Categorically, animals belong to two groups – the predators and the prey. Prey animals like squirrels, rabbits, deer, goats and horses have their eyes on both sides of the head. This is a defense mechanism that enables them to have greater field of vision to escape predators. Dogs along with cats, wolves, lions, coyotes belong to the predators group whose eyes are at the front of the head. These eyes at the front of the head provide the animals with binocular vision to enable them to focus and concentrate on the prey. Unlike human eyes, dog’s eyes are more discerning even in dim light. Dogs can see better in the dark. Dogs like the Pug, Pekingese and Boston terrier require regular eye care as they are flat faced and the eyes are protruding. Protruding eyes are more prone to injuries and these eyes tend to dry out. Dogs with deep set eyes would not need as much attention but a responsible owner should also check the eyes for minor eye problems.
Dogs don’t have an effective way of keeping their eyes clean. Commonly dogs would try to remove dirt by using their paws or rubbing the eyes against other objects. Dog eye care has to be provided by the owner to avoid infections and allergies. Cleaning the dogs’ eyes regularly, daily if possible would remove bacteria that cause pimple-like sores on the eyelid known as sties. Conscientious owners should notice if the dog is tearing and squinting excessively as with any kind of disorders, early detection means greater chance of recovery.
Normally, tears are constantly produced to moisturize the eyes. Tears would drain and flow through the small tear ducts and empty into the nose. However, in some breeds, the ducts are clogged and the tears would overflow to the face of the dog. Miniature breeds with prominent eyes stretched the eye lids thus cutting the drainage system. The tears that overflowed to the face can be very unsightly as it would change the color of the hair. Also, because tear stains remain damp they would become the breeding ground of bacteria.
Mucus in the corner of the dog’s eyes must be removed as this too is a hotbed for bacteria. Bacteria that feed on mucus can transfer to the eye and cause infection. The most common bacteria related infections are treated with antibiotics. Conjunctivitis is a common infection. This is characterized by redness around the eyes as well as a greenish or yellow discharge. Excessively long hair on the face of a dog may enter the eyes and scratch the cornea. This may need a vet’s attention as improper care may cause more damage.
As they say prevention is better than cure. An owner could prevent eye injuries from happening. One is to avoid incidents where the pet may get into fights with dogs or other animals that can cause trauma to the eyes. Another is to ensure that the head of the dog would not hang out of the window of a moving car. Some owners would allow their pets to ride at the back of a pick up truck. In cases such as these small particles of dirt, sand and stone can cause damage to the eyes. Swirling dust at the back of the truck can enter the eyes and the nose of the dog. It is also possible that tree branches can hit the dog and cause severe injuries. Unrestrained dog at the back of a truck may jump or fall out and sustain serious injuries. In worst cases, the pet may even die. It is recommended that travelling dogs be restrained with travelling harness or be kept in a cage or crate.
Ensure that the dog’s eye is not exposed to harmful chemicals and irritating substances. Toxic chemicals must be kept on an out of reach shelf or a cabinet. Dogs must be kept outside if cleaners containing bleach or ammonia are being used. Protective ophthalmic ointment must be applied on the dog’s eyelid before bathing, shampooing, before using facial cleaners and before insecticide treatments.
Cleaning the Eyes
Eye infections are common in dogs. This can be the result of poor eye hygiene and at times can be the result when dirt and debris get lodge on the dog’s eyes. Dog fighting can also get the cornea scratched. Thick yellow or green colored discharge, redness, inflammation, excessive tearing and squinting are the most common signs of eye infections. Discharge that last for more than two days would need professional treatment as infections that are left untreated could cause permanent damage.
Tear stains apart from being unsightly can cause a build up of bacteria. Tear stains can be removed by mixing equal part of peroxide and cornstarch and applying the solution on the discolored fur but make sure that the solution do not get into the dog’s eyes. Let the solution dry for about two hours and then rinse with warm water.
To remove the gunk, simply use a tissue or a damp clean cloth. Wipe the area around the eyes taking care not to touch the surface of the eye. If dirt is lodged inside the eyes mix one pint filtered water with a teaspoon of salt and use to flush the debris out. Hold the bottle of eye wash near the eye and squeeze gently making sure that the dirt is flushed out.
Excess hair that comes in contact with the dog’s eyes can scratch the cornea. Use a blunt nosed scissors and trim the excess hair. Be careful in doing this. Restrain the dog as sudden jerks could puncture the cornea. The best thing to do is to hold the head of the dog between your knees.
Dog eye cleaning is a fairly easy task, one that is very necessary to not only to keep the good looks of the pet but most importantly to avert diseases that could harm the dog for life. By cleaning the dog’s eye regularly, the owner will be able to see the warning signs of diseases thus immediate professional attention will be given to the pet.