CARING FOR YOUR PET'S VISION


 

An animal’s vision is key to optimally living a full, active, and healthy life. But accidents, disease, and age-related conditions can all threaten ocular health. Knowing the symptoms can greatly affect the treatment your pet receives, and the success of that treatment.

In addition to recognizing symptoms and seeking treatment, proper aftercare is often your job at home. Knowing how to administer medication, recognizing signs of complications, and comforting your pet in general is paramount to the best recovery possible.

Signs that your pet may have an eye problem…
  • Increased redness or swelling of the eye(s)
  • Increased discharge around the eyes (especially green or yellow)
  • Cloudiness of the eye(s)
  • Squinting or holding the eye(s) closed
  • Scratching or pawing at the eye(s)
  • Decreased vision in general, or bumping into objects at home
Please contact your family veterinarian or a recommended emergency facility first. They will know best how to deliver the immediate ocular care for your pet, and will refer your pet’s care to Animal Vision Center of Virginia if indicated.
Cleaning around your pet’s eyes…

Regular cleaning is important to the health of your pet’s eyes. It takes just a few minutes and helps to prevent many problems later in their lives.

Simply use a warm, clean washcloth or ocular wipe to clean the area around the eye. Other than getting rid of any dirt and debris, this keeps the eyes free of any discharge and medication buildup.

My pet is wearing a medical collar, when can I take it off?

If your pet has been instructed to wear an Elizabethan collar, (“E-collar”) please keep it on at all times if possible until you have been instructed to remove the collar. Only remove temporarily if you are directly supervising the patient (i.e.while they are eating or sitting with you). Most pets will adjust to wearing the protective collar at all times after only 1-2 days.

The E-collar is designed to protect the eye and prevent inadvertent self-trauma from pawing or rubbing at the eye. Failure of the surgery performed or rupture of the eye may occur if the E-collar is not worn properly.

All patients…
  • No food after 12am the morning of surgery.
  • Water is fine until dropping your pet off for surgery
  • Always bring a current list of all your pet’s medications.
Diabetic patients…
  • Feed half of a typical morning meal between 6–7am and administer half of the standard insulin dose.
  • Bring your pet’s insulin and insulin syringes with you to drop off with patient.
  • We will monitor the blood glucose in the morning, and throughout the day to ensure adequate control.
  • We will give you instructions for insulin administration the evening following surgery based on the end-of-day reading and on whether your pet eats that evening.
Cataract surgery patients:
  • Please begin administering your prescribed pre-operative medications (prednisolone acetate and ofloxacin or neomycin-polymyxin-dexamethasone) 4 times daily, 2 days prior to your scheduled surgery.
  • Always wait a minimum of 5 minutes between drops.
Increased Redness or Swelling of the Eye(s)
Increased Discharge (especially green or yellow)
Increased Cloudiness of the Eye(s)
Increased Squinting or Holding the Eye(s) Close
Scratching or Pawing at the Eye(s)
Any Indication of Decreased Vision
How to Administer Topical Eye Drops

When applying topical medications, only 1 drop per eye, per treatment is required. It is often times helpful to elevate the patient (if possible) onto a table or countertop to bring them out of their natural environment and better under your control. Place a towel or blanket on the surface to help your pet feel secure. It is always a good idea to clean around the eye and remove any mucus or discharge from the eye by using a clean warm washcloth or ocular wipe before administering medications.

Hold your pet gently, but firmly in front of you with their back towards you. Use your nondominant hand to elevate the chin upwards and pull back the top eyelid. Use your dominant hand to apply 1 drop of the medication. As long as the medication lands anywhere between the eyelids, you have successfully administered the medication!

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How to Administer Topical Eye Ointment

If both drops and ointments are used, always apply the drop first, then wait 5-10 minutes before applying the ointment. It is oftentimes helpful to elevate the patient (if possible) onto a table or countertop to bring them out of their natural environment and better under your control. Place a towel or blanket on the surface to increase your pet’s security. It is always a good idea to clean around the eye and remove any mucus from the eye by using a clean warm washcloth or ocular wipe before administering medications.

Hold your pet gently but firmly in front of you with their back towards you. Use your nondominant hand to elevate the chin upwards and pull back the top eyelid. Use your dominant hand to gently compress the tube to allow a small amount of ointment to escape from the tip (~¼ inch length). Manually open the eyelids, and drape the released ointment on the surface of the eye , taking care not to make contact with the eye. Gently blink the eyelids to assist with dispersion of the ointment on the surface of the eye.

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How to Administer Oral Medications

For small pills, the best option is usually to try to hide the pill in a small treat for your pet - this could include cream cheese, peanut butter, liverwurst, chicken baby food, or “pill pocket”. If this is unsuccessful, you could also try crushing the pill, and mixing it in any of the above, or in your pet’s wet food. If this is still unsuccessful, you will have to manually pill your pet. To increase your pet’s security, prevent scratching, and give you better control, it is oftentimes useful to wrap your small dog or cat snugly in a towel, like a burrito (this is not possible in larger dogs).

Using your non-dominant hand, grasp the head from above and under the jaw and lift the nose toward the ceiling. Using your dominant hand, grasp the pill between your thumb and index finger and use the middle finger to pull downward and open the lower jaw. Drop the pill, or place the pill at the back of the throat (be careful not to get bitten!). Finally, massage the throat, or follow with a small amount of water in a syringe to ensure that the pill is swallowed.

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How to Administer Administer L-lysine to a Cat

There are multiple formulations of L-lysine that can be utilized based on your cat’s preference. If your cat eats wet food, the power form in a capsule is likely to be the easiest version for you to administer. Simply open the capsule, sprinkle over the wet food, and mix thoroughly. If your cat does not eat wet food, but enjoys treats, you may have better luck with the Optixcare L-lysine treats (my cats go crazy for these!).

Finally, if your cat does not like treats or wet cat food, you can try using the L-lysine paste. Wipe the appropriate amount of paste onto the top surface of your cat’s paw, and he or she will typically lick it off in order to stay fully groomed. The paste can also be mixed in with your cat’s dry food.

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Both dogs and cats live in a very different sensory world than our own. They naturally have less developed detail and color vision, and better developed senses of hearing and smell. For these reasons, they actually tend to adjust to their loss of vision much better than you might think possible.

After going through this process with her own pet, a basset hound with glaucoma, Dr. Heather understands the feelings of despair and trepidation you have for your pet. She also understands the profound ability of animals to adapt to the change with proper support from their family.

Depending on the period of time in which the vision is lost, dogs and cats will go through a period of adjustment. They may appear more reserved or nervous to move around. They will generally display difficulty navigating around their typical environment by frequently bumping into objects. This adjustment period is more dramatic when the vision change is rapid. To help them adjust, you can follow the guidelines to the right.

Finally, it is very important to remember that just because your pet is blind, he or she can still go on to live a happy and complete life, with just a small amount of additional assistance from the family. There are several resources that can be referenced in addition to the tips above including: the BlindDogs website, and the books “Living with Blind Dogs: A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low-Vision Dogs," “Blind Dog Stories: Tales of Triumph, Humor, and Heroism,” and “Bind Devotion,” among others

Help them memorize their environment by taking care not to move furniture or objects in the home.
Keep their food and water bowl in the same location, to facilitate their ability to find these objects without sight.
Train your pet on a leash inside and outside on frequent walks. Guide them using frequent voice commands like “step up”, “step down”, “to the left”, and “to the right”. This helps your pet understand these terms when not on the leash.
Train your pet to navigate stairs in the home using the above voice commands and leash guidance. Access to stairs should be limited until your pet can handle the steps supervised without difficulty.
Regular access to a body of water or pool should be restricted to prevent inadvertent falls into the water and potential inability to find their way back out.
What are cataracts?

A cataract is an opacity or cloudiness that develops within the lens of the eye. The lens is a normally clear structure in the center of the eye that helps to focus light on the retina and allow for fine detail in vision. Therefore, when a cataract develops, it results in cloudy or blurred vision, and up to complete loss of vision.

Click on the questions below to learn more about cataracts and the issues that surround treatment.

QUICK CONSULTATION

Sometimes all you need is a quick question answered or need a second opinion to help a patient. Dr. Heather is happy to give you both.

ON-SITE CONSULTATION

We will gladly provide ophthalmic consultations for your patients at YOUR veterinary practice. Due to increased time allotments, please allow up to one week for these appointments.

PATIENT REFERRAL

We appreciate and accept any animal in need of ocular care. In our hands, your patients will receive the best diagnosis and care possible.