If your dog has an eye infection, the veterinarian might prescribe eye medication to use topically in the eyes. Those would be fine if they’re used properly.
But what if, in all its infinite wisdom, a dog ate eye drops? This might be a problem if the drops contain certain ingredients, such as Imidazoline.
Imidazoline is a chemical that is found in many cold and allergy medications, but also frequently in OTC or prescription eye solution. It is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it can shrink the blood vessels in your eyes and other mucous membranes.
When imidazoline is swallowed by dogs, it can cause severe poisoning. The side effects can include lethargy, depression, vomiting and loss of coordination. If it is untreated, imidazoline poisoning can be fatal. As such, proper and prompt poison control needs to be carried out.
The eye drop brand Visine contains tetrahydrozoline, another form of imidazoline. So do other brands, such as Clear Eyes, Murine Tears, and Tyzine Nasal. In other words, common over-the-counter products can pose a danger for your dog.
If your dog by chance ate eye drops, it might not develop symptoms. The toxicity depends on the amount of the product that is consumed. A larger amount will cause more severe symptoms, some of which include:
● Loud noises while breathing
● Blood pressure changes and increased heart rate
Eye drops can even cause death when consumed in large enough quantities.
If your dog has been poisoned, they might develop symptoms within 30 minutes, but they may not show signs of toxicity for several hours.
If you know that your dog has eaten eye solution, take it to the veterinarian for poison control before you give symptoms a chance to set in.
If you discover that your dog has eaten eye drops, you should take it to the vet immediately. A veterinarian will examine your dog and assess its vital signs. They will also ask you questions such as:
● What symptoms have you been noticing in your pet?
● When did the symptoms start?
● Do you know for sure that your dog ate eye medication?
● Did you have access to the bottle?
● When did this happen?
Be prepared to answer these questions. Record times and symptoms as soon as you know that something may have happened. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The veterinarian may do blood work to determine how the internal organs are functioning. Heart rate and respiration monitors might be used if your dog has an irregular heart rate, arrhythmia or trouble breathing.
Your vet will then recommend the best form of poison control and treatment. They may recommend activated charcoal, which can absorb some of the toxic chemicals from the body through a process called covalent bonding.
Yohimbine is another medication that can counteract antihistamine in eye drops, which is what causes the toxicity in dogs. This medication may have to be administered several times and frequently until the eye solution are out of the system.
Your dog may have to stay at the vet’s office for monitoring and medication. You’ll be able to take it back home when all signs of poisoning have disappeared. The vet may also redo the lab work to ensure that the chemical is no longer affecting your dog.
You may wonder if you should induce vomiting if you think that your dog ate eye solution. This probably is not the best idea as it may be ineffective and could even cause more harm.
The medication is absorbed so quickly that vomiting would not necessarily remove it from your pet’s system.
The vet may induce vomiting depending on the amount of time that has passed and your dog’s symptoms. However, that would be done under medical supervision, which is safer than you attempting to do it yourself.
You might wonder how your pooch could come into contact with eye drops in the first place- it’s not as though he can access your medicine cabinet!
However, it might be easier for your dog to get a hold of these products than you think.
Do you ever leave the eye solution on the coffee table because your eyes get dry while you watch TV?
Do you keep a small bottle on your nightstand to refresh your eyes when you wake up in the morning?
These are some areas to consider looking at and correcting. If you can put the eye medication in an enclosed drawer or out of your dog’s reach, you’ll help keep it out of danger.
You should also think about what you keep in your purse or pockets. If you have eye drops in your bag, hang it in a closet- especially if you have a curious canine!
Designate a spot for your guests to hang their coats and bags when they visit. A coat closet with a door would be ideal. A mischievous dog could get into your guests’ items otherwise, and you never know what they brought with them.
Most contact lens solutions don’t contain imidazoline or other versions of this chemical. However, contact lens rewetting drops might.
Still, you should leave products like that out of the reach of your pets. When in doubt, read the ingredients, and try to save the bottle of eye solution.
Some contact lens wearers use saline solution. This is simply salt water. While the salt that’s used is not the same as table salt, it is unlikely to cause any issues in your dog.
Many contact lens solutions do contain borate or boric acid. This gastrointestinal irritant can give your dog tummy troubles.
Be careful with products such as DIY kids’ slime. It may require contact lens solution as an ingredient. It may also contain other ingredients that are hazardous to dogs, such as high levels of salt, detergent, and liquid starch.
For the record, eye drops and some contact lens solutions can be dangerous to humans and other pets. Exercise proper poison control by storing all of your medical, hygiene, and cleaning products appropriately, in an area that’s off-limits to your dog.
Both canine and human eye contacts commonly contain a chemical called imidazoline, which can have toxic effects on a dog.
If swallowed in large amounts, it can cause fatal poisoning in dogs. The symptoms that may be present include vomiting, weakness, depression, lethargy and blood pressure level drops.
If your dog has eaten eye medication even in a small quantity, the best option is to take it to the vet for monitoring, poison control and treatment. Activated charcoal can be used as a first-line option to reduce the absorption of toxins while you are in the process of getting professional help.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.