Dog Eye Ulcer: Causes And Treatment

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Dog eye ulcers are common eye problems that can cause pain, discomfort, increased sensitivity to light, and redness in the eye. In most cases, these ulcers are caused by a bacterial or viral infection, trauma to the eye caused by scratching or rubbing, or environmental factors such as dust or smoke in the air. Left untreated, canine eye ulcers can lead to serious complications, such as glaucoma, vision loss, and even blindness. Treatment typically involves the prescription of antibiotics, ointments, drops, or ophthalmic medications to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Additionally, it may be necessary to provide supportive care such as eye pads, to protect the eyes as they heal.

Dog Eye Ulcer: Causes And Treatment

Eye ulcers in dogs can happen for a variety of reasons including trauma to the eye, a foreign body, contact with a chemical, underlying infection, or an autoimmune disease. In some cases, the cause may remain unknown.

Treatment is based on the condition and its underlying cause. Common treatments include topical antibiotics, steroid medications, non-topical medications, topical eye lubricants, surgical removal of foreign bodies, eye patching, and, rarely, enucleation (removal of the eye). Evisceration (surgical removal of the contents of the eye) may also be performed in certain cases.

Your veterinarian may recommend further testing to help diagnose the underlying cause of the ulcer. This may include complete blood work, urinalysis, radiographs (x-rays), and possibly eye cultures and other tests. Treatment will usually depend on the results of this diagnostic workup.

If your veterinarian believes your dog continues to be uncomfortable or in pain due to an ulcer, then a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist may be indicated. Ophthalmologists are specialists who diagnose and treat eye problems in both animals and humans. Referral to an ophthalmologist may also be necessary in cases where the cause of the ulcer is unknown.

It is important to make sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely when it comes to administering medications or treatments for your dog’s eye ulcer. If a particular medication is not working or if your dog is having an adverse reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What is Eye Ulcer in Dogs?

Eye ulcers, also known as corneal ulcers, are a common canine eye problem. They occur when the protective outer layer of the cornea, the clear window of the eye, becomes damaged or scratched. They are most often seen in dogs with long, floppy ears or certain breeds such as Bulldogs, Bichon Frises, Pugs, and Schnauzers. Symptoms may include squinting, redness, rubbing eyes, tearing, and/or a change in vision. Ulcers can be painful and, if left untreated, can lead to permanent vision loss. Treatment for ulcers includes topical antibiotics, ointments, and/or surgery, depending on the severity of the case.

Dog Eye Ulcer Won’t Heal

When a dog has an eye ulcer, it needs prompt medical attention and treatment. Left untreated or poorly treated, eye ulcers can result in permanent vision loss or even blindness. This is because they don’t heal quickly naturally. Without treatment, the eye ulcer will continue to grow and cause more inflammation and irritation, increasing the risk of damage to the eye. Proper treatment such as topical antibiotic therapy, ointments, and lubrication is necessary for the eye ulcer to heal correctly and reduce further damage to the eye.

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Dog Eye Ulcer Surgery Cost

Dog eye ulcer surgery cost can vary greatly depending on the type of surgery needed, the severity of the ulcer, and the complexity of the procedure. The cost of the surgery itself can range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Additionally, additional costs may include hospitalization fees, medications, and post-operative care. Additionally, the cost may be higher if the ulcer is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as glaucoma, which can require additional treatments.

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  1. Infection: Infections are the most common cause of eye ulcers in dogs. These infections can be bacterial, fungal, or viral (such as canine herpesvirus or distemper). Secondary infections (which occur when microbes exist on or invade the surface of the ulcer) are also common.
  2. Injury: Injury is another potential cause of eye ulcers in dogs. Injuries can be caused by any number of things, including scratching and rubbing at the eye, being hit by a foreign object, being poked or scraped with something sharp, or getting irritants such as detergents in the eyes.
  3. Immune-Mediated Causes: Immune-mediated diseases such as pannus, immune-mediated diseases, or systemic autoimmune diseases (such as systemic lupus or juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis) may cause or lead to ulcers of the eye.
  4. Tumors: Tumors of the eye can cause ulcers, either directly by pressing on the surface of the eye or indirectly by affecting the eye’s tear production.
  5. Dry Eye: The development of dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) can cause ulcers of the eye due to a lack of normal lubrication of the cornea.
  6. Allergies: Allergic reactions to foreign bodies or environmental triggers can cause redness, swelling, and inflammation of the eyes, which can lead to the formation of ulcers.

Dog Breeds at High-risk Eye Ulcer

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Pugs
  • Bulldogs
  • Shih Tzus
  • Boston Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Dalmatians
  • Akitas

Symptoms of Eye Ulcer in Dogs

  • Cloudy or red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Squinting or holding the eyes closed
  • Brown or yellow discharge from the eyes
  • Blinking or twitching of the eyelids
  • Loss of vision
  • Pawing at the face or eyes
  • Behavioral changes such as appearing more irritable or withdrawn
  • Head tilting or tilting the head to one side
  • Swelling of the area surrounding the eye

How Veterinarians Diagnose Eye Ulcers in Dogs

Veterinarians typically diagnose eye ulcers in dogs by first performing a physical examination, followed by a full ophthalmic exam. During the physical, the vet might examine the facial anatomy of the dog, and then move on to the eyes themselves, looking for signs of an ulcer such as swollen lids, discharge, redness, and/or clouding of the cornea. The ophthalmic exam includes a check for proptosis, uveitis, and keratitis, as well as possible corneal ulceration. The vet will then use a corneal stain to confirm if there is an ulcer present, photophobia, and the size and location of the ulcer. Other tests could be used depending on the diagnosis, such as blood work to check for infections or systemic diseases, running a fungal culture, or ultrasounds.

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How to Treat Dog Eye Ulcers

Treating eye ulcers in dogs typically involves a combination of antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), topical ointments, eye drops, and possibly surgery. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate medications and medications for your particular case. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend frequent checkups in order to monitor the ulcer’s progress and make sure it responds properly to treatment. 

Eyewashes are also commonly used to reduce any discomfort and redness that may accompany the ulcer. Special eye drops may also be used to help soothe the area around the ulcer and prevent infection. In some cases, the veterinarian may prescribe an artificial tear solution to help keep the ulcer moist and reduce the chances of scarring. If the ulcer is severe or involves the cornea, your veterinarian may send you to a specialist for further testing or an ophthalmologist for surgery. 

Dog Eye Ulcer Home Remedy

  • Administer artificial tears or artificial tear gel to the affected area several times a day to help flush out any debris and reduce inflammation.
  • Use a warm, wet cloth to gently clean the eye.
  • Feed a diet that promotes balanced levels of omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation and speed the healing process.
  • Try an ointment such as Vetericyn Plus All Animal Eye Wash to help reduce inflammation and decrease pain.

Signs a Dog Eye Ulcer is Healing

  • Diminished cloudy appearance – The cornea may start to clear up as the ulcer heals.
  • Discharge – Discharge from the eye should gradually decrease as the ulcer improves.
  • Reduced pain – Ulcers can cause pain in the form of pressure around the eyes, redness, blinking, or squinting. If these signs lessen over time, it is likely the ulcer is healing.
  • Increased appetite – A dog may regain appetite when the painful ulcer starts healing.
  • Less tearing – When the eye is healing, it should generate fewer tears which might result in the fur around the eyes getting drier.

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  1. Understand the causes of eye ulcers: Eye ulcers in dogs are most commonly caused by trauma, infection, allergies, or other eye diseases such as dry eye or glaucoma. Therefore, understanding the potential causes of eye ulcers can help in preventative measures.
  2. Ensure regular check-ups and vaccinations: A regular checkup is key to ensure good eye health. Vaccinations are also important for preventing diseases that can lead to eye ulcers.
  3. Keep the eyes clean: It is recommended to clean the eyes daily with a warm, damp cotton ball and provide eye drops for comfort if necessary.
  4. Monitor environment and activities: Make sure to keep the area around your dog free of dust, debris, and other potential irritants. Additionally, monitor the activities of your dog and avoid activities that may lead to unintentional injury, such as running around a yard with low visibility.
  5. Feed a healthy diet: A balanced diet with balanced nutrition can help reduce the chances of developing eye ulcers.
  6. Limit exposure to sunlight: Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause eye damage and inflammation. Therefore, providing shade and limiting outdoor activities during peak times of exposure is important.
  7. Provide quality eyewear: Quality eye protection can help protect your dog’s eyes from trauma or infection and reduce the chance of eye ulcers.
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Q. Can eye ulcers in dogs be cured?

A. Yes, most eye ulcers in dogs can be cured with medical treatment and careful monitoring.

Q. How does a dog get an ulcer in his eye?

A. An ulcer in a dog’s eye can be caused by trauma, corneal inflammation, infection, or a foreign body.

Q. Can you treat a dog’s eye ulcer at home?

A. No, self-treating a dog’s eye ulcer can be dangerous, and it is best to see a veterinarian for appropriate treatment.

Q. Will a dog’s eye ulcer heal on its own?

A. It depends on the severity and cause of the eye ulcer. Minor ulcers can often heal on their own with proper care, while more severe ulcers may require medical treatment.

Q. How serious is an ulcer in a dog’s eye?

A. An ulcer in a dog’s eye can be very serious as it can lead to a corneal infection or vision loss.

Q. How long does it take a dog eye ulcer to heal?

A. It can take up to 4-6 weeks for a dog eye ulcer to heal, depending on severity and underlying cause.


In conclusion, dog eye ulcers are a serious issue and require prompt treatment. There are a variety of causes, including injury, infection, allergic reactions, or underlying medical conditions. Treatment options vary depending on the cause and may include medications, topical agents, and surgery. It is important to get your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible so that a proper diagnosis can be made and treatment can be tailored to your pet’s specific needs.

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