The eyes are no doubt one of the most important organs in your dog’s body. Besides allowing your beloved pet to perceive the things around him, they also play a key role in helping him keep clear from danger and other precarious situations.
However, health problems like corneal ulcer in dogs can lead to less than “eye-deal” conditions when it comes to your canine family member’s visual capacity.
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And given the fact that dog corneal ulcers can even progress to blindness, providing your animal companion with the immediate and proper care and attention he needs during this health issue is a must.
Make sure you follow along to find out the 8 best home remedies that will help you properly deal with corneal ulcer in dogs. Let’s start off our discussion by finding out what exactly corneal ulcer in dogs is…
What is a corneal ulcer in dogs?
Dog corneal ulcer—or ulcerative keratitis in dogs as it is technically referred to—takes place when there is a scraping of the surface of the eye called the cornea. This scraping, which creates a dent in the corneal area, can be either shallow or deep and its severity also depends on how extensive the damage is.
There are three (3) layers of the cornea that can be affected by the said scraping.
These are the epithelium, which acts as the front cover of the cornea, the stroma that functions as the cornea’s primary supportive tissue, and the Descemet's membrane, which is a thick basement membrane that acts both as a protective barrier and a conduit for macromolecules and nutrients.
It can be inferred that the deeper the scraping that was inflicted to the cornea, the more severe the adverse effects of corneal ulcer in dogs will be.
Additionally, while all dogs can be prone to this health problem, it is more prevalent in brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds like Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, Boxers, Pekingeses, Boston Terriers, as well as Pugs.
Now that we’ve had an “eye-opening” look into what corneal ulcer in dogs is, let’s check out the causes that could set off this health issue…
How does a dog get a corneal ulcer?
There are four (4) common causes of corneal ulcer in dogs, namely physical trauma, chemical irritation, infection, and specific illnesses. We will discuss each one in more detail below:
Deemed as the most common cause of dog corneal ulcer, physical trauma can be anything that causes any bodily injury to your canine family member, which also brings about damage to the eyes, particularly the cornea.
There are basically two (2) types of physical trauma that can set off corneal ulcers in dogs.
The first one is blunt force trauma, which occurs when something hard or rigid forcibly gets in contact with the eyes, such as when your dog collides with a wooden chair or a wall, with his eyes getting most of the brunt of the impact.
On the other hand, the second one is penetrating trauma, which is characterized by the piercing of the skin, muscles, and tissues in and around the area of the eyes that results in open wounds. A common example of this is a scratch or nick in your dog’s eye.
Interestingly, canine corneal ulcers can also be triggered by physical trauma to the eye by typically harmless objects that can be found in a dog’s environment like small pebbles, blades of grass, and loose, tiny pieces of tree bark.
This cause of dog corneal ulcer is attributed to harsh chemicals or substances that you may have in the vicinity of your home. When these chemicals or substances happen to get trapped inside your dog’s eyes, they tend to produce a burning effect that can cause lesions or abrasions to the cornea.
Examples of these chemicals or substances include nail polish remover, drywall dust, vinegar, glass polish, ammonia, bleach, oven cleaners, as well as some deep-cleaning detergents and shampoos.
This also serves as a reminder why you should always go for dog-specific soaps and shampoos when shopping for your animal companion’s hygiene products.
Whether it’s caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites, infections are usually characterized by inflammation and swelling. When these infections attack the area in and around a dog’s eyes, it is highly possible that his cornea will also be affected, which can eventually lead to corneal ulcer.
Some key examples that you should take note of include ehrlichiosis or tick fever, Lyme disease, conjunctivitis or pink eye, canine influenza, as well as leptospirosis.
There are specific illnesses that can directly cause corneal ulcer in dogs or may increase your canine family member’s risk that he will be prone to this health problem. These illnesses are hypothyroidism, diabetes, keratoconjunctivitis sicca or “dye eye,” and epithelial dystrophy.
Next up, I’ll walk you through the indicators of corneal ulcer in dogs that you should keep an eye on…
Corneal ulcer dog symptoms to look out for
The following are the symptoms of corneal ulcer in dogs. I’ve also arranged it from the slightest to the most severe so you can have a mental picture of how this health issue tends to progress:
- Unexplained hiding
- Lack of interest to play
- Excessive whining and groaning
- Constant pawing of the affected eye
- Excessive blinking
- Rubbing of face on hard surfaces like the floor
- Redness in the affected eye (possibly accompanied by some swelling)
- Constant tearing either only in the affected eye or both eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Keeping the affected eye closed most of the time
- Discharge coming from the affected eye (possibly bloody)
If you notice any of these symptoms of corneal ulcer in dogs, it is imperative that you administer the immediate and proper care your canine family member needs to prevent aggravating this health issue.
And speaking of immediately and properly dealing with this problem, here are the best dog corneal ulcer home remedies that you can go for…
How to treat corneal ulcer in dogs
Make a euphrasia cooling eye patch.
According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), experiments show that extracts gathered from the Euphrasia officinalis plant “generally decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels,” which helps keep inflammation in check.
To use euphrasia in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, boil the leaves, stems and flowers of this herbaceous flowering in water for at least ten (10) minutes or until the liquid takes on a light brown color. Let the liquid cool down completely and divide it into small but sufficient portions.
Get a single portion of the cooled euphrasia tea and dip a clean piece of cloth in the liquid. Put the cloth gently on the affected eye. Repeat this process for a few minutes and discard the used euphrasia tea. Make sure you use a fresh batch for the next application.
It is important to take note that this one works best during the early stages of dog corneal ulcer.
Let your dog load up on foods rich in astaxanthin.
Another study in NCBI reports that astaxanthin has been seen to produce “significant improvement in the outcomes of various ocular diseases including diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataract.”
The proponents of the study even emphasize that astaxanthin has a “potential role of astaxanthin in promoting eye health.”
To make use of the benefits of astaxanthin in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, make sure you include dog-safe foods loaded with this antioxidant and keto-carotenoid in his regular meals. Prime examples of these include red trout and salmon.
However, it is crucial to keep in mind that you should only serve these fatty fish plainly cooked and without any added seasoning or flavoring.
Besides making sure to remove any bones that can be potential choking hazards, you should never give red trout and salmon raw to your canine family member or else he will be exposed to toxins and contaminants that can lead to illnesses like Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD).
Make a DIY green tea eye compress.
BMC reveals that green tea contains a rich amount of health-promoting polyphenols that have been observed to not just have anti-inflammatory properties, but also “antibacterial, antiangiogenic, antioxidative, antiviral, neuroprotective, and cholesterol-lowering effects.”
This makes green tea an all-around home remedy to support your canine family member when corneal ulcer in dogs strikes.
To use green tea in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, gently place used—and completely cool—green tea bags on the affected eye and keep it in place for a few minutes. This works best when your animal companion is in a lying position or when he is resting.
A warm compress never fails.
Another study published in the NCBI shows that warm compresses have a beneficial effect on eye health issues like blepharitis or the inflammation of the eyelids. Since inflammations are one of the key factors that trigger the onset of dog corneal ulcer, using one could help prevent it from becoming worse.
To use a warm compress in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, submerge a clean piece of cloth or small towel in warm water and wring the excess. Gently put the warm compress on the affected eye and keep it in place for at least five (5) minutes.
Make lutein a regular in his diet.
The NCBI highlights that there are several studies that show regular intake of high amounts of the antioxidant lutein “has beneficial effects on eye diseases, preventing or even improving both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract.”
Lutein is abundant in a number of dog-safe foods such as curly parsley, bell peppers, lettuce, and eggs.
To make use of the benefits of lutein in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, integrate foods that are rich in this antioxidant (but make sure you check if they’re perfectly safe for your dog first) in your canine family member’s regular diet.
Remember to only add about a teaspoon of these lutein-rich foods to avoid stomach upsets and similar issues.
Wash the bacteria and contaminants away with saline solution
According to Medical News Today, saline solution is one of the simplest yet rather potent antibacterial options that you can use to get rid of contaminants. Besides helping remove debris and dead skin cells, this no-fuss home remedy can also do away with excess mucus, which usually gets in the picture during inflammations.
To make your very own saline solution in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, simply combine a cup of water that’s pre-boiled for at least twenty (20) minutes and a teaspoon of rock salt or some other form of non-iodized salt.
However, it is not recommended to use sea salt for this application since its added minerals can possibly cause additional irritation to the affected eye. Other options that you can go for are kosher salt and pickling salt.
Stir the mixture thoroughly until all of the salt crystals have dissolved. Let it cool completely before applying a small amount to your dog’s affected eye as irrigation. You can also use an eye dropper for this application.
Honey will help give your dog sweet relief from corneal ulcer.
As reported by the NCBI, honey does not just have an antibacterial effect, but also helps “prevent corneal scarring caused by infection,” particularly in cases of keratitis (corneal inflammation) and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margins), which makes it a good fit as a corneal ulcer in dogs home remedy.
However, it’s crucial to emphasize that it is not recommended to put honey directly into the eye for this application. To use honey in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, boil a cup of water with three (3) teaspoons of this sweet substance. Stir gently until the mixture achieves a slightly thick consistency.
Let the mixture cool down completely. You can now apply it to your dog’s affected eye as irrigation or as a natural eyewash.
Castor oil helps boost eye surface strength.
The National Library of Medicine shares that castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, which helps facilitate “increased tear film lipid layer thickness” and stability when applied topically to the eyes. Studies also show that castor oil has “strong anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive, analgesic, antioxidant, wound healing and vaso-constrictive properties.”
To use castor oil in treating corneal ulcer in dogs, apply the same to your canine family member’s affected eye using an eyedropper. Make sure you only put a single drop each time.
A high-quality and natural product you should consider including in your dog corneal ulcer care checklist
HomeoAnimal’s CORNEA (ULCER) helps promote your canine family member’s cornea and overall eye health. It is also designed to stave off the formation of pus during inflammations, as well as alleviating excessive sensitivity of the eyes.
Apart from being made from natural and high-quality ingredients, CORNEA (ULCER) also uses a gentle holistic approach to ensure your dog’s safety and well-being during administration.
To use CORNEA (ULCER) in supporting your pet during corneal ulcer in dogs, shake the product well and give him a single spray in his mouth. You can also spray it directly in his water. Stop administering this product when symptoms disappear.
Now let’s talk about how to clean your dog’s affected eye when he is suffering from corneal ulcer…
How to clean an affected eye during corneal ulcer in dogs
Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly believe, cleaning a dog’s affected eye during corneal ulcer isn’t that tricky. If you’re looking to do just that, here are the things you should keep in mind:
Prepare some saline solution, two (2) clean pieces of cloth, two (2) deep containers or bowls, as well as an eyedropper or a new syringe.
Place your dog in a comfortable position where you can easily access the affected eye. Make sure both of your arms have ample space to move around. Remember not to take hold of his head too tight so he won’t wiggle as much.
Divide the saline solution into two (2) portions and pour a single portion into each container or bowl. Dip a piece of cloth into the saline solution and gently wipe the areas around the eyes to get rid of any unwanted crust, dirt, or fur.
When you’ve finished, use the eyedropper or syringe to irrigate the surface of the affected eye. Take care to avoid touching the eye itself during this process.
Using a fresh piece of cloth, gently wipe the excess saline solution from the areas around the affected eye. And then give your dog a treat for being so nice and cooperative.
Next, let’s touch on a question that I’ve been asked by a lot of pet parents and animal lovers already regarding canine corneal ulcer…
Can a dog go blind from a corneal ulcer?
The short answer is yes.
You can think of corneal ulcer in dogs as a kind of lesion or wound that can progress into a more serious injury if not given immediate and proper care and attention. The longer this health problem lingers, the more severe its adverse effects will be.
Besides causing irregular scarring in the cornea, which can lead to foggy and blurry vision, canine corneal ulcer may even result in blindness in the long run if neglected or not appropriately dealt with.
Now let’s walk through some of the frequently asked questions about corneal ulcer in dogs…
A lot of pet parents and animal lovers have been asking me the following questions on the subject of corneal ulcer in dogs lately. Make sure go over them so you will come up with the right support strategy should your canine family member be afflicted with this health issue:
Why does my dog keep getting corneal ulcers?
If your canine family member keeps getting corneal ulcers despite the absence of physical trauma, chances are he has an underlying health condition that causes the same.
Besides the possibility that he is going through a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection, your dog could also be suffering from hypothyroidism, diabetes, keratoconjunctivitis sicca or “dye eye,” and epithelial dystrophy.
Can you bathe a dog with an eye ulcer?
Contrary to what a lot of people mistakenly think, you can give a dog with corneal ulcer a bath.
However, it is crucial to keep in mind not to use any harsh shampoos and soaps that could worsen the condition. Some products, notwithstanding how gentle they claim to be, can give your dog a prolonged stinging sensation afterwards.
The best approach to do this is by using saline solution to clean the areas in and around the affected area, and water for the rest of his body.
How do I protect my dog's eyes after a bath?
Remembering not to rub the eyes after a bath is essential when it comes to keeping corneal ulcers in dogs at bay. Having a soft towel on hand is a must as well.
This is because vigorously rubbing your dog’s eyes with a stiff towel after giving him a bath can possibly lead to irritation and even corneal ulcer. Gently patting the eyes with a soft towel works best to dry them without making your pet prone to this health issue.
Can corneal ulcers in dogs become permanent?
The short answer is no.
However, corneal ulcers can progress to even more serious eye issues if not given immediate and proper care. There is even a possibility that neglected or inappropriately looked after corneal ulcers can lead to partial or even complete blindness.
Are corneal ulcers painful in dogs?
Yes, corneal ulcers can be anywhere between slightly uncomfortable to extremely painful in dogs depending on how severe this health issue is.
Apart from constantly pawing or scratching at the affected eye, your canine family member could also let out groans and whining when he is suffering from corneal ulcer in dogs.
Will a dog's eye heal itself when he is afflicted with corneal ulcer?
The short answer is it depends.
Some corneal scrapings or abrasions are so shallow that a dog’s body can easily manage to heal them itself. A good example of this one is when a speck of dust or similar fine foreign matter gets into your canine family member’s eye.
However, deep corneal scrapings or abrasions that become ulcers already require immediate and proper care and attention to heal, such as in the case of nicks and cuts as well as inflammations and infections.
How long does it take for a corneal ulcer to heal in a dog?
Corneal ulcers in dogs that only affect the outermost layer of the cornea can heal in about seven (7) days if given immediate and proper care and attention.
On the other hand, in the case of a deeper and more severe dog corneal ulcer, the time it will take to heal will vary.
This is the reason why you should consider having a high-quality and natural product like CORNEA (ULCER) in your home dog care kit to be always prepared for this health problem.
That ends our short yet comprehensive blog post on corneal ulcer in dogs and I hope you learned a lot.
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