What Causes Nystagmus & Eye Weeping in Dogs?


As a dog owner, you must examine your dog's eyes regularly for any signs of infection or illness. Two symptoms you may see are weeping eyes and nystagmus or uncontrolled and irregular eye movements.


  • If you see either of these symptoms in your dog, contact your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of Nystagmus

Nystagmus is a symptom of vestibular disease that affects the brain and inner and middle ear. Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of balance
  • Tilting the head
  • Disorientation

Your vet can diagnose the disease based on your dog's symptoms and will do additional testing including blood tests and diagnostic imaging to determine the underlying cause. Some things that may cause vestibular disease include tumors, hypothyroidism, ear infections and trauma.

Treatment for the condition is based on the underlying cause. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat an ear infection. Tumors may need to be surgically removed if possible. Your vet may give your dog sedatives if he is extremely disoriented.

In some cases, your vet may not find a cause and will diagnose your dog with idiopathic vestibular syndrome. These dogs typically recover slowly over several weeks. Many dogs recover fully, but some may have lasting symptoms including wobbling or having a head tilt.

Causes of Eye Weeping

Although all dogs have some amount of tearing, which is normal, if you see excessive tearing or weeping, your dog may have a more serious condition.

If the eye discharge is clear, it may be a symptom of allergies or something in the eye like dust or an eyelash. Tearing also may be a sign of inflammation, tumors or eye pain. Some eye conditions lead to blindness, so it is important to diagnose and treat the cause of eye weeping as soon as possible.

Treatment options vary based on the cause of eye weeping. If allergies are the cause, your vet may prescribe an allergy medication and you should remove the allergen from your dog's environment if possible. If the cause is a tumor or abnormal eyelashes, your dog may need surgery to correct the condition.

If the eye discharge is puslike or yellow or green in color, this is a sign of an infection that may need antibiotic treatment.

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