eye problems in dogs and cats should be treated immediately

by Ashley Bentley, DVM

Eye problems in dogs and cats are a common reason for them to present to both our Primary Care and Emergency Services. Indeed, if you call our hospital concerned about a potential eye issue, the staff member taking your call will almost undoubtedly recommend that your pet be evaluated.

Eye problems can be uncomfortable and can sometimes change or even worsen significantly in a short amount of time. Any eye discharge, hazy/cloudy appearance to one or both eyes, squinting, or redness should get checked out as soon as possible.

Eye problems in dogs: An example of an eye emergency

Recently a dog came into Ann Arbor Animal Hospital with the seemingly minor complaint of clear discharge from both eyes. During initial examination his eyes seemed painful and were larger/firmer than is normal. A special device, called a Tono-Pen, measured elevated pressure within both eyes confirming glaucoma (an increase of pressure in the eye when the fluid–aqueous humour–doesn’t drain properly). Emergency treatment was very important in this case because glaucoma can lead to blindness if left untreated.

The patient was admitted to the hospital for the afternoon so that treatments could be used to acutely treat the glaucoma. Latanoprost eye drops were used initially but failed to improved intraocular pressures. After an hour of frequent drops and monitoring, an IV infusion of a diuretic (mannitol) was used to relieve pressure within the eyes.

eye problems in dogs and cats should be treated immediately

Some dog breeds are more likely to experience eye problems due to the placement and size of their eyes.

The patient was able to be discharged a few hours later and then went to an ophthalmologist for more advanced testing to determine the best treatments to control the glaucoma and preserve his vision. In this case, an owner’s perception of subtle changes and subsequent treatment made all the difference.

Eye problems in cats come from a variety of sources, such as high blood pressure, cataracts, or glaucoma. Problems can also be caused by infection, and an injury to the eye may make that more likely.

Again, because eyes are so fragile and their condition can deteriorate so fast, we encourage you to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice a change in your pet’s eyes. Regular veterinary check ups can help to find small problems before they become big problems. Early diagnosis can often make the difference between healthy eyes and blindness for your pet.

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.