but they are also delicate organs susceptible to various eye diseases and injury. Preventative care is important to protecting your dogâ€™s eyes from numerous ailments.
CLEANING THE EYES
Like the human eye, a dogâ€™s eye tears to lubricate and washout the eye. Sometimes dust, smoke, and debris can find its way into your petâ€™s eye causing an increase in tear production. When this happens in excess it can cause an unattractive stain or discharge to form around the eye. A good habit is to gently clean around your dogâ€™s eye on a daily basis to eliminate the stubborn stain or discharge and prevent further infection. Use a soft damp cloth or cotton ball when cleaning around the eye and take care not to scratch the eyeball. There are safe stain-removing products you can purchase at your local pet store or veterinary clinic as well.
If you notice debris or another foreign object in your petâ€™s eye, carefully flush with water to wash out the object and follow up with your vet to make sure scratching or abrasion did not occur.
For certain diseases and injuries, medications will be prescribed. These usually come in the form of an ointment or drops. When applying ointments, you should wash hands thoroughly before application to rid any residue or contaminates that could cause increased problems. If you have gloves, use them. Using your finger to apply the medication works best and can eliminate further objects from entering the eye that could come from cotton balls or cotton swabs. Always follow strict application instructions. Make sure to wash your hands afterward. And try to prevent your dog from wiping or rubbing the treated area.
Hair around the eyes is not only a visual obstruction to your dog, but makes your dog prone to scratches or abrasion on the eye as well as other eye infections. Some good preventative grooming tips is to keep the hair around the eyes clipped or tied. Be extremely careful when trimming the hair around the eyes. Have someone to help the dog stay immobile and calm. If you donâ€™t feel comfortable trimming the hair yourself, make a grooming appointment as soon as possible.
Do you prefer tying the hair? There are cute dog hair accessories such as ribbons, bands, or clips to choose from. However, these hair accessories might agitate your pet and defeat the purpose of keeping the hair out of the eyes.
COMMON EYE PROBLEMS
To effectively maintain a healthy vision in your dog, you should be aware of common eye problems. These problems should alert your immediate attention to prevent a more serious issue and possible vision loss.
The most common symptoms of onset eye problems are discharge, squinting, redness, and cloudiness. And if your dog seems disoriented with his surroundings by bumping into objects, this may be an indication of vision loss.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the sclera, or the white part of the eye, and the membrane that lines the eyelid. Typical causes include scratches, eye irritants such as smoke and dust, or infection. This can be cured with prescribed ointment or drops.
Dry eye is caused by the decrease in natural tear production and lubrication to keep the eye-clean. This condition often increases the risk of infection and may require prescribed medications to prevent continued eye problems.
Cherry eye is where the third eyelidâ€™s tear gland protrudes. It appears as a bright, red bulge in the corner of the dogâ€™s eye. This protrusion can be removed surgically; however, veterinarians will usually avoid surgery since it causes decreased tear production in the eye afterward. If surgery is not an option, you can care for a cherry eye by keeping the area clean and applying ointments or drops.
Entropion is a congenital defect found in dogs with excessive skin and deep facial wrinkles such as the characteristics of the Shar-Pei. This causes the eyelids to either invert causing scratching on the cornea or extrude causing a decrease in eye lubrication but further infection. A recommendation may be to surgically have the excess skin removed.
Cornea damage usually occurs from scratches, abrasions, or foreign objects that find their way into the dogâ€™s eyes. This is quite common in breeds that have bulging eyes like the Pekinese. This type of damage can be effectively treated with prescribed medications.
Damage to the lens of the eye can be attributed to cataracts. Cataracts can occur with any aging dog but have a hereditary factor in specific breeds as well. Be aware that normal aging can cause the same cloudy-eye effect, so it is best to get a veterinary diagnosis.
Other eye diseases, which can lead to blindness or total eye removal, are Glaucoma and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). These diseases are usually hereditary diseases of the eye and need veterinary attention.
FURTHER PREVENTATIVE CARE
Though most eye disease or injury requires veterinary care and diagnosis, there are preventative measures you can take to help keep your dogâ€™s eyes healthy.
1. Always the eye area clean.
2. Check your dogâ€™s eyes on a regular basis, paying close attention to possible signs of an eye infection.
3. Make sure to schedule and keep annual veterinary eye exams for your dog, especially for an aging pet.
4. Always keep your dog's head inside a moving vehicle to prevent foreign object intrusion, scratches, or abrasions from happening.
5. By the advisement of your vet, consider alternatives, such as surgery, for breeds that have excess skin and wrinkles that can hinder vision and cause eye disease.
6. You may want to reconsider that adorable breed of dog that has hereditary eye problems such as cataracts, Glaucoma, or PRA. Genetically predisposed breeds include Cocker Spaniels, Chows, Poodles, Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Schnauzers, and some Hounds.
7. Do not breed your pet unless you can be sure both it and the dogâ€™s parents donâ€™t have an inherited eye disorder. Before you consider breeding, make sure you have a thorough knowledge of the genetic eye disorders it might be predisposed toward.
8. Always follow strict instructions when applying medications to the eye and surrounding area.
Also, there are safe eye products for daily use to clean and maintain your dogâ€™s eyes. You can find and purchase these products at local pet stores, veterinarian clinics, or even on the Internet.
CARING FOR THE BLIND PET
Though you take precautions in preventing eye problems in your dog, blindness may occur. Remember, your pet still has the capabilities of having a normal, functional life with your care. If blindness does occur, maintain a stable environment for your pet by making minimal furniture rearrangements and monitoring your dogâ€™s outdoor activities. You will notice your pet will respond easily to gentle commands and rely on his other senses. And continue to clean and maintain the eye area for appearance sake.
In closure, keeping your dogâ€™s eyes healthy takes common sense and alertness. With appropriate care, most eye problems can be prevented and save in costly visits to your vet and prescribed medications.