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VetTechErin, Licensed Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 681
Experience:  Published author in veterinary medical journals and on the Veterinary Information Network with a focus in toxicology
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She's got swollen lower eyelid. Seems hard on one side.

Customer Question

She's got swollen lower eyelid. Seems hard on one side. Steroid with antibiotics were given by vet for ten days but still red and swollen. She's a lab only 16 months old.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Sophie
JA: Is there anything else the veterinarian should be aware of about Sophie?
Customer: No
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 11 months ago.

Hi there, my name is ***** ***** I would be happy to discuss your question with you. It sounds like the vet was dealing with this like is was an abscess or a bite wound. Were any other tests/treatments done, such as drawing cells out of it, or trying Benadryl in case of an allergy?

Did the steroid and antibiotic help at all, even if it was just a little bit?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Initially and then it came back worse. Still on same meds with benadryl
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Going to ophthalmologist Monday.
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 11 months ago.

How long was the round of antibiotics (just the 10 days?), and which antibiotic was it?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
10 days. Topical antibiotic with steroid.
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 11 months ago.

So, a steroid is usually used to help reduce swelling. If we are seeing something like a small infection, it may be that the topical antibiotic was not strong enough to get rid of the infection if it was internal (like from a bite or sing to the eyelid), instead of to the eye itself (like conjunctivitis).

Similarly, if she's had a scratch to the eye, a steroid can cause that to get worse, rather than better (hopefully your vet stained her eye to check for scratches or tears before giving the ointment).

I think an ophthalmologist is an excellent idea just due to the location, because it if does turn out to be swelling due to a laceration or ulceration of the eye itself, they are going to be best equipped to deal with it.

If this IS an abscess or bite wound just under the eye (which can happen quite frequently), it may simply be that a round of oral antibiotics and injectable steroids may be the better option for Sophie, since the ointment isn't really going to do much good in the case of a near-eye abscess.

Similarly, if this is a small lump (at her age, it would be highly unlikely for this to be something malignant), the ophthalmologist will be the best person to look at it, since they may want to stick a tiny needle in there and collect cells to determine what type of tissue makes up the bump (depending on how close it is to the eye itself).

It is absolutely possible that this could be something simple like a cherry eye, which is just the prolapse of the third eyelid, and is often just a cosmetic issue. They tend to look like this:, and are EXTREMELY common in dogs. The vets can tack these back and keep them from slipping out again, but they are in no way a serious condition of the eye.

It sounds like you are making the right steps here in heading into a specialist, and I do not think you have anything that you need to worry about in regards ***** ***** seriousness of her condition, such as it causing blindness or the loss of an eye. The conditions that might cause severe signs would be extremely rare and unlikely in a dog her age.

Did you have any additional questions?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
She did the eye stain before she gave the ointment with the steroid. She did not give anything stronger thoigh, just more of the same ointment with steroid/antibiotic.
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 11 months ago.

It's good she did the stain, and it likely came up negative for a laceration, otherwise, she would not have given the steroid. Most commonly, lumps like this in a dog her age will be something like cherry eye.

Nowadays a lot of vets hesitate to give antibiotics unless they're absolutely sure that something is due to an infection because antibiotics that are given for something that is not necessary can cause antibiotic resistance, which can be dangerous later on in life and lead to more serious infections. Given that your vet did not choose to put her on a stronger antibiotic has me leaning more towards the idea that you're dealing with a protruded 3rd eyelid rather than an abscess, as an abscess of the eye is something with which a GP vet should be extremely familiar.

However on the off chance it was missed, the eye specialist will be able to catch it. If it IS something that is purely cosmetic like cherry eye, surgery is required to fix it, but many people do not opt for surgery since it is not overtly harmful. The surgery just makes it look better. It may even be a surgery your regular vet feels comfortable to perform.