Red, irritated eyes are common presenting complaints in emergency veterinary medicine. To help narrow down the cause of the redness, at Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital we typically ask pet owners a series of questions, since eye problems can occur for many different reasons. For instance: Did your pet recently run through a field or play with a cat? Has your pet been around other pets? Is your pet having any other problems? Did this redness just start to appear, or has it been around and getting worse over time?
Some causes are more obvious than others. Playing with a cat, playing rough with a dog or running through heavy brush normally indicates trauma (a scratch) and potentially an ulcer on the cornea, the clear covering of the eye. When the cornea is injured, it can cause a large amount of pain and lead to serious complications, and such an event might also result in having a foreign object lodged in the eye.
But there are other causes of eye redness as well. Infections (bacterial, viral and fungal); inflammation of the tissues around or in the eye; increased or decreased pressure of the eye (known as glaucoma, and uveitis, respectively); systemic diseases; autoimmune diseases; decreased tear production; allergies; problems with intraocular structures (such as the iris and the lens); and even cancer can also lead to red eye.
So if your pet has red, irritated, teary eyes, or is squinting, give your primary care veterinarian or Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital a call as soon as possible. We can perform a variety of tests to determine the cause of the irritation and prescribe medications to help your pet feel more comfortable and treat the problem. One important note: Do not allow your pet to scratch at his or her eyes if he/she is suffering from red eye — scratching will only make it worse. You can use an e-collar, otherwise known as “the cone that goes around your pet’s head,” to deter them from scratching. And don’t wait to bring your pet in! Some eye problems can become very serious if left unattended.
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