The Perfect Guide to Corneal Ulcers in Dogs and Cats

corneal ulcers in dogs
corneal ulcers in dogs

If you’ve ever been concerned about your pet’s eye health, you’re not alone. In fact, corneal ulcers are one of the most common vet problems, and they can be a real pain for both dogs and cats. In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about corneal ulcers in dogs and cats, including the signs to watch out for, the treatment options, and how to prevent them from happening in the first place. So read on to learn all you need to know about these pesky conditions!

Ulcers of the cornea in dogs and cats is a common occurrence, and a potentially dangerous affliction.  Any abrasion to the cornea, including an bee sting, rub from a paw, a scratch from a claw or thorn or an invasive infection can abrade the cells on the surface of the dog or cat cornea.  Once the surface cells are disrupted the smooth surface of the cornea becomes rough, infective organisms can invaded the spaces between the cells and the area becomes a source of pain and irritation to the animal.  Dogs and cats with corneal ulcers commonly will have increased tear production, will squint (called blepharospasm) and rub at their eye.  The irritated tissues often become infected.

Corneal Ulcers in Dogs and Cats

corneal ulcers in dogs
Corneal Ulcers in Dogs

If infection progresses into the thin cellular layers of the cornea, the ulcer may deepen and widen and eventually break through the membrane at the back of the cornea called Descemet’s membrane.  In these severe cases, the fluid from the anterior chamber of the eye can escape and the front of the eye collapses.  When this occurs, called a descemetocele, the iris will often seal the hole in the cornea.  If the iris tissue adheres to the opening and acts as a plug, the anterior chamber may refill and eventually the ulcer may heal and seal the opening in the cornea.  This could take many weeks to occur.  In unfortunate cases, the interior of the eye can become infected and eventually the eye may be damaged beyond repair. 

Once the cornea is abraded, the entire cornea suffers from swelling (called edema) and the cornea takes on a slight haze.  Then tiny capillaries begin to move over the cornea from the white of the eye (called the sclera) and seek out the damaged tissue.  Within days of the abrasion these tiny vessels are on their way to bring healing tissues and fluid to the ulcer.  As specialized corneal cells slide into and fill the defect, the ulcer eventually heals and the surface of the cornea returns to normal.  Then the healing capillaries dry up and go away!

Treatment For Corneal Ulcers In Dogs and Cats

corneal ulcers in dogs
Corneal Ulcers In Dogs and Cats

Most veterinarians will begin treating corneal ulcers in dogs and cats with appropriate antibiotic ointment or drops.  The use of cortisone or cortisone-related medications may not be a good choice to use due to the possibility of delayed healing and a worsening of the ulcer.  It pain is evident, Atropine or other antispasmodic medications may also be dispensed.  The dog or cat’s dewclaw, if present, may need to be bandaged to prevent the dewclaw from doing further damage to the irritated cornea as the patient wipes across the offending eye.  Rechecking the eye in five days and then another five days usually demonstrates that proper healing has taken place.  A negative stain uptake upon use of the Fluorescein stain will indicate if additional treatment is needed.

Some breeds of dogs, notoriously Boxers and Boston Terriers, often have very unresponsive corneal healing activity.  These cases of poorly healing corneal ulceration need to be monitored closely and special selection of adjunctive medications, such as topical Vitamin E and other medications, may need to be tried to stimulate corneal epithelium regeneration.

With the right diagnosis and treatment, corneal ulcers in dogs and cats be prevented. For this, you need to know the main causes of corneal ulceration such as eye injuries, toxins, herpes virus infections and cataracts.

At Vertex Vision, we also have a specialised team that treats every case with care using advanced technology like laser surgery. Moreover, we offer prompt medical assistance whenever needed. Click here to book your appointment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How fast do corneal ulcers grow in dogs?

Until the fault is achieved, they continue to expand at a pace of 1 mm every day. These ulcers need to be checked again at least twice a week to see if they’re becoming better or worse. Because the corneal stroma is densely innervated, stromal ulcers can be uncomfortable and require systemic analgesics.

How do you tell if a corneal ulcer is healing in dogs?

To help you monitor the healing process, your veterinarian can run additional fluorescein stain tests and evaluate the size of the ulcer. If the redness, swelling, and tearing that were previously present start to lessen, the corneal ulcer is probably healing.

How much does it cost to treat a corneal ulcers in dogs?

In general, surgery will cost between $650 and $750 regardless of the age of your pet. Prices at other practises might range from $1,500 to $2,400!

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