The good news is that dogs can quite easily adapt to life with one eye and live long, happy, and completely problem-free lives. However, if your pet is having an eye removed, you'll need to offer whatever assistance you can to help make the adjustment to their new circumstances as smooth as possible.
Signs of Eye Problems in Dogs
Generally speaking, most dog owners are pretty quick to pick up on doggy eye problems — considering the amount of time you spend gazing lovingly into those big, "puppy-dog" eyes, this is hardly a surprise.
Signs and symptoms that there may be cause for concern include red, swollen or irritated eyes, noticeable opaqueness in the lenses, or any signs of vision loss. For example, if your pet starts bumping into objects they would usually avoid without any trouble, this could be a sign that they're not seeing as clearly as they used to.
Behavior that's out of the ordinary can also offer clues that may indicate eye problems. For example, if your pet is pawing at or scratching their eyes frequently, or whines or whimpers any time you make contact with any part of the face near the eyes, this could be cause for concern.
The most common cause of enucleation (the surgical removal of an eye) is glaucoma, which is characterized by increased pressure within the eye. Some of the symptoms to look for include different-sized pupils, eye pain, frequent blinking, red blood vessels in the whites of the eye, a cloudy appearance at the front of the eye and vision loss.
If you're at all worried that there's something wrong with your pet's eye health, get them checked out by your vet as soon as possible.
- Averting eyes
- Pupils dilated
- Red, swollen, or irritated eyes
- Vision loss
- Signs of pain in or around the eyes
- Frequent blinking
- Change in appearance of the eyes, such as cloudiness
The Science of Removing a Dog's Eye
- Severe trauma, for example a ruptured eyeball
- Eye infections that do not respond to therapy
- Congenital deformities
- Eye diseases that have the potential to spread to other parts of the body
However, the most common reason a dog will need to undergo enucleation surgery is glaucoma. It causes serious pain for dogs and can severely damage the optic nerve, eventually leading to blindness. While there are other treatment options that can be explored before going under the knife, in long-term cases where the optic nerve has been damaged beyond repair, surgery to remove the eye is the best option.
The best news is that the procedure won't provide any sort of significant setback for your furry friend. There may be swelling and bruising for several days, and you'll need to offer assistance to your dog in the first days after surgery, but your veterinarian will advise you on everything you need to do to help your pet recover as quickly as possible.
Helping Your Dog Adapt to Life with One Eye
Perhaps this in part due to the fact that, in many cases, the dog has been suffering from vision loss and pain in the affected eye for some time. After enucleation, with the pain gone, many pets even seem to have a new lease on life. They're not worried at all about their appearance and you may even notice that your pooch seems happier and more playful than they have seemed in a long time.
As an owner, all you need to do is provide whatever support and assistance your canine companion may need. For example, make sure their Elizabethan collar is secure so they can't get at their stitches and administer any pain medications as instructed by your vet.
Also, remember to give your dog time to adapt to only having the use of one eye — this shouldn't take too long and most animals will enjoy completely normal mobility and behavior within a short space of time.
So while eye removal surgery may sound scary and intimidating, it can make a big difference to your pet's overall quality of life. Dogs can and do live happy, contented lives with one eye or even with no eyes, so don't be afraid if enucleation is recommended as the best treatment option for your pet.
How to Care for a One-Eyed Dog:
Follow any post-op care instructions provided by your vet, including providing any pain medication.
Monitor your dog closely for any signs that their vision with only one eye is affecting their mobility.
Give your dog time to adapt to their new circumstances — this usually won't take long.
Make sure you keep a close watch on your pet's remaining eye for signs of any vision loss or other problems. Regular vet check-ups will also help you manage your pet's eye health.