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Published: Mar 06, 2012

Even though you can't see it, the cornea of your pet's eye still requires your attention to ensure it is functioning properly without infection. The cornea is made up of five to seven layers and is the outer most part of your pet's eye. Dogs with large protruding eyes such as Boston terriers, pugs, and Shih tzus tend to experience corneal irritation or ulcers most frequently because more of their cornea shows and often their eyelids do not sufficiently protect the eye. Cats can experience problems with the cornea also.

If a foreign object like a stick, piece of dirt or other debris scratches the cornea, a corneal ulcer is likely to occur. Animals with corneal ulcers may have redness around the eye and may have excessive watering and squinting of the eye related to pain, according to While trauma to the eye is the most common cause of a corneal ulcer, some cat illnesses such as the herpesvirus respiratory infection may also cause this condition.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, one or more eye drops or ointments are usually prescribed by a veterinarian to treat corneal ulcers so they do not progress and become deeper or put the eye at risk for rupture.  While a pet is healing, owners will need to take steps to protect the eye.  Dogs and cats often require the use of a specialized protector—called an Elizabethan collar—to prevent them from rubbing or scratching the cornea while it heals. If a corneal ulcer is very deep or is not healing properly, sometimes  surgery to move the third eyelid up to cover the ulcer or a procedure that temporarily sews the eyelid shut is performed to protect the eye.