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Common Problems with Pet Eyes

“Looking” Out for Eye Problems in Pets

Like humans, pets are susceptible to a variety of conditions that affect their eyes.  The more you know about these conditions, the better. It is important that pet owners are educated about them and the proper treatment. 


  • Emergency Eye Care

If your pet requires emergency care for its eyes, be sure to keep it calm while transporting it to the veterinarian.  Do not feed your pet or give it anything to drink because it may need to receive an anaesthetic.  You can, however, help soothe your pet’s eye by placing a moist tea bag or cloth over the eye.  This will help decrease the swelling.

You also should carry your pet once you arrive at the veterinarian’s office.  If this is not possible, then be sure to lead it.  A pet with an injured or problematic eye will have a difficult time maneuvering around curbs and avoiding obstacles.  Also, be aware that your pet is most likely frightened.  It might snap at you or even bite you.  Try to be careful when removing your pet to keep it as comfortable as possible in order to prevent this from occurring.

  • Red Eye

Red eyes in pets are most often caused by an inflammation of the eyelids or in the eye itself.  The more quickly the condition develops, the more serious the problem generally is.  Red eye that develops slowly can also be serious, but it most likely does not require emergency treatment. 

In some cases, red eye is simply a side effect of allergies.  In this case, the swelling is in the conjuctiva, which is the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye and the inside of the eyelids.  This condition is referred to as conjunctivitis.  In this case, adding Omega 3 fatty acids to your pet’s diet may help to reduce the reaction to allergies.  Your veterinarian may also recommend special drops to help clear the red eye.

  • Different Sized Pupils

If one of your pet’s pupils suddenly becomes smaller or larger than the other, this is a serious problem and needs to be treated as an emergency.  Your veterinarian will first determine if one eye is abnormally large or small.  He or she will then run some tests on your pet’s eyes to measure eyeball pressure.  Possible causes of this problem are old age, cancer, infection, trauma, inflammation, and reaction to drugs.

  • Blindness

Blindness can occur in pets in several ways.  It can also develop slowly in a pet.  Symptoms that your pet is going blind include cloudy corneas, painful eyes, red eyes, and swelling.  Possible causes include brain tumor, retinal detachment, poorly regulated diabetes, trauma, high blood pressure, loss of blood flow to the brain, and cataracts.  Cataracts tend to form slowly and can be removed.  After your pet undergoes cataract surgery, you can use acular eye drops such as Ketorolac to reduce the swelling.  Glaucoma can also lead to blindness in a pet.  Timoptic eye drops and Trusopt eye drops can help treat this eye problem.

  • Lacerations

When the eye becomes lacerated, or cut, the inner eye structures can become damaged.  Whether the damage is limited to just the outer surfaces (such as the cornea and sclera) or to the inner structures (such as the pupil, retina, and iris) the damage can be painful to your pet.  Lacerations to the eye require emergency treatment in order to ease the pain and prevent further damage from occurring.

  • Tearing

It is normal for your pet’s eyes to tear a little.  When this happens suddenly or profusely, however, it is a sign of a more serious problem.  Sometimes, foreign bodies become wedged under the eyelids.  If this occurs, they can cause damage to the cornea.  Sometimes, foreign bodies also get caught in the tear duct.  This blocks the normal flow and causes the tears to run down your pet’s face.  Lacerations of the cornea, infection, and some forms of cancer can also cause your pet’s eyes to tear.  If your pet’s eyes become red and the tearing lasts longer than a few minutes, you should take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. 

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