Bruce, a 1 year old Pug developed an ulcer on the surface of his eye

There’s something about Pugs that’s particularly adorable. Psychologists tell us that their circular faces, flattened noses and prominent eyes make them resemble human infants, which gives them a special appeal. They’re known for being charming little clowns.

Bruce was playing in the back garden when the accident happened. He’s an energetic, excitable dog, and he was dashing back and forth, chasing a leafy branch held by a friend of the family. Suddenly, he yelped and stopped playing: he’d bashed himself on the face, and he’d hurt his left eye.

At first, he seemed to get over the injury rapidly, starting to play again, and behaving normally in every way. It wasn’t till two days later that things deteriorated.  He started to rub his left eye with his paw, whining, yelping, and in obvious distress. He couldn’t open his eye properly; it was swollen, and a discharge trickled down from the corner, like a yellow tear drop. He was brought down to see me.

He wasn’t an easy dog to examine, wriggling and grumbling as I tried to get a close look at the sore eye. The surface of his eye was cloudy and after I’d applied drops of a special dye, I could see what was wrong: he’d scratched the front of the eye and it had become infected.

The surface of the eye has multiple microscopic layers, like the skins of an onion. If the surface of the eye (known as the “cornea”) is scraped or scratched, the delicate deeper layers are exposed, a problem known as a “corneal ulcer”. Aggressive bacteria can move into the injured area, producing acids and toxins, and causing even more damage. Corneal ulcers are very painful, and without treatment, they tend to progress, leading to permanent damage in some cases.

Pugs, like all dogs with bulgy eyes and flat noses, are particularly prone to damaging the surface of their eyes. If you look at the side-on profile of a pug, the surface of their eyes is at the front of the face. If a pug walks straight into something, it’s the eyes that make contact, rather than the tip of the nose. Eyes are sensitive, and they aren’t designed for this type of physical interaction with hard objects. For this reason, it’s very common for pugs to suffer repeated episodes of damaged eyes.

Bruce was treated with a combination of medication: several types of drops to be applied to his eyes, and pain relieving tablets. It wasn’t easy for Martina to put the drops in at first, because his eyes were sore, and he’s a powerful wriggler. She started to give him treats (such as morsels of ham) just after applying the drops. Once he realised that something good was coming after the drops, he soon began to relax.

Dogs with damaged eyes need to be monitored carefully; sometimes a visit to an eye specialist is needed. There are now advanced techniques for treating corneal ulcers, including special contact lenses, and complex microscopic surgical techniques to apply grafts of healing tissue over the damaged area. It can be expensive and worrying for owners, but the aim is always to restore the eye to full health. Without this specialist treatment, there’s a serious risk of complications that can result in the eye needing to be surgically removed.

Bruce was one of the lucky ones. I checked him three more times over the following two weeks, and he made a smooth, steady recovery. He’s now back to full health, but Martina’s taken this as a useful warning: from now on, Bruce will be much more careful when playing with sticks.


  • Pugs, and other bulgy-eyed-breeds of dog, are prone to damaging their eyes
  • A scratched eye – known as a corneal ulcer – can lead to permanent blindness if not treated properly
  • Most cases do respond well to simple veterinary treatment




  • We”be had good success in cats using antiviral famcyclorvir off script.

  • tracyt says:

    hi my puppy pug had got two scratches on her left eye from playing with another puppy but this has been so painful as she is only 16 weeks old our vet has tried everything to help save her eye even a surgery was performed but her ulcer is so deep they could not get it all cleaned up she has 4 more days if this does not heal then she will have this left eye removed which is so sad for her as she is only small puppy so i would say to pug owners be very careful on letting your pug play with other animals cause this has been so stressful for my pug and my self seeing her in so much pain really pained me now i know to be very careful with the pug

  • Jen Redford says:

    Hi, My 14 month old pug has been diagnosed with ulcers in both eyes, her vet has prescribed meds for her and has said that if there’s no improvement in 7 days she’ll need her eyes removed!! I’m thinking of getting a second opinion as I feel as this is unnecessary?? I would value your opinion please.

    • petethevet says:

      I am very sorry to hear this. I’d always say that if anyone feels uneasy about any issue regarding their pet, it can never do any harm to seek a second opinion, and if it is about a specific topic (be it skin, heart, eyes or whatever) then seek a second opinion from a vet who has extra qualifications in that area. Sadly, there are dogs that do need to have both eyes removed, for their own comfort and freedom from pain, but obviously it’s worth doing everything possible to avoid that outcome. The best of luck with this challenging situation.

  • tracy traynor says:

    hi pete the vet i had posted a comment meny months ago about my little puppy pug mila she’s had one eye removed
    to a really bad ulcer now she has developed a ulcer on her other eye as she is being treated for this but this is the second day of her antibiotic eye drops she still looks very sore she also has had problems with both ears with bad infections my little baby has not had a good start in life if this eye doesn’t heal and needs to be removed can you tell me if this little girl will be ok if she has not got eny eyes can they live without both eyes cause i am so concerned i definitely would not like to lose her please help

  • Kim Bishop says:

    My pug has had surgery for cataracts and had a lens placed in his left eye. He was allowed to come home and I was told not to worry if the lens came out ! After 3 days of medication 6 x daily his left eye became painful and teary so I took him back to my vet.after examination I was told he has an ulcer in this eye and has been kept in for mess and possible surgery. I was told he could of scratched it but he’s had a buster collar on since Saturday that hasn’t been removed even for eating so I’m a little confused how it could have happened. This could now result in more surgery of which I have just paid thousands of pounds for !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

Privacy | Terms and Conditions