If you have just got a puppy and share your home with a cat, it's important that you take extra care when you introduce the newcomer to their feline companion. Puppies are inquisitive by nature and when they have been well socialised during their time with mum and litter mates, they are generally quite bold too. This means they have a tendency to run up to everyone and everything in an excited way. If they do this to a resident cat, the chances are they are going to get swatted which invariably results in a scratched eye!
Young puppies have not learnt the art of blinking rapidly when they are in any sort of danger and are therefore more at risk of receiving a traumatic injury to their eyes should a cat take a swing at them with the paws. It's not until puppies are around 3 months old that they learn to respond to any sort of danger by blinking rapidly, thus avoiding injuries to their eyes. This type of injury typically happens on their first meeting with a cat which is why extra care has to be taken when a puppy first meets a resident feline companion.
An injury to a puppy's eye through a cat scratch can be something quite mild to something a lot more serious. Should the eye be perforated, not only is it extremely painful for the puppy, but a traumatic injury of this nature if not treated as quickly as possible, could end up causing permanent damage to a dog's sight.
If you think your puppy has been involved in spat with the cat, the chances are they won't want to let you take a look at their eye, although you will notice that is it watering excessively. The reason a puppy won't want you to examine their injury, is because of the pain and discomfort they are feeling is to say the least quite extreme. Signs a puppy's eye has been scratched include the following:
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it's crucial to get your puppy along to the vet as a matter of urgency because the sooner a treatment can be started, the better the outcome tends to be and the less chance of an eye being permanently damaged. A vet would need to thoroughly examine your puppy's eye to see how badly it has been scratched and would typically need to give them a painkiller or mild sedative first in order to do so. Sometimes a vet may even need to use an anaesthetic if a puppy will not let them take a close look at their eye so they can establish to the extent of the damage. Very often this can be in the form of eye drops which effectively numb the surface of an injured eye because they contain a certain amount of anaesthetic.
Should the vet find the eye is severely scratched, they may well refer a puppy to an ophthalmologist because the only way of repairing the injury might well be through surgery. However, if the vet finds the cornea of a puppy's eye has been scratched, they would still need to be given the right sort of treatment straight away not only to alleviate the pain, but to ensure no secondary infection has a chance to set in.
The sort of treatment a vet would recommend would depend on the type of eye injury your puppy has suffered. If the damage is slight, they might simply prescribe some sort of painkiller that contains an antibiotic. If the cornea has been damaged, it might need stitching back in place. The good news is that corneal injuries are known to heal pretty well and quite quickly too.
However, if the injury is more serious and any inner eye structures have been damaged, then the treatment may involve more delicate surgical procedures and in some cases a lens may have to be removed altogether. If the damage is extremely severe, a vet might recommend removing an eye which naturally would result in a puppy being blind in that eye, but this would be the kindest way of dealing with a very severe cat scratch to their eye.
The use of painkillers and antibiotics is essential when it comes to cat scratches to a puppy's eye because the risk of infection is so great. A puppy would also need to wear an Elizabethan collar to stop them from rubbing or scratching the injured eye themselves which would just result in more trauma to the eye which would slow the healing process down considerably.
If the trauma to the eye is mild, a puppy may just have a scar on their cornea. If on the other hand, the eye has been more severely damaged it could well mean a puppy's vision may well be impaired for the rest of their lives. In a worst case scenario, they may become blind in the injured eye and this could happen years later as a result of the initial cat scratch.