Eyes are the window to your pet’s soul—keep them healthy!

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker


Eye problems are one of the most common reasons dogs and cats wind up at the veterinarian’s office. Some eye infections are harmless and self-limiting, meaning the body takes care of the problem itself. At the other end of the spectrum are eye infections that are very serious, causing permanent damage, including blindness or the loss of an eye. Many infections fall somewhere in between those two extremes.

How Serious Is Your Pet’s Eye Problem?

Veterinarians categorize eye infections as urgent. Most are not a true emergency, unless there’s been trauma to the eye or sudden bulging, in which case your pet should be seen by your regular veterinarian or at an emergency animal clinic immediately.

Generally speaking, you can consider your pet’s eye infection urgent if there are obvious changes to the eye that grow progressively worse to the point where you’re concerned. If your dog’s or cat’s quality of life is suffering due to an eye problem, it’s another sign the situation is urgent.

For example, if yesterday you noticed your cat blinking frequently, and today he’s not opening one of his eyes at all, it’s time for you to call the veterinarian for an appointment as soon as possible.

Eye Infections in Cats

Cats don’t have as many eye problems as dogs, because many kitties live their lives indoors, which dramatically reduces the likelihood of injuring an eye or being exposed to infection. Outdoor cats, however, have about the same risk level as dogs. The feline herpes virus is usually the cause of viral eye infections in kitties. If your cat is exposed to the virus, chances are she’ll never completely clear it from her body. She may have intermittent flare-ups for the rest of her life brought on by stress.

Because feline herpes virus is a stress-induced condition, cats with optimally functioning immune systems can effectively suppress the virus. But if your kitty’s immune system is weakened for any reason and she encounters a stressful situation, a viral outbreak can result, causing redness, irritation and inflammation of the eyes. It could also lead to a secondary bacterial infection.

Cats can also develop primary bacterial eye infections caused, for example, by chlamydia, as well as fungal infections like cryptococcus.

When to Call the Vet, and Prevention Tips

If your kitty’s eye infection isn’t resolving on its own after a few days, it’s important for your veterinarian to identify the cause so it can be treated correctly. This is very important, because viral, bacterial and fungal infections are managed very differently. There’s no single medication your vet can prescribe that will treat everything.

Symptoms of an eye infection in your cat can be tricky to detect, because kitties are masters at hiding discomfort, no matter the cause. You may notice her slowly blinking her eyes, or holding one eye closed, or pawing at them. You might also see some redness, which can be a sign of a condition known as conjunctivitis. Sometimes, there can be discharge and crusting around the eyes as well.

The best way to keep your cat safe from all types of eye infections is to keep her indoors and only allow her outside for leash walks or in a secured area like a catio, where she can be safe while outside. You can reduce your pet’s risk of acquiring an eye infection by at least 80 percent simply by never allowing her to roam free outdoors.

Eye Infections in Dogs

Viruses, bacteria and fungi also cause eye infections in dogs, as well as Lyme disease. Canine eye infections are either acute or recurrent. An acute eye infection means your dog was fine yesterday, but today he’s squinting, or his eyes are red and irritated, or he’s pawing at them or rubbing his head along the couch or on the floor.

Unlike cats, dogs are more likely to let us know there’s a problem as they try to self-soothe to relieve the discomfort. If your dog is really rubbing or pawing at his eyes, you should consider an E-collar to prevent him from doing permanent damage before the situation either resolves on its own in a day or two, or you get him to the veterinarian for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Symptoms of an eye infection are similar in dogs and cats. Many dogs will have a green or yellowish discharge from an infected eye, which is a definite sign of a problem. Certain breeds known for tear staining are predisposed to recurrent eye infections, including the Lhasa Apso, the Shih Tzu and the Maltese.

Helping Your Dog Avoid Eye Problems

If your dog has long hair around his eyes, ask the groomer to clip it short, or you can trim it yourself. This will help prevent the hair from matting in the corners and will also reduce moisture build-up, both of which can set the stage for a secondary eye infection.

When your dog is outside, he’s exposed to allergens that he can also bring indoors on his fur and paws. Ragweed and pollen can get into your pet’s eyes and cause inflammation leading to a secondary bacterial infection. Keeping your pup’s face clean is a good way to minimize the microscopic bits of debris that collect on his face. Wipe gently with a damp cloth to remove allergens, dust and other irritants that can lead to an eye problem.

If your dog’s eyes tend to tear a lot, it’s important to remove the salt and gunk that collects in the moist crevices in the corners of his eyes, as this is also a set-up for a secondary eye infection. Making sure your dog doesn’t stick his head out the car window when you’re traveling with him is also an important step in reducing the risk of eye injury or infection.

If your dog digs and burrows in your yard or when you take him on walks or hikes, he’s at risk of getting dust, mulch, grass and other irritants from the soil in his eyes. Any foreign object, no matter how small, that winds up in your pet’s eyes creates a potential problem. Again, keeping your pet’s face clean by wiping with a soft, damp cloth after he’s been outdoors can go a long way toward eliminating the irritants that can result in infection.

Never use Visine or other human eye drops in your pet’s eyes unless you’ve cleared it with your veterinarian. You can use plain contact lens solution, which is also called eye-irrigating solution, to rinse the eyes, but avoid all chemical-based drops sold for human use, as they’re not only inappropriate for pets, but can actually do more damage. You can use pure colloidal silver from your local health food store on a clean cloth to safely disinfect around your pet’s eyes.

Other Conditions That Can Mimic Eye Infections in Pets

Other conditions of the eye that can mimic an eye infection include glaucoma, corneal ulcers, dry eye, cherry eye, entropion (the eyelids roll inward and can irritate the eye) and uveitis, an autoimmune condition.

If you notice a change in your pet’s eyes that doesn’t resolve on its own in a day or two, make an appointment for your dog or cat to be seen by your veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist to determine the cause of the problem and the right course of treatment. If your dog or kitty is prone to recurrent eye infections, talk with your integrative veterinarian about homeopathic, herbal and nutraceutical preventives that can help manage the health of your pet’s eyes.


Homeopathy for Eye Disorders

By Todd Cooney, DVM, CVH | February 9, 2017


We say the eyes are the window to the soul. One can gauge an individual’s health with a thorough gaze into this amazing organ. Eyes are also a window to the outside environment, and crucial to most animal species. Eye disorders are a regular part of veterinary practice, and homeopaths treat eye symptoms as part of the individual’s total symptom picture, or totality. Let’s consider how homeopathy is useful in treating some of the most common eye disorders seen in practice today, after this quick overview of homeopathy basics.


Homeopathic treatment is based on true natural laws of healing, which do not change over time. Homeopaths study the same textbooks used over 200 years ago, and practice according to the same principles outlined by the old masters of this healing art. Three basic laws undergird all of homeopathy:

1.    The Law of Similars states that any substance that produces symptoms in a healthy individual can cure the same symptoms in disease. For example, the watery nasal and ocular discharge of hay fever or a cold may respond well to Allium cepa, a remedy made from onions, because sliced raw onions cause similar symptoms (it may help any individual with watery ocular discharge).

Another good example is parvo virus in puppies, with its characteristic nausea, vomiting, and foul liquid diarrhea, often helped by Arsenicum album, which causes the same syndrome in healthy individuals. Symptoms are the body’s attempt to restore homeostasis, or balance, and the correct homeopathic remedy supports this process, rather than opposing it. Opposing symptoms or surgery often lead to suppression, forcing the natural disease deeper into the body.

2.    Hering’s Law states that disease tends to develop in a certain direction, and leave in the opposite direction. All cure starts from within and moves out, from the head down, and in reverse order as the symptoms appeared, or were suppressed. This translates to symptoms moving from more vital to less vital organs, from the interior to exterior of the body (think skin), and from the top down (or head to tail in animals) as healing occurs. For the eye, a cure would move from a cataract to an ocular discharge. This direction of cure is universal, and happens regardless of the type of medicine doing the curing.

3.    The Law of Dilution/Potentization states that repeated dilutions and succussions (forceable mixing) of remedies results in a greater strength of effect. A 6c potency is diluted 1:100 six times and succussed each time; the much more potent 200c is diluted 1:100 a total of 200 times with succussions. Quantum physics is shedding some light on possible explanations for this phenomenon, as is nanotechnology (see the two-part article “Homeopathy: a 200-year-old nanomedicine” by Shelly Epstein, DVM, CVH and Iris Bell, MD in the Summer and Fall 2013 issues of IVC Journal), and clinical experience confirms this law.


A noted human homeopathic ophthalmologist, Edward Kondrot MD, CCH, DHt (healingtheeye.com), believes that the largest cause of all eye disease in people is suppression caused by modern medicines and treatment methods. I feel this also translates to our animal patients.1 The following are a few contributing factors:

·        Antibiotics for conjunctivitis

·        Treatment of chronic blepharitis

·        Steroid eye drops and ointments

·        Cataract surgery

·        Laser surgery and injections for retinal disease

These “opposite” treatments cause the disease to go deeper into the body, resulting in more serious eye problems. A good example are the “side effects” listed for steroid eye drops, which are actually the result of suppression – corneal ulcers, infections, cataracts, increased intraocular pressure, to name a few. This is also true in our veterinary patients, as antibiotic/steroid medications are the first line of allopathic treatments for most eye conditions seen in practice. How do we address some common veterinary ophthalmological conditions with homeopathy?

1.    Conjunctivitis

Up to 90% of eye cases have some degree of this inflammatory symptom. Many clients present an animal with eye discharge and want an antibiotic, fearing infection. However, true infections are rare. The ocular organs given the body a route of cleansing and detoxification (lacrimal system), along with the saliva, lungs, skin, gastrointestinal tract, urine, etc.

The most common causes of conjunctivitis are poor diet, toxin accumulation from vaccinations (vaccinosis), GI imbalance, and possibly tight dog collars (harnesses improve many health conditions). Bathing the eye with soothing solutions can be taught to clients.

·        Saline: ¼ teaspoon salt in one cup clean, distilled water.

·        In severe cases, add up to ten drops per cup of water of one of the following herbal tinctures: goldenseal, euphrasia, calendula or hypericum.

Here are a few of the most useful homeopathic medicines for conjunctivitis, with common indications (the symptoms of the patient should be present in the remedy, but not all the remedy symptoms need to be present in the patient):

·        Aconitum – sudden onset; intense fear; exposure to bright sunlight/ snow reflection or cold weather; early stages with intense painful inflammation; profuse watery discharge; bloodshot eyes

·        Allium cepa – minor irritations; watery, bland tears

·        Apis mellifica – swelling is key; chemosis; thick, sticky discharge; thirstlessness

·        Argentum nitricum – young animals; copious yellow/green discharge

·        Arsenicum album – yellow/watery discharge; chilly, restless, thirsty patient

·        Belladonna – sudden, intense inflammation; dry eyes; dilated pupils

·        Euphrasia – also known as “eyebright”; acrid tears leaving a stain; chronicity

·        Mercurius (vivus or solubilis) – acrid, thin discharge; pus in anterior chamber; green nasal discharge; irritable nature; sensitive to hot and cold

·        Pulsatilla – bland yellow discharge; itchy eyes, mild inflammation; resolving upper respiratory infection

·        Rhus toxicodendron – yellow, profuse discharge; intense inflammation; painful; gluey discharge sticking lids together

·        Sulphur – end of upper respiratory infection; acrid discharge; itchy eyes and lids; rubs eyes and face a lot

1.    Corneal ulcers

These are common, and often a sequel to conjunctivitis, ranging in severity from superficial to deep, or even indolent.

·        Euphrasia – a very good remedy for many ulcers; used topically in saline eye wash, or given orally in potency (or both)

·        Aconitum – if the ulcer is very painful, and developed recently

·        Apis, Argentum nitricum, Arsenicum alb., Hepar sulph., Mercurius, Rhus tox., Silicea, Sulphur, Thuya – other remedies to help heal ulcers

·        Silicea or Thuya – to complete healing of stubborn, indolent ulcers

1.    Eye injuries

Scratches, abrasions, lacerations and bruising are some of the most commonly seen injuries. These cases will usually respond very well to the correct remedy, without needing any other treatment. Consider the following:

·        Arnica montana – patient extremely touchy; traumatic injuries of any kind

·        Calcarea sulph. – excellent for splinters or foreign bodies in soft tissue around eye

·        Calendula – used internally or topically

·        Conium – cataract developing after trauma

·        Euphrasia – corneal edema post injury

·        Ledum – bruising; blood pooling under sclera/cornea, in anterior chamber

·        Staphysagria – corneal scratches/lacerations

·        Symphytum – blunt trauma to eye (“Arnica for the eye”)

1.    Entropion

This is a very painful condition, which often requires surgical correction. The following remedies may be helpful in some cases, and even prevent surgery:

·        Borax – patient displays extreme noise sensitivity; fear of falling (avoids going down stairs or panics when picked up)

·        Calcarea carbonica – other developmental problems present; soft, flabby, big-boned patients; slow dentition in history

1.    Ectropion

Many cases can tighten up enough to not need surgery, and involve many of the same remedies listed above, as well as:

·        Calcarea carbonica – if often needed

·        Apis, Argenticum n., Mercury, Sulphur

1.    Cataract

Some cases respond well to homeopathic treatment, especially when the total symptoms shown by the individual are included. Dr. Compton Burnett, a British homeopath in the late 1800s,2 used various remedies, depending on the patient’s symptom totality, and had good success with many cases. He also describes five cured cases in his wonderful book, Fifty Reasons for Being a Homeopath.

Dr. Richard Pitcairn3 lists the following remedies as useful for cataract treatment:  Conium (especially indicated in cataract following eye trauma, and in older patients), Silicea, Pulsatilla, Sulphur and Euphrasia. 


The healing responses of many eye cases I’ve treated since I began to practice homeopathy encourage me to use this modality first when presented with eye issues. Eye problems often appear to be isolated from the rest of the body, but must be seen holistically to choose a successful prescription.

Case Studies

1.    Indolent Ulcer in Cat

In November 2012, a specialist diagnosed an herpetic keratitis in the right eye of an 11-year-old Siamese mix named Emma Morse, which had progressed into an indolent ulcer. He recommended surgery to repair it, and dispensed topical and oral antibiotics.

Dr. Jennifer Ramelmeier prescribed Hepar sulphuris calcareum 1M to be given QD on November 17, 18 and 19 because of the severe pain and ulceration.  

On recheck on December 3, the ophthalmologist reported the cat had improved significantly so surgery was no longer needed. A second prescription of one dose of Hepar sulph 10M was administered once, and by January 14 the ulcer was healed.  There was a small milky spot remaining.

2.    Recurrent Uveitis in a Mare

By Stephanie A. Chalmers, DVM, Diplomate ACVD, CVH

Haleakala is a Rocky Mountain Mare. Born in December of 1994, she had been a brood mare before being purchased in September 2005. She had multiple (12) vaccines between October 2005 and May 2007 (at which time her owner stopped vaccinating). She had a hoof abscess in March 2008.

Ocular pain, eyelid swelling and mild scleral injection were noted in the left eye on April 17 of 2008. The local vet made a diagnosis of uveitis and administered Banamine and a topical antibiotic eye ointment. Symptoms recurred on May 25, again in the left eye. This time the vet administered an intravenous steroid and prescribed a topical antibiotic/steroid ointment.

When her owner contacted me on June 9, mild conjunctivitis and squinting were still present in Haleakala’s left eye. She also had early cataract development in the right eye. Her owner described her as a mild-mannered horse, sensitive and responsive when ridden. She liked to be brushed and petted. Though she had been a good mother, she seemed unattached to the other horses on the property.

My assessment was that this was a manifestation of vaccinosis. Drugs temporarily covered up the eye symptoms, but had not resolved the underlying vital force imbalance that continued to generate this symptom.

Silica 30c was prescribed to be given once, based on the symptoms of uveitis, the cataract, the suspected role of vaccination, the history of a hoof abscess and the mildness of Haleakala’s nature. We discontinued the eye ointment.

A complete resolution of her ocular symptoms occurred within one week after administering the single dose of homeopathic medicine. Her owner also noted that her coat looked better.

The uveitis returned in 2010 in the same eye and resolved with one dose of Silicea. The same thing happened again the following year (2011), but the disease never progressed to pathology. During that period, I treated her with Sulphur to resolve a hoof abscess. 

I was unable to continue prescribing to completely cure Haleakala, because the owner decided to treat the mare herself when the eye inflammation recurred in 2013.

1Kondrot, Edward MD, CCH, DHt. (healingtheeye.com)

2Burnett, J. Compton. Cataract: Its nature, causes, prevention, and cure. 1889.

3Pitcairn, R and Hubble, S. Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats


The EYES have it!

by Joshua Corn

Is Your Dog or Cat’s Vision Deteriorating? Most Likely YES!

It’s often said that eyes are the window to the soul, and your pet’s eyes are certainly no exception.

Maintaining healthy vision is vital for the well-being of dogs and cats as they age. Our pets use their eyes to communicate with us, and to navigate the world around them.

Did you know that your pet relies on their eyes to communicate with you? That’s right, the results of a new study found that dogs especially rely on establishing eye contact with you in order to communicate.[4]

Vision Loss Is Your Pet’s Worst Enemy, Too

Dogs and cats, like us humans, experience eye changes as they age, such as retinal and lens functional decline, hardening and clouding of the lens, and accumulated oxidative damage due to environmental factors (like UV radiation from the sun).[1,2]

Along with the many external factors that can speed up deterioration, genetics play a large role in your pet’s eye health, too. And unfortunately, many breeds have predispositions to certain eye conditions (more on that later).[3]

So if you want to take one big step toward helping your beloved furry friend stay healthy and active for years to come, then please don’t ignore the problem of vision loss.

So it’s critical you take special care of your pet’s eyes over the years and look out for any signs of trouble. As a loving pet owner, be sure to watch out for these symptoms:[3]

Signs Your Pet’s Eye Health is in Danger

  •  Squinting
  •  Eye drainage
  •  Rubbing of eyes
  •  Swelling around eyes
  •  Visible third eyelid
  •  Reduced playfulness
  •  Change in eye color
  •  Cloudy eyes
  •  Unequal pupil size
  • Eye redness

These all-too-prevalent signs can be indicators of…

Common Eye Problems in Aging Pets

Any changes in your pet’s eyes, or behaviors that signify ocular irritations, need to be examined as soon as possible, because they can indicate a severe underlying problem.

Widespread vision ailments in pets include:

Retinal Issues: A leading cause of abrupt vision loss in dogs, retinal problems plague thousands of dogs per year.[5,6] These alarming issues typically go unnoticed by pet owners due to their slow development — it can take months for visual lesions or warnings of vision deterioration to become apparent. And then, blindness can suddenly ensue. Retinal problems have infected many different breeds (including felines), and are more common in middle-aged dogs.[7]

Increased Eye Pressure: This common issue is marked by an increase in pressure in the eye leading to blindness, and it can be highly painful for your dog or cat. Certain dog breeds are innately predisposed to the problem including Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Jack Russell Terriers, but an increase in eye pressure can also result from inflammation, trauma, tumors, oxidative stress and more. Unfortunately, in most cases, it can go undetected until it’s too late.[7,8]

Lens Issues: Classified as opacities of the lens, these can decrease vision, cause inflammation in the eye, and even result in blindness.[9] Lens issues are common in dogs, and many breeds are genetically predisposed to them including Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Huskies and terriers. Additional causes of these problems include blood sugar imbalances, trauma and inflammation.[7,10]

Dry Eye: This all-too-common health issue is the result of inadequate tear production. It is prevalent in various dog breeds including Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Schnauzers and West Highland White Terriers (“Westies”). When left untreated, prolonged eye dryness can severely disrupt the cornea and ultimately result in impaired eyesight.[7]

With the alarming abundance of hidden vision traumas in pets, it’s important to remember that it’s never too early to start caring for your pet’s eye health.