Overview of Canine Corneal Lacerations
Lacerations or scratches of the cornea occur from trauma to the dog’s eye. The cornea is the thin clear covering of the eye. A common cause of cornea lacerations is a cat scratch or exposure to foreign bodies, sticks and other plant materials. Cat scratches are particularly common when a new puppy meets the household cat for the first time.
Corneal lacerations or scratches are quite painful and require medical attention, and the prognosis depends on the depth and severity of the laceration. Partial thickness lacerations have the best chance of recovering without complications, while perforating lacerations have a fair-to-guarded prognosis for recovery and maintaining vision.
What to Watch For
Diagnostic Tests for Corneal Lacerations in Dogs
To confirm the laceration, the animal must first be made comfortable so it will allow a thorough eye examination. This is accomplished by using local anesthetic drops on the eye. Extreme care must be taken when examining or treating an eye with a corneal laceration. Any excess pressure on the head, neck or eye can result in rupture of the eye. This worsens the prognosis for retention of vision and retention of the eye itself.
Treatment of Corneal Lacerations in Dogs
Depending upon the severity of the corneal laceration, referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist may be indicated.
Home Care and Prevention for Dogs and Corneal Lacerations
There is no home care for corneal laceration. If you suspect a corneal laceration, do not allow your pet to rub or paw at the eye. Seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Most pets are sent home with an Elizabethan collar to prevent self-trauma to the eye. Administer all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian. Notify your veterinarian immediately if you experience problems medicating your pet.
Proper home care is crucial for a successful recovery. Frequent veterinary rechecks are important to make sure the eye is healing properly. Examine your dog’s eyes regularly and call your veterinarian if you note any pain or color change.
Keeping your puppy away from annoyed or frightened cats can reduce the risk of corneal laceration. When a new puppy is brought into the household, he should be introduced to the family cat under close supervision. Keep the puppy leashed and under control when around the cat until the cat is used to the dog. Clip the cat’s nails short, or apply soft claws before the dog is brought home. Always allow the cat an escape route or a means of getting away from the dog when the dog is loose in the house. It may take several weeks for the cat to accept the presence of the new dog.
Pay particular attention to your dog’s eyes after he has been running through long grass or brush. Clean and examine the eyes of all hunting dogs upon return from the field.