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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Eye out of socket

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Dislocation of one or both eyeballs is a common problem in dogs with large, bulging eyes such as Boston Terriers, Pugs, Pekingese, Maltese, and some spaniels because their eye sockets are very shallow.


The eye will look more protruded than normal. This condition may lead to uveitis.


It is usually caused by a blow to the head, dog bites, trauma, or a fight with another animal.

Struggling with the breeds listed above while attempting to hold and restrain them for any reason can cause the eye to bulge out so far that the eyelids snap shut behind the eyeball. This prevents the eyeball from returning to it's socket and may pull on and damage the optic nerve.

Other causes of a bulging eye are abscesses, hematomas, ans tumors in the retrobulbar space behind the eye. These push the globe forward and cause bulging.

Aretrobular abscess (an abscess behind the eyeball) is an extremely painful condition that comes on rapidly. The face around the eye is swollen and the globe is extremely tender to finger pressure. Dogs experience great difficulty opening and closing their mouths. A retrobular abscess must be surgically drained.

Retrobulbar hematomas (clood clots behind the eyeball) also develop suddenly. They occur with head injuries and can appear spontaneously in conjunction with some bleeding disorders.

Tumors in the retrobulbar space produce gradual bulging. Unlike the two conditions just described, they are relatively painless.

Chronic glaucoma can lead to increased eye size and protrusion.


The diagnosis is made by physical examination.


Proceed at once to the nearest veterinary hospital

A dislocated eyeball is an extremely serious condition that may cause loss of vision. Shortly after the eye dislocates, swelling behind the eye makes it extremely difficult to return the eyeball to its normal position.

1. Protect the injured eye. Before leaving the house, place a gauze pad or lint free cloth soaked with lukewarm sterile saline contact solution (or if this is not available), tap water. If the dog resists the gauze dressing, fill a spray bottle with saline solution and gently spray the eye every minute until you arrive at the vet.

2. Continue to moisturize the pad on the way to the vet. Don't remove the pad to moisten it.

3. Carry the dog if possible

If it appears that veterinary help will not be available within 30 minutes, consider re-setting the eyeball yourself. This requires 2 people: one to restrain and hold the dog and the other to reposition the eye.

1. Tightly grip the skin of both the upper and lower eyelids. The eyelids tend to roll inward on themselves behind the eye, so try using a moistened cotton swab to gently ease the lid edges out, then grasp them with your fingers.

2. Apply a generous amount of K-Y Jelly or petroleum jelly to the eyeball; The more lubricated it is the better the chance of replacement.

3. Give the lid edges a strong pull forward. If you are lucky, the lids will wrap around the eye and snap it back into place.

4. Or (if the last step was unsuccessful) you can have someone help you hold the lid edges while you gently push one the eye with a clean finger.

5. Even if you are able to successfully set the eye, get to the vet as soon as you can. Delicate tissues may be damaged.

If your first attempt to reset the eye doesn't work, don't try again. If you are having trouble doing this or you are at all uncertain about how to proceed, don't.

Veterinarians sometimes stitch the eyelid temporarily to protect the eye, so you will need to keep the structures around the area clean.

Your vet may recommend using a prescription antibiotic for 1 - 2 weeks after the stitched have been removed. To apply it, pull down the lower lid, squirt a small amount of medication into the cupped tissue, then hold the eyelid closed to help the medicine spread.

After treatment, if the eye should swell, fold a cold wet wash cloth in half and place it over the eye, then apply an ice pack for 15 minutes every 2 - 3 hours.


Most pets are fine once the eyeball has been reset. However, those who have had this problem once often have it again, so you will have to be careful how you handle them. Your vet may suggest a surgical procedure to prevent a recurrence. In addition, the eye may need home treatment after it has been put back.

Most people restrain their dogs by gripping their collars, hugging their necks, or holding the scruff. For dogs who have had a popped out eye, gripping the neck raises pressure in ans around the eye, which can cause it to pop back out. A better means of restraint is to grip the dog's muzzle with one hand and put your other arm around his shoulders or on top of his head.

Trade in the collar for a chest harness.


Seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

1 Comment For "Eye out of socket"



I have a 10 week old pug named prim, We thought it would of been a good idea to get her to meet one of our family members dog, it was the worst mistake we've ever done..
As they greeted the bigger dog was growling then snapped at our little prim, it all happened so fast.
Next minute as i tried to approach her whilst screaming in pain.. I seen one of her eye socket poking out - never been so traumatized in our lives!
Of course the first reaction was to pop it back in immediately without having any knowledge about lubricating or using petroleum jelly around the eye ball before carefully inserting it, as we didn't want to risk losing any precious time,. We arranged an emergency appointment with the local vet within the hour but never got given advice to keep her eye moist whilst waiting for the hour to pass by.
As our little prim got checked out the vet informed us that her optic nerve is torn and has no current vision from her poorly eye.
We have been prescribed with eye drops and has couple of injections to calm her down and to reduce her swelling, and got told to come back in 24 hours to be sure if anything can be done.
Now it's 4 in the morning, I'm sat up doing all sort of research about this incident and it's made me feel worse.. I'm worried that I could of saved her eyeball if i kept it moist straight away which i had no knowledge of at the time.
Her eyeball is still not in the right position as its stiff and the pupil not been able to move and uncomfortably stic

June 23, 2013 at 11:04PM  Sign In or Join to Comment