What is a Corneal Ulcer in Dogs? Check Treatment and Symptoms

Regarding canine health, corneal ulcers in dogs are one of the most common and frequent conditions in almost all breeds. The cornea of ​​the eye works as a kind of windshield that is intended to protect the eyeball, which is made up of different external layers that allow it to avoid cloudiness, eliminate infections and, of course, prevent them.

However, a dog suffering from corneal ulcers can feel pain, leading to dangerous infections. It is important to know that it is one of the conditions that can develop faster, and, in the most serious cases, it can even cause the dog to lose its eye.

Therefore, adopters must pay attention to their dogs to detect a possible problem in their eyes. 

The eye’s cornea is one of the most sensitive tissues in the entire body. It is one of the most sensitive external structures of the eyeball since being so external can suffer serious trauma.

The cornea of ​​the eye of dogs and humans is made up of different layers, among which the epithelium stands out as the outermost layer and the one that has the main role of protecting the eye from infections.

When there is a case where the epithelium is damaged, then the appearance of a corneal ulcer begins to occur on the surface of the eye. This is an injury that, if it reaches deep into the other layers, can cause a much more serious problem that can end up perforating the eyeball.

Corneal Ulcer in Dogs Symptoms 

Corneal ulcers are the main cause of intense pain, but some other symptoms may also occur, among which the following can highlight:

Constant and excessive tearing.
Intense itching and the constant intention to scratch the eye.
Discomfort in front of the light.
The third eyelid makes its appearance to begin to protect the eye.
Much larger ulcers can be seen with the naked eye.
When corneal ulcers are superficial, they can present a picture of deeper acute pain.

Therefore, a veterinarian will be in charge of determining whether or not there is an ulcer in the eye. In case of suspicion, the application of eye drops will begin, and if the eye turns green, there is a corneal ulcer.

As mentioned above, most corneal ulcers appear due to trauma, but it is also possible that they may be associated with other diseases, such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, canine diabetes, and hypothyroidism in dogs.

In addition, this type of ulcer can be classified from the simplest to the most complex.

What are the types of corneal ulcers in dogs?

Any ulcer can cause great pain in the dog, as well as other types of complications. That is why it must be diagnosed as soon as possible. If the veterinarian can’t detect the cause or does not respond correctly to treatment within two to three days, it is best to refer it to a specialist in canine ophthalmology.

It is important to determine how severe the ulcer the dog has is. To do this, the veterinarian will examine all ocular areas, requesting tests such as the Schirmer test and even intraocular pressure measurements. Eye ulcers in dogs can be classified as follows:

Sromal Corneal Ulcer

The type of ulcer affects the second layer of the cornea, that is, the so-called stroma. They can be classified as anterior, posterior, or middle stromal based on depth. When the ulcers are medium stromal, they may require surgical intervention to achieve better healing.


They are produced in the corneal epithelium, and if there is no complication, they can cure without problems in a few days.


They are produced when the epithelium and corneal stroma are lost and belong only to the cornea’s last layer, which will prevent perforation.

These ulcers are considered one of the major ophthalmological emergencies requiring surgical intervention to save your pet’s eye.


When this type of injury occurs in a dog’s eye, all the layers of the cornea begin to be affected, and the so-called perforation of the eyeball occurs.

When this happens, it causes aqueous humor to secrete from the inside.
Emergency surgery will be the most indicated treatment to save the dog’s eyeball and ensure the vision is not compromised. 

What breeds are predisposed to suffering from eye ulcers?

For the most part, dogs with larger eyes are the main ones to suffer from eye ulcers, such as those of the Carlino breed or the French Bulldog.
However, some types of eyes can also suffer from diseases like this, for example, dogs with dry eye syndrome.

There are torpid ulcers (persistent epithelial defects) that, in many cases, can originate due to a hereditary component, so the main predisposed breeds may be the following:

Note: The sores above can also be called boxer sores because it is one of the breeds most frequently present.

How can you recognize a corneal ulcer in a dog?

According to experts in the field of Veterinary Sciences, some signs allow adopters to recognize if their pet is suffering from a corneal ulcer. When the epithelium begins to show signs of being damaged, the nerves of the cornea are more exposed than normal, which becomes painful.

Some animals may have a different tolerance to pain, but dogs can suffer a lot just by trying to move their eyelids. In this sense, the adopter must remain alert to his pet.
If you notice that your dog begins to tone his eyes as a sign of observing an object in detail but shows signs of pain, then the most responsible thing to do is to go quickly to a veterinary care center to determine the cause of the problem.

A dog suffering from a corneal ulcer may also be at risk of an extremely painful tear. The pet’s cornea should always be very clear, but if there is an ulcer, it may become cloudy.
When there are signs of redness, and cloudiness, among others, the medical evaluation will be in charge of determining the type of problem.

What are the main causes of the appearance of an ulcer in the eyes of dogs?

There can be many different causes that cause a corneal ulcer. One of the examples is damage to the epithelium in case of drying out, as in dry eye disease, which is caused by anesthesia and even when the dog tends to sleep with its eyes half open.

The dog can also start rubbing against the eye and causing damage. This is easy to recognize because the cause of the itching can be a foreign object. For example, a seed will cause the dog to feel discomfort and its eyelid to begin to droop inward. On the other hand, when the eye suffers from direct trauma, this can also trigger an ulcer to appear because the dog will scratch very frequently.

In general, when a corneal ulcer is simple, it should heal quickly. In some cases, when the ulcers take more than a week to heal, they can generate other complications, such as infections that prevent the healing process from proceeding smoothly.

Therefore, constant check-ups with the veterinarian should always be carried out during the healing process. It is essential to be aware of these types of problems because they can affect the vision and comfort of the dog, essential factors to have a better quality of life.

Although, in many circumstances, ulcers can pose a great threat to the dog’s life, they can usually be easily cured when detected promptly and given appropriate treatment.

As I have mentioned, there are different types of ulcers, and just as the number of corneal ulcers varies, so do the number of treatments offered for the most common types of eye ulcers in dogs, including the following stand out:

Torpid Ulcers

It is one of the types of ulcers that cause defects in the epithelium so it can be of congenital origin. Being one of the types of hereditary ulcers, they manifest in breeds such as the boxer.

It is one of the slowest types of ulcers that exist and that have abnormal healing. Surgery will be necessary if, after two weeks of starting treatment with special drops, the wound has not healed.

Superficial ulcers

They are common type ulcers that can cure with antibiotics and the consumption of oral anti-inflammatories that reduce pain. Continuous drops three to two times a day prevent infections from occurring, but it is a treatment that must apply for 7 days until the ulcer heals.

However, if there is no improvement in a week, a visit to the vet is recommended.

Infectious Ulcers

These ulcers can originate from inflammation in the cornea, such as infectious keratitis and even keratoconjunctivitis. In these cases, much more intensive treatment is required to achieve a cure.

How long for corneal ulcer to heal in dog?

For a corneal ulcer in a dog to heal properly, a veterinarian must maintain attention to the treatment he provides and the evaluation of the dog to see its progress or improvement.

As an adopter, you must follow the treatment as the vet indicates. This is very important if you want to see a positive result. When corneal ulcers are superficial, in general, they can take up to two weeks to heal, although it is also true that some require more time.

If this is the case and your dog has an ulcer of this type, and you do not observe signs of healing or progress in recovery in the period stipulated by the veterinarian, it may indicate that other underlying factors cause the slow recovery.

For example, misdirected eyelashes and even trichiasis. Therefore, it will be necessary to perform other types of procedures that help facilitate your pet’s healing process.

The most responsible thing will always be that all the instructions provided by the veterinarian are followed to the letter, such as having to eliminate all physical activity from the dog while the treatment is being carried out.

Although it is also important that a check-up is carried out in the recovery stage to determine if there is no trace of infection or remaining aqueous humor in the eye.

Can a corneal ulcer be prevented in a dog?

Considering that corneal ulcers can appear for different reasons, there are cases where it is impossible to prevent them. However, some recommendations can follow to avoid the most frequent causes, such as:

Prevent the dog from engaging with cats in horseplay.
Refrain from letting him play with pointy items.
Avoid contact with chemicals such as shampoo.

As you can see, observing our dog well to avoid complications in his health can guarantee him a better quality of life.

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