pet eye emergency

First Aid for Your Pet’s Eye

Your pet’s eyes are beautiful and carry out a very important job. In order to create vision, the eye has a series of delicate structures that are suspended within. Any small damage to the eye can have big consequences on these intricate structures. If you think your pet has an eye emergency, never take a gamble, always get this checked by your vet. Keep reading for expert tips on how to recognize an eye emergency, and how to care for your pet on the way to the vet clinic.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

What does an eye emergency look like?

Any of the following signs should prompt you to seek urgent care for your dog or cat:

  • Eye Pain: squinting, excessive blinking, excessive watering, redness of the eye, inability to open the eye, rubbing/pawing at the eye
  • Abnormal Appearance of the Eye: eyeball becomes dislodged (outwards) foreign material/dirt in the eye, redness or cloudiness of the eye
  • Obvious Traumatic Event: bite or tear on the eye or eyelid
  • Excessive Discharge from the Eye: watery discharge or blood-tinged discharge. Green discoloration of the discharge may represent a less-urgent condition such as conjunctivitis. However, if it is copious, it’s best to treat this as an emergency too.
  • Toxic Chemical Contamination of the Eye

What can be done at home with an eye emergency?

  • The most important thing is to contact your vet or veterinary ophthalmologist right away for an emergency appointment.
  • If the eyeball has become dislodged (sometimes known as a prolapsed globe) this should be covered with sterile KY jelly if available and then a GENTLE cold compress applied if possible.
  • If there is known contamination of the eye or a lot of foreign material (dirt, etc.) in the eye, it can be flushed with fresh water or contact lens solution for at least 5 minutes. Information about the chemical should be given to the vet upon arrival.
  • Damaged tissue/tears: Apply a cold compress to the affected area for 5-10 mins
  • If there is excessive rubbing at the eye, an e-collar (cone) should be applied to avoid any further damage to the eye.

What should NEVER be done with an eye emergency?

  • Do not try to remove foreign material yourself if it doesn’t easily flush out; you may end up causing more damage to the eye by pushing it further into the eye.
  • Do not try to replace a prolapsed globe.
  • Do not put excessive pressure on a sore eye.
  • Do not fight with your pet to look at or touch the eye. Excessive force may cause more problems.

The most important thing in an emergency is to keep calm and keep your pet calm. Offer them water but no food on the way to the vet and call ahead to let them know you are on your way.

Read more:

A Vet’s Advice: Eye Exams and Eye Care for Your Pets

Giving Your Pet Eye Medication: Step-by-Step Instructions

Top 3 Diseases of the Surface of the Eye (Cornea) in Dogs

Have more questions about your pet’s eyes?

Schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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