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Dog Can’t Open Its Eye After Grooming – What Should I Do?

Did you collect your dog from the groomer, only to notice your dog’s eyes were unable to open upon arriving home?

This could be due to pain or discomfort caused by soap or hair cuttings caught inside the eyes, resulting in irritation, allergic reaction, infection, or abrasion.

For mild eye irritations, flush your dog’s eyes out with a saline solution and apply cold compression to provide immediate relief. However, more serious conditions require a visit to the vet for medical intervention.

Below we will discuss the possible causes of your dog’s eye discomfort, ways you can help your dog to find some immediate relief, and how to know when you should seek medical attention from a vet.

Why won’t your dog open its eyes after grooming? (5 reasons)

When your dog won’t open its eyes after grooming, you want to know why. 

Here you will find a list of possible reasons to explain your dog’s condition.

#1 Something has gotten into the eyes

The most likely reason for eye irritation would be due to the soap or shampoo not being rinsed properly and getting directly into your dog’s eyes. 

We know from experience that soap can sting and painfully irritate the eyes. This could also be the case if a topical medical solution, such as a flea solution, was applied to your dog and the eye area was accidentally exposed. 

Another irritant could be hair clippings from your dog’s cut becoming caught in its eye, causing great pain and discomfort.

#2 Dry eyes 

Most groomers will use a cage dryer to blow warm air into a dog’s cage, intending to dry them quickly after bathing. 

However, some dogs may be sensitive to the cage dryer blowing air into or near their eyes for an extended period, which can cause dry eyes.

#3 Corneal abrasion or injury

Trimming the area around the eyes could result in an accidental injury, either from the scissors used or the groomer’s fingernails. 

Both of these could cause a corneal abrasion, which is a wound or abrasion on the corneal surface.

Another possibility is that your dog has scratched its eye area. 

This is common if groomers have removed a build-up of eye discharge. The removal of the discharge can cause the eye area to become a bit sore and itchy, leading to your dog scratching.

Immediate relief to help your dog

#4 An allergic reaction 

An allergic reaction to the groomer’s products could lead to several symptoms, including skin discomfort and itchiness. 

This could result in your dog excessively scratching itself and invertedly hurting its eyes.

#5 Pre-existing eye conditions 

Due to the grooming and cleaning of the eye area, a discharge or redness could become noticeable for the first time. 

Consider whether your dog was suffering from a pre-existing eye condition or infection.

Immediate relief to help your dog 

Now that you know what could be causing your dog’s eye discomfort, you may want to know how to provide your dog with immediate relief, between now and your vet appointment.

Here are ways you can help your dog. You could try all of them to ensure a better outcome:

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Don’t use your bare hands!

Always remember not to use your bare hands to touch your dog’s eyes or the surrounding skin. In fact, try to also keep the dog’s paws clean because they will naturally rub their eyes when irritated.

Using a grooming wipe might be a challenge too for hard-to-reach areas like the dog’s eyes. This is why we almost exclusively use a glove wipe by HICC PET.

We choose it because it is manufactured under strict guidelines of ISO9001 and CGMP.

Saline solution 

If you have access to a saline solution at home, such as the one used to clean contact lenses, this is an excellent way to try and flush your dog’s eye and rinse out any irritants. 

You can do this by directly squeezing the saline solution into your dog’s eye, starting in the corner of the eye near the tear duct. 

Don’t squeeze too hard; instead, apply even pressure so a measured amount comes out at a slow pace. 

Once the solution has seeped into the eye from the corner, you can gently lift your dog’s eyelid and squeeze a small amount of solution into the eye itself. 

Wait a few seconds to allow your dog to blink, then repeat at least twice more.

Soak a cotton ball in cold water or cold tea 

You may choose to use cooled chamomile tea, or perhaps room-temperature water if you do not have tea available. 

Place a cotton ball into the liquid and then gently wipe your dog’s eyes to try to flush out whatever irritant is inside. 

Do this by squeezing the cotton ball to release the liquid into the corner of the dog’s eye. This should cause your dog to blink. 

You should repeat this a few times during the day and ongoing for several days until you feel the eye is back to normal.

Cold compression 

Using the cotton ball in chamomile tea mentioned above, you can place this on your dog’s eye and gently hold it there for at least 5 minutes. 

After soaking the cotton ball, squeeze out excess liquid before applying it to the eye. 

The purpose of cold compression is for comfort and is different from flushing.

You may repeat this as often as needed since using a cold compression will aid with inflammation and swelling reduction in the eye area.

While waiting for your vet appointment

For true emergencies, your vet should agree to see your dog immediately. 

However, for cases where a vet appointment is later or the next day, you should try to provide as much relief as possible to your dog’s eyes, while waiting for the appointment time to arrive.

In this case, use the saline solution flush method and the cold chamomile tea compressions as often as you like during the waiting period. 

Depending on your dog’s symptoms, you may also want to give your dog an over-the-counter antihistamine to ease itchiness and scratching. 

When to visit a vet?

When to visit a vet

Ensuring your dog will receive the correct care means knowing when at-home remedies and treatments are not enough, and when a visit to your vet is required instead.

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Here are ways to know when a vet visit is necessary:

When home relief doesn’t work

Perhaps you have been trying the before-mentioned relief efforts, but your dog continues to keep its eyes closed. 

This would require you to schedule a vet appointment, so you may secure a professional examination and diagnosis.

When your dog feels pain

If at any point in time, you feel your dog is

  • greatly distressed
  • suffering from extreme pain
  • acting lethargic
  • not eating or drinking
  • appears to be running a fever

You should treat your dog’s symptoms as an emergency and immediately seek medical help from a veterinarian.

When there is a discharge

When there is any yellow or green discharge in or around your dog’s eye area, this is usually a sign of infection. 

Treatment usually requires prescription eye drops or medication. This infection can develop as a result of wounds or dry eyes and must always be treated by a veterinarian.

When there is swelling or redness

If your dog’s eyes appear swollen, red, or unusual in size, they are in a painful condition and need to be treated immediately by a medical professional.

Tips for future grooming sessions

Tips for future grooming sessions

To ensure a better grooming experience for you and your dog in the future, here are a few things you can do:

Inform any known allergies 

Inform your groomer of any known allergies your dog suffers or any skin sensitivities that need to be considered.

Use preferred shampoo 

Provide the groomer with your dog’s preferred soap, shampoo, or other products you regularly use at home.

Avoid the eye area

You may request no grooming to the eye area or, instead, give clear and specific guidelines for what would be acceptable.

Always flush your dog’s eyes after grooming

As a general precaution after grooming, always flush your dog’s eyes with saline to ensure optimal eye comfort. 

Check your dog’s eye health before grooming

Be sure to carefully examine your dog before the grooming appointment and check that there are no pre-existing eye conditions. 

If there are any, inform your groomer and seek medical attention from your vet.

Final Thoughts 

Now that you know a few reasons why your dog would refuse to open its eyes after grooming, you can determine which one applies to your dog. 

Ruling out mild irritants, such as shampoo or hair clippings lodged in the eyes, is easy to do by flushing the eyes out with a saline solution and soothing the area with cold compression. 

Hopefully, that will provide your dog with some immediate relief.

In the case of an injury, suspected allergic reaction, extreme pain, a discharge from the eye, or a noticeable eye infection, you will need immediate medical attention from your veterinarian.

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