Corneal ulcer in dogs: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention


Corneal ulcer is one of the many eye conditions that a dog can suffer from. Difficult to detect by the owner, a corneal ulcer can cause serious damage if it is not taken care of by a veterinarian. Let’s take stock of the different symptoms that can give rise to a suspicion of a corneal ulcer, the means to diagnose it, to treat it, but also to see if it is possible to prevent this eye condition.

Corneal ulcer in dogs: symptoms

This type of ulcer is a corneal injury resulting in a loss of substance. The dog exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Extremely strong pain in the eye which the light accentuates,
  • Tears,
  • Blinking, or even the eye which remains closed as the pain is severe (blepharospasm),
  • The dog scratches his eye frequently,
  • Conjunctivitis visible to the red eye,
  • Decreased vision.

The pain due to a corneal ulcer may be hardly bearable for the dog.

Of complications are to be feared as a bacterial superinfection or an aggravation of the lesions because, by dint of scratching, the dog ends up self-injuring. It is therefore absolutely necessary to consult the veterinarian in the slightest doubt.

Corneal ulcer: the main causes

The loss of substance in the cornea may be due to:

  • Dry eye,
  • Bacteria,
  • A virus,
  • An entropion-type malformation,
  • A foreign body that lodges in an eye,
  • A scratch of claws …

A dog who scratches an eye insistently may subsequently suffer from a so-called secondary corneal ulcer.

Corneal ulcer in canines: diagnosis and treatment

When the loss of substance is very important, the veterinarian can detect a corneal ulcer with the naked eye. On the other hand, in the majority of cases, thorough eye exams patients should be performed to allow a diagnosis but also to check if the eye is affected by other lesions. The dog can therefore be subjected to the following examinations:

  • A fluorescein test to stain the stroma: the corneal ulcer is confirmed if the fluorescein leaves a green color,
  • Bacteriological analyzes,
  • A Schirmer test with which it is possible to assess the production of tears …
  • A painkiller,
  • Local treatment in the form of eye drops or ointment,
  • An antibiotic,
  • Enzyme inhibitors,
  • A conjunctival graft (in case of a deep corneal ulcer).

Any ocular symptom justifies emergency consultation to limit the risk of complications.

The corneal ulcer treatment in dogs is prescribed on a case-by-case basis, obviously adapted to the level of the severity of the ulcer as well as its cause. It can therefore be:

The dog must be equipped with collar. This prevents him from scratching or continuing to self-injure. The collar is also essential after surgery.

Corneal ulcer in dogs: prevention

Some corneal ulcers could be avoided, especially those that are due to a foreign body or to a traumatic cause. It is therefore necessary to be vigilant when taking a walk in the countryside because a spikelet can get into the dog’s eye. They can also injure their eyes by going through the brambles for example. Be careful also when you have a dog and a cat. Whether they are playing together or fighting, there is always a risk that the dog will get a scratch in one eye, one of the traumatic causes of corneal ulcer.

Finally, it is recommended to have your dog monitored regularly by the veterinarian so that a checkup be done. A little eye check is helpful, especially if he scratches one eye often. You should know that in the absence of treatment, the corneal ulcer continues to cause damage: the cornea loses its transparency and this progressive clouding causes blindness.

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