Scratched eye isn’t healing

Pete Keesling

Q: We took Fiber, our terrier, to the vet for an injury to his eye. He scratched his cornea running after a ball in the bushes. The vet gave us some antibiotic ointment to put in his eye once or twice a day. But he’s not getting any better. The vet wants to see him again to do some tests and we’re not sure what to do. Should we take him to a specialist? Why isn’t the eye getting better?
A:
I don’t think you need to take Fiber to a specialist just yet. As long as his eye has not become worse in the past few days, there are a two things you might want to try. I’m always troubled when I hear that someone uses antibiotic eye ointment only once or twice a day. Tears flush that ointment out of the eye within hours of application. So to be effective, this ointment should be applied every three to four hours throughout the day. More frequent treatment like this provides maximum protection against infection in that eye.
Additionally, I’d recommend applying a warm compress to the eye. Take a damp washcloth and place it in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds. It should feel very warm on your wrist, but not burning hot. Hold that compress over Fiber’s eye for five to 10 minutes twice a day; you’ll need to reheat the washcloth a few times as you do this. Most dogs and cats actually like this treatment, once they get used to it. And warmth dilates the blood vessels on the cornea, improving circulation. This, in turn, delivers more nutrition to the cornea and effectively speeds healing. These two treatments are somewhat labor intense. But the rewards of a healed eye, without the trouble and expense of a trip to the specialist will make it all worthwhile.
Q:
Our favorite pooch, Digger, is getting old. He’s 10 and has a couple of skin tags – small growths that hang from his skin near his chest. He can’t lick these and hasn’t scratched them with his back feet. But one of these little lumps is growing and the vet wants to anesthetize him to remove it. I don’t want to put him under anesthesia unless there is no other choice. And I seem to remember you talking once about removal of some skin tags with local anesthesia. My vet doesn’t seem interested in this method. Do all vets use anesthesia for all lumpectomies?
A:
In short, no. But so much depends on the shape and size of the lump. If Digger’s little lump truly is a skin tag with a very small pedicle attachment, then removal with only local anesthesia might be possible. But choice of medication always depends a little on the patient’s attitude. If he’s calm and relaxed, many vets will use a local. But if he’s nervous and jumpy, a sedative or anesthesia might be the only choice. The more important point is this: If you feel uneasy with the decision of Digger’s vet, you should seek a second opinion. No pet owner should feel as though he or she is compelled to choose a treatment with which they feel uncomfortable.
Q:
Why is it that our labrador, Mocha (who loves to play in water), is totally stressed whenever we try to give her a bath? She hates it, no matter if the water is warm or cold. Any tricks to getting her to accept this?
A:
This is one of those questions without any good answer. All I can tell you is that you’re not alone. I know of countless people who tell me the same thing about their dog. Try making it a game with some rewards (cookies are a good idea). And instead of using a hose, try a bucket of warm water with washcloths to wet him down. Make it a gentler, happier time and you might just change his mind. Good luck!
Q:
How many cats like being bathed? I’ll guess not too many. Myrtle, our kitty does. In fact, she sometimes jumps into the shower when one of us is bathing. She just climbs under the curtain and right into the tub! I’d send a picture to you, but she really isn’t very attractive when she’s soaking wet.
A:
I’ll bet not. Myrtle is probably much more photogenic when she’s all fluffed up. She sounds like a very special, and clean kitty!

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