Corneal Ulcer in Dogs

The outer cells of your pet's eyes are very sensitive, and damage to these cells may lead to your dog developing a corneal ulcer. Corneal ulcers can affect virtually any dog, although dog breeds that have larger eyes or eyes that tend to protrude from their skulls more will tend to be more at risk for developing this condition. Left untreated, a corneal ulcer may cause your dog to suffer from permanent vision loss or other damage. Read on for a brief overview of this condition, as well as how to recognize and treat it when it affects your pet.

Corneal Ulcer Causes

There are many potential causes of corneal ulcers in dogs. If an eyelash or another small object should get caught in your pet's eye, your dog may not be able to remove it. The subsequent damage of this object, as well as the damage caused by your pet rubbing at his eye, may lead to corneal ulceration. Your pet may also develop this condition if he doesn't have an object get into his eye directly; it's possible for smoke, airborne chemicals and other substances to cause damage to the cornea as well. Finally, cornea ulcers may come about as a secondary result of another condition, such as improperly functioning tear ducts.

Symptoms of Corneal Ulcers

Some of the most common symptoms of corneal ulcers include the following:

  • Bleeding or other discharge from the eye
  • Crusting or buildup of material around the eye
  • Squinting or frequent blinking
  • Rubbing at the eye
  • Redness and irritation in the eye or around it

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important that you take your dog in to the vet quickly in order to avoid the condition getting worse. While corneal ulcers may heal on their own, it's important also that you prevent your pet's behavior from making the condition worse, and that you ensure that you are protecting your dog against any potential substances or items which may make the ulcer more painful.

Diagnosing and Treating Corneal Ulcers

In order to diagnose a corneal ulcer, your vet will base his examination primarily on a physical analysis of your pet's eyes. He will carefully review any symptoms that you suggest that your dog has been suffering from and will use those as a basis for determining the nature of your pet's condition. In some cases, your vet may use a harmless stain to color your pet's cornea temporarily in order to watch for deterioration.

Treatment of the ulcer typically involves an antibiotic component, which is designed to help prevent infection of the eye. Additionally, you will likely need to give your pet a conical collar to prevent him from rubbing at his eye. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct for ulcers that develop and advance rapidly. For more information about treatment, consult with your vet regarding your pet's specific corneal ulcer issue, as each case is somewhat different.