Eye conditions

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There are many eye conditions that your dog can get, and you will often notice that there is something wrong with the eye. It may be that they are starting to rub at the eye. There may be discharge, redness, or they may be half closing their eye and so you will not always know exactly what has happened, but normally your dog is going to tell you that they are unhappy or uncomfortable with something going on in their eye. At different times of the year, you can sometimes guess what might have happened. So if they are squinting in the summer and the eyelid looks inflamed, sore or swollen, it is possible that they have got a grass seed or something like that in there.

Dogs will often tell you when they are unhappy with something in their eye. It might be that they rub at the eye, they may just get their head on the floor and rub the side of their heads and their eye on the ground. They may have the eye partly closed. Sometimes it does not look as shiny as it should. But it is really important to get all eye conditions checked out because there are some things where they do need quite urgent attention in order to make sure they do not get any worse.

What you can do as a first-aider is assess the eye and see if you feel like it is getting any better or worse and you can quite safely clean eyes just with some cool water, with some cotton wool or a flannel of some kind you can clean away discharge that will not cause any damage to the eye, as long as the dog is happy with you doing that.

The type of conditions that most commonly happen would be conjunctivitis. This is where you get inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue on the inside of the eyelid and this can happen in response to an allergy or something being in the eye or an infection. They will often squint with that or they may just get a crusty or thick discharge at the corner of the eye.

The other condition that dogs will get will be a corneal ulcer. Now these are an emergency. Corneal ulcers are normally very painful for the dog and so they will show some sign of discomfort, whether it be closing the eye or rubbing as is. There may not be any discharge, the eye may look red and sometimes you can see a little bit of cloudiness on the front of the cornea and that can indicate that there is an ulcer there. Sometimes you will actually see the ulcer or the scratch that has caused it. Either way, you should get your pet seen immediately by the vets because ulcers can get worse quite quickly and they therefore, become very painful. In extreme situations, dogs can even lose their eye with an ulcer.

The other thing that happens are cataracts, and these are quite common in older dogs. This is just generation of the lens of the eye and it can look like a white coloration or discoloration within the eye. Cataracts are not necessarily painful and they do not really bother dogs that much. You sometimes find when it is a little bit dim, when the lighting is low or at nighttime, that they are not able to adjudge or assess where they are going quite as well. And we do sometimes hear that dogs will occasionally trip when the lighting is not very good, but actually it does not appear to bother them too much.

The other cause of cataracts would be diabetes and these would be quite sudden in onset and they would develop quite quickly. These ones, when they become fully mature cataracts can affect the eyesight and if it is something that is caused by diabetes, then it should be acted on quite quickly. They would normally have other symptoms with this so be worth just discussing that with your vet.