Your pets’ eyes: keep a lookout for diseases

Your pets’ eyes are usually appreciated for way they gently beguile you into sharing a treat. What few pet owners realise is that pets’ eyes are at risk of many of the same eye conditions or diseases that people have: surface scratches (ulcers), pinkeye (conjunctivitis) and increased fluid pressure (glaucoma) to name a few.

Most eye conditions develop spontaneously, but some can be prevented. Monitoring your pets’ eyes and taking a few precautions could reduce the risk of some diseases and prevent others from getting worse. Here are 5 potential dangers:

Some breeds are more at risk than others

Different breeds are often predisposed to certain diseases and knowing what these are can be helpful. Burmese cats, for example, are at risk for tear gland prolapse, young Siberian huskies for cataracts and dogs with prominent eyes (like Pekingese, Boston terriers and pugs) because of their skull shape, are at increased risk for corneal ulcers. Cocker spaniels and basset hounds may inherit glaucoma. Knowing what your breed of pet is at risk for could lead to earlier detection and treatment. Your vet can help you know what to watch out for.

Signs of disease in pets’ eyes

Look out for sudden changes in vision, evidence of discomfort (squinting) and increased redness, cloudiness or drainage of the eyes. If you see any of these signs, get to your vet immediately. Dogs with glaucoma can lose vision in the affected eye within 12-24 hours if left untreated. A corneal ulcer can quickly become infected and then require surgery.

External dangers to pets’ eyes

  1. Try to keep your dog away from thorny bushes or scrub. Thorns can penetrate and rupture the eye.
  2. Breeds prone to retinal detachment (shih tzu, for instance) , those with deep corneal ulcers or dogs recovering from delicate eye surgery should be discouraged from vigorously shaking toys.
  3. Blind pets memorise their environment so try not to move furniture around.
  4. Improper dosing of parasite control containing ivermectin can cause blindness in predisposed breeds like the collie.

Do not self-medicate

Don’t guess at medicines for your pets’ eyes. Giving expired medication is bad but giving the wrong medication is even worse. Many eye medications contain cortisone and application of cortisone to an eye with a corneal ulcer will delay healing, increase the risk of infection and may cause damage. Some ear medications are packaged in containers that look just like eye drops; using the wrong one can be damaging.

Always check with your vet before administering medication.