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What Can be Done for a Cat Scratch on my Dog’s Eye?

Hey Dr. Barchas...Sophie got a scratch in the eye last night from a neighbors cat!! She cried a lot! I brought her home immediately and...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Aug 16th 2011

Hey Dr. Barchas…Sophie got a scratch in the eye last night from a neighbors cat!! She cried a lot! I brought her home immediately and put hot towels on her face and eye! Today she seems a lot better! We put hot towels on this morning too!
My question…What else can we do to make sure it is clean and healing? Are there human eye drops we can use?? Artificial tears or something!!
Is there a sign we can look for to let us know it’s not healing properly or not?? When is it time to go to the vet!!??

Concord, NC

Despite the abundant clichs in which dogs chase and attack cats, my experience has been quite the opposite. Cats are formidable opponents, and dogs that tangle with them often come up on the losing end of things. Friendly dogs are especially prone to eye injury when they attempt to sniff the face of a recalcitrant feline.

Angela, since your dog doesn’t appear to be in much pain, it sounds like your dog’s injury was mild. If the claw missed the eye and instead struck an eyelid, third eyelid, or the membranes around the eye, there is a good chance of uncomplicated recovery without veterinary intervention (although trauma to the third eyelid can predispose dogs to a syndrome known colloquially as “cherry eye”).

However, you should be aware that if the claw struck the surface of the eye then serious infections and complications can occur — I have seen a couple of dogs lose eyes after cat strikes. There are no over-the-counter eye drops that prevent infection. Trauma to the eye itself usually results in significant pain (manifested by squinting), but this is not universal. Only a veterinarian can determine (by performing certain tests) whether the eye injury is serious or not.

Therefore, a trip to the vet is in order. Hopefully no serious injury has occurred.

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