Eye injuries are common in dogs and even the slightest damage to the eye can lead to permanent scarring and even blindness.
Most eye injuries are caused by a trauma to the eye, such as banging the eye or face, a scratch to the eye, a foreign body in the eye or a penetrating injury. Contact with a chemical or harmful substance can also cause irritation and eye damage. Other medical conditions such as dry eye, poor tear production, abnormal eyelash growth, inverted eyelids or eye infections can also result in eye problems and cause permanent damage if not treated.
Eye conditions can be very painful and should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Signs of an eye injury or condition to be aware of include;
- Inability to open eye
- Eye discharge
- Excessive tears / eye weeping
- Rubbing or pawing at the face
- Swelling of the eye or around the eye
- Rapid blinking
- Bloody or bloodshot eyes
- Cloudiness of the eye
- Distorted pupil
- Avoiding bright lights
- General pain or discomfort
If you see any signs of an eye injury you should always take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Some at home first aid steps to keep in mind are;
- If the eye is out of the socket do not try to push it back in.
- If something is penetrating into the eye do not try to remove it, bandage the eye if possible.
- If you think there is a foreign body in the eye, that is not penetrating into the eye, you can try flushing it out with tepid water or by using a damp swab to remove it.
- If the dog’s eye has been exposed to chemicals or irritants flush the eye with running water for at least ten minutes.
- If the eye is swollen or bruised applying a cold compress for ten minutes may help reduce swelling.
- Always try to keep the dog from rubbing the eye (use an elizabethan collar if you have one).
All eye injuries or conditions should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage, blindness or loss of the eye. Penetrating eye injuries or the eye being out of the socket are emergencies and must be treated immediately by a vet.
Originally published in My Pet Magazine Issue 12.
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