Causes can include:
- Uveitis in Cats
I think my dog’s scratched his eye – what should I do?
First things first – get him down to us to check it out! Dogs’ eyes are delicate, and it’s really important that we’re able to treat any injuries quickly…
Why do dogs get scratched eyes?
Any object that is either hard or sharp will scratch the cornea (the front layer of the eye) – grass blades, thorns or brambles, a cat’s claws, etc. As a result, this type of injury is known as a corneal ulcer or corneal laceration. The most common cause is running through thick undergrowth or grass and not blinking quite fast enough! It’s also fairly common for a grass seed, a blade of grass, or even a clump of hair to become trapped underneath the eyelid, causing scratches every time the eyeball moves.
If a dog encounters an aggressive or particularly scared cat, they will often make a swipe with their claws – and may catch the dog’s eyes.
The other big problem is with dogs with protuberant eyes (like Pugs) who cannot extend their eyelids to cover the whole surface of the eye. Inevitably, these dogs are at higher risk of eye injuries!
What are the symptoms of a scratched eye?
The most common signs are:
- Runny eyes
- Redness of the membranes around the eye
- Swollen tissue around the eye
- Milkiness or blueness of the surface of the eye
- Pain and rubbing
- Holding one eye closed
Is there any other condition that can be mixed up with it?
Yes – most commonly dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), where the eye doesn’t produce enough tears as a result, the centre of the cornea dries out and cracks or ulcerates.
What will the vet do?
Firstly, we’ll try and find out how severe the injury is. To do that, we may have to sedate the dog, but usually, we can use local anaesthetic to stop it hurting and allow us to examine the eye. Once we’ve had a really good look at the injury and the rest of the eyeball, we’ll use a special dye called fluorescein – this sticks to damaged corneal cells, showing us how wide and how deep the injury is. We can then decide on the best course of treatment.
What can be done about it?
The vast majority of corneal injuries are fairly minor and respond really well to simple treatment. This usually involves a short course of antibiotic eye drops and some painkillers for a week or so. If by the end of this time the injury is healing but not quite gone, we can usually just extend the treatment for another week or so. The reason we use antibiotics is that it’s usually just the infection in the wound that stops it from healing on its own!
Is there anything else you might do?
Additional drugs and treatments are available to encourage healing, most commonly plasma drops. This is a liquid that is extracted from the dog’s own blood (we’ll take some if we need to!) that is full of pro-healing, anti-infection and anti-wound breakdown chemicals and is applied as an eyedrop. Other options include EDTA drops (which do a similar job) and bandage lenses (soft contact lenses that will protect the eye while it heals).
A really serious laceration of the cornea may require surgery – often a pedicle flap to use part of the lining of the eye as a tissue graft to protect and nourish the injury and allow it to heal.
What if it doesn’t heal in that time?
If the eye doesn’t heal normally, the injury may become an indolent ulcer. In this case, we may perform surgery to encourage healing (such as a grid keratotomy) or use a pedicle flap or graft as above.
It’s very, very unusual to come across a scratched cornea that won’t respond to one or more of the advanced treatments we have available now!
If you think that your dog may have an injured eye, get them to us for a checkup as soon as possible.
WEEKEND: YOUR PETS: Is whippet's eye-rubbing due to an allergy?
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Byline: with PDSA vet Kurt Vandamme
Q. OUR two-year-old whippet has been rubbing its eyes on the floor and furniture two or three times a day for a couple of weeks. His eyes look very healthy and aren't weeping or bloodshot - is this likely to be an allergy? We're planning to take him to the vet in another week or so if he's still doing it, but I wondered if there's anything else we can try?
A. YOU are quite right to take your dog to the vet, as this behaviour can indicate inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis). This is quite a common condition in dogs and can be caused by such things as:
Parasites, such as mange. However, this condition does not usually show itself just as blepharitis. There are usually other signs, such as skin lesions. Bacterial infections. Fungal infections, such as ringworm. Immune mediated diseases, such as pemphigus, a rare disease of the skin and mucous membranes. Allergic reactions to food, atophy or a contact allergy. Atophy is caused by an allergic reaction to something in the environment. The most common allergens include house dust, house dust mites, fungi and pollens. Contact dermatitis is where items such as soaps, detergents, shampoos, topical drugs, plastic, rubber, nylon and other synthetic agents cause the allergic response. Secondary to an eye irritation. Seborrhoea, the abnormal formation of one of the skin layers, causing scaling. Hormonal problems, such as an underactive thyroid.
All eye problems need to be checked immediately so the vet can prescribe treatment.
Q. WHAT should I do if my 18-year-old dog has a fit?
A. IF your dog does have a fit, you would need to do the following:
Keep calm. The fit ends in nearly all cases and the dog does not feel any pain.
Note the time the fit starts. This will help the vet decide the urgency of the condition.
Ensure that the dog cannot damage itself by rolling into fires, furniture with sharp corners or items that could obstruct breathing.
Switch off the TV and radio and any bright lights to keep the room darkened and quiet.
Call your dog's vet for advice.
The vet should always be told the first time that a dog has a fit, to see if treatment is necessary.
Sometimes, if the fits are not happening very often, such as once every couple of months, the dog will not need treatment.
There are many reasons why fits occur. It can be epilepsy, caused by disorganised nerve impulses in the brain, but there are many other reasons.
Viral or bacterial infections. Brain injuries. Brain tumours. Low blood calcium. Low blood glucose. Chronic liver disease. Some poisons. Kidney disease.
If you have a question for the vet, write directly to: Kurt Vandamme, PO Box 5987, Chelmsford CM1 2GP.
Objective: To evaluate the effect of eye rubbing on signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis in cat-sensitive individuals.
Design: Two prospective, nonrandomized comparative studies.
Participants: Thirteen patients in the first study and 20 patients in the second study with a documented history of acute allergic conjunctivitis induced by exposure to cats were enrolled.
Intervention: In the first trial, all patients had one eye rubbed 15 times by the investigator without exposure to airborne allergens. Both eyes were evaluated after 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes using subject questionnaires and slit-lamp examination. At least 1 week later, each patient was exposed to cat dander for 75 minutes 15 minutes after entering the cat room, each patient had one eye rubbed 15 times by the examiner. Subjects' eyes were then evaluated using questionnaires and slit-lamp examination. In the second trial, the visits were identical to the first trial, except that the rubbed eye in each visit was rubbed 20 times and with more force, and that patients wore masks during exposure to cat dander.
Main outcome measures: In both studies, the difference between patients' rubbed and nonrubbed eyes with respect to ocular itching, chemosis, and hyperemia was noted 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes after controlled eye rubbing.
Results: Without exposure to the cat room, rubbed eyes exhibited increased itching at 5 minutes in both studies and at 15 minutes in the second study (P Conclusions: Firm eye rubbing causes a mild and transient increase in ocular itching, chemosis, and hyperemia. However, after exposure to cat allergens in cat-sensitive individuals, the effects of eye rubbing are longer and more dramatic. Eye rubbing may play a role in ocular signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis in cat-sensitive individuals, especially after exposure to cat dander.