How to Protect Your Pet’s Eyes from Infection & Injury

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There’s nothing sweeter for pet parents than to look into their dog or cat’s eyes and have a special bonding moment.  Imagine then not being able to do this because your pet has an eye infection or injury.  Not only is this painful for your pet, it’s also painful for you to see.  Do you want to keep your pet’s eyes shining bright, and clear from infection and injury?  Our vets Dr. Laura Wiles and Dr. Sasha Naugler say there are a few simple precautions you can take:

To Prevent Pet Eye Injury:

  • Don’t let your dog lean out of the car window.  We know, your dog has the best time hanging out of the car window with her face to the wind.  And who wants to spoil her fun?  But there’s a risk foreign objects such as dirt or stones will blow into her eyes and cause trauma to her corneas.  Play it safe by keeping your pooch secured inside your vehicle.  Or you can try protective dog goggles.  Your pooch may take a little while to get used to wearing them.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when you go out.  If your pooch gets into a fight with another dog, he could end up with his eyelids bruised or torn.  To keep your dog safe, have him on a short leash when you go for walks and stay away from other dogs.  Also look out for (and avoid) pointy sticks and cacti thorns on your walks.
  • Store corrosive household products out of reach of your pets.  Ammonia, bleach and lye. These are a few of the corrosive chemicals found in household cleaning products that can irritate and burn your pet’s eyes.  Either store them on a shelf out of reach of your pet or, better yet, in a locked cupboard.  And don’t forget to do the same for products in your garden and garage as these too pose a deadly danger to pets.  If you suspect your pet has come into contact with any toxic chemicals, seek immediate emergency treatment for them.  
  • Funny dog with sunglasses on summer towards swimming poolProtect their eyes from the sun.  Like us humans, our pet’s eyes need protection from the sun’s harmful rays so they don’t get cataracts.  Top safety tip:  Keep them out of direct sunlight when the sun is strongest (10 am-3 pm, when UVA rays are highest).  If that’s not possible, there are doggie sunglasses and visors that offer 100 percent UV protection.  If your cat is mellow, you could see if he will wear the sunglasses and visor, sized for small dogs.
  • Be alert for self-inflicted eye injuries.  If your pet suffers from allergies, or gets small foreign bodies like dirt or dust in his eyes, they may become irritated.  You’ll see him rubbing his eyes with a paw or leg, or rubbing them on the carpet or furniture.  This can lead to corneal abrasions and ulcers, which are very painful.  It’s important to take your pet to your vet if you see him exhibiting any of these signs.

To Prevent Pet Eye Infections:

  • Keep hair out of your pet’s eyes.  If you have long-haired cats and dogs and their hair grows over their eyes, it can irritate and scratch their corneas.  You’ll need to trim the hair around their eyes to prevent this from happening.  BUT be very careful with the scissors!  Make sure they’re blunt-nosed so if you accidentally touch your pet’s eyes, you won’t nick them.  
  • Don’t ignore tear stains.  When your dog or cat’s tear ducts don’t work properly, they produce excess tears that can cause staining below their eyes.  This provides the perfect home for nasty bacteria and yeast to accumulate and can lead to infections.  You can clean around your pet’s eyes and use a tear-stain remover to help remove the unsightly stains.  But have your vet check your pet’s tear ducts first to make sure they’re not blocked.  
  • Watch out for abnormal eyelash growth.  Inspect your pet’s eyes regularly for in-grown eyelashes and eyelashes sprouting on the top or inside of their eyelid.  If your pet has one of these eyelash disorders, his eyelashes can scratch his cornea, leading to infections and worse.  Definitely a situation where your pooch or kitty will need to visit your vet.

If your pet starts squinting, has a cut on the eye, or has a white or yellow discharge, she needs to see a veterinarian immediately.  Eye problems can progress very rapidly and may lead to loss of sight, loss of the eye and severe pain.  You can find more insights and tips about pet eye health here on our blog here: http://livethepetlife.com/pets-eye-health/.  

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