Eye injuries can occur for a lot of reasons around the house. When pets play together, paws are often flying and it only takes one quick swipe to the eye to cause an injury. Running through brush-covered ground can also easily result in a scratch on the eye. Sometimes pets have underlying diseases that result in excess exposure of the eye (any breed with “bulging” eyes like shih-tzus and pugs are not able to lubricate their eyes normally; cats with viral infections can get eye ulcers; and some pets may not produce enough tears to lubricate the eye).
Signs of an injury to the eye include redness of the eye, swelling around or in the eye, excessive tear production, squinting, abnormal discharge (discolored) or being head-shy.
If you think your pet has had an injury to the eye, he or she should be examined by a veterinarian because many eye conditions can lead to blindness if not treated quickly. Many times, it is essential that they have an examination to see if there is a scratch (often called an ulcer) or if there is a more serious underlying condition such as glaucoma or KCS (decreased tear production). Antibiotics for the eye need to be obtained from a veterinarian, and it is important that other triple antibiotics used for topical purposes (such as Neosporin) are NOT placed in the eye. Neosporin does manufacture both OTC and prescription ophthalmic solutions and ointments.
If you think your pet may have gotten something small in their eye, such as a small hair, bug or maybe had something hot or dangerous splashed in their eye (DOES YOUR PET WATCH YOU COOK!?), you may be able to wash it out with over the counter eye irrigation solution. This is commonly found is first aid kits and at most pharmacies. This can be difficult to apply so a second person is usually needed to help hold your pet. The solution can be applied (usually in large volumes) directly into the eye. You may want a towel around to help mop up the extra. If something hot or caustic may have been splashed in your pet’s eye, tap water can even be used to flush out the eye. If it was something simple (like a hair in the eye), squinting should resolve the problem within an hour. If squinting or pawing persists longer than that, it is possible an ulcer is present and your pet should be examined by a veterinarian.