READER: Our dog injured her eye. We used some eye drops for humans, but the eye got worse. When we brought her to our veterinarian, she changed medications, and the eye got better. She told us our dog could have lost her eye had we not brought her 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?
Dr. McMillan: 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 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 her, but I suspect she 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 stop the healing process of a corneal ulcer and allow infection to penetrate throughout the whole cornea, leading to loss of the eye. Additionally, some human eye medications do not contain steroids, but they should never be used in pets -- especially cats. Bottom line, if there is any doubt, ask an expert, meaning your veterinarian.
> Please contact your veterinarian with questions pertaining to the health of your herd. Every operation is unique, and the information in this column does not pertain to all situations. This is not intended as medical advice but is purely for informational purposes.
> Write Dr. Ken McMillan at Ask The Vet, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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