How to Treat a Dog’s Scratched Eye

Here’s how my veterinarian treated my dog’s scratched eye, plus tips for dealing with eye scratches in dogs. Georgie has been to the vet twice for eye-related problems: once for a scratched eye, and once for an eye infection.

Vetericyn Ophthalmic Gel is a very popular eye ointment for dogs. It’s safe, and may help keep a dog’s scratched eye free from infection. Infection is the scariest thing about eye scratches in dogs, because an infection could cause eye loss. And that would put my dog at a serious disadvantage when she’s squirrel hunting.

I’ll lead with my tips on how to deal with an eye scratch in dogs because I suspect you’re here because you searched for “dog scratched eye” – or even a scratched cornea. Then I’ll share how my dog scratched her cornea…it’s a scar from an unfair fight.

How to Treat Scratched Eyes in Dogs

Know that eye scratches are extremely painful for dogs. This is important to remember, because you dog can’t tell you that a cornea scratch really really hurts! I’ve never scratched my eye, but the veterinarian said that dog eye scratches are terribly painful. How do you treat a painful eye scratch? Take your dog to the veterinarian for painkillers. Don’t give your dog baby aspirin or other painkillers unless you are 100% sure it’s safe.

Watch your dog for signs of pain. Our vet gave us painkillers for Georgie, and said to “take as needed.” When I asked how I know my dog is in pain because of the eye scratch, the veterinarian said dogs paw at their eyes, duck their head, go off and sleep, and may not eat. The only thing Georgie did was paw at her eye once in awhile, but I thought that was because her eye scratch was itchy. I didn’t even know veterinarians gave painkillers for cornea scratches – I guess that’s one of the most important ways to treat a dog’s scratched eye.

Take your dog to the veterinarian. We didn’t take Georgie to the vet for four or five days after we saw she had an eye problem, because we thought it was a simple eye infection. We put antibiotics in her eye so it didn’t get infected, but decided to wait it out. She’s had eye infections before, without a known cause, and all the veterinarian did was give us antibiotic eye drops.

Be prepared for a green eye test. I didn’t catch the name of the eye test for scratched eyes in dogs, but it consists of squirting stuff into your dog’s eye to so the veterinarian can peer inside the eyeball with a light. The stuff turns the eye lesion green, making it easy for the vet to see a dog’s eye scratch. The last time the veterinarian did this test on our dog, there was no lesion. It was an eye infection caused by a piece of sand.

Don’t give your dog old medication or antibiotics without checking with the veterinarian first. When we first adopted Georgie, a friend told me she almost never takes her dogs to the vet. She gives her dogs leftover medications, and when they’re sick she always waits for four or five days before a trip to the veterinarian. I don’t know if this is good advice…we take our dogs to vet almost every time they get sick, and the vet usually says to wait it out. Time will heal.

Ask for antibiotic eye ointment, not drops. I don’t know why our vet gave us eye drops for Georgie’ first infection, because drops are SO hard to get into a dog’s eyes! Georgie practically climbs up the wall in her attempts to get away from us. When we went back for the checkup (this wasn’t for the eye scratch, it was for the infection), the veterinarian gave us ointment. Eye ointment is WAY easier to smear on a dog’s eye than drops.

Be aware of the dangers of eye infection. Our veterinarian asked us to bring Georgie back in four days, to re-check her eye. It was fine. It took three weeks for the cornea scratch to heal, but now she’s back to normal.

How My Dog Scratched Her Eye

cornea scratch in dogs

Georgie the dog with a scratched eye

Georgie woke up one morning and couldn’t open one eye, like a perpetual wink. There was some discharge – not infectious discharge, just some tearing – but mostly the only symptom of an eye problem was her inability to open her eye fully.

This was the second time we had to take Georgie to the vet for an eye problem, but it was the first I’d ever heard about cornea scratches in dogs. How did my dog get a scratched eye? The day before she woke up with her eye problem, she killed a squirrel in a park. The squirrel had a wood chip stuck between its big yellow teeth – I know because I had to pick up the squirrel and take it to the garbage can (after my other dog Tiffy dragged it over to me).

I think my dog scratched her eye when that squirrel fought for its life. The squirrel was frantically scrambling around, and Georgie’s eye must have been scratched by the wood chip, or the squirrel’s claws, or even the squirrel’s teeth. In Coping With Guilt When Your Dog Kills Squirrels, I describe my dogs’ relationship with those varmints.

What do you think of these tips on how to treat a dog’s scratched eye? Comments welcome – woof!

One comment

  1. thank you for this post. i didn’t realize how long it took the eye to heal, the vet gave no indication. its been about 1 month so i am now going to take our 11 year old American Staffordshire to an eye specialist. our boston terrier puppy scratched his eye….

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