The 411 On Canine Corneal Ulcers

Caring for your dog can be overwhelming. From purchasing the right food and training to making sure they get the right vaccinations and sufficient exercise, it is easy to see the challenges of having a dog in the family. Unfortunately, even when helping your dog's health and wellness, certain conditions may develop. A corneal ulcer is a common issue that affects many different dog breeds, but most people do not realize the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition of the eye. Using this guide, you will better understand the symptoms, causes, and treatment options related to a dog's corneal ulcer.

The Development of Corneal Ulcers

The cornea is the outer layer of your dog's eye. Not only does it transmit light into the eye, but it also protects the underlying parts of the eye, such as the iris and pupil. Although it acts as a protective cover to your dog's eye, the various layers of the cornea can also be damaged.

Scratches, abrasions, punctures, or another type of trauma to the eye can cause a corneal ulcer. In some instances, the damage will only affect the superficial layer of the cornea. However, certain traumas affect the middle or deep layer of the cornea, causing a more severe ulcer.

Symptoms of Corneal Ulcers

Every dog is different, so your dog may show different symptoms than others with corneal ulcers. However, if your dog is displaying the following symptoms, consult a veterinarian to determine if they have an ulcer affecting their cornea:

  • Watery eye, discharge around eye
  • Squinting, inability to hold eye open
  • Film over the eye
  • Eye is red, inflamed
  • Swollen eye
  • Rubbing at eye on carpet, furniture, or with paw

It is also important to note that certain breeds have a higher risk of developing corneal ulcers. Brachycephalic breeds have faces that appear "pushed in," which exposes the dog's eyes more. These breeds include pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, boxers, Pekingese, and Shi Tzu.

Treating your Dog's Corneal Ulcer

If your dog is showing the signs of a corneal ulcer, consult your veterinarian immediately. In many instances, the ulcer will not pose any immediate danger, but it can progress to an infection if left untreated. In addition, the ulcer causes your dog pain, so treatment is essential.

The veterinarian will examine the eye, inspecting both eyes for any signs of trauma. Blood tests may also be given to determine if your dog has any viral infections.

A specialized dye will be dropped into the eye, as well. This dye works along with a light to help your veterinarian see any ulcers in your dog's cornea.

If ulcers are detected, topical antibiotics will be prescribed. Also, eye drops will also need to be given to your dog to help their eye stay moist while using the topical antibiotics. Placing these drops you're your dog's eyes can be challenging, but you can help them remain comfortable and relaxed using the following tips:

  • Ask a friend or family member to help you restrain your dog. Allow your dog to rest on a table, their bed, or a comfortable chair or couch. Lightly restrain their legs only, ensuring they do not paw at their eyes while applying the typical antibiotics and eye drops.
  • Scratch and pet your dog gently while applying the medication. Be sure to use a reassuring voice, praising your dog for their good behavior. Remain calm during the application of their medications. Your dog will act out if they feel you are becoming stressed.
  • After placing the medications into their eye, make sure they remain still for a few minutes. Do not let them get up and run around, since this will most likely result in them rubbing the medication out of their eyes.

Using the medicated ointments and eye drops will effectively heal your dog's corneal ulcer in about a week.

You may not place much emphasis on your dog's eyes, but they are imperative parts of their health and well-being. With this guide, you will understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for canine corneal ulcers. For more information, check out websites like

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It can be tough to know exactly what your pet is feeling, especially when they are displaying strange behaviors that aren’t typical of their personality. Finding a reliable veterinarian to help you care for your pets is essential, because they can help you put the puzzle pieces together and figure out what a pet might be going through when you can’t figure it out yourself. An experienced veterinarian will work to rule out all possible health problems, and if successful, they should be able to provide you with the support and guidance you need to find a solution. For more information about what to look for in a qualified veterinarian and how they can best help you provide optimal care for your pets, browse the pages on this blog and check back often for updates!