It looks like a scene from a horror movie.
One second your pup is out playing, going about its day like any other. The next, one of its eyes is out where it shouldn’t be, practically hanging down its face.
It sounds surreal, but these things actually happen. It’s called eye proptosis, and while it constitutes an emergency, it doesn’t have to end badly if you know how to respond.
Here is everything you need to know about proptosis and what to do when a pug eye pops out.
Wait, What Does Pug Eye Proptosis Even Mean?
Ocular or eye proptosis is a condition where a dog’s eyeball gets displaced. Mild cases may only show an abnormally bulgy eye, while more severe ones can lead to the eyeball falling out of its socket.
When the eyelids get trapped behind the eyeball, the eye can then suffer from severe dryness and possible discoloration.
Don’t worry, we’ll pretend we didn’t see that shiver run down your spine.
Is It Common for Pugs with Bulging Eyes?
Certain breeds are at higher risk than others.
Brachycephalic breeds in particular, with their short snouts and shallow eye sockets, are more likely to experience proptosis. These include French bulldogs, Pekingese, shih-tzus, and of course, pugs.
That being said, many pug owners never deal with this issue at all. By taking proper care of your pug’s eyes, you may never see it happen.
For more information on prevention practices, keep reading!
Hold Up. Why Would a Pug’s Eye Pop Out in the First Place?
The most common causes are blunt trauma or the excessive pulling of the skin around their face and neck. Basically, it happens when too much pressure is applied around the eyelid.
High-risk activities include fighting, rough play, and bumping into hard surfaces.
In rare instances, the pressure can also hint at the presence of internal bleeding, infection, or tumor. These constitute a very slim percentage of cases, however.
But, Will My Dog Go Blind?
It’s a possibility, but not a given. The outcome relies on multiple factors, such as the type of injury, the severity of the case, and how long it took to see a vet.
For example, a study from Ohio State University recorded vastly different outcomes among 66 canine subjects with proptosis. Of those, forty-one were able to keep the affected eye, and eighteen retained vision in that eye as well.
Vision loss is possible, but that is still no reason to feel gloomy. Many dogs lead long, fulfilling lives after losing an eye. Chances are, your pup will be just fine.
What To Do When My Pug’s Eyes Pop Out Unexpectedly
Alright. It’s happened. What now?
Proptosis is an emergency situation. Time is of the essence, and you need to get your dog to a vet ASAP.
Before you panic, here is what you need to remember.
Before The Vet
There are a few things you should do before jumping in the car:
- Grab some gauze and saline solution (or, if you don’t have the latter, use water);
- Wet the gauze with the solution and gently cover the eye;
- Keep the eye moist as you head to the clinic, but do not remove the gauze once applied, as it may cause further damage;
- If your pug is resisting, fill a spray bottle with saline solution, adjust the nozzle to a soft mist, and use it to keep the eye moist;
- If someone is with you, have them drive so you can keep your dog safe, calm and hydrated.
Do not try to disinfect or shove the eye back in. That’s what your vet is there for.
At The Vet
Once at the clinic, the vet will assess the severity of the case and determine the best course of action.
In most cases, they will carefully pull the eyelids apart and reposition the globe. Then, they will suture the eyelids shut for a few days (up to 1-2 weeks), so the area can heal.
After The Vet
Even with a positive prognosis, your pug will need time to heal. Here’s what you need to do for a smooth at-home recovery:
- Make sure the cone or collar stays on, to prevent them from pawing at the eye;
- Apply ointments and antibiotics as prescribed;
- Regularly inspect the sutures;
- Immediately notify your vet if you notice bleeding, discharge, or swelling;
- Monitor your dog’s temperature and notify your vet of any fever;
- Follow your vet’s orders to a T, and do not miss follow-up appointments.
Make sure you ask questions and understand your vet’s recommendations, so as to avoid complications down the road.
Oh Dear! What If I Don’t Have Access to a Vet Right Away?
If you cannot get to a vet within an hour of the accident, you may have to be brave and pop the eye back in.
This is a last resort solution, seeing as doing it without anesthesia will cause your dog pain and distress. That said, a bit of pain may be preferable to letting it aggravate.
Here is how to do it:
- Wash your hands thoroughly;
- Make sure the eye socket is moist;
- Gently extend the eyelids;
- If needed, use a (clean) hand to push the eyeball back in place;
- Get help if you need more than two hands;
- Keep the eye moist afterwards and get to a vet as soon as possible;
- If the socket is swollen and the eye won’t fit, do not force it. You will need a vet’s assistance.
Do your best, be gentle, and remember that, even in a worst-case scenario, loss of eyesight does not ruin a dog’s life.
Alright, Now I Am Terrified. How Can I Prevent It?
The good news is, there’s plenty of things you can do to avoid the situation entirely. Here are the most important ones.
- Pugs are high maintenance: get pug pet insurance to prevent financial nightmares;
- Have a vet readily available in case of emergency;
- Schedule regular check-ups with the vet;
- Inspect and clean your pug’s eyes at least once a day, and up to three times daily;
- When grooming, ensure no loose hairs or nail clippings get in their eyes;
- Avoid smoking in the house;
- Use natural, pet-safe products when cleaning the house
- Don’t play rough with your pug, and don’t let others manhandle them either;
- If you have children, educate them on how to handle your pug with care;
- Avoid stretching or pulling their skin, especially near the neck and face;
- Use a harness instead of a collar for walks;
- Do not let your dog scratch its own face too much.
In the end, you cannot guarantee that an accident won’t ever happen, but healthy eyes have a higher chance of recovery.
So, keep an eye out! (Pun intended.)
Here are answers to other common questions you may have.
1. Why do pugs have big eyes?
They are a brachycephalic breed, meaning that they have a short nose and shallow eye sockets. The latter characteristic leads to bulging eyes.
2. Do pugs’ eyes straighten out?
Because of their breed’s characteristics, it is relatively common for pugs to be cross-eyed.
Their eyes may straighten out, or they may not. Either way, it is not something to worry about.
3. What is the cost of surgery for dog eye proptosis?
Some people have estimated it between 500$ to 4000$. Truth is, it depends on your vet’s rates, the severity of the case, and where you live. Your best bet is asking your vet.
4. Can a pug’s eye pop out due to old age?
Proptosis occurs as a result of excessive pressure around the eyelids. There is no evidence that old age puts pugs at higher risk.
5. Do pug eyes pop out when they sneeze or chew?
Proptosis occurs as a result of blunt trauma. There is a level of pressure that their eyelids can withstand, and commonplace actions such as chewing or sneezing normally don’t exceed that limit.
6. What are other pug eye problems I should look out for?
Eyes are pugs’ Achilles heel, in a way. Other common eye-related conditions include distichiasis, entropion, cherry eye, pigmentary keratitis, and cataracts.
As soon as you notice something unusual, reach out to a vet.
So, What Now? Do I Just Wait For It to Happen?
While it may look like a scene straight out of a Freddy Krueger nightmare, proptosis doesn’t actually have to end in a cliffhanger.
Can a pug’s eye pop out in real life? Yes, it can. But the good news is: you’re now all prepared and ready to face it like a champ.
It may never happen at all, but if it ever does, you and your pug will no doubt overcome the situation.
By taking preventive measures, you and your furry friend will surely spend many more blissful years together.