Eye Inflammation (Anterior Uveitis) in Dogs

By PetMD Editorial on Aug. 16, 2010

Anterior Uveitis in Dogs

When the uvea, the dark tissue at the front of the eye that contains the blood vessels, becomes inflamed, it creates a painful condition that is clinically referred to as anterior uveitis (which means, literally, inflammation of the front of the eye). This condition affects the dog's iris and the surrounding pupil tissue, which in turn, could threaten your dog's vision.

Symptoms and Types

  • Pain
  • Redness of the eye
  • Excessive tears
  • Discharge
  • Squinting
  • Pupil is unusually small or has an uneven shape
  • Swelling of the eyeball
  • The front of the eye is cloudy or dull
  • The color of the iris may be uneven or may be different than normal


Anterior uveitis may be due to different causes, including:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Tumors
  • Cancers
  • Trauma or injury
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Lens protein entering into the eye fluid
  • Infections:
    • Parasites
    • Fungi
    • Bacteria
    • Toxoplasmosis (a multi-system disease caused by a parasite)
    • Rickettsia (a parasitic disease found in many ticks, fleas and lice)

Viruses are another cause of anterior uveitis in animals, however, the viral agents are different for each species. The canine herpes virus, canine distemper virus and canine adenovirus can cause the condition indogs. It is important to note that the canine adenovirus-1 can be prevented with a vaccine.



Your veterinarian will want a complete medical history and will conduct a physical examination of your dog, usually using a special instrument to look at the eye (ophthalmoscope). The front of the inside of the eye, as well as the back part, will be examined to measure the pressure within the eye. The veterinarian will also order a complete blood count and a biochemical profile. This will be used to identify any autoimmune diseases, infectious organisms, or other diseases. Other tests for diagnoses include ultrasounds and X-rays of the eye, as well as an aspirate from the eye for microscopic examination.


The course of treatment will depend on the diagnosis. However, this generally consists of prescribed drops or ointments to put in the dog's eye, as well as oral medications to reduce any pain or inflammation.

Specific treatment will be recommended depending on the cause of the disease. For example, if infection is found, an antibiotic topical drug will be prescribed. If the underlying cause is a fungus, anti-fungal drugs will be prescribed.

In extraordinary and rare situations (e.g., if there is a tumor causing secondary complications such as glaucoma), your veterinarian may recommend surgical removal of the eye.

Living and Management 

Pay attention to all of your veterinarian’s instructions. Putting medication in a dog's eye can be challenging, but it must be done for the sake of your pet's long term sight. Take time every day to look at your dog’s eyes carefully to look for any changes. Follow-up appointments are needed so that the veterinarian can examine the eye at regular intervals.

It is also important to check the environment your pet lives in. Is it possible that it is contracting an infection -- especially a fungal infection -- there? You may need to make some changes in your animal's accommodations.

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