Your pet’s eyes serve an aesthetic and functional purpose. When your dog looks at you with loving eyes or your cat blinks at you sleepily, you can tell what they mean. Without healthy eyes, your pet’s life would be curtailed. They wouldn’t be able to chase a toy, enjoy the view outside, or follow you around.
Keeping a close eye on the condition of your pet’s eyes can help you catch any health problems early enough. Most pets are born with healthy eyes, but problems can arise as they age. Some conditions like glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy are genetic and can lead to gradual vision loss.
Other eyesight issues can arise from infections or eye injury. Progressive blindness may also affect your pet as they continue to advance in age. Here are common eye disorders in pets in more detail.
Eye Disorders in Dogs
The conjunctiva is the transparent mucus membrane that lines the eyelid interior and part of the eyeball. Its role is to protect the eye from invasion by foreign bodies. It also keeps the eyes lubricated.
Conjunctivitis happens when this membrane is irritated or inflamed by microbial infection, dust, dirt, or stray hairs. Common symptoms include redness and swelling, itchiness, and excessive tear production. The eye also has a discharge that generally shouldn’t be there.
Treatment includes flushing the eye with sterile saline eyewash. If the cause is a microbial infection, antibiotic treatment is necessary.
This eye disease affects both dogs and cats. It is characterized by discomfort, dilated pupils, and cloudy eyes. It happens when high pressure is exerted on the eye, resulting in the optic nerve’s damage at the back of the eyeball. If left untreated, it can result in blindness.
Treatment involves the application of oral medications to regulate eye pressure. In nasty cases, surgery may be recommended.
Dogs have an invisible third eyelid known as haw. It’s hidden at the inner corner of the eye and contains two special glands. These two produce a protective tear film that forms a layer on the eye.
Cherry-eyes is a condition that occurs when the ligament that holds these glands becomes weak and snaps. Symptoms include a red cherry-like formation accompanied by other symptoms like excessive tear production and squinting. The condition requires surgery to correct.
Ulcers are sores on the cornea that form as a result of dry eyes, rubbing on rough surfaces, or bacterial or viral infections. It could also be due to other ophthalmic problems like distichia or entropion. Distichia is the condition where the hairs around the eyes are problematically placed, causing problems in the eyes. Entropion refers to inward folding eyelids, and they can cause a cloudy appearance in the pet’s eyes.
Progressed ulcers will create a bluish or reddish haze on the eye’s surface. Just like with any other eye problem, ulcers can cause a lot of pain accompanied by discharge and squinting. Further infection can lead to perforation and optic nerve damage.
Ulcers are treated with medicating drops to relieve pain and prevent infection. In severe cases, it may require surgery to save the eyes.
Eye Disorders in Cats
Outdoor cats are at a higher risk of corneal ulcers. This is because they’re more exposed to burns, microbial infections, and abnormal tearing. The condition is potentially fatal and can damage the eyes entirely if left untreated.
Symptoms include excessive eye discharge, redness, itching or squinting, and bulging eyes. Contact your vet immediately as surgery may be necessary in severe cases.
This is a condition characterized by frequent eye discharge, redness, pupil color change, poor vision, and excessive tearing. It occurs because of pressure in the vascular tissues in the eyes. It may also be due to corneal ulcers, burns, and systemic diseases. Treatment varies depending on the cause, but medications can ease the pain.
Trauma of the eyes happens as a result of scratches and wounds on the eyes sustained during catfights. Other causes are burns, physical irritants, attacks by predators, and accidents.
Symptoms include photosensitivity, itching, squinting, redness, and bulging. The eye may rapture out of its socket in severe cases. Visit the vet as soon as you notice signs of eye trauma. Medication is administered in less severe cases and surgery in fatal cases.
With all these issues around your pet’s eye health, here are some tips on keeping them healthy.
Taking Care of Your Pet’s Eyes
The first thing in taking care of your pet’s eye health is to avoid treating eye disorders yourself. The best way to do it is to contact a qualified veterinarian for advice and treatment. Here’s what to do in regular health and eye care in the absence of infection or disease.
Inspect the Eyes Often
Always be on the lookout for any swelling, redness, or injury. Healthy eyes should be clear, moist, and bright. Anything unusual must be reported to a vet as soon as possible.
Gently Clean the Eyes
Ensure you regularly use a clean cloth to wipe your pet’s eyes. The corners of the eyes should be gently wiped to prevent infection and irritation. Talk to your veterinarian about using eye drops to moisten and clean the eyes.
Feed Your Pet Foods that Support Eye Health
Just like humans, pets need to feed on foods that boost the health of their eyes. Since they can’t throw on a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes, it’s best to use protective measures. Here are some five excellent ingredients to include in your pet’s diet.
Lutein contains antioxidant properties, and research shows that it boosts retinal response and visual strength for dogs. It contains Zeaxanthin, which is a carotenoid with closely similar benefits. Both of these nutrients are found in green leafy vegetables and can be consumed as supplements.
Fish Oil for Omega 3
Fish oil supports eye health, thanks to the DHA that is also naturally present in the retina. As dogs grow, it’s essential to supplement their DHA to maintain healthy levels of the DHA element to support proper macular function. Some suitable fish types are krill, salmon, and cod liver oil.
Astaxanthin is yet another antioxidant and almost the most potent natural carotenoid antioxidant. Experts hold it that it’s almost 6,000 times stronger than Vitamin C. You can therefore trust it to protect your pet’s eyes from oxidation and free radicals.
Just like with humans, pets need to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin A to keep their eyes healthy. Vitamin A enables the brain to register what the retina sees, just like a power supply is needed to turn on a TV. It supports macular health, night vision, and retinal function. You can feed it to your dog in its active or beta carotene forms, either as Vitamin A-rich foods or as supplements.
Schedule Regular Eye Checkups
Having your pet’s eyes checked regularly is the best way to capture and treat eye diseases at an early age. Your pet doctor will examine the eyes and check for abnormalities. They’ll also recommend the right course of treatment well in advance before problems escalate.
While taking care of your pet’s health, don’t forget to check the eyes. They’re the windows to the soul and the channels of communication. If left unchecked, small eye problems may escalate to significant issues that will require expensive treatment interventions. Ensure you regularly take your pet for an eye checkup and strive to maintain proper eye health through grooming and feeding.