Does Your Dog Have Sunburned Eyes?

In this day and age of pampering pooches, most pet owners know that dogs are susceptible to skin damage from the sun, just like humans are. However, it might surprise you to discover that your dog's eyes are at risk, too. In addition to long-term vision damage, your dog's eyes could be harmed by short-term exposure to the sun. Read on to learn about this phenomenon, its symptoms, and to discover what you can do about it.

Sunburned Eyes

Dogs who are exposed to high levels of UV radiation can potentially suffer from a condition that's sometimes referred to as sunburned eyes. Its official name is photokeratitis, and it refers to a condition where UV exposure damages the surface of the eye.

Any dog's eyes can be hurt by too much exposure to the sun, but certain dogs are more susceptible to it. If your dog has lighter-colored eyes, especially if they're a breed like Huskie that tends to have blue eyes, they may be at a higher risk. Lighter-colored eyes are in more danger because they don't contain as much melanin as darker eyes, and melanin absorbs UV radiation.


Since a dog can't tell you outright that its eyes have been burned, you'll need to keep your own eyes open for the symptoms. Dogs who get sunburned eyes typically show discomfort in the area. Your dog may blink rapidly, rub its eyes with a paw, experiencing watering of the eye, or have trouble recognizing objects. For example, if you play fetch with your dog and it has difficulty tracking the ball, it may be experiencing temporary vision distortion from the UV radiation.

Treatment and Prevention

Once your dog's eyes are burned, the only step you can take is to go to a veterinarian. Your vet will provide medication to help soothe your dog's eyes and increase the speed of the healing process. Typically, these medications are offered in the form eye drops in order to get them to the area that needs them the most as quickly as possible.

In the future, you can protect your dog from eye sunburns by giving them a pair of doggy sunglasses. Dog sunglasses are typically made like goggles to keep them on your dog's head. Look for one that promises 99% or 100% UV radiation protection to prevent further damage to your dog's eyes.

Eye sunburns are a painful condition for a dog to experience, but it can be completely avoided with adequate UV protection. Talk to your vet if you need help finding a pair of sunglasses to protect your dog's eyes.

For more information on pet health, contact a company like Cats Only Veterinary Hospital.