How to treat dogs with swollen eyes

Written by contributing writer
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Dog's eyes may swell for many reasons, and dog owners should see a vet before trying to treat them at home as the treatment depends on the problem, according to Dr. Alison Clode, assistant professor of veterinary ophthalmology at North Carolina State University. Your veterinarian can prescribe eye drops, ointments or oral medication to treat the causes of swollen eyes at home.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Cotton balls
  • Warm water
  • Eye drops
  • Ointment
  • Oral medication
  • Elizabethan collar (if recommended by a veterinarian)

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  1. 1

    Soak cotton balls in warm water if your dog's eyes are swollen and crusted shut, Clode suggests. Gently wipe his eyes until they are able to fully open and blink.

  2. 2

    Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian or an emergency clinic if your dog's eye continue to swell, as it can be a sign of a serious underlying problem.

  3. 3

    Use an eye-drop solution as prescribed by your vet. Wash your hands before touching medication or your dog's eye. Stand beside or straddle your dog. Tilt the dog's nose up with one hand. Put the other hand on his forehead and squeeze a small amount onto the eye. You do not need to put a lot in the eye.

  4. 4

    Use an ointment as prescribed by your veterinarian. Some dogs will do better with drops, while others will prefer ointments. Do not put the ointment on your finger. Instead, pull the dog's lower eyelid down and put a small amount of the ointment on the lower eyelid from the tip of the tube. The eyelid will snap back and deposit the ointment directly on the surface of the eye.

  5. 5

    Give your dog oral medications as prescribed by your veterinarian. Tell the veterinarian what other medications your dog is taking to make sure there are no complications, especially if you are going to an emergency clinic. Follow the veterinarian's directions, and make sure to use all of a medication, even if symptoms disappear after a few doses.

  6. 6

    Offer your dog treats or other forms of positive reinforcement to prevent her from fighting the medication as time goes on.

Tips and warnings

  • Whenever there is a significant change in a dog's eyes, such as swelling, pain, squinting, cloudiness or redness or if the dog has difficulty seeing, take him to a vet to be examined. Possible diagnoses range from cherry eye, dry eye or allergies to glaucoma and corneal ulcers.
  • Don't try to treat your dog at home with human medications or medications already used on another dog. Some medicines can make eye problems significantly worse or cause pain. Take the dog to the vet to get a diagnosis before using any product from home. Some ointments, for example, contain steroids that can cause serious problems if the dog has a corneal ulcer. Using medicines prescribed in the past for another dog may transmit a disease from one dog to the other.
  • Do not allow your dog to rub or scratch the eye, which can lead to infection or bleeding. An Elizabethan collar may be needed to keep the dog from scratching his eyes.

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