Some dogs are much more susceptible to eye injuries than others are. Because dogs have poor sight to begin with, it is common for them to have twigs and sharp objects coming in contact with the delicate parts of their eyes. It isn’t possible for an owner to protect a dog completely from eye injuries, but a regular inspection of the eyes can prevent a small problem from becoming a bigger one.
As far as natural protection for a dog’s eyes, about the only thing they have are their long whiskers which are sensitive to touch.
When a whisker touches something that the dog may not see, the animal instinctively knows that something is there that can cause harm.
When a dog is groomed and given a haircut, it is common for the whiskers to be cut off so that this line of defense against unseen dangers is removed. This is not necessarily the fault of the groomer because it is almost impossible to cut facial fur without cutting the whiskers too, but it does create a hazard for dogs that spend time outdoors and wander into areas with a lot of undergrowth.
Dogs with long snouts are obviously better prepared to avoid eye injuries if the danger comes from the front. Pugs, Boston Terriers, and other dog breeds with similar shaped heads can easily hurt their eyes anytime they go into the woods and underbrush. Not only are their snouts short, but their eyes are oversized leading to more opportunities for accidents.
A daily ritual of checking your dog’s eyes can help avoid complete loss of vision. An examination should be made for ulcerations and redness, as well as to make sure that nothing is caught in the fur near the eyes. Ulcerations will appear as slight scratches on the lens of the eyes. These are painful and may cause the dog to scratch at the irritation, causing even more damage.
At the first sign of ulceration, you should take your dog to the vet. Signs of an ulcer on the eye include squinting, cloudiness, and/or redness. In some cases, there may be discharge coming from the affected eye. The dog will typically be despondent and lethargic because of the discomfort, and you’ll notice an obvious change in your pet’s behavior.
This is an unprotected wound and will allow infection into the eye itself if not addressed promptly. The cornea of the eye has a protective coating called the epithelium, which keeps out germs and bacteria. When it is damaged, it is very important to take proper action to protect the eye quickly.
Your veterinarian will most likely use a stain called fluorescein to make the ulcer more prominent and to properly diagnose the problem. If the vet determines there is a corneal abrasion, infection, or ulcer, a protective salve is usually applied to seal the wound while it heals.
With proper care, a minor eye injury will improve in about a week, but if left unattended, the problem will only get worse. The owner who is not attentive to the needs of his dog may allow an eye problem to advance too far to do anything about, resulting in blindness for the animal.
Watch for the signs of a problem, inspect your dog’s eyes regularly, and take the proper steps if or when a problem does occur. Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog, and your pet relies on you for his care and welfare.