West Highland White Terrier Eyes, Eyes

Check your Westie's eyes, see if there are any signs of blueness or whiteness in the eye itself. Also, cloudiness should ring an alarm bell. Or, if your dog is acting like it cannot see. If you see any of these signs or symptoms in your dog's eyes


Even one minute! Get your dog to an Ophthalmic Veterinarian immediately! Or get your regular veterinarian or an Emergency Veterinarian to refer you immediately. Even 12 hours of high pressure in the eye can do permanent and irreversible damage

General Care

Leave them alone, other than keeping hair away from the corners of your dogs eyes, don't go anywhere near the eyes, they are very delicate, any prodding or poking around can do permanent damage. I must admit I do use "Optrex eye bath" to flush away any hair or matter around the eye lid, other than this take your West Highland White Terrier to a vet if you spot any problems.

Tear Stains

On many white dogs, like the Westie, you may see a brown or pink stain on the skin and hair below the inside corner of the eye. This is a common cosmetic problem caused by an overflow of tears onto the cheeks. The colour change of the hair and skin occurs when the normal bacteria on the hair and skin react with the tears.

In normal Westie's, tears are constantly produced and drain out through small ducts in the eyelids. The ducts empty into the nose. In Westie's with blocked ducts, the tears overflow the lids and run down the face. There can be several causes of the overflow of tears. Some dogs are born with an abnormal drainage system that may or may not be surgically correctable.

Hair is like a wick, drawing the tears out of the eye. This can be corrected by removing the offending hair. In some cases tear overflow may be due to excessive tear formation caused by irritation of the eye by a particle of something in the eye, an allergy, or an abnormal eyelid or eyelash which turns inward and rubs against the surface of the eye. 

Inflammation or ulcers of the surface of the eye (cornea), or inflammation of the duct system is also a cause. These conditions, which are often painful, need to be seen immediately by your vet. 

Since the tear accumulation on the facial hair can also lead to matting of the hair, skin irritation and possible infection, you must keep this area clean. 

Trimming the hair below the eye will help. Clean the area and remove any accumulated material or crusts. If a skin lesion is seen, clip the hair closer. Check the eyes on a regular basis, keep the area around them clean.

When in your car, don't let any drafts blow into your dogs face, make sure the window is high enough to prevent your pet from getting his head out of the window.

Your Westie's eye's are very important, consult your vet if you suspect any type of eye problems.

Diseases of the Cornea

Scratches or abrasions of a dog's cornea are also quite common. Corneal damage often causes eye redness and dogs may also paw at their eyes because of discomfort.

Any sign of corneal irritation will require veterinary attention.

Some of the other common ailments to the cornea include foreign bodies.

Don't delay in treating corneal lesions as it could lead to the development of a painful corneal ulcer or an inflammatory condition known as keratitis.

Diseases of the Lens

The lens of the eye is also subject to disease. Cataracts are usually inherited, surprisingly, inherited cataracts usually occur in your animals, although some dogs suffer from late-onset inherited cataracts. Another common cause of cataracts is sugar diabetes.

Large cataracts can reduce lens functions to the point of blindness, but surgical removal of cataractous lenses has restored sight in many dogs. The vet must check the retina to see if it is functional before deciding whether to surgically remove a cataract. But cataracts block a clear view of the retina and make it challenging for vets to examine the retina with a hand-held ophthalmoscope.

As animals age, the lens may also develop a cloudiness. This can be differentiated from cataracts and may not require surgical intervention. Although aging is not a disease, it often brings changes in your dog's vision. In general, older dogs are not as responsive to visual stimuli as younger dogs.


Increased eye pressure caused by fluid build up in the eye  is a serious disease that can lead to partial or total blindness. Signs include redness, cloudiness, eyeball swelling, pain, and sensitivity to light.

After diagnosing glaucoma by measuring eye pressure, a vet may treat the disease with pressure relieving medication or surgery in some cases.

Progressive retinal atrophy passes a group of vision destroying diseases caused by deterioration of the retina's image processing cells.

An inherited ailment with no known treatment, this disease often develops so gradually owners may not notice the signs until a dog experiences loss of night vision or total blindness.

What your Westie Sees

Dogs appear to be better than people with peripheral vision, but their close-up vision does not seem as sharp as a human's. The dog's lateral eye placement allows better wide angle vision but hinders depth perception and close up viewing because there is minimal visual overlap between the two eyes.

Abundant light sensitive cells called rods in your dog's retina help it detect motion and see well in dim light. Clear advantages for canines stalking prey at dusk or dawn or guarding territory against intruders. The human retina is made up predominantly of cones receptors that are better at detecting colour and processing bright light.

Contrary to belief, dogs are not completely colour blind for they do have cones in their retinas.

But dogs can't distinguish the full spectrum of colours.


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Tear Stains, Diseases of the Cornea, Diseases of the Lens, Glaucoma, Dogs Vision Index