(Thank you to Dr Andrew Jones for allowing me to share a section of his book, Pet First Aid Secrets)
In most cases, it is fairly obvious that the eye is injured. Your pet will have many signs including: squinting, spasm of the eyelids, rubbing or pawing at the eye, discharge, watery to purulent (pus), redness of the eye, pinpoint pupil.
Damage to the eye is very common, and unfortunately the eye is very sensitive and reacts aggressively to any injury. Complications from infections may result in total blindness. Common injuries are from foreign objects, such as sticks or grass awns getting into the eye, or from cat scratches, or running into branches or other sharp objects.
CHECK OUT THE EYE. Gently open the eye to examine it. You need to have good lighting so you can clearly see what is going on in the eye.
PAIN CONTROL. Any eye injury is very painful, and some pets are more inclined to let you examine the eye if it doesn’t hurt so much. For dogs, (NEVER IN CATS) Aspirin is safe at the dose of 325mg per 40lbs. An alternative that is safe for dogs and cats is Arnica. The dose is 1 30 C tablet per 10-20 lbs of body weight every 4-6 hours.
SEE YOUR VET. I advise that your veterinarian examines every eye injury. I commonly see eye ulcers caused by foreign objects damaging the surface of the cornea. Your veterinarian should always assess these.
FLUSH IT OUT. If the foreign object is loose it may be washed out.
Tilt your pet’s head upwards. Gently draw the lids apart this may dislodge the object. Wash the eye with a gentle stream of clean water or saline (salty water). If this does not work then do not attempt to remove the object especially if it is over the colored part of the eye.
PREVENT ADDITIONAL INJURY. Pets love to rub their eyes, and this can cause additional injury. You can prevent this a few ways.
Bandage the dewclaw on the front paw on the same side as the affected eye.
If your pet is still rubbing at the eye or trying to rub its face on the floor then apply an Elizabethan collar.
This is a special case in which the eye actually pops out of the head. Growing up, my family dog was a Pug who had the misfortune of getting kicked in the head by a cow and having his eye prolapsed.
It occurs most commonly due to head trauma, such as when the animal is hit by an automobile or in dog attacks. Some breeds, like Pugs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, are predisposed to eye prolapses, as their eyes are large and protrude between the lids.
SEE YOUR VET ASAP. Early treatment by your veterinarian improves the chances of the eye being saved.
KEEP MOIST. The eye has the best chance of regaining vision if kept moist. Before leaving the accident scene, soak a gauze pad in contact lens solution or water and cover the eye. A sugar solution of 50% corn syrup and 50% water will also work. If your pet won’t allow this, then at least mist the eye with a sprayer while you get to the vet ASAP.
REPLACE IT. If you are more than 30 minutes away from a veterinarian, then it is best if you attempt to replace the eye. The longer the eye is out, the more difficult it is to replace, as the tissue behind the eye swells. The main nerve that is responsible for vision, the optic nerve, has a better chance of working if the eye is replaced quickly.
* Rinse the eye well with sterile saline or tap water.
* Apply a generous coating of lubrication, such as K-Y jelly to the eye.
* Grip the skin of the upper and lower eyelids tightly.
* Apply gentle even pressure to the center of the eye, pushing the eye back into the globe.
* If the eye won’t pop in, then likely there is already too much swelling behind the eye. See your veterinarian ASAP.