How to Clean a Dog Eye Wound

Medium
2 - 5 Minutes
2 Days

Introduction

Uh-oh, Fifi the Miniature Poodle just tried to make friends with the neighbor's cat. The cat was not impressed and swatted Fifi in the face, scratching her eye. 

Eye injuries can be serious and even a small injury like a scratch can become infected and damage eye structures, resulting in temporary or permanent vision loss. A scratch or bite wound from another animal can be particularly dangerous, as claws and teeth tend to harbor germs that can cause infection. Veterinary treatment for eye wounds is always advisable. 

Dogs can get eye wounds in a variety of ways, from other dogs and cats during altercations, or from getting debris, dirt, or vegetation in their eyes.  Cleaning the wound when veterinary care is not immediately available, or cleaning it as part of treatment after appropriate medical care has been determined, is frequently necessary.

Dog's Perspective

Eye wounds can be painful; they are certainly irritating and uncomfortable. Your dog may experience squinting or twitching eyelids, a swollen eye he cannot open, clear tearing, bleeding, or colored discharge, red inflamed membranes in and around the eye, light sensitivity and pain. None of these will make your dog want you to mess with his sore eye,--he probably wasn't too keen on you touching his eye before it got hurt! Move carefully, be gentle and interfere with your dog's eye as little as possible to clean the wound and get necessary treatment.

The Before Medical Attention Method

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Step
1
Wash hands, contain dog
Wash your hands before handling your dog’s eye. Find an area where your dog will not be distracted and you can safely contain your dog. You can put your dog against a wall or piece of furniture to limit his movement, or wrap a towel around a small dog to get the dog to hold still if necessary.
Step
2
Have an assistant help
If you have an assistant, they can help hold the dog by wrapping their arm under the dog's neck and holding its head over their shoulder.
Step
3
Flush eye
Hold your dog's eye open with one hand and apply a steady stream of a sterile eyewash solution, available at a pharmacy, or lukewarm water to flush out your dog's eye. Do not use medicated eye wash.
Step
4
Clean up
Catch excess solution with a towel or cloth. Clean up the area and wash your hands after handling your dog.
Step
5
Get medical advice
Seek veterinary attention to assess the wound. Eye wounds can be more serious than they look and infections can compromise your dog’s vision.
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The After Medical Attention Method

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Step
1
Clean if recommended
If your veterinarian indicates the eye wound should be regularly cleaned as part of eye wound treatment, follow their instructions. Many veterinarians will recommend that you instill a sterile or medicated eye wash solution as part of treatment.
Step
2
Prepare solution
Prepare appropriate prescribed eye wash in an applicator that comes with the eyewash or in a syringe without a needle attached.
Step
3
Flush eye
Pull out the upper or lower eyelids gently as required, and flush the eye. Follow instructions regarding frequency, often twice daily is recommended. Allow flushed fluid and material to drain from eye and capture in a towel or cloth.
Step
4
Apply compresses
Apply a compress. Usually a cool compresses is recommended to reduce swelling. A chamomile tea compress or tea bag compresses may be useful, consult your veterinarian before applying.
Step
5
Treat with prescribed medication
Instill medication, antibiotics or anti-inflammatories if prescribed by your veterinarian. Use medication an appropriate time period after cleaning and before the next eye cleaning.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Do not use contact lens solution or medicated eye wash until you have consulted with a veterinarian.
  • Clean your hands before and after working with your dog's eye wound.
  • Be very careful when instilling eye drops or substances into the eye not to poke the eye with the syringe or applicator.  Hold the applicator at an angle to the eye, not perpendicular.
  • When pulling back eyelids, be gentle and use minimum required handling to flush with eyewash and remove discharge.
  • Be sure to seek veterinary advice for eye wounds as they can be more serious than they look.
  • Most dogs with eye wounds will need to be prevented from scratching at their painful eye and an Elizabethan collar may be required.

Conclusion

Your dog's eyes, much like your own, are critical, delicate sensory organs, and ensuring that wounds are cleaned and receive appropriate medical attention is imperative. Before receiving medical advice, use minimally invasive techniques to clean out the eyes, especially if chemicals or debris may be present. Flushing with saline solution or water may be advisable before medical attention can be obtained. 

Depending on the treatment prescribed for your dog's eye wound, regular cleaning to flush out discharge, prevent infection, and allow for a clean surface that medication can penetrate may be recommended. Saline or medicated eye wash may be prescribed for your dog, follow instructions carefully and be very gentle when working to clean your dog's wounded eye. A clean location and clean hands and tools are important for treating eye injuries.

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