Eyedrops are specifically created and prescribed for canine eye problems, such as conjunctivitis, infections, glaucoma, inflammation and cataracts. Saline solutions, which do not require a prescription, are usually used for mild eye conditions or cosmetic reasons. However, saline solutions still must be used cautiously. It's best to get a veterinarian's OK before putting saline solution in your dog's eyes.
What Are Saline Solutions
Saline solutions are solutions composed of sodium chloride (salt) and distilled water. Some are specifically made for dogs and are available at a veterinarian's office, drugstore or online. However, you can use any saline solution for your dog, and one of easiest to get is a saline solution for contact lenses. You also can make your own solution by dissolving 1 tsp. of salt in a pint of boiled or distilled water. Distilled water is preferred as the chlorine in tap water may irritate your dog's eyes.
When to Use Saline Solutions
Saline solutions are used to treat a number of minor eye problems. For example, rinsing your dog's eyes with saline solution can soothe the itchiness and irritation of allergic reactions. Also, by flushing your dog's eyes with saline solution, you can remove loose foreign objects such as grass seeds. Another use of saline solution is to prevent tear stains. By rinsing your dog's eyes with saline solution, some of the tears are flushed away before they discolor the area around its eyes. Of course, saline solution is also used to clean a dog's eyes.
How to Administer Saline Solution
As many dogs are skittish when someone tries to administer eyedrops, it is important to remain calm. After washing your hands and shaking the saline solution, sit down and put your dog between your legs with its back to you. Tilt your dog's head back and hold its eyelid open. (Alternatively, make a pouch of your dog's lower lid by slightly squeezing it together.) Place the eyedropper or bottle close to the outside of your dog's eye. Quickly squeeze the drops into the eye. Allow your dog to blink, which will help spread the solution over the eye. Also, administer the saline solution several times throughout the day, as it is washed away by tears.
Never use a saline solution if your dog's eye is red or painful, as it can harm your dog if it has certain ocular diseases. Also, don't try to dislodge any item embedded in your dog's eye with saline solution. This condition requires a veterinarian's expertise. Finally, take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible any time it displays an eye problem. Some seemingly innocuous problems can hide serious problems, and a dog can lose eye function within hours.