Corneal ulcers can happen in any dog, cat, or horse. They are very painful, and need veterinary attention as soon as possible.
A corneal ulcer is a scratch on the surface of the eye. Any animal can get one. Most often it happens in a fight (like between not-neutered male cats) or outside (like a curious horse sticking his head into a bush). But it can happen anywhere.
Corneal ulcers are very painful. You may not notice exactly when your pet gets a corneal ulcer, but you should notice some signs of pain shortly after the ulcer happens. Signs of eye pain in dogs, cats, and horses include:
- Squinting the eye
- Holding one or both eyes closed
- Tearing from the eye
- Pawing or rubbing at the eye (dogs and cats)
- Rubbing the eye or side of face on legs (horses)
- Pulling away from your touch
Treating Corneal Ulcers
Corneal ulcers can be treated, but it can take a while for them to fully heal. Eyes need to be treated with an antibiotic ointment multiple times a day to help healing and protect the eye from infection. Most corneal ulcers are relatively simple to treat, and can be managed with only the ointment and some anti-inflammatory pain medication.
Corneal ulcers in horses can be more challenging to treat. Horses are more prone to infection in their eyes, and need to be managed very carefully. Most corneal ulcers in horses can be managed at home with ointments (like dogs and cats). Occasionally, the ulcer will progress and get infected. In this case, more intensive treatment, and occasionally hospitalization, will be required.
Most corneal ulcers will heal completely, with no sign they were ever there. Sometimes, a white scar may be left on the cornea, but this will not impact your pet’s vision and should to fade over time.
If you think your pet or horse has a problem with her eye, call us or come in. While an eye problem may not be an emergency, it is definitely urgent. If you notice that your pet is showing pain that could be related to her eye, or if her eyes look strange to you, please call to talk to our veterinary technicians or veterinarians about what might be going on. We have veterinarians on call for emergencies. Fast diagnosis and treatment will help to prevent infection and preserve your pet’s sight.