Eye: Wash

Indications for Eye Wash:

The physiology of tears and blinking of the eyes reveals that cleaning dog eyes is a natural phenomenon, which keeps the sensitive surface of the eyes clear of any dust, debris etc, It also keeps this surface wet and lubricated for better functioning. The continuous production of tears and disbursement of tears over the surface of the dog eyes through blinking is a natural process meant for protection.

But, in cases where tears are not produced in adequate quantities or when they become contaminated by microbes and allergens, the eye surface is not protected naturally, therefore regular dog eye cleaning is required along with the specific treatment which addresses any underlying problem.

Also, companion animals like pet dogs are more prone to canine eye problems, because they become more dependent upon the owners due to domestication. Therefore, during regular grooming, owners should closely examine a pet's eyes for any deformities and abnormalities. Additionally, regular dog eye cleaning is required during grooming with the help of a dog eye wash solution, which is preferably an isotonic solution.

In case the dog eyes are affected by an infection, allergy or any other anatomical deformities, it is required that the dog eyes be cleaned with the help of a washing solution prior to the administration of specific therapeutics; it is often the case that the eye wash is added to the therapeutic preparation prescribed by the veterinarian, therefore dog eye wash might not be required. When there is a dog eye problem, the eyes should be washed 2 or 3 times per day until the canine eye problem is resolved.

Commercial and Home Made Canine Eye Wash Solutions:

A canine eye wash solution is preferably an isotonic solution. Isotonic solution is a buffered solution which keeps the integrity and tonicity of living cells normal during osmotic pressures. A normal saline solution is an example of an isotonic solution, which can be used as an dog eye wash preparation.

One can formulate a home dog eye wash solution, which can be formulated in different ways, depending upon the requirements and nature of the the eye condition. Note that it is preferable to use a commercially prepared solution such as Opticlear, as these are formulated to match the composition of dog tears.

Homemade Solution

To formulate an isotonic dog eye cleaning solution at home, following these steps:

  1. A pint sized jar should be sterilized in boiling water for a minute or so.
  2. The lid of the pint size jar should also be sterilized and cooled in a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Sterilized water should be poured into the cooled pint jar up to 2 inches below the top of the jar. This is not water from the tap, but water that is purchased online or from a local pharmacy labeled "sterile water".
  4. Add ½ tea spoon of plain table salt to the sterilized water. The salt should not be iodized or contain any other compound.
  5. The lid should be tightened and jar shaken for a couple of minutes until the salt completely dissolves in the sterilized water.
  6. An eye dropper should be used for administering this solution to the dog's eye, 4 – 6 drops are enough for cleansing each eye.

This isotonic solution can be used as as a regular dog eye cleansing agent during grooming and either prior to or after administration of specific therapeutics or natural remedies. This solution can be used prior to administering antibiotics and steroidal preparations used for clearing the eye surface. This solution can be used after administering oils and boric acid solution etc, which are used for removing visible debris in dog eyes.

Using a Dog Eye Wash

The following are the steps for cleaning dog eyes:,

  1. Preparation: All required products, such as sterilized water in eye dropper, cotton swab, any medication/remedy and if needed a helper should be available for handling the case smoothly. Dog eyes should be examined and the wash should be applied in good light and preferably on a flat table.
  2. Restraint: Dogs are usually active, especially when suffering from a canine eye problem or condition.  When dogs are under stress they may not cooperate with an owner or attendant. It is therefore necessary to properly restrain the dog before proceeding with an examination or administration of medicine or eye wash. If necessary, use a flexible muzzle to restrain the mouth.

    To restrain the body, it is preferable to lay the dog on a table and have an attendant/owner stand on the opposite side of the eye. Place an arm over the body of dog. It should be firmly draped over the shoulder of eye, and eye dropper should be contained in the same hand.

    If your dog continues to wiggle or stand, lean your body over your dog's shoulder to prevent the dog from getting up.

    With the other hand, muzzle of dog should be firmly pressed against table and with one finger lower eyelid.

    picture dog eye wash
    Washing Dogs Eye
    Source Washington State University

    If a dog is strong enough or tries to resist, a helper can help with the procedure by holding the other end/abdomen of the dog's body against the table.
  3. Eye Wash: The eye should be clearly opened, by lowering down the lower eyelid. An owner should let the dog get calm for a moment while being held. By holding the eye dropper straight above the surface of eye, apply 5 – 6 drops of dog eye wash solution. Administer the drops carefully.  The tip of the eye dropper should not touch the surface of the eye, otherwise it can cause injury or possible irritation to the eye.

    Dog should be then allowed to blink its eye. When applying eye wash/drops, it is not necessary to rub/massage eye to spread the solution. If ointment is being administered, it is necessary to massage the eyelids to spread the medication/remedy over surface of eyes.

While eye wash solutions for dogs can be prepared at home, it is always recommended that such preparations and dog eye medications should be selected and used based on the advice and with a prescription from a veterinarian. Canine eye wash solutions are supposed to be similar to tears in terms of tonicity, thus commercially available eye wash solutions are usually recommended since they contain additional lipid layers, aqueous content and mucous layers, which makes them almost similar to tears in terms of composition.

Eye wash solutions should be used regularly during grooming and when there are dog eye health conditions. As part of the care plan, natural remedies such as Eye Heal can also be used in combination with dog eye wash solutions during grooming and health conditions to improve immunity, health and overall appearance of the eyes.