What are the signs that your pet may have an eye problem?
Recognizing that your pet has an eye problem can be tricky in some cases and easier in others. The range of symptoms can be quite variable. Some signs include redness, swelling around the eye, increased discharge or a change in the color of discharge (green or yellow), cloudiness of the eye, squinting or holding the eye closed, rubbing at the eye or rubbing the eye on the floor or other objects, decreased vision or running into objects. Subtle signs can be lethargy, sleeping more and not playing with toys as usual.
If you feel your pet has an eye problem please contact your primary care veterinarian or closest emergency hospital and they will be able to determine if you need to see Dr. Tolar at Bluegrass Veterinary Vision.
My pet recently had surgery, how do I safely clean around their eyes?
Cleaning around the eyes is extremely important. If your pet recently had surgery or you are administering many eye medications there is likely to be a build up of discharge around the eyes. You can clean around the eyes with a warm, wet washcloth or optix care wipes to help dissolve the medication build up. If this build up is allowed to harden and form crusts it can cause significant irritation of the skin which will require oral antibiotics.
My pet just had eye surgery, what should I be watching for that would indicate there is a problem?
There are many types of eye surgery that can be performed but in general if your pet had a surgery on the cornea (the front, clear part of the eye) or cataract surgery you will be watching for redness, squinting, cloudiness or increased discharge or a change in the color of the discharge or vision trouble.
If your pet had eyelid surgery or eye removal you will be watching for signs of infection at the site of the incision. Signs of redness, heat, swelling or discharge can all indicate there is an infection. Usually the day after surgery is when they will have the most swelling but each subsequent day this should decrease and the bruising should go away.
If your pet was prescribed an oral medication please monitor for signs of GI upset. This may include vomiting, diarrhea, or dark tarry stools.
How many eye drops should I administer when I’m medicating my pet?
The eye can only hold 1 eye drop at a time. It doesn’t hurt if you give more but it is just wasting expensive eye medication. The excess eye drop will run down your pets face. When you are giving more than one medication it is important to wait at least 5 minutes between medications otherwise the last drop will wash the first one away.
What tricks can you give me to administer eye medications to my pet?
The best way to administer eye drops to a small pet (dog or cat) is to put them on a slippery surface like the washer or dryer or table top. With your non dominant hand elevate their head and tilt their nose to the ceiling. With your dominant hand holding the eye drop solution you can administer the medication from above. In some cases you can use the heel of your hand to pull back on the skin on their head which will in turn elevate the upper eyelid enough to allow an eye drop to be administered.
The best way to administer eye drops to a large dog is to have them sit and with the non dominant hand elevate their head so their nose is pointed at the ceiling. With your dominant hand holding the eye drop solution you can administer an eye drop from above. If you have a large dog and they are being difficult or wiggly to give medications to you can have them sit in a corner. Stand over the top of their back facing the same direction they are and with your non dominant hand pull their head up so their nose is pointed to the ceiling. With your dominant hand you will be able to administer the medications.
The best way to administer ointment is to either use a gloved or clean finger and apply the ointment to the finger and use the finger to place the ointment on the edge of the upper or lower eyelid. I recommend using a tiny amount of ointment (2-3mm) so it is not wasted. You can also administer the medication directly from the tube. In some cases keeping the medication in the refrigerator will prevent it from coming out too quickly. Please see this video.
How do I live with a blind pet?
Living with a blind pet is not as daunting as you may imagine. Despite the fear and anxiety you have about having a blind pet they navigate the world better than you would expect. Animals are much more adaptable than people and use their other senses like hearing and smell more than we do. When animals loose vision suddenly there is a significant adjustment period. You may notice that they are bumping into things and they may be scared to even move. You can support them through this adjustment period by keeping their routine the same. Keep their food in the same place, don’t move the furniture, use new verbal cues like “watch out” or “wait” to let them know they are approaching something, and restrict access to heights, water and the road. When animals loose vision slowly most people don’t even recognize that their pet is blind because they cope so well. It isn’t until they are taken to a different environment that the blindness is even noticed.
Blindtails is a wonderful website with stories from other individuals with blind pets and how they cope. There are also books available; “Living with Blind Dogs: A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low-Vision Dogs” and “Blind Dog Stories: Tales of Triumph, Humor, and Heroism.”