Minor Eye Irritation in Dogs: Cookie’s Unhappy Eye

Eye injuries in dogs are serious business.

An eye can go from minor irritation to a disaster in no time. With Cookie, I am surprised that she doesn’t have one eye problem or another at least once a week. She’s an enthusiastic hunter and throws herself into bushes and brambles without inhibition.

Minor Eye Irritation in Dogs: Cookie's Unhappy Eye

It gets more complicated when you cannot see a vet that I would normally be likely to do.

Cookie’s story

In the morning, when Cookie was coming for her breakfast, she seemed to have been squinting her right eye. An injury? A foreign body?

Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation

Of course, trying to observe one eye on a dog who’s in constant motion isn’t easy. Right after that, it seemed like to was fine. (Trying to photograph it, btw, is even harder. You won’t believe how many totally blurry photos I took).

Minor Eye Irritation in Dogs: Cookie's Unhappy Eye

I couldn’t tell whether it was gone or not.

When we got back and she settled down it became quite clear that the eye is not happy. (Whilw “idle” she’s squint quite a bit more than on the photo above. When active, she’d open it fully)

Then we left for our morning walk and I kept trying to watch what the eye was doing. It kind of seemed like she kept squinting a little bit but not all the time. Perhaps it was a reaction to the sunlight? (Yeah, we actually had a couple of sunny days, didn’t know what to do with it anymore… well, today it’s raining again so things are back to normal)

Overall I did think that the eye wasn’t quite right.

A squinty eye is a painful eye

There was no discharge, swelling or redness as we could see. But something was going on with it that should not. I am quite paranoid when it comes to eyes.

Well, okay, I’m quite paranoid when it comes to anything being wrong with my dogs. But the eyes are very vulnerable.

Of course, problems always crop up when it’s hard or impossible to go to see a vet. Be it a long weekend, or, this time, hubby leaving down South for work.

I was quite upset. What if it gets worse?

I don’t know what I would do without my online veterinary friends. I can always turn to them at times like this. Dr. Krista was around, took a look at the photos and said it wasn’t too bad looking.

She recommended sterile saline flush.

Sterile saline

Fortunately, having a fully equipped doggy first aid kit, we had some of that too. It was a big bottle so I pulled out a syringe which we originally got for force-feeding Jasmine.

I squirted it in generously.

This stuff doesn’t do any harm, one can you all they wish or all the dog is willing to put up with. Cookie wasn’t really impressed but let me do it. Right after she got a special big treat.

Because nothing has changed in the next half hour, I repeated the flush. In fact, nothing has changed for the rest of the day. At least things didn’t get worse but didn’t seem to be getting better either.

So periodically I kept flushing the eye, hoping I won’t have to get a neighbor to drive us to the vet.

In the morning I was anxious to see what the eye looked like.

It looked good!

I can breathe yet again. Not sure if the flushes helped or it fixed itself but glad it’s fine now. She might have had a bit of foreign material or hurt it a little bit when running through the bush.

The complete answer from Pawbly:

A squinty eye is an irritated eye. Look for any debris or foreign material in the eye, you know like we squint when we get an eyelash. Debris can be flushed out with sterile saline, the sort used for contact lens (no medicated red-eye stuff, just plain saline). If the squinting persists or you start to see any ocular discharge, like excessive tearing or yellow-green discharge it is time to go to the vet.

My biggest concern is damage to the cornea, which is painful, hence the squinting. The good news is that with early intervention a small scratch or damage often heals quickly. Eyes get bad, and heal, quickly, so early diagnosis and treatment is important in eyes.

And, remember to not let her rub her eye. Rubbing can worsen the damage if it is caused by foreign material, or worsen the size of the defect if rubbed or scratched with a paw/nail.

Allergies are another possibility, but usually that affects both eyes.

All is well that ends well, right?

Related articles:
Eye Discharge in Dogs: What Is That Goop In My Dog’s Eyes?

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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