Diagnosing eye problems in your pet
One of the most common online questions I get is about various eye complaints that may be bothering a dog or cat. Many animal guardians will write or call to say their pet has squinty, itchy, red eyes, with often thick or runny eye discharge, and sometimes little growths around the eyes. While I can often more confidently make at-home suggestions for other common problems like skin or digestive tract issues, it is often difficult to accurately suggest at home eye treatments for animal guardians without a proper veterinary exam and consultation first.
Corneal abrasions and/or ulcers are amongst the most common conditions seen, especially in the brachiocephalic breeds like Shih Tzus, Pugs, and Boston Terriers which can result in many of the common symptoms mentioned here. In cats, viral infections such as feline rhinotracheitis or feline herpes virus are commonly involved with eye symptoms, as well as upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and nose and eye discharge. Corneal ulcers need immediate and emergency veterinary care, as if not treated quickly and urgently, some ulcers will spread rapidly and even involve deeper structures of the eye, resulting in what is sometimes known as a melting corneal ulcer or descemetocele.
Early treatment for most corneal ulcers with topical antibiotics, antiviral medications, or topical antispasmodic medications such as Atropine can be resolved fairly easily. However, deeper ulcers and/or those that don’t respond well to early medical treatment sometimes need surgical therapy. Red eyes can also be a sign of glaucoma in a pet or even deeper middle eye or retinal problems, which if not treated quickly can result in blindness. It is for these reasons that if any animal guardian writes or calls me with questions surrounding an eye problem in their pet, that I always recommend an immediate veterinary exam for proper diagnosis and the best possible treatment outcome.