How to Wash a Dog's Eye

Medium
2 - 5 Minutes
2 Day

Introduction

When everything is working as it should, your dog's eye washes itself. Tears bathe the surface of your dog's eyes, keeping them lubricated and washing away dirt and debris that gets in the eye. Sometimes, however, debris, hair, or noxious substances contaminate the eye or overwhelm your dog's natural ability to clean the eye with tear production. Also, if a bacterial infection gets in the eye, or if there is an injury, tears may not be able to adequately bathe the eye or may overflow, leaving unsightly stains around the corners of your dog's eye and down his nose. In these cases, your dog may need your assistance to wash out his eye. An isotonic solution can be used to wash your dog's eye out prior to applying medication for injury or infection or to rinse out a substance or debris in the eye. This may need to be repeated 2 or 3 times daily, depending on the condition, until the issue is resolved. Because eyes are delicate structures you will need to be careful and make sure you are using an appropriate solution for cleaning. It is always advisable to seek veterinary advice if your dog is experiencing an injury or condition in his eye, before using eye washes, to ensure appropriate treatment is obtained.

Dog's Perspective

No one likes having their eye washed out! Not only is having a solution applied to the eyes uncomfortable, but if your dog is experiencing an injury or infection in the eye his eyes will be extra sensitive. You will need to convince your dog to let you wash out eyes to make it a more positive experience, especially if you will need to be repeating the procedure over several days. Treats and positive reinforcement is always appreciated. Work slowly and carefully, and do not poke your dog's eye with applicators, which will make your dog avoid future eye washing procedures.

The Homemade Wash Method

Effective
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Step
1
Mix water and salt
Sterilize containers before mixing homemade solutions by boiling in water and allowing to cool and air dry. Use sterile water purchased from a pharmacy. Add water to a pint of water in a sterile container and add ¬Ĺ tsp of table salt, non-iodized. Mix well.
Step
2
Fill dropper
Take up solution in a sterile eye dropper, available at veterinary or pharmacy supply stores.
Step
3
Secure dog
Work in a secure location, with good light. Have all materials nearby. Use an assistant to secure your dog's head, by wrapping their arm under the head and securing it against their shoulder.
Step
4
Dispense to eye surface
Pull down the skin below the lower eyelid, to expose the eyeball, and hold dropper a few inches away for safety. Dispense 4-6 drops of solution.
Step
5
Clean up spills
Allow your dog to blink. Mop up any overflow on their face with a sterile cotton ball or gauze.
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The On Your Own Method

Effective
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Step
1
Use store bought eye wash
Purchase a saline solution or special dog eye wash from a pharmacy or veterinarian for washing your dog's eyes and a sterile dropper for application. Syringes can apply too much pressure when the solution is dispensed and should be avoided.
Step
2
Lay your dog on side
Lay your dog on his side on an elevated table or on the floor if necessary.
Step
3
Hold dropper and lay your arm over dog
Place your dominant hand over your dog's shoulder, holding your dog on his side, with the dropper a few inches above the surface of eye.
Step
4
Hold muzzle and pull down eyelid
Hold your dog's head down by laying your non dominant hand over the muzzle, so you can reach the lower eyelid with fingers. Pull the lower eyelid down with the non-dominant hand to access eye surface.
Step
5
Dispense
Dispense eye wash solution, usually 4-6 drops. Repeat for the eye on the other side if necessary.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Be very careful not to poke your dog's eye with the applicator. Hold it away from your¬†dog‚Äôs eye and secure your dog.
  • Use only sterile solutions and applicators.
  • Get veterinary advice for eye infections and injuries before treating, as the eye is a delicate structure that may require medication to resolve issues.
  • Use an assistant if you anticipate trouble keeping your dog still while dispensing eye drops.
  • Avoid using a syringe, which dispenses solution with too much pressure into the eye.

Conclusion

Working around your dog's eye can be intimidating for him and for you. Sometimes, however, eye washing is necessary to prep for medication, wash out gunk or a harmful substance, or to rinse out excessive dust and hair your dog has been exposed to. Taking care to ensure that your dog is properly immobilized, and working in a secure area with good light and sterile tools, will help you ensure that your dog's eye is washed in a safe manner. Take your time and reassure your dog--it's not a race, after all!  Better safe than sorry, when working around your dog's eye.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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