Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
Poodles are among the most adopted dogs due to their perfect blend of ideal size, beautiful coat, and likable personality.
Additionally, their endearingly, doleful eyes are among their outstanding physical traits that capture most pet owners’ attention.
However, this poochie breed has a knack for developing eye problems, making things a little murky.
The most common poodle eye problems include tear staining, glaucoma, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and optic nerve hypoplasia. These eye conditions usually result from debris and dust build-up (eye irritants) around the poodle’s eyes. However, some are genetically linked.
As a licensed veterinary doctor, I’ll explain how each of the following four Poodle eye problems develops, the symptoms you should look for, and how your vet will likely treat the condition.
But first, let’s address the question of why poodles have a high propensity for eye problems.
Why Poodles Are Susceptible to Eye Problems
Poodles’ predisposition to developing awful eye problems is highly linked to this breed’s heredity.
Like other purebred pets, poodles have breed-prone health issues passed down from one generation to the other.
Surprisingly enough, eye problems fall among these notorious health issues believed to be wired deep in their DNA.
This canine breed is also prone to eye conditions because its physical stature keeps it close to eye irritants such as dust and other debris.
Additionally, the beautiful long curly hair around the poodle’s eyes gathers dust and debris that can irritate them.
If you want to join the poodle lovers gang by adopting a poodle or already have one, you must know about these eye problems to help them whenever they occur.
As a pooch owner, it’s advisable to regularly lock eyes with your pup to ensure that his eyes are in good health.
Top Poodle Eye Problems
Tear staining is arguably one of the most prevalent eye problems in poodles.
This condition is predominantly characterized by discolored fur below the pup’s eyes, its hue ranging from rusty brown to red.
This discoloration is more prominent in poodles with white or light-colored fur, giving rise to the notion that it only affects fair-colored pooches.
However, it’s prevalent in all poodles regardless of their fur color.
Tear staining has various triggers, the most common culprit being epiphora, a condition characterized by an overflow of tears from the eyes to your pup’s face.
Besides epiphora, other causes of excessive tearing in your furry friend include:
- Tear duct blockage
- Eyelid abnormalities
- Eyelash infection
- Allergic reactions mainly from environmental stimuli
- Eye infections
- Reactions to additives and ingredients in their food
Generally, excessive tearing dampens the fur below your pup’s eyes.
If left untreated for long, it can create a perfect environment for fungal and bacterial infections to thrive, putting your canine friend at a higher risk of developing yeast infections.
Below are the tear staining symptoms you should be on the lookout for:
- Discolored hair around the eyes
- There may be eye discharge depending on the trigger
- The affected fur feels crusty and brittle and may be hard to comb
Diagnosis and Treatment
Tear staining is easily diagnosed through observation. Both you and your vet can tell when a pooh has tear staining by observing the fur around his eyes.
When it comes to treatment, here are some options that your vet is likely to recommend:
- Keep the fur around your pup’s eyes short by trimming regularly.
- Use tear stain remover wipes for pups with mild tear staining. However, for severe cases, your vet may advise you to use tear remover powders and liquids.
- Keep your poodle’s face clean and dry.
- Use of probiotic supplements.
- Use of topical treatments.
Yes, canine cataracts! Like humans, canines are prone to cataracts which are among the most common causes of vision loss in your pup.
Cataracts in your poodle manifest in the form of cloudiness in the eye lens, leading to blurred vision that ranges from partial to complete opacity.
Cataracts have various triggers ranging from the most common cause, old age, to something as drastic as an electric shock.
Other common causes of cataracts in dogs are hereditary or genetic defects and diabetes.
While cataracts have different development stages, your pup may show little or no notable symptoms in the early stages.
However, take note of the following:
- Cloudy cornea
- Signs of impaired vision such as trouble navigating around
- Behavioral changes (your poodle may start showing signs of dizziness or whining)
- Failure of the pupil to respond to light
- Continued squinting and blinking of the eyes
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect that your pup has cataracts, it’s advisable to seek early medical intervention.
Make an appointment with your vet, who will thoroughly examine your pup’s eyes.
The vet will use a bright light and a magnifying lens to detect traces of cataracts in your poodle’s eyes.
Here, the vet will also screen for other eye problems such as glaucoma and anterior uveitis that are likely to occur alongside cataracts.
Once your poodle has been diagnosed with cataracts, the vet will then recommend an ideal treatment option based on its severity.
The most effective treatment option for canine cataracts is surgery which involves replacing the affected lens with an artificial one.
However, if your canine friend has an underlying condition that may inhibit surgery, a veterinary ophthalmologist may recommend the use of eye drops.
The eye drops won’t cure cataracts or restore eyesight but will reduce inflammation and prevent lens-induced glaucoma.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy is a degenerative eye condition that affects your poodle’s eye photoreceptor cells which deteriorate, eventually causing blindness.
The thought of having a blind canine friend seems dreadful, right? It’s disturbing to see your beloved pet battle PRA, and here is all you need to know concerning this notorious eye condition mainly caused by defective hereditary genes.
While this condition isn’t painful, it’s life-changing and calls for understanding from you, the poodle owner.
Here are some of the common PRA signs you’re likely to notice in your dog:
- Difficulty seeing in low light or at night
- Difficulty seeing in bright light
- An impaired vision such as difficulty following hand signals and bumping into objects
Diagnosis and Treatment
If your pup shows signs of vision loss based on the standard ophthalmic examination and has dilated pupils, your vet may suspect it to be a PRA case.
It may be challenging to detect any retina changes during the early stages of PRA.
However, a thorough examination using an ophthalmoscope will show a high reflectivity in the tapetum lucidum, a vital part of the retina.
A further diagnosis through more sophisticated testing such as the renowned electroretinogram (ERG) is needed to detect PRA even in the early stages before showing any notable signs.
Unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do about this eye condition since it has no particular cure.
However, after a positive diagnosis, the vet ophthalmologist may recommend using vitamins and antioxidants, not to help cure the disease but to reduce stress on your poodle’s lenses.
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
Poodles also harbor defective hereditary genes that cause optic nerve hypoplasia. This is an eye condition in poodles that occurs when the optic nerves fail to undergo full development.
It may affect either one or both eyes and can occur independently or along with other eye problems.
Unlike PRA, where the pup slowly loses sight over time, with hypoplasia, poodles are born either fully or partially blind.
In case the optic nerves of both eyes fail to develop, the poodle will be born blind.
Optic nerve hypoplasia is among the eye problems in poodles caused by hereditary defects.
- Dilated pupil: one pupil may appear larger than the other
- Visual impairments
- Pupils that don’t respond equally to light and darkness
Diagnosis and Treatment
This condition can be detected through a routine ophthalmic examination. Still, the vet will be required to instill special eye drops to obtain full pupil dilation.
He can then get a detailed look directly at the optic nerves to gauge their development through the dilated pupils.
Since optic nerve hypoplasia is caused by hereditary underdevelopment of neurological tissues, there is no treatment.
There’s nothing much you can do if your poodle is diagnosed with this condition. You need to accept it and train your pup to live with it.
If you have a poodle, you probably take him as a member of your family. As a result, you wouldn’t want to see him suffer or deal with life-changing conditions.
This is why it’s advisable to understand common eye problems in poodles and ways of dealing with them.
For example, even though you might assume that tear stains are not a big deal for your poodle since he doesn’t care how he looks, it will likely cause a certain level of discomfort in him.
- Wikipedia: Poodle
- Squish Face: How to clean tear stains on poodles
- Wikipedia: Epiphora (medicine)
- Best Friends: Cataracts in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
- VCA Hospitals: Progressive retinal atrophy in dogs
- MSD Vet Manual: Disorders of the Optic Nerve in Dogs – Dog Owners – Veterinary Manual
- Dogvillis: All You Need to Know About Standard Poodle Eye Problems
- Here Pup: Look Out: The Skinny on Poodle Eye Problems
- The Nest: Poodles & Eye Diseases
Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society