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Ulcers in a dog’s eyes


Surely if you have a dog you have already noticed that these animals are prone to eye problems. The ulcers in the eyes of a dog is one of these problems that can become complicated if not treated in time. Since, in addition to causing a lot of pain, they can lead to an infection that, in the worst case, can cause the loss of the affected eye.

If you want to know what are the most common causes of ulcers in a dog’s eyes and how to detect them in time, take note of what we tell you here from Las Almenas.


How are ulcers in a dog’s eyes?

An ulcer is a wound that can appear in different parts of the body and that if left untreated can become infected. In the case of ulcers in a dog’s eyes, we are talking about those that appear in the cornea.

The cornea is one of the most sensitive tissues in the body. It is totally transparent and therefore has no blood vessels. As it does not have blood vessels, its healing, in case of any injury, is different from that of other tissues. However, it does have multiple nerve endings, so in case of any abnormality the dog will feel a lot of pain.

The cornea is, therefore, the outermost structure of the eyeball and is made up of several layers, the epithelium being the outermost layer in charge of protecting the rest of the cornea from infection. Since the cornea is the first protective barrier of the eye, it is not difficult for a scratch, rubbing or abrasion against an object to cause damage.

When the epithelium is damaged, a superficial corneal ulcer is produced. But if the lesion deepens towards the innermost layers of the cornea, the prognosis worsens and perforation of the eyeball may occur.

As we have said, these wounds or ulcers in a dog’s eyes are very painful, so it is necessary to go to the veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid corneal perforation and endanger the sight of the affected eye.


Types of corneal ulcers in dogs

Eye ulcers in dogs can be of several types:

  • Superficial ulcers.

These are the most common. They are caused by rubbing, scratches or small trauma to the eye, such as rubbing against a spike or a leaf when running. They can also appear if the dog has dry eye disease.

Corneal ulcers should always heal as quickly as possible. Within a week, with antibiotic eye drops, it will have healed. However, if improvement is not achieved after a week of treatment, it is advisable to consult the veterinary ophthalmologist again.

  • Torpid ulcers

They are those ulcers in the eyes of a dog that has a defect in the epithelium of congenital origin, that is to say, that has inherited it. This is something that happens in certain breeds such as the Boxer or the French and English bulldog. In fact, this pathology is also known as Boxer ulcer. In general, these are dogs with bulging eyes that predispose to have this type of corneal ulcers.

These ulcers are characterized by their slow healing and sometimes require a small surgical intervention to heal the wound.

  • Infectious ulcers

If the ulcer is caused by an inflammation of the conjunctiva or cornea, we speak of infectious ulcers.

Protozoa, fungi, ocular canine leishmaniasis and viruses are the main causes of this type of infectious ulcers.

These ulcers in a dog’s eyes require more complex veterinary treatment in order to prevent vision loss and corneal scarring.



Symptoms of corneal ulcers in dogs

Although ulcers in a dog’s eyes pose a threat to his vision and quality of life, most heal without problems if detected early. To do this, you will need to look not only at the pain your furry friend may feel, but also at the following symptoms:

  • Bad vision.
  • Watery and red eyes.
  • Squinting or winking eyes.
  • Sometimes they show squinted eyes.
  • Excessive blinking.
  • Frequent scratching.
  • Photophobia or excessive sensitivity to light.


Is corneal ulcer in dogs contagious?

Considering the nature of corneal ulcers, this condition is not considered contagious, neither to humans nor to other dogs. Although it is true that many times the symptoms of corneal ulcer are confused with the symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis, a condition that is contagious, both for people and for other pets.

If you want to know more details about conjunctivitis, you will certainly be interested in our article Conjunctivitis in dogs, how is it cured?


Diagnosis and treatment of eye ulcers in dogs

For a correct diagnosis, in addition to the findings of the ophthalmological examination, the intraocular pressure is measured and, if it is a complicated ulcer, a culture is performed.

Since superficial ulcers are usually not visible to the naked eye, in many cases, the veterinarian must resort to the use of a special stain called fluorescein. Once the dye is placed in the eye, it adheres to the ulcer and causes the wound to stain a fluorescent green color.

As we have seen, depending on the type of ulcer, its severity and its cause, the veterinarian will determine the most appropriate treatment that aims to eliminate the cause of the ulcer and promote rapid healing to avoid the risk of vision loss.

Typically, in more superficial ulcers, analgesic for pain and topical antibiotic eye drops are used to prevent infection. With this treatment 90% of ulcers heal on their own. Eyedrops that keep the pupil dilated may also be recommended to reduce pain.

But in cases of complicated ulcers (those that are deeper or have become infected) associated uveitis appears, so the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and oral corticosteroids is indicated.

When the lesion affects all the layers of the cornea, perforation of the eyeball and outflow of aqueous humor from its interior occurs. In these cases, surgery is urgently needed to preserve the eyeball and vision.

In any case, in all eye ulcers in a dog it is necessary to place an Elizabethan collar to avoid injuries caused by scratching the eye.


Can corneal ulcers in dogs be prevented?

It is not always possible to prevent eye ulcers in dogs, since they are due to a wide variety of causes. However, from Las Almenas we give you these useful recommendations to prevent and slow down the progression of corneal ulcers:

  • Do not let your dog get involved in rough games or fights with other dogs, cats or animals. This could be the source of scratches and eye injuries.
  • Make sure you do not have sharp objects around your dog or at eye level. This way you can minimize the chances of accidentally injuring the cornea.
  • Avoid any irritant or chemical substances (shampoos, sprays, cleaning products, etc.) coming into contact with your dog’s eyes.
  • Check your dog’s eyes frequently. This will allow you to detect obvious signs of irritation, such as redness or tearing.
  • If you notice any unusual symptoms in your dog’s eyes, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Do not self-medicate your dog

What you should never do is to apply an eye drop to your dog on your own if it has not been prescribed by a veterinarian. Even if it looks like a superficial ulcer, it is always necessary to have it checked by a veterinarian.

What you can do is contribute to their visual health by improving their diet with foods rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E and beta-carotene, such as carrots and pumpkin. It is also highly recommended to include some source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Remember that this article is merely informative, since in Las Almenas we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments nor can we make any kind of diagnosis. Therefore, before any type of ulcers in the eyes of a dog it is necessary to go to the veterinarian so that this specialist can determine what the problem is and how to solve it in the best way.

And if you have any question you want to comment or ask, you can write us here below or on our profiles on FacebookInstagram and on our Las Almenas YouTube channel. Also in our blog we will keep giving you healthy tips, so don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter or contact us to be part of the Almenas Family, we are waiting for you!

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