Certain fruit fly species are attracted to the secretions produced in your dog's eyes. They land on the eye and feed on the secretions, and they can deposit the larvae of parasitic eyeworms while they feed. The larvae can grow into worms that are a couple of centimetres long, and not surprisingly, they can cause significant irritation and discomfort for your dog. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for eyeworm infection in dogs:
Parasitic eyeworms have a serrated outer surface, which can scrape your dog's eye and cause redness and inflammation. The cornea can become ulcerated, and this leaves your dog susceptible to developing a secondary bacterial eye infection. Additionally, your dog may squint their eyes or paw at their eyes to show they are sore. Some dogs become withdrawn and lose their appetite in response to the pain.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your vet will make their diagnosis by examining your dog's eyes. They may numb the eye area with a local anaesthetic or give your dog a sedative to keep them calm and comfortable while they carry out their examination. Adult eyeworms, which are cream in colour, are often visible under the eyelids, and your vet should be able to spot them. They may also take a swab of the eye secretions to determine if a bacterial infection is present.
Your vet will use forceps remove as many eyeworms as they can during your dog's examination, and they will wash your dog's eyes out with a mild saline solution. An anti-parasitic will be prescribed to ensure any eggs or larvae are eradicated, and your dog may also require an anti-inflammatory to help the eyes heal. If there are signs of a bacterial infection, your dog will also need a topical or oral antibiotic. Your vet will show you how to gently cleanse your dog's eyes with saline, which you will need to do at home until their eyes have recovered. Your vet will arrange a follow-up appointment to check your dog's eyes and ensure treatment has been successful.
An eyeworm infection can leave your dog with scarring to the cornea and lead to bacterial infections that can damage your dog's sight. If you think your dog could have an eyeworm infection or if you have any concerns about their eye health, schedule an appointment through a local vet clinic to prevent them from suffering unnecessarily.