Much like humans, your dog's eyes can be sensitive to damage. His eyes can also develop serious problems as the result of a minor injury that is left untreated. A corneal laceration can quickly become a serious health issue for your dog if you do not recognize the symptoms of this condition or fail to obtain veterinary help in a timely manner.
The white part of your dog's eye is his cornea. The cornea is very delicate and easily injured part of your dog's body. It is naturally protected by specialized epithelial cells that form a layer that covers the surface of the eye. A corneal laceration is an injury that occurs to the cornea. Lacerations can be caused by particles of dirt and debris that become stuck in the eye. Lacerations can also be caused by foreign objects coming into contact with your dog's eye. For example, if he is running in your yard and gets accidentally hit in the eye with the limb or branch of a plant, he could suffer a laceration.
Symptoms of Corneal Injury
If your dog has suffered an injury to his cornea, you may notice that his eye appears to be teary or red. He may be squinting, blinking or trying to avoid light. The eye could look hazy or swollen. Your dog may react as if he is in pain if you try to touch the eye or the area around the eye. In many cases, you will notice that your dog's third eyelid is visible. The third eyelid is a opaque membrane that normally cannot be seen easily, but may appear to cover part of the eye in the event that the eye is injured. This is your dog's natural method of trying to protect the eye from further injury. Dogs who have protruding or bulging eyes, such as Boston terriers and pugs, are more likely to injure their corneas than breeds with normal eyes.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has a Corneal Injury
If you notice your dog is showing symptoms of a corneal injury, take him to the veterinarian immediately. While a basic laceration might heal on its own in a few days, it won't if a foreign object is still embedded in the eye. If your dog has something, even something small, trapped in his cornea, your veterinarian will must remove the offending particle. Veterinary treatment is essential to your dog's ability to heal properly and without complications.
After diagnosing your dog's corneal laceration, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. Your veterinarian might also prescribe medication to keep your dog's eye dilated to reduce pain. Keep your dog out of bright light while he heals and make sure he doesn't further injure his eye by scratching or pawing at it. If your dog will not leave the injury alone, you may have to use a cone-shaped veterinary collar until he heals. Your veterinarian will need to periodically check your dog's eye until it has healed completely.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.