Zack Keithy, our author, has been a certified veterinarian technician for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers. Learn more about us here.
You’ve just taken your pet to the groomer and you’re so excited to see what they’ll look like when they come back!
But when you get home, your dog can’t open their eyes. What happened? And what can you do about it?
You’re not sure what to do, but you know you need to help your pup.
You’ve tried everything from giving it a bath to putting eye drops in its eyes, but nothing seems to work.
Don’t worry! We’re here to help you figure out why your dog is having trouble opening its eyes after grooming and how to fix it.
Quick note: You might want to read about the most common dog grooming injuries too.
- Why Won’t Your Dog Open Its Eyes After Grooming?
- Can a Dog Get an Eye Infection From Grooming?
- Symptoms of Dog Eye Pain and Issues
- Immediate Relief to Help Your Dog
- Tips for Future Grooming Sessions
- How Can I Care For My Dog’s Eyes at Home?
- How to Check Your Dog’s Eyes
- What Is the Best Way to Clean a Dog’s Eyes?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- In Conclusion: Dog Can’t Open Eyes After Grooming
Why Won’t Your Dog Open Its Eyes After Grooming?
I’m sure you’ve noticed it, but your dog’s eyes are always closed when they’re getting groomed.
And I don’t mean that they close them because they’re sleepy or tired—I’m talking about full-blown, can’t-see-a-thing, eyelids sealed shut.
So why won’t your dog open its eyes after grooming? Here are the potential causes.
Something has gotten stuck in their eyes their eyes
I used to think my dog was just being stubborn.
She would act like she was in pain, but then she would refuse to open her eyes or let me get close enough to look at them.
I thought it was just her way of getting out of taking a bath, but then one day it dawned on me: something has gotten into her eyes!
If you suspect something has gotten into your dog’s eyes, try using a warm compress on each eye for about 10 minutes.
This should help loosen up any foreign particles trapped inside so you can remove them more easily next time.
If you’ve ever had dry eyes before, then you know what I’m talking about.
The feeling is a bit like sandpaper on your corneas—it’s uncomfortable, but not painful in the way that something like rubbing too hard would be.
Dogs’ eyes are very similar to ours in terms of structure—they have tear ducts and everything!
So when we groom them with products that contain alcohol (which is pretty much all products), we’re drying out their eyes as much as we do ours.
Inflammation of the iris
The first time I noticed my dog’s eyes were swollen shut after grooming, I freaked out.
I was so worried that she had been injured, or that the groomer had done something to hurt her.
But as it turns out, this is pretty common: dogs’ eyes can get irritated and swollen after grooming for a variety of reasons.
Inflammation of the iris (Anterior uveitis) is probably caused by exposure to bacteria if you have been to the groomer recently.
Symptoms are redness in the eye and your dog is likely to be squinting and having some discharge.
This needs to be treated fast!
Corneal Abrasion or Injury
When your dog has a corneal abrasion or injury, it can experience swelling around the eye.
This is often due to trauma such as forceful rubbing or possibly from a cut.
Sometimes, it can be caused by bacteria or other diseases too.
It causes the eyelids to swell shut, which means your dog will not be able to open its eyes.
Send your dog to the vet right away.
An Allergic Reaction
Some dogs are allergic to certain types of brushes and shampoos, and if your groomer uses one that your dog is allergic to, it will swell up and look like it’s having an allergic reaction.
The swelling itself can be painful, but it can also cause your dog to have difficulty breathing.
In most cases, you can try using an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin to stop the symptoms, but if they persist after 24 hours, it is best to check in with your vet.
Pre-existing Eye Conditions
There are a number of eye conditions that can cause your dog’s eyes to swell, including:
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) – My first dog had KCS. It’s a common disorder in which the cornea, conjunctiva, and lacrimal gland become inflamed over time. This leads to decreased tear production and a change in the quality and quantity of the precorneal tear film. A typical sign of the condition is that your pet starts to show signs of irritation in their eyes—they’ll rub them, they’ll have crusty discharge on their face or around their eyes, they may even start to squint or close their eyes when they’re outside in bright light (because the sun is causing them pain).
- Pink eye – Pink eye in dogs is caused by a bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the soft tissue of the eye that covers the sclera and inner eyelid. It’s typically caused by contact with other animals, especially if those animals have pink eye themselves.
Glaucoma is a serious condition that can cause your dog’s eyes to feel like they’re full of sand, making them uncomfortable and tired.
To avoid this, make sure you give your dog plenty of breaks during grooming.
It’s important to let your dog rest in between sessions so their eyes have time to recover from the irritation caused by the brush and shampoo.
My dog has some pretty interesting quirks.
One of her most interesting quirks is that she doesn’t open her eyes after grooming.
She’s not afraid of the clippers or anything like that, she just refuses to open her eyes after grooming.
If your dog has ever been through a traumatic experience, you may notice that they have a tendency to not open their eyes after grooming.
This is normal for dogs who have experienced trauma and if you notice it, don’t be alarmed!
They’re just trying to feel safe and comfortable in their own skin.
Can a Dog Get an Eye Infection From Grooming?
Yes, a dog can get an eye infection from a grooming session.
There are a few factors at play, such as an object causing injury or your dog having an adverse reaction to the products used.
Your dog can be infected or have an allergic response to a grooming product in its eyes, such as shampoo or coat spray.
Ulceration, burns, and abrasions may result from this.
Pets who are irritated may scratch their eyes, which can lead to bacterial and fungal diseases.
Symptoms of Dog Eye Pain and Issues
The first step is identifying the symptoms your dog is experiencing and making sure you tackle them accordingly.
If your dog is rubbing its eyes, it may be an indication that he’s having issues with his eyes.
This can be a sign of conjunctivitis—a common eye infection that causes irritation and redness in the eye area.
Watch out for the following symptoms, and if your dog is rubbing one or both of his eyes constantly and excessively, consider taking him to the vet for a checkup.
- Redness around the eyes
- Red eyes
- Having discharge or tearing (especially if they smell)
- Fast blinking and squinting
- Keeping the eye closed
- Sensitive to bright lights
- Pawing or stroking its eyes excessively
Immediate Relief to Help Your Dog
Luckily, there are some steps you can take at home to make sure your dog doesn’t get an eye infection from grooming—and they’re easy enough for a non-professional to follow.
One of the most important things you can do after grooming is to give your pup some saline solution to help relieve any discomfort they might have from their eyes drying out.
They are great at cleaning out your dog’s eyes and help with eye infections.
Soak a Cotton Ball in Cold Water or Cold Tea
Another treatment for this issue is to soak a cotton ball in cold water or cold tea and apply it to your dog’s eyes.
You can also use an eye dropper, if necessary.
The key is to get as much liquid into their eyes as possible—the more moisture there is there, the less irritation they’ll experience.
Cold compression is where you take some ice cubes or crushed ice, wrap them in a paper towel, and then hold them up against your dog’s closed eyes for about 20 minutes.
This will help reduce inflammation and decrease the amount of time it takes for your dog’s eyes to heal.
Tea bags are one of the most effective ways I’ve found to relieve my dog’s eye discomfort after grooming.
What you can do is go ahead and brew tea (black, non-decaf, non-flavored) as usual and let the tea bags cool for a while.
Next, all you need to do is put a tea bag on each eye for about ten minutes (or longer if needed).
Then, remove it and let your dog rest for another ten minutes or so before wiping off any excess moisture with a cloth.
Tips for Future Grooming Sessions
Choosing a good groomer is just as important as many other aspects of your dog’s life.
After all, they are going to spend many hours together in the foreseeable future in extremely close proximity, so of course, we got to choose wisely.
That said, if this is your first experience or even if you have an existing groomer, the following tips can help you ensure your dog gets the best care:
- Make sure to highlight to your groomer any allergies or health issues
- Check with your groomer about the type of products they use, or if they can use a specific brand designated by you
- If your dog’s eyes are very sensitive, request that your groomer avoid the area
- Best to set the right expectations before the sessions so everyone knows what to expect
- Give your dog’s eyes a thorough wash with saline solution after you bring them home
How Can I Care For My Dog’s Eyes at Home?
It’s not always easy to know how to care for your dog’s eyes at home, but there are some simple things you can do to keep them healthy and happy!
First, make sure that your dog has a well-lit area where they can get away from the sun—their eyes can be damaged by too much exposure to sunlight.
Next, make sure that you’re giving them enough water—it’s important for keeping their eyes moist and healthy.
And finally, watch out for any signs of an eye infection: redness or swelling around the eye, discharge from the eye, and sensitivity when exposed to light.
How to Check Your Dog’s Eyes
- Look at your dog’s eyes. They should be clear, not red or inflamed.
- Look for discharge, which can be clear or yellowish and often crusty around the eyelids. If there is any discharge, it’s important to get your dog to the vet right away!
- Check the eyelids—they should be smooth and unswollen, not puffy or swollen. If you notice swelling around one of your dog’s eyes, this could mean that something foreign is stuck in their eye (like a bug) or they might have an infection or inflammation in their eye that needs to be treated immediately by a vet.
What Is the Best Way to Clean a Dog’s Eyes?
Wash and Wipe Their Eyes
It’s so easy!
You just get a washcloth, wet it in warm water, and then wipe your dog’s eyes with it.
If they’re really dirty, you can even use baby shampoo to help get them squeaky clean.
It’s also a great way to bond with your pet—they’ll never look at you the same way again after you’ve cleaned their eyes!
Keep the Hair Around Their Eyes Tidy
There is one thing about my dog that drives me absolutely bonkers: the hair around her eyes.
It’s always up in her face, and it gets everywhere!
It sticks to everything—my clothing, my furniture, even my food!
So what do I do? I keep the hair around her eyes tidy!
I use a small pair of scissors to trim the hair away from her eyes, and it works like a charm!
Clean the Area Around the Eyes After Muddy Walks
Dogs love to play in the mud, but they don’t always love it when they get a big glob of it in their eye.
You can help them out by cleaning up any excess mud before it has a chance to dry and stick to their fur.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Is My Dog Acting Weird After the Groomer?
It’s normal for dogs to act weird after the groomer. After all, they’re used to being comfortable and relaxed at home—but they’re suddenly surrounded by strange people who are touching them in places they don’t like and doing things they don’t understand.
Can a Dog Be Traumatized After Grooming?
Yes, a dog can be traumatized after grooming. It’s important to remember that dogs are smart and sensitive animals, and they can pick up on the emotions of people around them. If a dog has had a bad experience at the groomer’s before, it might be scared or anxious when it goes there again.
In Conclusion: Dog Can’t Open Eyes After Grooming
In most cases, groomers are well-trained professionals who can take good care of your dog.
I would personally seek out a friend’s recommendation or at least search for one that has plenty of reviews to be sure.
Setting expectations beforehand also works very well for me all this time, so that could be something you want to have in your mind the next time you visit your groomer.
Check out other dog care tips here or on our blog:
- Dog balls irritated after grooming
- Why does my dog keep sitting down after grooming?
- Paw licking after grooming: what you need to know
You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.