Tips to Support Your Pet's Healthy Eyes
Written by: Richard Rowlands, Pet Health Expert
Your pet's eyes are important organs that help them interact with the world around them. For this reason, it's essential to take measures to keep them clean and healthy. In this article about eye care for dogs and cats, we'll take a look at some common health problems that can affect your pet's eyes. We'll also provide some basic tips to help you keep your pet's eyes healthy.
Eye Disorders in Pets
It's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of eye disorders in pets to prevent serious health issues from developing. In the section of the post, we'll give an overview of some of the most common eye disorders in dogs and cats.
Common Eye Disorders in Dogs
The conjunctiva is a transparent mucus membrane lining the interior of the eyelid and a portion of the eyeball. It protects the eye from foreign materials and keeps it lubricated by producing mucus. When it becomes irritated and inflamed, dogs can suffer from conjunctivitis (also known as pinkeye). This can be caused by microbial infection, allergic reactions, or physical irritants such as dust, dirt, or stray hairs. Symptoms may include redness and swelling of the eye, discomfort or itching, excessive tear production, and discharge from the eyes.
Treatment of conjunctivitis will depend on the underlying cause. If caused by physical irritants, a sterile saline eyewash can be used to flush the eye. When caused by microbial infection, conjunctivitis will require treatment with antibiotic eye drops or ointments.
If not treated rapidly, this eye disorder can result in blindness. Glaucoma is characterized by symptoms including discomfort, cloudy eyes, and dilated pupils. It occurs when high pressure is exerted within the eye, straining or damaging the optic nerve at the back of the eyeball.
It's important to contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any signs or symptoms of glaucoma. Treatment typically involves topical or oral medications that help regulate pressure in the eye. Surgery may also be required in severe cases.
Unlike humans, dogs have an invisible third eyelid which is known as the nictitating membrane or haw. Hidden at the inner corner of the eye, it houses two special glands – nictitans (the third eyelid gland) and the lacrimal gland, which produce a protective tear film that coats the eye.
Cherry eye occurs when the ligament holding the gland in place weakens and snaps. The gland pops out at the corner of eye, resembling a red cherry. Other symptoms of the condition include squinting and excessive tear production. Cherry eye can be corrected with surgery.
A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area that develops in the lens, blocking light from reaching the back of the eye. The disorder is often confused with lenticular sclerosis, a condition which occurs naturally in aging dogs. Cataracts may occur as a result of nutrient deficiencies or undiagnosed diabetes. Depending on the severity of the condition, cataracts can potentially result in blindness. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any cloudy spots forming in your pet's eyes. When caught early, it is possible to correct cataracts with surgery.
Common Eye Disorders in Cats
There's a higher possibility for outdoor cats to get corneal ulcers because they occur as a result of wounds, microbial infections, abnormal tearing, or burns. Corneal ulcers are potentially serious, and can lead to the death of the cornea or permanent blindness if left untreated.
Please contact your veterinarian immediately If you notice symptoms such as excessive discharge from the eyes, itching or squinting, redness, inflammation, or bulging eyes. Treatment typically involves the use of antibiotic eye drops or ointments. Surgery may also be necessary in severe cases.
This condition is characterized by frequent discharge from the eyes, excessive tearing, redness, swelling, change in size or color of the pupil, and poor vision. It occurs when the vascular tissues in the eye become inflamed as a result of pressure.
Uveitis can be caused by corneal ulcers, systemic diseases, or burns. Treatment depends on the exact cause, but eye medications can be used to ease the pain. If left untreated, uveitis can give rise to other disorders such as glaucoma (high pressure in the eyes).
Trauma is a common cause of eye disorders in cats. Outdoor cats are more prone to trauma as they may engage in catfights and sustain scratches, punctures, or wounds on their eyes. Other causes of eye trauma include physical irritants, burns, car accidents, or attacks by predators.
Symptoms of eye trauma include photosensitivity, squinting or itching, and red, bulging eyes. In severe cases, the eye may begin to rupture or come out of its socket. Please contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any potential signs of eye trauma. Treatment involves antibiotic medications or surgery in severe cases.
Just like dogs, cats are susceptible to glaucoma. The condition is caused by high pressure in the eyes, leading to symptoms such as red, cloudy, swollen, and sore eyes.
Affected cats can become permanently blind if the necessary treatment is not given. Treatment depends on the cause of the condition, but typically involves the use of medications to reduce eye pressure, or surgery in extreme cases.
Cats and dogs can suffer from many of the same eye disorders, but they may require different kinds of treatments. Always avoid trying to treat eye disorders yourself, and contact a qualified veterinarian for advice.
How to Take Care of Your Pet's Eyes
The good news is that eye care for dogs and cats is relatively simple. In this final section of the post, we'll share our top tips to help you take care of your dog or cat's eyes.
1. Inspect Your Pet's Eyes Regularly
Check your pet's eyes daily for signs of redness, swelling, or injury. Healthy eyes should be bright, clear, and moist. Please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual. Eye disorders are best handled at an early stage.
2. Trim Hair Around the Eyes
Hair or long lashes around the eyes can scratch the cornea, causing itchiness, irritation, and inflammation. This is a common problem in long-haired breeds. When grooming your pet, use sharp scissors to trim long hair around the eyes. Please remember to exercise extreme caution as any slight slip can injure your pet.
3. Gently Clean Your Pet's Eyes
Regularly clean your pet's eyes to remove any discharge using a clean, damp cloth to gently wipe the corners of the eyes. This will help prevent infection or irritation. It's also a good idea to ask your veterinarian about using eyedrops to clean and moisten your pet's eyes.
4. Schedule Routine Eye Examinations
Scheduling regular eye examinations is the best way to ensure any eye disorders are diagnosed and treated at an early stage. Your veterinarian will examine your pet's eyes, check for any abnormalities, and discuss appropriate treatments if needed.
5. Feed Foods That Support Eye Health
Not only does food serve as fuel, it also acts as powerful medicine. Support your pet's eyes by feeding a balanced diet that contains all the nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants they need to stay healthy.
Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress that can affect your pet's immune system or eye function. Vitamins A, C, and E also support better vision. Lutein, Astaxanthin, and Zeaxanthin are the three most important antioxidants for eye health. Other beneficial antioxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids, and phytonutrients cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through diet. Superfoods like kale, spinach, blueberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and wild salmon are excellent sources of vitamins and antioxidants.
Avoid low-quality commercial pet foods and feed a raw, species-appropriate diet if possible. This is a great way to fulfill all of your pet's nutritional requirements. If you decide to feed dry food, choose a high-quality product and supplement your pet's diet with fresh ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and organ meat.
Your pet's vision is an important part of their overall health. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from an eye disorder, please inform your veterinarian immediately. It's also vital to keep your pet's eyes clean and healthy, groom and trim errant hairs, and work with your veterinarian to examine your pet's eyes frequently. In addition, don’t forget to feed your pet a high-quality diet that's packed full of healthy ingredients that support eye health.