The eyes are the window to the soul, or so 'they' say. Most pets certainty know how to use their eyes to their advantage. Who can resist the infamous sad puppy dog eyes? Not me! Unfortunately, like in humans, eye aliments in pets can be a relatively normal part of the aging process. There are some eye issues that can impact younger pets as well. I know first hand (I suffered from a corneal ulcer about a year ago) that dealing with eye issues can be a very stressful experience. Our pets may not stress themselves out by pondering the possible outcomes of their medical maladies, but eyes are super sensitive - eye pain/discomfort, and/or sudden vision changes can be harrowing experiences. So what can we, as caring owners, do to stay on top of our pet's eye health? Read on to find out!
Keep an eye out for pet eye problems! Hopefully your pet(s) will have healthy eyes for life! But knowing the signs of potential problems will mean that you will be able to seek medical help for your pet sooner, which can sometimes make all the difference when it comes to preventing more serious complications such as permanent vision loss. Some symptoms of eye issues in pets include...
- Excessive/prolonged squinting, or keeping the eyes closed, sometimes accompanied by additional symptoms
- Any kind of unusual discharge, including discharge that is gray, yellow, or green, or excessive tearing
- Redness, including redness of the actual eye, or of the inner eye lids
- Aversion to light
- Rubbing the eye, either with paws or by rubbing the face on the ground or against furniture
- Bulging of the eye
- A change in pupil size or difference in pupil size between the two eyes
If you notice any of the above symptoms, or other/additional eye changes in your pet, it's always best to talk to your vet as soon as possible.
Other than just keeping an eye on your pets' eyes, there are some basic eye care tips.
- It may be fun, but don't allow your dog to stick its head out your car window. The strong wind can dry out and irritate your pet's eyes, and there is also the possibility that a foreign body (sand, etc) can become lodged in your pet's eye.
- Avoid exposure to irritants such as dust, air borne chemicals, etc whenever possible
- Keep the fur near your pets' eyes trimmed short. Hair rubbing against the eye can cause everything from just general discomfort, to more serious complications such as scratches and infection.
- Be careful when washing your pet. Avoid getting soaps and other grooming products in your pet's eyes.
- If your dog is prone to developing tear stains below his/her eyes, make sure to keep them clean. The tear stained areas below the eyes can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can potentially cause eye infections.
Don't forget to see your vet! A yearly exam is recommended for most pets, even if they appear to be the picture of health. Your vet may be able to spot issues that you missed.
Like in humans, there are some foods that can help support your pet's eye health. Vitamins A, C, E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Quercetin, and Zinc all help to protect the eyes. A healthy, species appropriate diet goes a long way towards not only keeping your pets eyes healthy, but the rest of him as well! Always do plenty of research and speak with your vet before switching your pets diet.
Remember that our pets can't speak for themselves when something is bothering them. It's up to us to be proactive about their health and to be their voice when we notice anything amiss. Keep your pets eyes healthy and they will surely reward you with a lifetime of adoring glances and yes, the ever persuasive puppy dog eyes!