Corneal Ulcer Treatment for Dogs

Corneal ulcer is a condition that may affect dogs of all ages. Chronic ulcers may be more common in middle aged and senior dogs. The ulcers may be caused by injuries, bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Treatment should be applied, as these ulcers may affect the vision of the pet and may also cause blindness. The treatment may contain a few eye drops of topical ointments; surgery may be required in more severe cases.

Causes of Corneal Ulcer

The cornea is the transparent layer that covers the eye and has multiple layers. The cornea may ulcerate due to injuries, the presence of a foreign object (i.e. specks of dust), bacterial, viral or fungal infections.

Any of the corneal layers may be affected by ulcers. The deeper the layer affected, the more painful the condition will be.

Symptoms of Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer will cause a lot of pain in the dog and he may be depressed or lethargic. The cornea has a lot of nerve endings that will make the condition painful.

The dog may also experience ocular discharges, redness, swelling and light sensitivity. You may notice that your pet is squinting or is blinking more frequently. Pawing and rubbing of the affected eye may also be a sign to watch out for.

Corneal Ulcer Treatment

The treatment depends on which layer of the cornea is affected and the cause of the ulcer. If there are complications, the treatment will have to focus on these as well. The vet will prescribe medication to prevent infections, reduce the pain and the swelling and prevent additional damage to the cornea and formation of other scars.

Topical Ointments

If the lesions are minor, topical antibiotics and eye drops will suffice to treat the corneal ulcer.

Should the ulcer have a viral cause, an antiviral ointment may also be administered for up to 2 weeks.

Antifungal creams may also be prescribed, if the ulcers are caused by fungi.


If the pet experiences eye spasms that are associated with the ulcer, atropine will be administered. Atropine is a medication that will dilate pupils and prevent blindness. You should also keep your pet in a room with dim light until the ulcer is healed. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight, as atropine will make the dog more sensitive to light.


When the ulcers affect deeper layers of the cornea, surgery will be necessary to prevent blindness. The vet will establish if the Descemet's membrane of the cornea is affected; if so, surgery is required and the vet will place a protective implant over the ulcer to prevent complications. The implant or the graft may be taken from the conjunctive tissues of the dog’s eyes. When the ulcer shows signs of improvement, the graft can be removed; an additional surgery will be required to do so.

If the Descemet's membrane ruptures, surgery should be performed immediately, as the dog can lose his vision.

Treatment Follow Up

The vet will follow up with the dog after the treatment; certain ulcers may not improve and will require additional treatment such as surgery or excision of certain damaged tissues.