A dog gets an eye check-up from the vet.

Ocular (Eye) Emergencies in Dogs and Cats

There are few things in life more heartwarming than meeting the steady gaze of your beloved dog or watching a young kitten eagerly explore their world, eyes wide with wonder, alert and aware of every movement in the room. We all realize how important our vision is, but how do we recognize problems with our pet’s eyes or vision?

Ocular emergencies, those that involve the eye or surrounding structures, can vary in scope from the obvious distress of a proptosed eyeball (an eyeball that has been displaced forward from the socket or “popped out”) to less obvious scratches or ulcers on the surface of the cornea. It is not difficult to convince pet owners that ocular emergencies are extremely important to manage as quickly as possible in order to prevent vision loss or permanent damage. The following article will describe how to identify some of the most common ocular injuries and provide basic information on treatment measures.

Normal Anatomy of the Eye

The basic structures of the eye that are most easily observed during routine interaction with your pet include the globe, cornea, lens, pupil, conjunctiva, vitreous, and eyelids.

What Should a Healthy Eye Look Like and What Signs Should Alert Me to a Problem?

How Can I Tell If My Pet Has Eye Pain?

Eye pain in pets is often subtle. In cases of mild discomfort your pet may appear to be “winking” at you through a half closed lid. Extreme pain is usually accompanied by an eye that is closed very tightly. Your pet may also rub the affected side of their face on the floor or attempt to rub their eye with a paw. If your pet is showing signs of eye pain, or you are concerned the appearance of your pet’s eye has changed, a visit to your veterinarian is always recommended. Waiting to see if an eye improves on its own can have severe consequences to your pet’s vision and well-being.

It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of all emergency conditions of the canine and feline eye in a single article. However, one simple rule of thumb will serve you well; when in doubt, it is always in your pet’s best interest to have your veterinarian examine them immediately if you have concerns about their ocular health. Preserving your pet’s eyesight will be as much a priority to your veterinarian as it is to you.