Has your Boston been squinting a lot or pawing at their eye?
This may be a sign that your Boston Terrier has an eye ulcer. During my time as a veterinarian, I have diagnosed many eye ulcers in Boston Terriers, and this condition seems to be rather common in Bostons.
It is vital that you know the signs and symptoms of eye ulcers in Bostons so you can get your Boston to the vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
Early treatment of eye ulcers is crucial as this condition can lead to loss of the eye if left untreated.
The Complete Guide to Eye Ulcers in Boston Terriers
Eye ulcers are also known medically as corneal ulcers. If your Boston Terrier has an eye ulcer, their cornea or the surface layer of the eye is damaged.
You might wonder how a small scratch could cause such big problems, but the issue with this condition is that eye ulcers can easily become infected and grow worse if left untreated. Some ulcers can eventually lead to eye rupture which usually requires the eye to be surgically removed.
I will review the most common causes for eye ulcers in Boston Terriers then describe symptoms to look out for and how your vet can diagnose an eye ulcer. Finally, treatments for eye ulcers in Bostons will be discussed.
Causes Of Boston Terrier Corneal Ulcers
One of the most common causes of eye ulcers in Boston Terriers is trauma to the eye. If the eye gets scratched or damaged, this can create an ulcer on the eye.
You may never see what scratched or damaged your Boston’s eye in the first place, but some common causes include:
- Cat Scratches
- Playing With Another Dog
- Contact With A Sharp Object
- Chemical Burn From Harmful Substances On The Eye
- Something Stuck In The Eye
Another condition that can cause corneal ulcers in Boston Terriers is dry eye. This condition causes low tear production which can dry the eye out and lead to the formation of ulcers on the eye.
Other common causes of eye ulcers in Bostons include abnormalities of the eyelashes and eyelids that your veterinarian will be able to detect when they perform a physical exam on your dog.
Do you think your Boston suffers from dry eyes? Read what you can do about dry eye in this article on Boston Terrier Society, Dry Eyes In Boston Terriers – What It Is & What To Do About It!
Dog Breeds Predisposed To Eye Ulcers
Certain dog breeds seem to be more predisposed to developing corneal ulcers. The brachycephalic dog breeds which have flat faces and short noses seem to be highly susceptible to developing corneal ulcers.
Symptoms Of Eye Ulcers In Boston Terriers
Corneal ulcers can cause a wide range of symptoms from eye squinting and pain to eye discharge.
The most common symptoms of eye ulcers in Boston Terriers include:
- Eye Pain
- Rubbing The Eye
- Pawing At The Eye
- Rubbing The Eye On The Ground
- Eye Discharge
- Redness Of The Eye
It is important to learn these symptoms. If you ever notice any new symptom with the eye, it is extremely important to get your Boston to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
Time is of the essence because early treatment of eye ulcers is key.
Four Types of Corneal Ulcers in Boston Terriers
There are several different types of corneal ulcers in Boston Terriers. Each ulcer type may require slightly different treatments. Here is a list of four types of corneal ulcers.
1) Superficial Corneal Ulcer
The most common type of corneal ulcer is the superficial corneal ulcer. This ulcer is a scratch in the outermost layer of the cornea.
These ulcers generally respond to treatment very well if caught early.
Usually, superficial ulcers in Boston Terriers will be healed within a week of starting treatment.
2) Deep Corneal Ulcer
Deep corneal ulcers in dogs occur when there is damage to the cornea that goes into the deeper layers of the eye.
These ulcers are not so deep that the eye is ruptured, but they are at greater risk of becoming infected.
Deep eye ulcers in Boston Terriers may take longer to heal because of their depth.
3) Melting Ulcer
The melting ulcer is a very dangerous ulcer that can quickly lead to eye rupture if left untreated. These ulcers come on suddenly and can sometimes rupture within 24 hours of appearing.
Melting ulcers in Boston Terriers occur when a certain type of bacteria called Pseudomonas eats away at the eye ulcer until the eye ruptures.
This condition has to be treated aggressively and promptly for the best chance of saving the eye.
4) Indolent Ulcer
Indolent ulcers are some of the most frustrating types of corneal ulcers to treat. This particular type of ulcer occurs most commonly in Boxers (See the list of dog breeds most affected by corneal ulcers).
An indolent ulcer is a type of superficial ulcer that doesn’t seem to go away with normal treatment and may take months to heal.
Diagnosing A Boston Terrier Corneal Ulcer
When you bring your Boston to the vet for an eye condition, they will likely want to perform a few different tests on the eye. Two common tests are the Fluorescein Stain Test and the Schirmer Tear Test.
Read about the two types of tests below as well as see videos of how these tests are performed.
#1 Fluorescein Stain Test
The most common test to diagnose an eye ulcer in a dog is called a Fluorescein Stain Test. For this test, your veterinarian will place a dye on the surface of your Boston’s eye. They will then rinse the stain out of the eye.
If the eye is damaged, the stain will adhere to the damaged section of the eye and appear fluorescent green.
Watch This Veterinarian On YouTube Conduct The Fluorescein Stain Test
In this video, a veterinarian walks us through the process of having the Fluorescein Stain Test administered.
#2 Schirmer Tear Test
They may also wish to perform a Schirmer Tear Test which will check for dry eye, a common cause of corneal ulcers in Boston Terriers.
In addition, they may recommend tonometry, a quick test to rule out glaucoma, a condition that can cause blindness in Bostons.
Do you think your Boston has glaucoma? Read this article here on Boston Terrier Society about how glaucoma is treated and much more, Glaucoma In Boston Terriers – What You Need To Know.
Watch This Veterinarian On YouTube Conduct The Shirmer Tear Test
In this video, a veterinarian walks us through the process of having the Shirmer Tear Test administered.
Boston Terrier Corneal Ulcer Treatments
Once your veterinarian diagnoses an ulcer, they will prescribe dog eye ulcer medicines to help the eye heal.
The most common treatments for superficial eye ulcers in Boston Terriers include eye antibiotics. Your vet will give you a topical antibiotic eye ointment or eye drop to place in the eye several times throughout the day.
The goal of antibiotic treatment is to treat any infections that may be present and prevent bacteria from infecting the ulcer.
They may also prescribe oral pain medication or a topical eye pain medication called atropine.
Many vets will recommend that your Boston wear an e-collar, also known as “the cone of shame”, to prevent your Boston from rubbing or scratching the eye which can cause the ulcer to get worse.
You can find these cones of shame on Amazon here, Dog Cone.
Will A Dog’s Eye Ulcer Heal On Its Own?
It is not recommended to let a dog eye ulcer heal on its own. If you suspect your dog has an eye ulcer, it is vital to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If an eye ulcer in a dog is left untreated, it can become infected and become much worse leading to possible eye rupture. If the eye becomes ruptures, your dog’s eye will likely need to be removed with surgery.
A $150 vet bill if you brought your dog in to see the vet right away for the eye could quickly become a $1,000 to $2,000 surgical bill if you delay going to the vet for the eye condition.
What Surgery For A Boston Terrier Eye Ulcers Looks Like
In severe cases of corneal ulcers, your dog may need eye surgery. Some deep ulcers or deep cuts to the eye may need to be stitched up under anesthesia.
Here are two types of surgery.
1) Dog Conjunctival Pedicle Graft
For extremely deep ulcers, Some veterinarians may recommend performing a conjunctival pedicle graft if they feel the eye can be saved. During this procedure, the veterinarian takes a small part of the conjunctiva around the eye and moves it over the eye ulcer.
They will stitch the conjunctiva in place around the ulcer. The conjunctiva provides blood supply and nutrients to the eye ulcer so that it can heal faster.
2) Dog Eye Enucleation
If the ulcer gets too deep, infected, and ruptures the eyeball, this becomes a surgical condition. Your veterinarian will likely recommend eye removal or enucleation if they feel that the eye cannot be saved.
How Much Does Boston Terrier Eye Ulcer Surgery Cost?
The dog eye ulcer surgery cost varies a lot depending on the procedure performed and your location.
If your veterinarian decides your dog needs to have the eye removed (enucleation), this procedure on average ranges from $500 to $2,000.
If your veterinarian recommends a conjunctival pedicle graft, this surgery can range on average from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on your location.
Worried about medical costs? Check out Pet Assure where you can save 25% off veterinarian medical procedures like ulcer surgery. Unlike other traditional pet insurance, there are no pre-existing condition exclusions. Learn more here, Pet Assure.
If your Boston is showing any new eye symptoms, you should visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. Many eye conditions if not treated early can lead to permanent blindness.
The most common symptoms of corneal ulcers in Boston Terriers include eye squinting, pawing at the eye, and eye pain.
Corneal ulcers, if caught early, can usually be easily treated with eye antibiotics and pain medications prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Stanley, R. G. (2007) Management of Corneal Ulcers in Small Animals. Veterinary Information Network.
- Ward, E. Corneal Ulcers in Dogs. VCA Hospitals.