Corneal Ulcers in Dogs
A corneal ulcer is an abrasion to the top layer of tissue lining the cornea which is the clear part of the eye. Corneal Ulcers are the third most common eye problem in dogs. Many ulcers are caused by trauma from foreign objects like foxtails and seed hulls from grass and weeds that can lodge under the eyelid. Scratches resulting from rough play between new puppies and kittens is also a common cause. Occasionally, bathing and grooming can result in an ulcer. Applying an eye lubricant prior to bathing and grooming helps protect the eyes from shampoo and hair. Genetic conditions involving extra eyelashes (Ectopic cilia), inadequate tear production (Dry Eye), and rolled in eyelids (Entropion) also irritate the cornea and can result in ulcers. Certain breeds suffer more than others. Breeds with pushed-in noses, and those with big, round eyes that can’t blink very well like Pekinese, Pugs and Shitzu’s are predisposed. Blinking spread the tears over the cornea, which keeps it moist and helps prevent ulcer formation. These breeds tend to get dried-out eyes which are prone to ulcers. Squinting and tearing are common signs and occur because ulcers are quite painful. The eye contains more nerves than any other body part relative to its size which is why the pain is so severe.
WHAT YOUR VET CAN DO
* Diagnosis is confirmed by staining the eye with a dye that causes the ulcerated (abraded) corneal tissue to turn a greenish color. With proper treatment, most ulcers heal in three to five days. Medication generally consists of a topical lubricant and a topical antibiotic. Both are usually applied at four to six hour intervals. The eye is restained a few days later to be sure the ulcer has healed. Ulcers that do not heal promptly (within seven days) should immediately be referred to an eye specialist to prevent corneal perforation.
To relieve pain and inflammation of the eye, Aconitum napellus 30c (monkshood) may be helpful. Give the dog two whole or three crushed pellets. Allow no food for one hour before or one hour after the treatment. Wait 30 days, reassess the dog’s condition, then repeat the treatment if necessary.