Buzz the lurcher developed a sore eye


Buzz has an active lifestyle, particularly enjoying running. Brenda takes him into the countryside near Bray so that he can sprint up and down in fields, and she also takes him to the local park: she rides her bike, and he runs beside her.

On the Friday of the Bank Holiday weekend, Brenda was away overnight: her brother-in-law was looking after Buzz. There was no particular change in his routine: Buzz spent most of his time indoors and went for his usual run in the local park. But when Brenda returned on the Saturday afternoon, she noticed that Buzz’s right eye looked bloodshot. It didn’t seem to be bothering him, so she wondered if he had bashed it off something, and she gave the eye some simple first aid treatment.


She started by treating the eye in the same way as she’d treat a mildly sore eye in a baby: she cleaned it twice daily with some cooled boiled water and some cotton pads. She took particular care to only touch the eye with a fresh pad, changing it each time to avoid re-infection.

Over the next two days, on the Sunday and the Bank Holiday Monday, Buzz’s sore eye got steadily worse. Normally, Brenda would have taken him to the vet, but she didn’t feel that it was bad enough to need to contact the emergency on-duty service. She started to use sterile saline from her first aid kit rather than just boiled water. Unfortunately, the problem didn’t get better, so on the Tuesday morning after the Bank Holiday, Brenda and Buzz came down to my vet clinic for me to have a look at what was going on.


A sore red eye is something that needs to be taken seriously. The eye is a sensitive structure, and there are some disease conditions that can rapidly deteriorate if not treated properly, with the of the eye becoming so badly damaged that it may reach an incurable stage.

It was not easy to examine Buzz’s eye in close detail. He’s a lively dog, and he kept moving his head away when I tried to look at his eye with my ophthalmoscope. As well as that, the lining of the eye and his eyelids were so swollen that it was difficult to have a good look at the eyeball itself. It was like trying to look into a room through a crack in a door, with the door being continually pushed shut against you.

Buzz relaxed after a few minutes of reassurance, and I was able to see enough to be sure that his eyeball was not badly damaged. I used a special dye to check that there were no scratches or ulcers on the front of his eye. It seemed that Buzz simply had a severe case of conjunctivitis. He must have initially irritated his eye, perhaps by sticking his head close to an irritant substance or something that provoked an allergic reaction. Once the initial irritation had penetrated the eye’s natural defences, a severe bacterial infection had set in, causing the dramatic swelling of the lining of his eye and his eyelids.

My treatment was simple: eye drops, to be applied six times daily, to kill the bacterial infection and to reduce the swelling and redness in his eye. I also gave him some pain relief.

Brenda came back the following morning:  Buzz could now open his eye properly, and it looked much less red.

We still don’t know what the initial cause was, but Brenda’s hoping that Buzz might have learned a simple lesson: don’t poke your head into anything that looks as if it might irritate your eye.


  • A red sore eye always needs to be taken seriously
  • Simple treatment, such as bathing in cooled boiled water, may help mild cases
  • A visit to the vet is essential if a sore eye is not better within a couple of days

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