Ask the Vet

Human Meds and Pets

In some cases, COVID restrictions have limited conversations between veterinarians and pet owners. (Progressive Farmer photo by Victoria G. Myers)

Question:

Our dog injured his eye. We had some eye drops for humans we used, but the eye got worse. When we brought him to our veterinarian, she changed medications and the eye got better. She told us our dog could have lost his eye had we not brought him in. Because of COVID restrictions, we were never able to talk to the vet face to face, and I really don't understand this. Can you help?

Answer:

There are two important lessons here. First, call your veterinarian before using any medication not specifically prescribed for your pet. Second, if you are not clear on what your veterinarian (or, for that matter, human health care provider) is telling you, ask. Keep asking until you understand.

The COVID pandemic has really highlighted the importance of clear communications and how difficult it is even under normal circumstances. The better a patient understands the what and the why, the better the outcome.

On to your dog's eye. I don't know this for certain, having not treated him, but I suspect he had a corneal ulcer or a scratch on the clear part of the eye. These are painful, and they can become very serious without proper treatment. Steroid-containing eye medication can actually stop the healing process of a corneal ulcer and allow infection to penetrate throughout the whole cornea, leading to loss of the eye. Additionally, there are some human eye medications that do not contain steroids, but that should never be used in pets -- especially cats. Bottom line: If there is any doubt, ask an expert, meaning your veterinarian.