22 August, 2010
animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
A Shih Tzu has an
eye injury - corneal ulceration
Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First recorded: 1 December, 2002
22 August, 2010
Be Kind To Pets
dog is vomiting," Ms Alicia Yeo said.
She had bought a 10-month-old Shih Tzu
from a pet shop a few days ago and was
worried. Yesterday was her last "O"
level examination paper and she would
be free of learning for examinations
from the end of November till the new
year. What greatly surprised me was
the red blob of tissue protruding from
one eye of the Shih Tzu.
This was a serious emergency condition
of a deep ulcer in the cornea of the
eye, medically known as deep
And yet, in this dog, the eye was not
inflamed. No redness of the sclera or
eye white. No tearing and no pain. The
eye looked normal as the other eye.
But, normally, the eye would be red
and the eye lids would be half closed
as the dog rubbed the eyes to
alleviate the pain.
dog's eyeball is going to collapse
soon when the ulcer in the cornea
deepens a bit more and breaks
releasing the inner gelatinous
support." I said. "The red tissue is
the basement membrane. It is the
bottom layer of the cornea being
pushed out by the vitreous inside the
eye as the ulcer is deep."
The girl's eyes blinked.
It was as if I was talking Greek to
her. Elaborating further, as she would
not understand medical jargon, I said,
"The circle of white area surrounding
the red tissue is the ulceration of
the cornea. A break down in the cornea
is called an ulcer. A hole in the
cornea if you know what a mean. An
injury. Was the red blob of
tissue present when you purchased the
"No," Alicia said.
"Then, you must have used a potent
steroid eye drops," I replied. "The
steroid stops all inflammation but the
side effect of suppression of healing
of this ulcer is that the ulcer
becomes worse and in the next few
days, will burst and the eye ball will
have a big hole and rupture. In that
case, it will become infected by
bacteria and the infected eyeball
needs to be removed."
It sounded dramatic but it was true.
Alicia was angry with her father. Eye
sight was precious and if her dog
became blind, this was the fault of
"He will not be aware of the side
effects of the potent steroid
dexamethasone," I said. "Besides,
Singapore is suffering from so many
bad news of economic recession. The
recent increase in bus fares, car
parking fees, subway fares, goods and
service tax, electronic tolls, power
rates and rubbish collection fees made
the head of the house hold tighten his
belt. The Central Provident Fund
contributions by the employer for
older employees were decreased to make
such employees more affordable
compared to the young ones. All these
mean that your father is cutting down
Teenagers are sometimes
sheltered from the economic worries of
the father as the latter seldom
discuss such matters.
It is hard to be a parent for a
Division Three government employee
whose highest income would be less
than $1,500 per month. It is better
not to have children as the
over seemed unable to decrease
unemployment and retrenchment and
increase in taxation seemed to be the
"My father gave the eye drops
prescribed for him by his doctor on
the dog's eyes for the past three
days," she said, a bit in annoyance as
her ears glued to the handphone to
listen to some calls. This teenager
who had just completed her "O" levels
examinations yesterday seemed to be
always on the mobile phone, even
during consultation at the
One of the teenagers who would have
plenty to talk to peers but nothing
much to say to parents. Hours of
non-stop chat, chalking up large phone
I hope she was subscribing to Starhub
which was the only one of the three
Singapore telecommunication companies
to give complimentary incoming calls.
And had the wisdom to get her friends
to phone her instead so that her
father paid less phone charges.
"What should be done now?" Alicia
"The best recommendation is surgery to
cover up the eye ulcer. However, the
cost of anaesthesia and surgery of
$200 may be considered expensive by
The other option is to get an
Elizabeth collar to prevent the dog
scratching his eye and keep the dark
in a dark and sheltered cage and treat
the eye with antibiotic drops
regularly till the ulcer heals.
The important thing is to stop using
the existing eye drops but the
inflammation and itch will come and
the dog will rub its itchy eye with
its paws or simply rub the eye onto
the carpet or chair causing the ulcer
could get the Elizabeth collar and she
went home after the large amount of
gas inside the dog's stomach and
intestines were treated. The gas
But the main worries were whether the
eyeball would stay intact? Would the
cornea rupture? Was $200 a lot of
money to save an eye?
$200 is a lot of money for a Division
3 government officer with a large
family. Yet, the mobile phone girl
must have chalked up more than that in
a month as each call is 0.20 cents per
minute or so. And the SMS or
instant messages add up to the cost
and the bill would be five hundred
dollars a month for some of these
teenagers! It is fortunate for the
father that she does not have the
latest multi-media mobile phone which
can send pictures and voices and rack
up phone bills for the father.
not expect to see her anymore. At
closing time, she brought her father
and her dog to see me. The dog
was operated on and I offered three
days free boarding and supervision at
my surgery. For the sake of the dog.
It should have cage rest and let the
eye heal better.
dog would be moving around at home and
the sunlight and breezes at home would
irritate the eye and make the dog
scratch out the stitches by rubbing
the stitched up eyelids on the floor,
on the bed and on the chair. Anyway.
Alicia would not want her dog to be
away from home. It was her dog. The
teenager was not interested in free
veterinary supervision and boarding.
The dog would be kept in a bedroom.
She did not like to be separated from
her dog even for one day.
much better to be under veterinary
supervision as in the case of
The best Christmas present for the
Pekinese, but I don't insist
because the customer is the paymaster.
Well, teenagers have a mind of their
own and they are young adults and
capable of making decisions. Three
days of confinement would be better
for dogs with deep ulcerative
keratitis as I can monitor and check
it in Toa Payoh Vets.
Better than going straight home after
surgery, but the dog- loving teenagers
don't like it. I presume this is the
assertive trait of youths.
The over-fifty-year-old father's
eye-whites were red with congested
blood vessels. He must be working
overtime doing night shifts
maintaining 2 jobs and thus did not
have enough sleep. This was a caring
and doting father who loved his
daughter to distraction. Maybe,
distraction is the wrong word.
Would it be too late now to save the
eye of the mobile phone girl? Had the
steroid caused irreversible damage
such that the cornea would rupture
The next 21 days would let me know the
answer. Christmas was 25 days away and
if the eyeball remains intact, the
ulcer would have healed and this
mobile phone girl had given the best
Christmas present for the Shih Tzu -
the prevention of the loss of eyesight
in her beloved Shih Tzu.
The Fox Terrier with an eye ulcer
To make an appointment:
tel: +65 9668-6469, 6254-3326
Be Kind To Pets
All rights reserved. Revised: August 22, 2010
Toa Payoh Vets