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Eye injuries can happen unexpectedly and, without proper care, may lead to scarring or blindness. Here, our veterinary specialists in Halifax share some of the most common eye injuries in cats and dogs, how they occur, and when you should seek veterinary care.

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What happens when a dog or cat has an eye injury?

Eye injuries in pets can range from mild or non-serious to severe trauma. These injuries may be due to scratches, foreign bodies in the eye, corneal trauma, or chemical exposure. They can affect any part of the eye.

If your cat or dog begins to show any symptoms of an eye issue, you should contact your primary care veterinarian immediately. If it is outside of regular office hours, contact our emergency veterinary hospital in Halifax. We are available 24 hours a day and equipped to handle all types of eye injuries. Since several eye conditions can lead to permanent scarring or even blindness if not treated correctly, it's critical to make an appointment with your vet or request a referral to the ophthalmology department at Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital.

Symptoms of Eye Injuries

  • General distress or discomfort
  • Squinting
  • Rapid blinking
  • Inability to open eye
  • Tearing or tear-stained fur
  • Bloody or bloodshot eyes
  • Pawing at the eye and face
  • Distorted pupil
  • Visible foreign object
  • Cloudiness or change in eye colour
  • Discharge from eye
  • Vision loss (sudden or gradual)

What are the most common causes of eye injuries in dogs and cats?

There are many causes for eye injuries in pets, but the most common include:

  • Scratching: When your dog or cat has an itchy eye, they will scratch to relieve the itch. Unfortunately, this may result in an injury.
  • Altercations: A dog or cat can experience an eye injury from fighting with other animals.
  • Vegetation: While running outside, your dog or cat may be hit in the face with branches or other vegetation, causing an eye injury.
  • Projectiles: Fireworks and other projectiles can move quickly through the air, resulting in unexpected injuries. This is why pets should be kept inside or in a safe area when projectiles are being used.

Types of Eye Injuries in Dogs & Cats

Common types of eye injuries in dogs and cats include:

  • Corneal ulceration (a tear in the clear outer layer): This may be caused by debris, chemicals, or even your pet scratching at an irritated eye.
  • Puncture wounds: This can be caused when an object, like a stick, penetrates the eye.
  • Corneal lacerations (scratches on the clear outer layer): Some common causes of lacerations are scratching the eye, running through bushes, or fighting with animals.
  • Eyelid trauma: This usually occurs when there is external trauma from objects or due to fighting. It can be either torn or damaged, swollen or severely irritated.
  • Proptosis (eye out of the socket): The eye may fully or partially fall out of the socket. This injury is often caused by a severe blow to the head or face.

How to Perform First Aid at Home

If your cat or dog has an eye injury, they should receive treatment from a veterinarian immediately. However, you can do a few things to care for the eye while waiting to arrive at the veterinary clinic.

If there is a foreign object in the eye

If an object or debris is in your pet's eye, contact your primary care veterinarian right away. They can provide specific information related to first aid, which may, in some cases, include flushing the eye with water. Do not flush the eye if the eyeball appears to be perforated.

If the eye has been knocked out of its socket

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet's eye has been dislodged from its socket. They can provide first aid information you should follow while travelling to the hospital. This can sometimes include taping a cup over the eye area to help protect it while you head to the clinic.

Any Other Eye Condition

If you notice your pet has any other eye conditions or symptoms related to eye issues, contact your primary care veterinarian to schedule an examination. You can also put an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) on your pet to prevent them from scratching the damaged eye.

Is an eye injury an emergency?

No matter the suspected cause, all eye injuries should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your primary veterinarian may perform the initial examination and then refer your cat or dog to a specialty hospital like ours. Our ophthalmology department is equipped to diagnose and treat virtually any animal eye disease, including cataracts, infections, tumours, glaucoma, dry eye, uveitis, corneal ulcers, and more for dogs and cats from across the Maritimes.

If your primary care veterinarian is unavailable, please bring your cat or dog to our emergency department as soon as possible. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Has your cat or dog suffered an eye injury? Contact our emergency veterinary hospital right away. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to treat emergencies for pets from Halifax, Dartmouth and beyond.

Eye Injuries in Pets: When to Seek Veterinary Care

Caring for Pets in Atlantic Canada

Our specialists are pleased to accept new patients by referral from primary care veterinarians. Our emergency service welcomes all clients – 24/7/365. 

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