Dog's Eye Slightly Shaking

by Holly Walker
(Debary, Fl)

Reader Question: Canine Eyes Slighly Oscillate

Since birth, both the dog's eyes slightly oscillate - no discharge of the eyes - we are under the impression, that the dog's vision is somewhat impaired. This is an 18 months old pit bull, male, unneutered, who had a clean bill of health approx. 6 months ago, when checked by our vet. He was at that time unable to diagnose the eye problem. The dog seems to see better when light conditions are less bright, e.g. at night.

Holly Walker

Vet Gives Her Input Regarding Oscillation In Canine Eyes

Hi Holly,

It’s hard for me to say what might be going on with your dog’s eyes without examining him. The oscillation that you describe might be nystagmus – an abnormal, repeated movement of the eye either from side to side, up and down, or in a circle. Some dogs are born with what is called congenital nystagmus. In these cases, the movement to and fro is at about the same speed, in comparison to a jerk in one direction followed by a slower recovery in the other. Dogs with congenital nystagmus are otherwise neurologically normal, and the condition does not worsen over time.

I am a bit worried that you mentioned your dog’s eyesight seems to be affected. This usually isn’t the case with congenital nystagmus, although the eye movement would have to be a bit disorienting, I would think. If your dog is white with very lightly pigmented eyes, there might be a correlation between that, the nystagmus, and poor eyesight. A veterinary ophthalmologist is probably your best source of information about your dog’s condition.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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