Why Is My Boston Squinting? 6 Common Causes For Squinting

Did your Boston Terrier suddenly start squinting? Are you curious about what could be causing this and what to do?

Squinting usually means that your Boston’s eye is painful. Several conditions can cause painful eyes in Boston Terriers. This article will review the most common causes of squinting in Boston Terriers and treatments for those conditions.

Why Is My Boston Squinting? 6 Common Causes For Squinting

Many of the conditions that cause eye squinting in Bostons require timely veterinary attention because some of these conditions left untreated can lead to blindness. 

We will also review what steps you should take if your Boston is squinting.

6 Common Causes For Boston Terrier Eye Squinting

Boston Terriers tend to be more prone to having eye issues than other breeds of dogs.

Because Boston Terriers are considered a brachycephalic breed or flat-faced breed, they tend to be more prone to having certain eye conditions.

One study found that brachycephalic dogs may have 11 times the risk of developing corneal ulcers than other dog breeds.

~Canine Genetics and Epidemiology 

As a Boston Terrier owner, it is important to understand the various causes of eye squinting because these conditions are fairly common among Bostons. 

Knowing how to recognize these common conditions, you can seek help from your veterinarian more quickly which will lead to faster healing times and less risk for serious complications like blindness.

Why Is My Boston Squinting? 6 Common Causes For Squinting
Protect Your Boston’s Eyes!

1. Corneal Ulcer

One of the most common causes of squinting in Bostons is due to corneal ulcers. As described above, Boston Terriers may be more prone to developing corneal ulcers.

The cornea of the eye is the outside protective layer of the eye. It serves as a barrier between the world and the inside of the eye. Corneal ulcers are essentially scratches on the cornea of the eye.

Corneal ulcers can arise from several different causes including eye trauma, dry eye, or they can just happen for no apparent reason.

When the cornea gets a scratch, it can be very painful causing squinting. If left untreated, these simple scratches can turn into infected ulcers. Infected ulcers can begin to eat away more deeply at the cornea, and the eye can even rupture in the most severe cases.

Symptoms Of A Corneal Ulcer

The main symptoms of corneal ulcers include:

  • Squinting
  • Excessive Tearing
  • Red Eye
  • Pawing At The Eye
  • Painful Eye

Treatment For Boston Corneal Ulcer

If you suspect your Boston has an ulcer, it is vital to call your veterinarian and have your pet seen as soon as possible.

There is a risk that the ulcer could quickly get worse if left untreated. I have even seen eyes rupture because of corneal ulcers that were not treated quickly enough.

Why Is My Boston Squinting? 6 Common Causes For Squinting

3 Steps Your Veterinarian Will Likely Take.

Step #1 Topical Ointment

The main treatment for corneal ulcers is topical dog eye antibiotics. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe a drop or an ointment to place in your Boston’s eye several times per day.

Step #2 Pain Medication & Cone

In addition, your Boston may be prescribed dog specific pain medication, and your veterinarian will likely have your Boston wear a dog “cone of shame.”

This way your Boston cannot paw and scratch the eye and make the ulcer worse.

Step #3 Follow Up

Likely, your veterinarian will want to recheck your pup in a few days to ensure the ulcer is healing.

Usually, superficial and uncomplicated ulcers will resolve within a week of treatment; although occasionally, they can take longer to heal.

2. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry eye)

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), also known as dry eye, is another common cause for squinting in Boston Terriers. Dry eye, as the name suggests, is a condition where there is inadequate tear production in one or both eyes.

When the eyes cannot produce enough tears, the eye will begin to instead produce a thick mucousy discharge. If the eye is dry, this can also lead to corneal ulcers because the surface of the eye is not staying lubricated enough.

Treatment For Boston Terrier Dry Eye

Dry eye is typically treated by an eye ointment called cyclosporine that can be prescribed by your veterinarian. 

This ointment will stimulate the production of tears but can take up to a month to be effective. 

Usually, this medication is given long-term.

Why Is My Boston Squinting? 6 Common Causes For Squinting

3. Glaucoma

Another cause for eye squinting in Bostons is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that results in high internal eye pressures. If the pressure builds up in the eye, this can cause pain and discomfort.

Glaucoma is a medical emergency because if the eye remains at high pressure for too long, then your Boston is at risk for going blind.

Symptoms Of Glaucoma

The symptoms of glaucoma are very similar to the symptoms of corneal ulcers which is why it is vital to visit your veterinarian promptly for a definitive diagnosis of the eye condition. 

Possible symptoms for glaucoma include:

  • Red Eye
  • Painful Eye
  • Squinting
  • Pawing At The Eye
  • Tearing

Treatment For Boston Terriers With Glaucoma

Your veterinarian will prescribe a variety of eye drops to attempt to get the pressure in the eye down quickly. 

The faster the treatment is initiated, the better chance your Boston has of not going blind.

4. Foreign Body

Is there something stuck in your Boston’s eye? A foreign body or foreign object in the eye is another common cause for squinting in Bostons.

A variety of foreign objects can get stuck in your Boston’s eye including grass or dirt. Foreign objects in the eye can scratch the surface of the eye and can result in an ulcer.

Treatment For Something Stuck In Your Boston’s Eye

If you suspect your Boston has something stuck in their eye, the easiest treatment is to take them to a veterinarian. 

The vet will be able to remove the foreign object and also check to make sure the foreign object has not scratched the cornea.

Why Is My Boston Squinting? 6 Common Causes For Squinting

5. Eye Injury

Eye injury is another possible cause for eye squinting in Bostons. The most common cause of eye injury is from a dog fight or cat scratch on the eye.

Usually, if the eye is injured, there will be some sign of blood or scratching around the eye; although, this is not always the case. 

Cat scratches can be limited to the cornea of the eye which will not produce any blood.

Treatment For Boston Eye Injury

If there has been trauma to your Boston’s eye, they will likely need to be treated with eye antibiotics prescribed by your veterinarian. They may also need dog specific pain medication.

6. Eye Infection

Eye infections, also known as pink eye, can also cause your Boston to squint. Eye infections are common in Bostons that visit the dog park or go to doggy daycare. 

These infections are typically caused by bacterial infections of the eye.

Symptoms Of Eye Infections

The most common symptoms of eye infections in Bostons include:

  • Green Or Yellow Eye Discharge
  • Squinting
  • Eye Redness
  • Eye Itching
  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Treatment For Boston Eye Infections

Your veterinarian will prescribe a dog-specific eye antibiotic to treat the eye infection. Usually, you will have to treat the eye for about one week with these medications.

Why Is My Boston Squinting? 6 Common Causes For Squinting

What Should I Do If My Boston Is Squinting?

First and foremost, it is crucial to get your Boston examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice eye squinting. Some of the conditions described above including glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness if not promptly treated by a veterinarian. 

Of all the possible symptoms, I do not recommend waiting and watching for eye conditions especially in a breed like Boston Terriers that seem to be especially prone to eye diseases.

The good news about eye conditions is that many effective treatments can be prescribed by veterinarians to help your Boston have a speedy recovery!


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Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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