What to Expect When Your Dog has Eye Removal (Enucleation ) Surgery
September 17, 2012 in Diseases
Last year my dog Lucy was diagnosed with glaucoma in her right eye. Glaucoma isn’t a pleasant disease for dogs because unlike humans where the glaucoma can be managed quite well, for dogs it usually results in a lot of pain and eventual blindness.
For my dog Lucy, within months of being diagnosed it was determined that the eye couldn’t be saved and the only real alternative to spare her from the ongoing pain was to have the eye removed. This of course was a bit hard to take but I knew it was going to be the best thing for her. I didn’t want her to be in pain – it was as simple as that!
You can see in the image above which was taken the day before the surgery that Lucy’s right eye is slightly enlarged compared to the left eye due to the glaucoma.
The day before the surgery I had to ensure she had no food or water during the night or the morning before taking her to the vet. On the morning of the surgery I had to take her in early and leave her there. That was the hardest part for me as I knew that would be the last time I would see her with both eyes.
It was only going to be day surgery and I would pick her up in the afternoon but it was tough getting through the day without thinking about her. At that point, I didn’t care about the eye being removed, I just wanted to make sure she got out of the surgery okay. So it was a huge relief when the vet surgery rang to say everything had gone okay and I could come to pick her up. I couldn’t wait to get in that car and get going to get her.
I was expecting to pick up a groggy dog that would be in a lot of pain and I would have to carry her to the car so I brought a friend with me to help. When I got there and they brought Lucy out I realized that I didn’t need any help at all because she walked out on her own and once she saw me dragged the vet assistant across the room to get to me and proceeded to jump all over me. I couldn’t believe it!
She was fine!…well, apart from the fact that her eye had been removed and it looked a little red and raw around that area. You can see in the image to the right how Lucy looked just after the surgery. The eye area is quite red but she had no swelling or bruising. I knew then that everything was going to be okay. She had gotten through it beautifully.
When I got her home I could see the effects of the anesthetic were still in place as she was a little unsteady on her feet so after doing her toileting and having a drink she pretty much plonked herself down on her bed and slept for most of the rest of the day.
It was rather odd seeing here without the eye. I had seen photos on the internet of dogs with their eye(s) removed but it’s not the same as when you see it in person and on your own dog. It can take a bit to get used to.
Lucy never did wear a cone around her head. The vet never put one on her and she never tried to paw or scratch around her eye so there was no need for it.
Two weeks after the eye surgery on Christmas eve, Lucy had the stitches removed. She never had any infection or bleeding from the eye. It all went smoothly and she adjusted beautifully. You can see in the picture of Lucy to the left which was taken a few weeks after the surgery. The stitches have been removed, the redness has disappeared and the fur around the eye area is already starting to grow back.
Some Frequently Asked Questions about Eye Removal Surgery
Will I have to leave my dog in overnight?
Dog enucleation surgery is usually performed as a day surgery procedure. You leave your dog at the vet in the morning and pick it up later in the afternoon. In some cases however, you may need to leave your dog in overnight. This might occur if your dog is elderly or they have had some sort of complication as a result of the surgery.
How much does eye removal surgery cost?
This will depend heavily on the vet and what they like to charge. For my dog, the surgery cost around $750(US), however it can vary from as little as $400 through to $1000. Be aware that in most cases, an eye specialist will charge more than a regular vet. No matter where you get the surgery performed ensure you ask the vet how many times they have performed the surgery. Don’t just go for the cheapest option…you want a vet that is experienced with this sort of surgery.
What about a prosthetic eye?
Getting your dog a prosthetic eye is really a personal thing. A prosthetic eye has no benefit to the dog and it is only to make us humans happy. If you decide to get a prosthetic eye be aware that the recovery period may take a lot longer and there is a greater risk for complications.
What to do after the operation
The first thing is to let your dog go out and do it’s toileting and the let them have a drink. They may also be hungry but avoid giving them anything too quickly. Try to feed them later in the evening and just something light to help fill their empty stomach. The main thing is to keep your dog quiet. If you have children in the house, let them know that the dog needs to be able to rest. Your dog may be a little groggy and disorientated from the anesthetic so getting the dog excited might cause it to run into things and break open the stitches. Just let them rest in a quiet spot in the house.
Swelling, bruising and pain
I do know that some dogs experience quite a bit of swelling and/or bruising when they have eye removal surgery. Lucy never had this problem, however every dog is different. The swelling/bruising will reduce over a few days. If it doesn’t, please let your vet know as there may be an infection.
UPDATE: In February 2013, my Lucy succumbed to cancer. She was an amazing dog and we miss her dearly. Although I no longer have a blind dog, I am dedicated to keeping this website working for those who need it.