Keep an eye out for pets’ eyes |

Keep an eye out for pets’ eyes

Shauna Farnell

SUMMIT COUNTY -The haze permeating Summit County the past few weeks isn’t doing favors for anyone’s eyes, but dogs and cats already prone to dry eyes during pollen season are suffering longer than usual this year.”Until recently, it was high pollen season that was causing eye problems,” said veterinarian Paul Veralli of Animal Hospital of the High Country in Frisco. “We’ve seen a lot of dogs and cats coming in with clear, runny fluid in their eyes. It’s not necessarily associated with smoke, but with any kind of particulate matter in the air. It’s stuff from fires as well as pollen. You’d notice the pollen residue on your car for a few weeks. Now there’s ash on the car, and eyes are responding.””Dry eye” is a condition also known as conjunctivitis, and is characterized by red eyes, irritation and discharge. However, these symptoms also might indicate more serious eye problems in pets, according to veterinarians and specialists.”If Sparky’s eyes are red, it’s probably not because he stayed up late watching Lassie reruns,” said Diane Oswald of Pet Talk, a service of Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.”Depending on the cause, red eyes may require relatively simple, short-term treatment, or they may need emergency surgical care to prevent blindness,” said A&M vet Joan Dziezyc.Pets are subject to the same eye problems as are people -glaucoma, cataracts and corneal ulcers. As Veralli points out, they also are subject to eyelid malformations, such as ingrown eyelashes, and eyelids that turn in or out, as seen in droopy-eyed breeds such as bloodhounds and Saint Bernards. Also, according to, plant debris and dust also can irritate a pets’ cornea when it gets trapped under the third eyelid, or nictitating membrane. Over-the-counter drops such as Artificial Tears can be used to lubricate the eyes and might be all that’s needed if the problem appears to be just a result of dry air or particle irritation.”Any problem is exacerbated by the dryness in the air up here,” Veralli said. “Eye problems are pervasive for sure. The vast majority we see are related to trauma, like a claw or stick in the eye, and upper respiratory viruses.”Long-haired cats are especially prone to upper respiratory viruses such as feline herpes virus, the symptoms of which might be sneezing in kittens and constant discharge in the eyes. Cocker spaniels are frequent victims of glaucoma, which can cause permanent damage very quickly, according to veterinarians. If a dog or cat is rubbing its eyes or their eyes are red and discharging for more than a couple days, owners should take them to the vet.”The rule of thumb is, you don’t mess around with eyes,” Veralli said. “If there’s a clear discharge, or the eyes are a little red, they don’t have to rush in. Any time an animal’s got a problem in the eye, if it lasts more than a day, unless they know that every June they get runny eyes, people should bring them in. If you lose an eye, it’s gone. And it happens fast. I’ve seen eyes go from red to blind.”Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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