Glaucoma in Dogs

Updated: 5/31/24
A close up image of glaucoma in an eye


Glaucoma in dogs refers to an increased pressure of the fluid within the dog’s eye. This increased pressure is both painful and may result in loss of vision due to damage to the retina and optic nerve. Glaucoma can develop quickly or over time.

Canine glaucoma can be divided into two main categories, depending upon whether the glaucoma is occurring primarily or secondary to another disease process within the eye.

  • Primary Glaucoma occurs when the fluid in the front of the eye backs up due to a malfunction in the drainage area. It is inherited and is not the result of underlying disease.
  • Secondary Glaucoma occurs when the flow of fluid is blocked due to trauma or due to another condition such as tumors, advanced cataracts, eye cancer, inflammation, or infection.

Glaucoma can affect all dogs but is seen most often in the following breeds:

  • Basset hounds
  • Beagles
  • Chow chows
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Great Dane
  • Jack Russell terriers
  • Norwegian elkhounds
  • Samoyeds
  • Shar-peis
  • Siberian huskies


Glaucoma is a painful disease, so dogs may become lethargic and lose their appetite. Other signs include:

  • Redness
  • Watery discharge
  • Cloudiness
  • Loss of vision


Along with taking a full medical history, your veterinarian will conduct an ophthalmologic exam and test the intraocular pressure (IOP) using a tool called a tonometer.


Treatment for glaucoma depends on the severity of the condition. If the glaucoma is the result of an underlying condition, that condition must be managed.

Your veterinarian may prescribe a medication that reduces the flow of eye fluids in order to decrease eye pressure along with a pain medication to make your pet more comfortable. If medication does not work, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist who will evaluate your dog for surgery.

Most cases of primary glaucoma require surgery because medications can’t control the pressure well over the long term. Even with surgery, your dog may still lose his vision.

Since glaucoma can be painful for your dog, the removal of the eye may be necessary to improve your dog’s quality of life. Most dogs adjust extremely well to the loss of their eye (or eyes).


While there is no way to prevent glaucoma, early detection and treatment will allow your dog to remain comfortable and maintain his vision for a longer period of time.

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AMC's Ophthalmology Service provides scheduled and emergency care for companion animals with eye and vision problems. Under the direction of a renowned, board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, we offer comprehensive diagnosis and treatment to alleviate vision disorders in dogs and cats, ensuring the highest possible quality of life.

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