A closer look: Sunken Eyes in Dogs
Enopthalmos is a common trait of long-nosed (dolichocephalic) dogs and is not a concern if it is a known characteristic for the breed and has been present from birth. Rarely, congenital abnormalities can cause enophthalmos and other eye abnormalities.
In the case of onset after birth, the causes can range from benign to life-threatening and as such, it is always valuable to seek veterinary care. A dog exhibiting enophthalmos that has had vomiting and/or diarrhea for over 24 hours, or no eating and/or drinking for over 24 hours requires emergency veterinary attention due to the risk of life-threatening dehydration
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Breeds with long noses often have sunken eyes relative to other breeds naturally as a normal feature of the breed. If the eyes appear sunken later on in life there are a number of potential causes.
Eyes may also appear sunken after substantial weight loss.
Sinking eyes can start mild and worsen over time if left untreated depending on the root cause. In cases caused by dehydration or weight loss, the severity increases with increasing levels of dehydration.
Long-nosed (dolichocephalic) dogs have a breed predisposition to sunken eyes. Dogs with higher risk of injury and/or dehydration are at increased risk of developing sunken eyes.
Testing and diagnosis
- Physical examination
- Diagnostic imaging
- Neurologic examination
- Ophthalmologic examination
The treatment depends on the underlying cause of the sunken eyes but can include;
- Antibiotic/antifungal medication
- Correction of underlying cause
- Symptom management
- Benign neglect
Swelling around the eyes could have the effect of making the eyes appear sunken.