By Vicky Nardone
So it's been about a week since I posted anything and there's actually a reason behind that. A week ago today, our dog Piper got an eye infection. I noticed in the morning when I woke up that day that she had one of her eyes closed. It seemed to be a little bit painful for her as well when I touched her eye lid to try and get a look at her eye. I had Matt take a look and we figured we'd wait and see if it got any better throughout the day. It didn't - it actually started looking worse so Matt called and made a doctor's appointment for her the next morning.
The next day we took her in to the vet who looked at her eyes and determined that both eyes were actually infected but the closed eye was a bit worse because she actually had a tear in the surface of the eye. At that point she sent us home with the meds and had us make an appointment to come back in 10 days. The next day she was even worse - she didn't seem to be able to see anything out of either eye. The vet thought she had an allergic reaction to the meds so they had Matt bring her in to flush the eyes and sent us back home with more new prescriptions for her.
On Saturday, her eyes looked even worse. There was a lot of discharge but we weren't sure if that was the eye forming a covering over the eye to protect it as it healed. Late Saturday afternoon though I saw a spot of red behind the discharge in her one eye and decided she needed to go to the emergency animal hospital. They told us that both of her eyes had actually ruptured and they told us we needed to take her to an opthamologist first thing on Monday morning. They sent us home with another round of medicines and Matt and I had to give them to her round the clock every two hours until we got in to see the opthamologist on Monday morning. Needless to say by Monday morning both of us were sleep deprived, stressed, close to tears and a little snappy at each other. My mom was really great throughout the whole thing though and went with me to the emergency clinic on Saturday night because Matt was actually at an overnight shoot and then spent most of the day on Sunday with us and went out and got us food as needed.
On Monday morning when we went to the opthamologist we got the bad news. Her eyes were beyond the point of being fixable and the only way to stop the pain she was most definitely experiencing was to have both eyes removed. Matt and I were shocked and upset. We spent some time talking to the doctor and learned that because dogs have such good hearing and sense of smell that most dogs can live a fairly normal life without eyes. We decided that we would go ahead with the surgery since she would probably have good quality of life and she went through the surgery yesterday.
She's did really well with the surgery and she's been at home recovering since last night. She's such a trooper and I think she'll adjust very well but it's definitely going to be a process for all involved. We've heard that if you have multiple dogs in the house that oftentimes the visually impaired one will use the other dog as a guide dog so we're hoping that Piper's sister Maggie will be able to help her adjust as well once she's healed a bit more and it's safe to let them around each other.
So why am I telling you all this? Besides wanting to explain my absence for the last week, I also want to stress to all of you out there with pets how important it is to get them quickly to the vet at the first sign of an eye issue. Unfortunately Piper was a bit of an extreme case and even though we got her to the vet fairly early on during the issue, she just progressed so quickly and severely that there wasn't much we could do. The other thing I would like to recommend is possibly skipping the vet and going straight to the eye specialist. The reason I say this is that from our experience the regular vets did not have the training required to quickly and accurately treat/recognize the more severe eye problems. We all ask ourselves "what if" when these kind of things happen and one of my "what ifs" is what if we had gotten her to the opthamologist sooner? Would they have been able to do something to stop the eyes from rupturing and possibly saved her sight? Both our regular vet and the emergency clinic both ended up trying to reach out to an eye specialist to ask for advice on how to proceed with treatment. The vet at the emergency clinic told us that she had only done the surgery to help repair her vision one on a cadaver in med school and never on a live dog.
The last thing I wanted to do with this post is ask for advice. Do any of you out there have dogs who have gone through something similar? Either losing their vision due to old age or something more severe like an infection? If so, do you have any tips for us on how to help her adjust or things that we can do to help make life easier for her?
I'm hoping life will start to go back to normal now that we are through the worst of it and I'll be able to blog a little more actively.