Cats and dogs don’t have adequate and safe tools and strategies at their disposal to clean their own facial areas, so there are things every owner must do to maintain proper pet eye care. Paws have sharp nails that accumulate bacteria throughout the day, and rubbing their faces into cushions and on floors can pose similar threats. You, as a pet owner, can do much to protect your furry family members from the suffering of infections and loss of sight, or to support them through it.
Pet Eye Care – Maintenance & Prevention
Professionals recommend visiting the vet annually or biannually, making sure your pet receives vaccines, and performing a home health check on your cat or dog on a weekly basis. This last process can include:
- checking the eyes for any of the signs and symptoms listed in the section below
- trimming hair that could scratch the cornea
- thoroughly cleaning tear-stained fur
- wiping away discharge with damp cotton balls
There are additional things you can do to support your pet’s defenses against eye issues. You can administer ointments under the top lid of your pet’s eyes for protection during baths, facial cleanings, and chemical exposures. Use gentle shampoos (which are easier on the eyes), to keep your pet free from particulates and prevent possible irritants. Don’t allow your to pet ride in your car with its head out of the window – while fun for passersby and suspectedly also for your pet – wind, debris, and insects can dry out eyes, cause injury, or inflict infection.
Different breeds of cats and dogs have different predispositions to varying eye ailments. All are susceptible to infections, and aging can also produce some visual impairments. The following are not absolute, but occur for both cats and dogs.
- Glaucoma: the cornea clouds and the eye swells due to increasing pressure from within.
- Cataracts: gray or white discoloration in the lens that impairs vision.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: the layers of the retina slowly break down over time, presenting first in a loss of night vision and leading to blindness.
- Conjunctivitis: the eye lining becomes irritated, red, and swollen, due to allergies, damage, tear duct issues, or other sources, and it also produces discharge.
Signs & Symptoms
When your pet’s eyes are healthy, they are wet and clear, and the linings are pink. If your cat or dog is distressed about their eyes, they may give you a behavioral cue: rubbing their faces on surfaces or pawing at their faces.
A closer look may provide you with any of the following physical cues:
- redness on eyeball or eyelid linings
- whiteness on eyelid linings, swelling
- squinting, excessive amounts of tears
- tear stains around eyes, visible third eyelid
- unequal pupil size, and mucus or crust buildup at the corners of the eyes
Caring While Affected
In the event that your pet displays any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it is important to contact your vet for diagnosis. Treatments and the role you play in them will vary from this point based on the underlying problem. It is also likely that you will be engaging in some upkeep after surgeries, so it is important pay heed to your vet’s explanations!
- Saline (saltwater) eye drops or spreadable ointments can treat some infections.
- A glaucoma drainage implant may be inserted to relieve pressure.
- Cataract surgery involves replacing the impaired lens with an artificial one.
- Conjunctivitis treatments vary based on the underlying reason for infection: drugs and antibiotics for infections and allergies, and surgery for issues like tear-duct malfunctions.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy cannot be definitively cured, but antioxidant supplements may delay degeneration or prevent it if persistently taken from an early time.
Questions? Concerns? Give our Longview Animal Hospital Team a call at (903)-807-0887.
(Remember, starting in January 2018, we will have walk-in availability on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 8am to noon!)