What to Do If Your Dog Has Something in Their Eye

| CJ Silvasi

Learn how to tell if something is in your dog's eye and how to safely remove foreign objects, fur, and debris at home and avoid long term injury.


Is there anything more annoying than having something stuck in your eye? Imagine how uncomfortable it is for your dog, since they may not understand what is going on or how to resolve the issue.

Here are ways to tell if your dog has something in their eye and safe methods for removing debris at home.

Is It Dangerous If Something Gets Stuck in My Dog’s Eye?

Even small items like fur or dirt can cause complications that result in major health risks for dogs, and infections can be caused by even the smallest foreign body in the eye. For example, bacterial or viral conjunctivitis can be caused by inflammation from an eye injury.

If an item that enters the eye is sharp or abrasive like sand or wood, the eye can become severely damaged. Foreign bodies like this can scratch a dog’s cornea (the front surface of the eye), which can worsen into corneal ulcers or lead to blindness if left untreated.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Something in Their Eye?

Your dog may not be in a large amount of pain if something is in their eye, so it is not likely they will cry or whimper to let you know something is wrong. Instead, they will squint one eye more than usual or keep it closed.

The eye will likely attempt to self-medicate by watering more than usual, which can also cause the eye to seal itself shut while your pup is sleeping or squinting. The discomfort will also inspire your dog to rub their face on your floor or paw at their eye in an attempt to dislodge the item. You may also notice that the eye is red or swollen, even if your dog isn’t squinting.

How to Get Something Out of My Dog's Eye

Depending on the severity and how quickly you notice the issue, it is possible to remove a foreign body at home by flushing the eye with water. Gently hold your dog’s eye open and check if you can see the offending object. If it has not punctured the eye, flush the eye with warm (not hot) water until it is removed. Do not use your fingers!

Once it is removed, monitor your dog’s behavior to ensure the injury didn’t cause an infection that would require a visit to your veterinarian.

What If I Can’t Remove the Item by Flushing the Eye?

If you can’t successfully remove the object by flushing it with water, or the object is lodged in the eye, contact your vet immediately. Do your best to cover the eye with a clean cloth and use an Elizabethan collar to keep your dog from scratching or pawing the injury. It may be best to go to the emergency vet, since this is an injury that should be treated same day.

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog’s Eye Injury?

Treatment will depend heavily on the injury itself. It may be as simple as cleaning the eye, but antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection. Some injuries will require corneal surgery and medication to prevent blindness. It is important that treatment be administered as quickly as possible to prevent the injury from progressing or stop your dog from making it worse due to the discomfort.

Eye injuries are scary, and can happen to any dog at any age, especially if they are rambunctious or adventurous. The best prevention is to monitor your dog as often as possible, but there’s no way to guarantee your pup won’t have an accident.

Don’t let a speck of dirt in the eye cause emotional or financial stress. Prepare for the unexpected with coverage offered through AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company), and avoid having to decide between your pet’s health and your budget.

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CJ Silvasi

CJ has always wanted to be a writer. She even threatened to drop out after her first day of kindergarten when they weren’t immediately going to teach her to read and write. Fortunately, she stayed in school, earned her degree in Creative Writing from Christopher Newport University, and now gets to live her best life with her husband, 3 Japanese Chins, and cat writing for AKC Pet Insurance.


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