Corneal ulcer in dogs and cats
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You must know how much it bothers you when a speck falls in your eye, right? Imagine, then, that your eye suffers an injury, making the situation even more serious and painful. It is precisely this event that we call a corneal ulcer in dogs and cats, which consists of a lesion on the animal's ocular surface. Correctly called ulcerative keratitis, corneal ulcers have several types, didactically classified according to the severity, extent and depth of the lesion.
The routine of veterinary ophthalmology highlights a very high number of cases of pets with some type of irritation or bruising in the eyes - such as corneal ulcer in dogs and cats. So, having knowledge about this disease is extremely important for the correct treatment to be implemented as soon as possible; in order to avoid damage that, in some cases, may be irreparable in the eyes of our pets.
Some breeds visit the veterinarian ophthalmologist more routinely, such as brachycephalic ones - those puppies and kittens with short snouts and prominent eyes, such as Shi Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Boxer and Persian cats, among others.
These pets, because they have more exposed eyes, have a greater predisposition for any eye trauma - whether caused by some external factor, such as a fight; or self-trauma, such as when the animal scratches its own eye for being angry. Therefore, we see many dogs with those famous “lampshades” on their heads, which are protective collars used to prevent these injuries.
An important point that does not usually receive due attention is the group of pets called lagophthalmos. As well? What is that? We explain: the term lagophthalmos is used for pets that are unable to fully close their eyelids. It sounds weird, but some of these brachycephalics (which we just explained above) have an eye so prominent that the eyelids cannot fully cover them, causing dryness and becoming an important factor in causing an injury.
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The Shi T
zu, for example, is a good example of this, and when you see him sleeping, make sure his eyes are fully closed. Sometimes, the eyelids do not fully close while sleeping, consequently leading to dryness on the surface of the eye and causing corneal ulcers.
Trauma is one of the most frequent causes for the development of corneal ulcer, and can be caused by an object hitting the eye, for example, or a fight. It is also worth mentioning among the causes of the problem: chemicals such as some shampoos, changes in the eyelids or eyelashes, bacterial infection, dryness of the eye and infection by some viruses, such as Distemper in dogs and Herpesvirus in cats.
Corneal ulcer symptoms
The clinical symptom most easily recognized by owners is eye pain, called by veterinarians blepharospasm. But what is this? It is the simple act of the pet blinking a lot or cannot even open the injured eye.
Other signs that normally accompany the corneal ulcer they are excessive tearing (it seems that she is crying from so much tear production), itchy eyes, eye discharge (the famous “remelas”), redness around the eyes and the cornea becomes more whitish.
In short, what we can say to you, who own a pet, is that the corneal ulcer changes your dog's look. Therefore, when you notice that something has changed, take it quickly to your veterinarian; because it can be a corneal injury.
Diagnosis of corneal ulcer in dogs and cats
THE diagnosis of corneal ulcers it is based on the clinical signs mentioned above, accompanied by some specific exams, but performed in a normal clinical care. This type of examination is very important to be done, since the cornea is the seat of several types of lesions, which can be very similar to each other and; therefore, knowing how to differentiate the problems is of fundamental importance for the success of the treatment.
The most famous test for detecting a corneal ulcer is called a fluorescein test, which uses a dye to generate contrast in the injured area, leaving it with a fluorescent green color, facilitating its identification once the cornea is transparent.
Corneal ulcers are usually superficial; however, some factors can lead to an aggravation, making the injury deeper and more serious, with a risk of perforation. As mentioned, the cornea is transparent and, as the superficial lesion is also, it is difficult to identify an injury to the cornea without the appropriate dyes.
On the other hand, if it is possible to locate the injury and see its depth without the help of any equipment, this certainly already indicates a more serious injury that deserves a lot of attention. Stay tuned.
Corneal ulcer treatment
The treatment of corneal ulcers depends on numerous factors, so only the veterinarian will be able to choose the most suitable for your pet. The extent and depth of the lesion, the time of evolution, the presence or absence of infection, the breed and age of the pet, previous treatments, type of bacteria, presence of other associated diseases and cost are the main factors taken into account for the choice of treatment.
And regarding this, there is clinical treatment, which basically uses an association of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs administered in the form of eye drops, in addition to oral medications. And in more severe cases, surgical treatment is indicated to protect the lesion or even the reconstruction of the corneal surface.
Another important point is the time when the correct treatment is established. The old jargon is worth it: “the sooner the better”, because the sooner the diagnosis and treatment are carried out, the better the results will be. And this is fundamental in ophthalmological treatment, since; if treated too late, the lesion may worsen, become infected and - in more severe cases - even develop into a corneal perforation with the risk that the animal will lose its eye.
So now that you know a little bit about corneal ulcer, have you ever noticed your pet's eyes? Start right now. And if you notice any spot, discharge or discomfort, take it to your trusted veterinarian to examine, as he is the best person for that.
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