Pet Eye Care

posted: 05/15/12
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What are tear stains and what causes them?

Dogs have tear ducts that go from their eye to the back of their throat. These ducts allow the tears to drain into the back of their throat. In some dogs, the ducts aren't developed well, so the tears don't drain into the throat, but they come out onto the dog's coat, which causes staining. If a dog has excessive tearing, take him to a vet to make sure the ducts aren't blocked … vets can unblock them or prescribe medication.

In some dogs, especially little ones, the ducts aren't developed, in which case, you will always have to wipe the tears away because the enzymes will cause the hair to stain.

Are products that claim to remove tear stains safe to use?

A lot of products claim to remove tear stains, but I haven't found any that work great. I recommend using a saline solution, like contact lens solution. You can also have your groomer keep the hair trimmed where the tears drip so that the hair stays dry.

Signs of Healthy Eyes:

It's been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. This is true for animals as well—you can tell a lot about their health by looking at their eyes. You're probably already looking into your pet's eyes lovingly, but you also want to look for signs of illness or injury. Dogs and cats get many of the same diseases that we do, including cataracts, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, and dry eye, but if caught in the early stages, many of these conditions can be prevented from progressing and your pet's eyesight could even be saved. Cats and dogs can even develop tumors in the eyes, so look closely with a good light. Both pupils should be the same size and the eyes should be clear, bright, and shiny, not cloudy.

The whites of the eyes, or sclera, should be white, not red. Dogs and cats have what's called a "third eyelid," which helps protect the eye as well as lubricate it by producing tears. The third eyelid should not be showing. When a cat or dog is sick or in pain, you will suddenly see this white-colored membrane covering the lower part of the eye. You should not see redness, discharge, or squinting, as these can all be signs of infection, foreign objects in the eye, or pain.

Check to see if there is an increase or a decrease in tear production by noticing how moist your pet's eyes look and how often they tear up. Certain breeds of dogs such as the Cocker Spaniel, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Pekinese, miniature Schnauzer, and Bulldog are predisposed to developing a very common condition known as dry eye, where tear production is greatly reduced, leading to red, itchy, and painful eyes.

The eyes should not appear sunken or excessively protruding, and your pet should not be rubbing or pawing at its eyes. If your cat or dog has a small amount of normal discharge in the corner of its eyes, go ahead and gently wipe this out with a soft tissue. You can use eye wash solution (a saline solution) to remove this, which is available over the counter at drug or pet stores

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