Corneal Ulcers in Pets

Corneal Ulcers in Pets

A corneal ulcer is a common injury that happens to dogs and cats—if your best friend is constantly squinting or pawing at their eyes, they could have a corneal ulcer. This injury is typically caused by a foreign body in the eye or by trauma, infection, abnormal eye structure and inadequate tearing.

There are four layers to the cornea—the severity of this injury depends on how many different layers of the cornea have been affected. Ulcers that involve the outer layer typically heal in approximately seven days, while ulcers that go deeper can cause scarring, perforation of the cornea and even loss of vision.

What Are the Symptoms of Corneal Ulcers?

Symptoms of corneal ulcers include:

• Red, painful eye or eyes
• Watery eyes
• Squinting
• Light sensitivity
• Pawing or rubbing the eyes
• Eye that stays closed
• Discharge
• Film over the eye

Certain dogs are more likely to develop this problem. Here is a list of breeds that are more prone to corneal ulcers:

• Boston terriers
• Pugs
• Pekingese
• Boxers
• Bulldogs
• Shih tzus
• Breeds with short, flat faces

How Are Corneal Ulcers Diagnosed?

A thorough eye examination will be administered by your veterinarian, which will include inspecting the eye and the cornea—the doctor may also use diagnostic dyes to look for corneal ulcers or erosions. Additionally, some samples may be collected to be cultured for fungi and bacteria. Blood tests may also be performed to rule out viral infections.

How Are Corneal Ulcers Treated?

Treatment options will depend on the cause of the corneal ulcer. Deep ulcers may require surgery and hospitalization, while activity will need to be restricted. Your dog may have to wear a collar around their neck to keep them from pawing at their eyes. If the erosion is superficial, surgery may not be necessary, and instead the doctor may remove loose layers of the cornea and remove them with a cotton swab.

Antibiotics will usually be prescribed along with medications which are applied topically onto the pet’s eye. For inflammation and pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications will be provided, and in certain instances contact lenses may be inserted to minimize eyelid irritation. After any treatment, it is imperative to follow your veterinarian’s instructions.


If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms or you have further questions about this condition, please contact us at 907-479-0001.