Did your vet recommend removing your dog’s or cat’s eyeball?

Enucleation. (Pronounced ee-NEW-clee-AY-shen).

It’s a much nicer sounding word than “eyeball removal.” But that’s what it is. If you’ve been battling a major eye disease for a while, and the eye is not responding, your veterinarian might have recommended it. We typically recommend removing the eye when it is no longer able to see (so what’s the point really?) and it is a chronic source of pain.

So if an eye is painful, can’t see, why do we want to keep it? Well, we tend to get attached to our pet’s eyeballs. And the thought of removing an eye from a dog or cat, even though it can’t see and is hurting them, is still something that bothers us.

We just don’t want to do it. It will look weird. It’s taking out his EYE for crying out loud!

Well, keep reading. EVERY SINGLE PET OWNER who has had their dog’s or cat’s eye removed tells me three things after the fact:

1- It was the best decision they could have made.

2-They wish they would have not delayed, freaked out about it, and just done it right away.

3 -They have their happy, healthy dog or cat back (And had not realized how much it was affecting them).

Why are they so happy? Well, dogs and cats hide pain. They hide it REALLY well. When there’s glaucoma that responds to nothing, dry eye that hurts all the time, whatever the horrible eye disease, these animals have not only eye pain, but their whole head hurts. Imagine having a severe headache 24/7 for days and days with no relief. When we remove the source of the pain, the eye, the headache is gone. They are a new dog or cat the very next day!

Every owner tells me “I had no idea he was hurting so much, but now he’s running around the yard with his ball, which he hasn’t done in months.” Of course, immediately after surgery, you don’t want them running around, but they sure want to!

What does it look like after the eye is removed? Well, I have pictures to get you through it. It basically looks like the eye is sewn shut. They are perpetually winking! Fluffy dogs, like in my pictures, tend to look cute because the fur just grows over where the eye was. Short-haired dogs, likes boxers or pugs, look like they have the eyed closed and are winking.

The first couple days after surgery, the incision may ooze a little bloody fluid. This is normal, because the body has an empty space it wants to fill! It may even swell to look like an eye is still in there! As the body absorbs the fluid, the surgery site will sink in a little, and be flat with the face, or maybe even concave. This will be more obvious with short haired dogs.

Bottom line – if your vet is suggesting removing your dog’s or cat’s eye, yes, it’s a weird thought, but just do it! Your pet will get his life back!


dog with eye removed

Buddy right after his sutures came out


Buddys fur starting to grow in!

dog after eye removal

Buddy two months after surgery – fur has grown back!

Posted in Eyes, General health.


  1. We needed to read this tonight. Our pup is facing the surgery this week. We’ve been pretty upset about it. Hoping we’re making the right decision for her. This article helped ease some of the worry we have regarding her care. So, thank you!!

    • We just brought our dog home from the Vet after the surgery and all of us are not doing very well. We hope time will make her better. The whole ordeal has been very tough.

    • Hi Katrina, I was just about to write the same thing as you did. I’m facing this also and it’s really bothering me..! I hope your dog did well if the surgery has already taken place? Mine is scheduled for next week and I’m a wreck. Prayers all went well.

  2. Thank you for this article..really needed it. It’s amazing how it’s so hard to deal with this type of surgery vs. other types. Vet recommends yet I’m still struggling with it. Thank you again.

  3. Get it done, my pug had a blind enlarged eye and although not cloudy it just looked a little odd, the vet did various checks for sight etc and concluded that because it was so much larger than the other one the dog couldn’t blink as often as she should so debris, hair, fur, fluff was resting on the eyeball and not being swept away by natural blinking. We decided to have it removed, as soon as the sleepy anaesthetic had worn off and she could get up and walk around she was immediately a happier livelier dog, we had to confine her in a crate for a few days to allow it to heal as she was so boisterous, all that saved energy was released lol, she is so happy now and doesn’t bump into things as she did before, she seems to have her peripheral vision sorted and it doesn’t bother her at all. If your vet suggests it, have the eye removed, the animal will cope better than us humans cope with them having this op!

  4. Thank you so much for your words. My beloved 9 year old Shih Tzu just had his left eye removed. His left eye was always red and watery. Then he had a big corneal ulcer and unfortunately couldn’t be treated. We did everything we could to prevent the enucleation. I’ve cried a river. Hopefully we will have our playful, happy dog back. It’s sad but it’s not the end of the world. Peace

  5. Thank you for this. My cat has been through so much with systemic crypto, then severe uveitis in both eyes that led to blindness, then a non healing ulcer in her right eye. She almost died before amphotericin miraculously pulled her through It’s been such a fight for her life and her eyes that now I feel like a failure. I know it’s ridiculous, and she has the world’s most amazing ophthalmologist, but it makes me sad. I really, really needed this post. A huge comfort. Thank you!

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