Eye problems in a boxer (dog)

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The boxer dog is one of the breeds that has the most medical problems, both inherited and caused by disease and injury. A person who owns a boxer needs to be extra diligent about keeping track of the dogs eyes.

Before you buy a boxer, check to see if the parents have been checked and cleared for any of the inherited problems.

Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal dystrophy is an inherited genetic disease. It is never caused by an injury or improper diet. If corneal dystrophy afflicts the cornea, the outer layer of the eye becomes cloudy and it usually strikes in both eyes. Look for a crystal-like substance in the eyes. There is no treatment and no way to prevent corneal dystrophy, but in most cases the boxer will not lose all of the vision.

Harderian Gland Prolapse

Harderian gland prolapse is more commonly known as "cherry eye" or "migrating membrane." Boxers have three eyelids, upper, lower and one that is under the upper and is never seen. It is this third eyelid that gives the problem. This one is not inherited; it is caused by other health problems. You will see a red tissue covering the eye. The preferred treatment is to surgically put the eyelid back in place. However, in some cases it needs to be removed completely, and the boxer will need eye drops for the rest of its life.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - PRA

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is one of the most serious of the eye problems in boxer dogs because the dog will eventually go blind. It is hereditary and will cause the dog to develop lesions of the retina, attacking both eyes simultaneously. Watch out for night blindness, dilated pupils and/or an increased shine in the eyes. The dog will not feel pain, so you have to spot the physical symptoms. There is no treatment, but there is some evidence that antioxidant supplements may slow down the progression.


Uveitis can be caused by multiple health problems or by a foreign object getting into the eye. The eye becomes so irritated a visit to the vet is necessary. The symptoms are easy to spot. The dog will blink or squint excessively, there will be a large watery discharge, sensitivity to light, a blue tint over the dogs eye, redness and swelling. Most cases can be treated with anti inflammatory drugs or antibiotics. In a few very extreme cases, the eye will have to be surgically removed.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca

Kerato conjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye, can cause the boxer great discomfort. The boxer has a film that protects the eye. If anything happens to that film, either from a disease or injury, the eye can become dry. The eye can develop a brown tint, scar tissue may develop, blood vessels can grow too large, and the dog will be in constant pain. The vet will prescribe eye drops for lubrication, medicine will bring down the inflammation and infection, and eye drops will help the dog produce natural tears.