Dogs have naturally sensitive eyes, and the breed does not matter. Sensitive eyes are common to these furry creatures, leading to eye irritation if exposed to various factors such as a virus, foreign object, bacterial contamination, allergies, or glaucoma. Your dog has a high chance of acquiring eye infection in their lifetime, and you should know how to deal with it.
Some particular breeds are more likely to acquire eye infections more than others. These breeds are Pugs, Pekingese, Poodles, Maltese, Cocker Spaniels, and Shih-Tzus. If your dog is one of these breeds, you should always make sure that your dog's eyes are extra clean all the time.
Here are some tips on how to clean your dog's eyes, no matter what breed.1. Trim Your Dog's Facial Hair
The first thing you should do to ensure proper cleaning is to get rid of facial hair near the eyes. This hair can obstruct your cleaning, and hair can also cause eye irritation in dogs. A dog's ungroomed facial hair can collect dust, dirt, or debris and get into your dog's eyes, thus the cause of infections.
Excessive facial hair can also cause the development of tear stains. Make facial hair trimming included in your regular hygiene routine. It is suggested to use scissors instead of clippers since it moves too fast and can injure your dog.2. Clean The Eyes
Make sure that you only use dog-specific cleansers or saline solutions. You should not use any other products to wash your dog's eyes. If your vet hasn't advised you to use a specific product, a trusted saline solution for dogs is the best option. It is mild, and it can clean your dog's eyes completely to clear it from irritants that can cause infections.
You need to clean your pet's eyes right after you bathe him or her. Make sure you do not use cotton pads as they can leave filaments on the eyelashes, which can ultimately get inside your dog's eyes, causing further problems.3. Sterilize Tools
Make sure the tools you are going to use are properly sterilized. This is to ensure the infection will not occur or worsen. If you do not sterilize the tools that come in contact with your dog's eyes, there is a high chance the infection will worsen due to the bacteria present in the tools.
You also need to make sure that you have clean hands before your pet's eye cleaning. Your goal is to relieve the discomfort and remove any irritants or bacteria present in the eyes to help it heal completely. By having dirty hands, you could worsen the situation, leading to a more serious problem.4. Time For The Saline Solution
Pry open your dog's eyelids with your clean and dominant hand. Using your other hand, slowly and carefully pour the saline solution into the eyes. Make sure that the tip of the saline bottle doesn't touch the eyes to avoid contaminating it.
Ensure the saline solution covers the entire eyeballs by opening and closing your dog's eyelids. By doing this, the saline solution will evenly distribute and coat the entire eye. Do not hesitate to use as much of the saline solution as you want. It is not a medication that can cause an overdose. It is just a cleansing agent to help flush away the dirt and dust on the eyes.
Use an amount that can properly flush away the dirt and eye boogers inside and outside your dog's eyes. Salines are also gentle, so you do not have to worry about anything. It can help relieve the discomfort like stinging, itching, or pain your dog experienced.5. Compress
After flushing the eyes with the saline solution, close the dog's eyes and wipe them. Remember, avoid using cotton pads. A warm and damp cloth would be the best. Apply it to your dog's eyes and hold it for about five minutes. Compressing further relieves the irritated eyes.
Ensure that the cloth is warm enough, not too cold and not too hot -- as it may burn your dog. After doing the first eye, clean the cloth properly before using it to apply on the other eye. You can also use a new cloth for the application in the other eye to make sure it is clean.6. Get Rid Of Tear Stains
It is normal that your dog's eyes continuously produce tears during an infection due to the irritation they experience. Tear stains are difficult to remove. Sometimes, the best solution is to shave them off.
This is where the saying "prevention is better than cure" comes into play. Although there are products that claim to remove tear stains, it is still best to avoid tear stains than to eliminate them. It is recommended to wipe the surroundings of your dog's eyes with a damp washcloth twice a day.7. Always Protect Their Eyes
After the cleaning process, make sure that your dog's eyes are protected all the time. For example, you need to apply an ophthalmic gel to their eyes when using medicated shampoo or any flea-killing product.
These products consist of harsh chemicals that are not for your pet’s eyes. Another thing to remember is not to let your dog stick his or her head out the window during car rides, as it can cause particles to enter his eyes and can scratch their cornea.
When To Bring Your Dog To An Expert
When worse comes to worst, and a simple home cleaning doesn't do the trick, a trip to the vet would be best. But when should you schedule a trip to the vet? Here are the tell-tale signs that you should set a vet appointment.
- Excessive eye discharge
- Red eyes
- Continues to show signs of irritation even after cleaning (an example is non-stop pawing of eyes)
- Swelling and redness of the corners of the eyes
If these symptoms are present, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away. Do not waste time, as this may be a sign of a severe infection that needed to be treated with the right medications.
Taking care of your dog's eyes requires a gentle and careful approach. Eyes are very sensitive, and one small mistake can result in huge problems. Try to follow the tips provided to ensure your dog will recover from any eye irritations or infections. And remember, know when to bring your dog to a veterinarian.
Courtney John is a freelance writer for animal and pet care for over a decade now. She is also a volunteer dedicated to animal rescue and welfare, working for different organizations all over town. She lives with her two adopted cats and rescue dog.