. Ask them if you can send them the photos or video you took. Many people forget about the technology we have these days and how useful it can be in situations like this. What you want to do is get a diagnosis from a professional as soon as possible and don’t rely purely on what you find online. Don’t assume that it will just get better. Always be safe rather than sorry as with many of these conditions the faster you act the quicker your Husky will be back to its old self again.
The Siberian Husky is typically a healthy breed of dog and has an average lifespan of between 12-15 years. This longer than average life shows us that they are less likely to succumb to illnesses that will shorten their lives than other types of dog. Also remember, in the vast majority of cases it will not be as serious as you think. It’s absolutely normal to always think the worst-case scenario, it’s just what we do. But put your mind to rest by talking to your vet if you’re in any kind of doubt.
If you’d like further information about the Siberian Husky, then do check out my Complete Guide here.