Pets are extended members of the family, and ensuring their health and happiness is a duty pet lovers have taken to heart. A dog's happiness goes hand in hand with their overall health. A common health concern of dog owners is eye conditions that may profoundly affect the quality of life of their furry loved ones.
Dog eye drops come in different types, each uniquely formulated for different uses. Some eye drops provide lubrication, while others treat eye conditions varying from benign to debilitating. Depending on the situation, the dog eye drops can be purchased over-the-counter or need a prescription.
This article will take a thorough look at how the different dog eye drops can improve the quality of life for dogs living with acute or chronic eye conditions and how to choose the right eyedrop specific to your dog's needs.
Types of Dog Eye Drops
Understanding the role of the different eye drops is vital in the proper treatment of your dog's eye condition. Applying the wrong eye drop is not only ineffective, but it may also even cause additional harm to your dog. Buying the wrong eyedrop is a waste of money as well as a waste of time.
Some conditions, such as canine glaucoma, are time-critical and need to be treated as early as possible from the onset of symptoms because symptoms usually manifest when the optic nerve has already been damaged.
When you apply the wrong treatment, you’ll lose precious time in the race to prevent further damage. When the proper treatment is started, irreversible damage may have already been inflicted, making the condition's progress even more challenging to reverse.
Knowing what kinds of eye drops are available can help you pick the right one for your dog’s problem.
Antibacterial Eye Drops
Antibacterial eye drops help deter the growth of bacteria. So if your dog's eyes are exposed to a contaminant or irritant that impairs its protective layer, an antibacterial eye drop may help prevent bacterial growth and stop the infection from developing.
Antibiotic Eye Drops
Antibiotic eye drops are used for treating infection. Both antibacterials and antibiotics fall under the general category of compounds called antimicrobials which kill and inhibit the growth of pathogens.
Antibacterials, however, target only bacteria, whereas antibiotics kill and inhibit other microbes such as fungi and parasites. A commonly prescribed antibiotic eye drop is Ciprofloxacin, which can be used to treat conditions such as canine conjunctivitis or keratitis.
Steroidal Eye Drops
Steroidal eye drops are prescribed for infections and severe allergies. They treat infection or allergies by addressing the resulting inflammation noted in both conditions. Reducing inflammation may relieve some of your dog's discomfort and distress and prevent it from scratching or pawing on its eyes which can cause further irritation.
Treatment Drops for Canine Glaucoma
An eye drop indicated for canine glaucoma is dorzolamide. Dorzolamide works by blocking an enzyme involved in producing aqueous humour (the fluid in the front part of the eye). The reduced production of this fluid decreases eye pressure, which aids in preventing further damage to the optic nerve and retina.
Saline drops are used to remove debris or crustiness in your dog's eyes to prevent irritation or infection. Keeping your dog's eyes clear of gunk that tends to build up occasionally can go a long way in ensuring your dog's eye health. Saline washes may also be applied for mild allergies; however, they are ineffective for redness, dryness, or other complex conditions. Saline drops are available over-the-counter.
Antihistamine Eye Drops
Antihistamine eye drops treat allergies of the eye that may be caused by a wide variety of allergens found in the environment, the household, or even in your dog's grooming and hygiene products. Antihistamine eye drops can reduce eye redness, itching, and watery eyes.
Therapeutic Eye Drops
Other therapeutic eye drops are available on the market that addresses certain conditions, such as canine cataracts. Some eye drops are applied in the prophylaxis of cataract development by breaking down the glycoproteins, which give rise to cataract formation. An excellent example of this is our Advanced Lanosterol + NAC Therapeutic Eye Drops.
Conditions Commonly Treated With Eye Drops
Eye Drops are indicated for various conditions. Having a basic understanding of the conditions that require eye drops can guide you in caring for your dog and help you avoid the risks associated with incorrect eye drop usage.
Glaucoma is a painful condition characterized by increased ocular pressure that results from poor fluid drainage. Glaucoma progresses quickly and can cause permanent nerve and retinal damage in affected dogs.
Early treatment with the prescribed eye drops can slow the condition's progress by reducing the increased ocular pressure that wreaks havoc on the nerves and retina. Do not attempt home management for this condition and take your pet to the vet.
Canine conjunctivitis, also called "pink eye," is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the soft tissue lining the inner eyelids, and the white portion of the eye and can affect both eyes. There are three types of conjunctivitis:
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection that is contagious to other dogs.
- Viral conjunctivitis is also very easily spread as a virus causes it. It may take up to three weeks for your dog to fully recover from the infection.
- Allergic conjunctivitis is seasonal and not contagious to other dogs.
It’s crucial to obtain a proper diagnosis as the eye drops needed for your dog will depend on the type of conjunctivitis. Bacterial or viral conjunctivitis will require antibiotics or steroidal eye drops. In contrast, allergic conjunctivitis will need antihistamine eye drops and perhaps a saline wash if the allergy is mild.
Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, the part of the eye that focuses light and serves as a filter of UV rays. It’s a transparent dome covering the pupil, iris, and anterior chamber.
Keratitis may be caused by injury or infection, both bacterial and fungal. Genetics is also a factor as some breeds are more susceptible to developing keratitis.
Eye Drop treatment will depend on the cause of the keratitis. But steroidal eye drops are usually prescribed regardless of the cause as they address the inflammation whether it results from injury or infection.
If the keratitis is infectious such as bacterial, viral, or even fungal, antibiotic eye drops are indicated to address the infection. You can also use Saline washes to rinse away any discharges from your dog's eyes.
Dogs have a third eyelid known as the "nictitating membrane." A cherry eye appears as a red bump protruding out of the inner corner of a dog's eye. This red bump is a prolapsed gland of the third eyelid. Tissue fibers typically keep this tear gland in place. Some dogs have weaker fibers, causing the gland to pop out of place.
Cherry eyes may occur in any breed. It may affect one eye or both. Smaller breeds are known to be more susceptible to developing cherry eye.
The aggressive appearance of the red bump can be alarming to most dog owners, but it’s usually a painless bump. It may become inflamed or infected if your dog scratches or paws at it.
Cherry eye may sometimes require a simple surgical procedure that involves the suturing of the prolapsed gland back into place. Some vets don’t offer surgical intervention right off the bat as some cherry eyes simply pop back into position or can be massaged into place.
In the meantime, the vet may advise using saline washes to keep the eye lubricated. The red bump may prevent complete closure of the eyelid and may even interfere with blinking, leading to drying. Saline washes ensure that the affected eye stays lubricated and clear of debris.
If the bump has gotten irritated by your dog's constant scratching or pawing, he may also prescribe steroidal or antibacterial eye drops. If your vet decides that surgery is the best intervention, he may prescribe steroidal eye drops to stay on top of any post-surgical inflammation. Antibacterial drops may be continued for a time to prevent future issues.
Your dog may sustain physical trauma that will cause varying degrees of injury. If the injury affects the eyes, the vet may order any or a combination of different eye drops. If wounds are present, the vet may prescribe antibacterial or antibiotic eye drops along with steroidal eye drops to reduce inflammation.
In some instances, trauma may cause secondary glaucoma. In that case, the eye drops used for primary glaucoma are prescribed because they reduce intraocular pressure to prevent damage to nerves and the retina.
Infections may arise from bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic invasion of the eye tissues. These are usually treated with antibiotic eye drops as well as oral antibiotics. As already mentioned, the vet may prescribe steroidal eye drops for severe infections. Saline eye drops may also be used to flush discharges that may arise from infection.
Cataracts usually appear with aging, but they can also be hereditary and occur as early as birth. Other factors that affect cataract formation are diabetes or retinal disease.
Canine cataracts are characterized by a cloudy film that covers the eye's lens. This film develops when proteins, particularly glycoproteins, start clumping together. It may or may not cause blindness, depending on the underlying cause of the cataract.
Age-related cataracts are usually due to the depletion of lanosterol, a naturally produced chemical compound in animals. Lanosterol clears cloudiness by breaking down the glycoproteins that form the cataract. Lanosterol production decreases as dog's age.
An eyedrop such as our Advanced Lanosterol + NAC Therapeutic Eye Drops helps combat cataracts by supplementing this decrease in lanosterol. It also contains N-Acetylcarnosine, a powerful antioxidant that mitigates the oxidative stress caused by cataracts.
Assessing Your Dog's Eyes
The condition of your dog's eyes can tell you a lot about your dog's overall health. Eye conditions are often predictors of a more serious health problem. Being able to identify eye-related abnormalities in your dog could mean the difference between timely treatment and further complications.
Listed below are steps on how to assess your dog's eyes at home:
- Prepare for your assessment. You should have everything you need at hand to avoid looking for them in the middle of the evaluation. You may need antibacterial wipes (some are available for pets) and a saline eye drop. Perform your assessment in a well-lit room or area of the house.
- If this is your first attempt at assessing your dog, prepare your dog physically and emotionally for the process. Sit with it for a while and pet it on the head to put it at ease. When you begin your assessment, cup your dog's head in your hands and gently tilt it back, tucking back any hair with your thumbs.
- Check for abnormalities in color. Your first step is to check for any discoloration and cloudiness. Healthy eyes should be clear. The white part of the eye surrounding the pupil should be white. There should be no yellow tinge in this area. Also, watch out for redness. Using your thumb, gently roll down your dog's lower eyelid to get a better view of the conjunctiva and make sure it’s pink, not red or white.
- Check for asymmetry. Your dog's eyes should be relatively symmetrical. Any asymmetry that’s not congenital may be a sign of a developing condition. Any bumps around the eye area should also be noted and reported to your vet for further evaluation. Pupils should also be equal in size.
- Check for discharges. If you notice runny eyes or discharges, an irritant may have gotten into your dog's eye. If the irritant is visible, flush it with the saline drop. Use antibacterial wipes to remove any crustiness and gunk at the corner of the eyes. If you notice a steady build-up of gunk or crustiness around your dog's eye, it's time to consider a visit to your vet.
- Observe your dog's behavior. Sometimes the first indicator that not all is well with your dog's eyes is its behavior. Before the appearance of any redness, runny eyes, or swelling, you might notice your dog constantly scratching and pawing at its eyes. When you observe this behavior, perform an assessment and bring your dog to the vet if you find anything out of the ordinary.
Applying Eye Drops to Your Dog’s Eyes
If the vet has prescribed eye drops for your dog, you might find it more challenging than you first imagined. Dogs of different breeds have different temperaments, so dog owners will have varying degrees of difficulty in applying the drops. Consider having an assistant when using eye drops to your dog's eyes.
Here are some things to consider when applying eye drops to your dog's eyes:
Always begin with clean hands. If your dog needs eye drops, the chances are it's because of an existing allergy or infection. Unwashed hands may be carriers of allergens or contaminants that worsen your dog's infection. Simply wash your hands with water and soap and use a hand sanitizer to be on the safe side.
Clean Area Around the Eyes
It’s important to clean around the dog's eyes before applying the eye drops. In the struggle that might ensue to get your dog to cooperate, you may end up pushing any dirt or debris around the eye area into the eye. Applying eye drops to dirty eyes is also counterproductive. It makes little sense to treat eyes without first removing what might be causing any infection.
The chances are the vet gave the first application of eye drops during your visit so that they could demonstrate to you how to do it at home. Your dog's reaction to the next application will depend mainly on how its first experience with the eyedrops went. If your dog had an unpleasant experience, it might become uncooperative in later applications of the eyedrop.
Put your dog at ease by speaking reassuringly to it. It may not be able to understand your words, but it can understand the sound and tone of your voice. Ask for the help of someone else the dog trusts. Please don’t attempt to catch your dog off guard and muscle it into receiving the eyedrop; this will only make the experience more traumatic and make your dog even less cooperative.
Apply the eye drops as ordered by the vet or as instructed in the drug leaflet. Some doses require two drops, while one is enough for others. Depending on the reason the eye drops are needed in the first place, you may need to apply the eyedrop on only one eye. In some cases, the vet might order the drops for both eyes even though only one is visibly affected.
Treating the other eye may be a preventive measure for the unaffected eye because infections are easily spread from one eye to the other. After applying the medication, reassure your dog again and give it a treat if you think it will help inspire cooperation on the following application.
Caring for Your Dog’s Eye Health
Apart from the eye drops you give your dog to prevent infection, there are other things you could do to ensure that your dog's eye health stays at optimum. Here are some good eye care practices to follow:
The cause of infection in breeds with long hair is often their own hair. Your pet's long hair should be trimmed to keep it out of the eyes. If you can’t groom your dog yourself, take your pet to a trusted groomer for regular grooming appointments. If grooming is something you prefer to do at home, make sure to use rounded scissors. A simple doggy haircut can go a long way in keeping eye infections away.
Perform regular eye assessments as described earlier in the article. Being consistent in doing these assessments of your dog's eyes will enable you to spot any changes that might warrant a visit to the vet right away. Making a habit of this assessment will also turn it into a time to bond with your dog.
Keeping your dog groomed is not enough. You have to give your dog regular baths. The frequency of your dog's bath should depend on how quickly it gets dirty. Some breeds seem more prone to getting themselves dirty than others. Good hygiene ensures that your dog is free of opportunistic pathogens that might find entry through the skin or the eye or mouth membranes.
Regular Veterinary Visits
Regular visits to the vet are essential, especially for dogs with a history of getting sick. Your dog doesn't have to be visibly ill to see the vet, as your vet might be able to find something that escaped your notice despite your best efforts. Keep your dog's vaccinations up to date. Some viral and bacterial infections can lead to blindness, and vaccinating your dog can protect against these issues.
While taking your dog to the vet, you may want to consider getting your dog a superior quality car seat so that your vet visit doesn't end with you vacuuming your dog's hair, scrubbing odor, and wiping up liquid stains off your car's interior. Plush Paws doesn't only offer one of the most highly effective therapeutic eye drops; we also provide car seats for dogs made from high-quality premium materials that are easy to install and come with a lifetime warranty.
Your dog's health and happiness are of utmost importance, and you want to provide only the best for your dog. Knowing that a product was made with your dog's health and happiness in mind by kindred dog lovers is reassuring in a market saturated with substandard pet products.
That is the promise of Plush Paws. Browse our selection of quality products today, all aimed at keeping your dog healthy and happy.
- All About Vision: What Eye Drops Are Used for Dogs?
- Under The Weather Pet: Focus In On Your Dog's Eye Health
- Today's Veterinary Practice: Acute Glaucoma: A True Emergency
- Small Door Veterinary: Conjunctivitis in Dogs
- Wag Walking: Keratitis in Dogs
- The Spruce Pets: Cherry Eye in Dogs
- Fetch by WebMD: Cataracts in Dogs
- VCA Animal Hospital: Applying Eye Drops in Dogs