Long haired dogs require frequent grooming of the hair around their eyes. This can be problematic for their mums and dads when the solution to the problem requires a pair of scissors to be held close to their eye. Many people therefore choose to leave it for the groomer but the hair on the face tends to grow across the eyes within a month of a groom and therefore some maintenance at home is important. Hair should not be covering your dogs eyes. It doesn’t matter what breed they are – eyes require an uninterrupted view of the world to function properly. Imagine walking around with a fringe that covered your eyes all day. Not only would you find it hard to see but the hairs would be going into your eye and causing irritation. Dogs are no different, they just don’t have an opposable thumb to pull the hairs out of their eye! Facial hair in constant contact with the eyes can cause conjunctivitis, a poor quality tear film, corneal ulceration and even scarring of the cornea which if left untreated could lead to vision reduction.
My tips for managing the hair around the eyes include:
1. Ask your groomer to keep the hair around the eyes short.
2. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to safely clip the hair around the eyes. I find that it’s best done with two people, one to keep the head still and the eyelid closed and the other to trim the hair. Always used curved scissors with a blunt tip and keep the scissors parallel to the face so that if the dog moves they hit the edge of the scissors not the tip. Lots of patients, praise and treats at the start will help to win your dogs trust and encourage them to remain still for you.
3. Use a water soaked make up pad remover daily to clean any discharge that may accumulate between the nose and the eyes. A small amount of ‘sleep’ is normal and daily removal helps to prevent any accumulation in the hair.
4. Be cautious of using any eye cleaners for dogs. Brown stains are annoying but they’re not worrying your dog most of the time and if a product is strong enough to remove that stain, then it can’t be too healthy for the eye itself. There are a few products which are safe to use around the eye such as Kojo eye cleaner but I tend to steer clear of most.
Finally, if you notice that there is more discharge than usual, the appearance of the discharge has changed or it is accompanied by squinting, rubbing or redness then you should consult with your veterinarian to rule out the presence of eye disease.