There could be many situations which would necessitate your having a closer look at your pet’s eye. A pussy discharge, an increas-ed lachrymation (production of tears), the twitching of the eyes (rapid blinking), squinting (especially when in the sunlight), the popping out of the eyeball from its socket – all these conditions reflect an abnormal situation, which you must be able to keenly observe. This is important, if for no other reason than to be able to explain to your vet that which you have seen.

How can you look at the eyeball more closely? Holding the mouth of the dog with one hand you can ‘prise’ open the eyelids with the index finger and thumb of the other hand. The thumb pulls down the lower lid and the index finger raises the top eyelid. If your pet is especially docile, you can pull the lids apart using both thumbs without holding the mouth. In this way, you can see if and where there is distinct redness or paleness or yellowness. It would also be possible to see if the third eyelid (the nictating membrane) (see Pet Corner, November 30, 2008) is inflamed, eg due to a foreign body such as a speck of dust. One can further take a concentrated light source (a pen torch) and shine it into the eye so as to ascertain whether the pupils will contract.

Perhaps I should spend some more time with this topic of dirt or grit trapped on the eyeball. Generally speaking, our pets (dogs and cats) live in an environment which is six inches to two feet off the ground. This is an area of much dust. Even as we walk, the dust particles swirl around. It is no wonder, therefore, that particles (alighting on the eyeball) can withstand the film of fluid on the eyeball, the movement of the eyelids and even the production of tears which could flood out the foreign body. These particles of dust and debris can be trapped between the lids and the eyeball.

Furthermore, our local dogs are kept outdoors and gallivant around the place, running through tall grass and trying to play wolf and recreate some instincts of ‘wildness’ which left them many evolutionary eons ago. In this way, grass seeds and the like can get stuck on the eyeball.

Another consideration is the way we allow dogs to ride in (or on) the car with their heads sticking out the window. Although this might be cute, it is one sure way of getting a dust particle stuck on the eyeball, to say nothing of drying up the surface of the eyeball.

The symptoms of a foreign body (FB) stuck in the eye would, at the onset, be increased lachrymation and blinking. Later, redness and squinting develop. Further down the line, if bacteria have invaded the lesion, the animal’s real defence mechanism (white blood cells) kicks into gear. You will see a pussy discharge. Actually, pus is the end product of the fight between the body’s specialised blood cells and the invaders (germs), in other words, dead cells.

How to apply eye medicine
Pull the lower eyelid down and apply the ointment to the inner surface of the eyelid. Direct application to the eyeball will be resisted by the dog and may be hazardous should he jerk his head. Eye drops may be applied directly to the eyeball.

Rub the eyelid gently over the eyeball to disperse the medicine.

When medicating an eye for any reason, do not use preparations which are old, out of date, or not specifically labelled for ophthalmologic use.

Minor eye problems should not be neglected in the hope that they will clear up by themselves. If there is any doubt about the diagnosis, and particularly if the eye has been doctored at home but has shown no improvement in 24 hours, call your veterinarian.

Have a peaceful week; do not overwork yourself in preparing for Christmas.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.