Dog Eye and Ear Care guide
How to Deal With Eye Injuries in Dogs
Dog Eye and Ear Care guide: Some dogs are much more susceptible to eye injuries than others are. Because dogs have poor sight to begin with, it is common for them to have twigs and sharp objects coming in contact with the delicate parts of their eyes. It isn’t possible for an owner to protect a dog completely from eye injuries, but a regular inspection of the eyes can prevent a small problem from becoming a bigger one.
Natural Eye Protection for Dogs
As far as natural protection for a dog’s eyes, about the only thing they have are their long whiskers which are sensitive to touch. When a whisker touches something that the dog may not see, the animal instinctively knows that something is there that can cause harm.
When a dog is groomed and given a haircut, it is common for the whiskers to be cut off so that this line of defense against unseen dangers is removed. This is not necessarily the fault of the groomer because it is almost impossible to cut facial fur without cutting the whiskers too, but it does create a hazard for dogs that spend time outdoors and wander into areas with a lot of undergrowth.
Dogs with long snouts are obviously better prepared to avoid eye injuries if the danger comes from the front. Pugs, Boston Terriers, and other dog breeds with similar shaped heads can easily hurt their eyes anytime they go into the woods and underbrush. Not only are their snouts short, but their eyes are oversized leading to more opportunities for accidents.
Daily Inspection of Your Dog’s Eyes
A daily ritual of checking your dog’s eyes can help avoid complete loss of vision. An examination should be made for ulcerations and redness, as well as to make sure that nothing is caught in the fur near the eyes. Ulcerations will appear as slight scratches on the lens of the eyes. These are painful and may cause the dog to scratch at the irritation, causing even more damage.
Recognizing the Signs of a Dog Eye Problem
At the first sign of ulceration, you should take your dog to the vet. Signs of an ulcer on the eye include squinting, cloudiness, and/or redness. In some cases, there may be discharge coming from the affected eye. The dog will typically be despondent and lethargic because of the discomfort, and you’ll notice an obvious change in your pet’s behavior.
This is an unprotected wound and will allow infection into the eye itself if not addressed promptly. The cornea of the eye has a protective coating called the epithelium, which keeps out germs and bacteria. When it is damaged, it is very important to take proper action to protect the eye quickly.
Your veterinarian will most likely use a stain called fluorescein to make the ulcer more prominent and to properly diagnose the problem. If the vet determines there is a corneal abrasion, infection, or ulcer, a protective salve is usually applied to seal the wound while it heals.
With proper care, a minor eye injury will improve in about a week, but if left unattended, the problem will only get worse. The owner who is not attentive to the needs of his dog may allow an eye problem to advance too far to do anything about, resulting in blindness for the animal.
Watch for the signs of a problem, inspect your dog’s eyes regularly, and take the proper steps if or when a problem does occur. Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog, and your pet relies on you for his care and welfare.
Six Primary Causes of Dog Eye Problems
There are six primary causes of dog eye problems. Although some may be more damaging than others are, they all cause the animal pain and can lead to severe and/or permanent vision loss if not treated promptly.
This is only a general listing of possible problems and treatments, and a veterinarian should be consulted if there is any doubt as to what treatments should be given.
1. Dog Cataracts – Some dogs have a heredity tendency for cataracts, and other animals develop them due to allergies, immune problems, or eye injuries. The eyes will appear cloudy or milky as the cataracts advance. The prescribed treatment depends on the cause of the cataracts, so a vet should be consulted for best results.
2. Corneal Ulcers – These can be of varying degrees and are usually caused by an eye injury or a foreign particle in the eye. The deeper wounds may require more than a salve for treatment. Consult a vet promptly for treatment to avoid a bacterial infection and unnecessary pain for the animal.
3. In-Growing Eyelids – This condition causes a constant irritation to the dog. The eyelids turn back into the dog’s eyes, causing the lashes to press against the cornea. Over time, this persistent irritation can cause an ulcer. Some home treatments for the condition are Silicea or an herbal treatment using Goldenseal. There is a simple operation your vet can perform for this condition if the homeopathic or herbal remedy does not produce positive results.
4. Eye Inflammation – If the area around the eye is inflamed, it is usually an indication of an eye infection which can be treated by the owner. A solution of 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and a cup of water (distilled) can be used with gauze to clean the area, and then a drop of almond or castor oil can be applied for treatment. Cod liver oil is better for ulcerated or dry eyes.
5. Prolapse of the Third Eyelid – Dogs have a third eyelid that is normally not visible, but can cause problems if it becomes irritated and swollen. The eye will redden and emit a yellow discharge when this problem occurs. This condition is commonly referred to as “Cherry Eye” because the eyelid will swell and resemble a small cherry.
There is an operation that can be performed as a remedy, which involves repositioning of the eyelid. You might also try some holistic treatments or vet prescribed medications to help reduce the swelling and treat the inflammation.
6. Pink Eye – This condition is much the same as the human version of conjunctivitis. One common way for dogs to get Pink Eye is from humans. Pink Eye in canines can be caused by allergies, infections, injuries, and foreign particles in the eye that cause irritation. A homeopathic eyewash may bring some relief for your dog, but it is advised to allow the vet to first diagnose the condition as pink eye and prescribe treatment based on the cause.
Dog Eye Maintenance and Care
A dog’s eyes can become irritated for various reasons. Keeping mild eyewash on hand for cleaning them can reduce the possibilities of irritations developing into worse conditions.
Regular inspections are beneficial so pet owners can catch a problem before it progresses into something worse. Any of the following conditions are usually indicative of a problem that needs your attention and may even require a visit to your veterinarian:
* Redness and swelling
* Excessive tearing from the eyes
* Discharge from the eyes
* A change in your dog’s behavior (stops eating, becomes lethargic)
* Light sensitivity (keeps eyes closed as much as possible)
* Milky or cloudy appearance of the eyes
Your dog cannot tell you when he is hurting and in pain, so you have to watch for the signs that indicate a problem and follow the best course of action.
Dog’s Eye and Ear care
Visual Inspection is the Key to Dog Ear Care and Health
A dog’s ear is constructed differently than that of a human and that makes it more difficult to spot problems from a visual standpoint. The ear canal is much longer for the dog, and it takes a 45-degree turn making it hard to see what is beyond the turn.
Dogs with long earflaps are more prone to ear problems because the ear canal stays warm and moist, which is an ideal condition for the growth of bacteria and other organisms.
Dog Ear Problems – Parasites
A common worry for many pet owners is that of the ear mite. Research indicates that less than 10% of dog ear problems are the result of ear mites, but they are a problem for some animals.
Ear mites are a parasite and if your dog has them, he got them from another source. If you have more than one dog and one has ear mites, it is highly possible that your other pets have them, too, or will soon if you don’t address the problem. Dogs often contract ear mites from cats, too.
Ear mites can be a serious problem and they should be addressed and treated with all due haste. Of course, there are other parasites that can cause ear inflammation (otitis externa is the proper term), such as fleas and ticks. Microorganisms, skin disorders, tumors, and foreign bodies can all lead to otitis externa, or inflammation of the ear.
Dog Ear Problems – Yeast and Bacteria
Yeast and bacteria are the two most common causes of inflammation in a dog’s ears. The warm and moist conditions of the ear are exactly what are required for these culprits to flourish. Generally, a strong pungent odor will come from the ears of animals that have this condition.
Treatment for a yeast infection might be different that that prescribed for a bacterial infection. That is why it is important to have a vet check out the ears and determine the cause of the problem and recommend a course of treatment.
Home Treatment of Dog Ear Problems
A dog’s ears are a sensitive feature and you can easily frighten or hurt your pet in an attempt to keep his ears clean if you are not careful. You can find an adequate earwash at most pet stores or vet clinics, but you should use one sparingly and according to label directions. Once per week should be regular enough for cleaning the ears unless the dog has many activities that soil his ears on a regular basis.
Follow the directions of the ear cleanser and always be gentle with your dog, speaking reassuringly and calmly as you perform this task. Conduct regular ear inspections to be sure you need to use a cleanser, and when the ear condition improves, don’t clean them as frequently, cutting back to periodic cleaning once every week or two.
Look for indications from the dog to determine if he has ear problems. Shaking the head and scratching the ears is a strong indication of an ear problem. Dogs that live in humid and moist environments have many more ear problems than those in cooler climates. Dogs that like to swim usually have many ear problems, too.
Always pay attention to your pet’s behavior and give him a visual inspection each week. If your dog spends a great deal of time outside unsupervised, you might want to examine him more often.
The Five Basic Dog Grooming Procedures
There are five major categories of grooming that owners should pay close attention to regarding their dogs. Some dog breeds require more attention than others because of their physical characteristics, but every dog needs some level of grooming and maintenance.
The basic forms of grooming are:
Brushing stimulates the skin and removes loose dander as well as other particles that might become lodged in a dog’s coat. The regularity of brushing is very much dependent on the length of the dog’s hair; you can brush a dog every day without any adverse affects. Most dogs love to be brushed, and those that don’t will learn to love it after they become accustomed to it.
As a general rule of thumb, shorthaired dogs should be brushed once per month, dogs with medium length hair need brushing once per week, and longhaired dogs should be brushed daily. Any of this can vary based on the activities of the animal. Dogs spending more time outside tend to require brushing more often than dogs that spend more time indoors.
2. Nail Trimming
Some animals have problem nails that may grow back into their paws if they are not trimmed regularly. Not only is this condition painful, but it can also lead to infection. Nail trims are necessary to prevent this problem.
Dog owners should ask their vet for advice on trimming nails if they are not sure how to accomplish this task safely. Dogs don’t like to have their nails clipped and that dislike will only increase if they are hurt during the process. There is a specific length to cut a dog’s nails, and cutting into the “quick” of the nail should be avoided.
In case there is an accident leading to a bleeding nail, keep styptic powder on hand and apply to the nail area to stop the bleeding. Let the dog rest and postpone the remainder of the nail trimming session until another time.
The standard rule of dog bathing is once per month, but once weekly is not too often. It is not recommended to bathe a dog every two or three days because it dries out their skin. If you bathe your dog weekly, use a shampoo formulated for dogs that moisturizes the skin.
You probably won’t be thanked by your dog if you give him a haircut, but it is in the best interest of dogs with medium or long hair, especially in the warmer months. How often this is done is solely based on the preference of the owner, but when hair gets in an animal’s eyes and thwarts his vision, it needs to be trimmed.
5. Ear Care
Keeping foreign materials out of a dog’s ears can be a difficult task. Daily inspection of the ears is the best way to keep them clean and healthy. A gentle ear cleansing needs to be performed when necessary using a product specifically designed for this purpose. With active dogs, especially those that swim frequently, this might need to be done more often, but once every week or so is typically all that is necessary.
If your dog is a wanderer and prone to wading the creeks or swimming in lakes, it is important to give him a good visual inspection every day for parasites, injuries, and other potential problems.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to grooming because it is basically a “perform as needed” procedure. Proper attention to the regular grooming and care of your dog will prevent health and safety issues caused by neglect, and your dog will feel better because of your concern for his well being.
Problems Caused by Allergies and Parasites
Dogs have allergies the same as humans do and this can be a problem when they are bathed with certain types of shampoos. You shouldn’t use human shampoos on a dog because they are not designed for this purpose and can be too concentrated and harsh for your pet’s sensitive skin. Caring for a dog’s skin is a part of a regular grooming regimen.
Dog Shampoo Brands
There are many brands of dog shampoo specifically designed for sensitive skin. Your veterinarian is a good source of information on what products work best. Hyla Derm shampoo is a good fit for many different types of skin sensitivity issues commonly present in dogs. It is very gentle, hypoallergenic, and it contains no soap. Additionally, it is a moisturizing product with fatty acid proteins that nourish the skin. The acid is pH balanced and it can be used on cats, too.
Shampoos and the Matter of Fleas
Shampoos that are used for flea control don’t usually do much unless the fleas can be totally removed from the dog’s environment, and this is almost a complete impossibility. This isn’t to say that flea shampoos don’t help the situation; they just don’t alleviate the problem altogether.
Flea dips are of some help in the flea and tick battle, but many owners worry about the toxicity of the chemicals they contain. A dog that licks the coat after a dip can become sick. Some safer alternatives for flea control include:
* Adding brewer’s yeast or garlic tablets to the dog’s diet; there are products available that combine these two ingredients into a single tablet dietary supplement
* An herbal flea collar saturated with flea repelling herbal oils
* Homemade herbal flea powder
Drugs for Fleas
It is becoming more popular to give dogs drugs for their flea problems because it is fast and requires less work on the owner’s part.
* Frontline is a popular product that kills a high percentage of the fleas without the dog having to ingest the product through the digestive system. It also kills fleas in four different stages. If it is used per directions, it works well in most cases. However, some fleas become immune to the effective ingredient.
* Capstar is a tablet that kills all the fleas on a dog within 24 hours, but it has no long lasting effects and fleas can hatch from the eggs left behind. Some dog owners are skeptical of the stated side effects, but presently the risks seem to be minor.
* Sentinel is a product that can prevent heartworms and the development of flea eggs. It requires a prescription from a veterinarian.
A combination of these treatments is the best defense against fleas, but during the height of the flea season, it is very difficult to keep a dog completely flea free. Flea control in dogs is an ongoing battle, and some treatment methods must be changed up occasionally as fleas build up tolerances to the products used.