Dog eye injuries are common among pets, especially dogs who are often active outdoors. If your dog has an eye infection, cherry eye, or injury, the severity could range from a simple case that will heal on its own, to a serious problem that might need surgery.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with dog eye injury symptoms and treatment options so you’ll know what you need to do if your dog has a hurt eye.
If your dog has injured its eye, you may notice him or her displaying symptoms of eye injury such as:1
- Twitching or spasming of the eyelid
- Rapid blinking
- Inability to open or close eye
- Tearing, runny eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Pawing at eyes
- Cloudiness or discharge
If you see discharge, this could indicate an infection, such as Conjunctivitis Pink Eye. More serious symptoms might include: bleeding in the eyeball, displacement of the eye within the socket, or any changes in color. These symptoms indicate an emergency situation and call for immediate treatment by a vet. In these cases, it’s important to understand how dog insurance works with emergency clinics.2
Some dog eye injuries and infections aren’t serious and will heal over time on their own.
Any injury that penetrates or perforates the cornea or sclera is a simple injury.3 While it’s still a good idea for your vet to check things out, these types of injuries shouldn’t be a cause for worry.
Other dog eye injuries, however, need to be treated by your vet right away. Injuries that involve the iris, retina, lens, or eyelid are often more serious and complicated. According to South Seattle Veterinary Hospital, emergency situations can include:4
- Cornea injuries: Cornea injuries can be caused in a number of ways, and are very uncomfortable for dogs. These injuries might also lead to infection, which can be dangerous.
- Orbital bone injuries: The orbital bone protects your dog’s eye and face. If it becomes bruised or fractured, this may require pain medicine and/or a cone to lessen the discomfort and keep the eyeball in place.
- Eye leaks: Sometimes, your dog’s eye might leak blood or fluid inside the cornea.
- Hyphema: This is a serious condition where blood pools on the inside of your dog’s eye. Go to the vet immediately if you notice blood in the eye.
- Eyelid injuries: Cuts or swelling in the eyelid need to be treated right away so your dog doesn’t scratch the eye and make it worse.
- Foreign object injuries: If your dog has a foreign object in its eye, don’t try to take it out yourself. You might accidentally make things worse. Have your vet handle the situation.
Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s eye to determine what’s wrong and the severity of the injury. The vet will also ask you about whether you’ve noticed any of the symptoms listed above. If the problem isn’t immediately apparent (such as a foreign object that’s visible in the eye), your vet may do further testing and check your dog’s pupils.
You might need to see a veterinary ophthalmologist for particularly serious or challenging injuries.
Treatment for your dog’s eye will depend on how severe the injury is. Your vet might prescribe eye drops to relieve pain and/or prevent infection. In many cases, your dog will also need to wear a cone collar to prevent him or her from scratching at the eye and making the injury worse.
Serious injuries might need surgery to save your dog’s eyesight. Even if an injury starts out as something simple, it can worsen over time if not treated properly. It’s extremely important to seek the right treatment for any dog eye injury so things don’t get worse.1
Your dog might hurt its eye through rough play with other animals or from objects outside (such as branches sticking out in the woods).
Dogs can also be injured by objects like fireworks, or even by sticking their head out the window in the car. A pebble or insect could hit your dog’s eye and cause a corneal ulcer or even penetrate the eye. The wind hitting your dog’s face can also cause dryness and irritation.