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Swollen Third Eyelid Quickly Getting Worse

by Suzanne R.
(Dickinson, ND)

Holding Josie's eye open before wiping discharge

Holding Josie's eye open before wiping discharge

Holding Josie's eye open before wiping discharge
Holding Josie's eye open after wiping discharge
Josie after the previous pictures were taken
Josie at the lake near our house

My 7-year old springer spaniel, Josie, developed a problem with her right eye about a week ago, and it has gotten rapidly worse. It began with tearing and red swelling in the inside corner of her eye, leading me to suspect an infection.


I took her to the vet, who prescribed a steroid/antibiotic drop to reduce swelling. She did not see evidence of a foreign object in the eye, nor did she see signs of infection.

She used a stain to check for cornea damage before prescribing the drops, and found no damage. She did no blood work, and did not do a physical examination of any other part of Josie’s body.

Unfortunately, the condition worsened considerably over the next 24 hours, leading me to visit the vet again two days after the first visit. The third eyelid had become quite red and swollen, covering most of the eye, and there was noticeable swelling above and below the eye.

The vet prescribed Augmentin 1000 mg, Neopoly Bac Eye Ointment, and Rimady 100 mg; we have given these as prescribed for two days now.

Unfortunately, the situation has worsened. The eye is now swollen shut. The third eyelid is now quite swollen with a visible brown area on its side, and Josie has begun to frequently wipe it and lick the matter off of her paw.

It appears to be itching rather than painful, though she did yelp when my son bumped into her eye.

The discharge is mostly clear, although there has been occasional yellowish substance. The pictures show her eye before and after I wiped it, and in both situations the eye was closed until I pulled it open.

Josie has been eating, drinking, and exercising normally, but she was lethargic and potentially feverish earlier in the day before the serious discharge began. Now, aside from the itching and lack of sight (due to swelling), she does not seem particularly bothered.

We live in western North Dakota and walk her daily off leash, both in the badlands and in a prairie area with wetlands and a lake into which she occasionally swims.The last time she swam was a day or two prior to the first time I observed the tearing, and it was in a rather swampy area.

About a week and a half prior to that, we were walking in the badlands where yucca, prickly pear, juniper, sage, and rattlesnakes are present.

We normally do not have many mosquitoes in this arid country, but a spate of wet weather has brought an abundance of mosquitoes this year. We do have dog ticks in spring, but we do not have deer ticks, nor have I seen any dog ticks in the last several months.

Josie has had all of her vaccinations, but I am sorry to say that we are late on the heartworm medication. She has had Frontline for ticks, but that too we stopped in July. We have had her since she was six weeks old.

Our veterinarian seems quite competent, but she is new and inexperienced and terribly busy with the excessive demands from the population surge accompanying the oil boom. We do not have specialists in this area, and I suspect the doctor will recommend we take her 500 miles to the Twin Cities to see a specialist if the eye continues to worsen.

In fact, she already mentioned this possibility. I would rather have a more certain idea of potential problems before making that significant commitment of time and money. Your advice is most welcome.

Comments for Swollen Third Eyelid Quickly Getting Worse

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Sep 30, 2014
eye worsening
by: Anonymous

Run, don't walk to your eye specialist. We just laid our beautiful black Lab down 3 weeks ago & I am still so broken hearted. We originally thought her red eye was nothing more than a cherry eye. But it progressed horribly. That was in March. We sent her to Rainbow Bridge 6 months later. Apparently she had a tumor growing. Of course I blame myself thinking if we'd only ...... But now I can advise you.
Make that appointment now. Get answers. It's well worth it in the end.
Good luck!

Sep 30, 2014
eye worsening
by: Anonymous

Run, don't walk to your eye specialist. We just laid our beautiful black Lab down 3 weeks ago & I am still so broken hearted. We originally thought her red eye was nothing more than a cherry eye. But it progressed horribly. That was in March. We sent her to Rainbow Bridge 6 months later. Apparently she had a tumor growing. Of course I blame myself thinking if we'd only ...... But now I can advise you.
Make that appointment now. Get answers. It's well worth it in the end.
Good luck!

Sep 30, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Swollen Eyelid Quickly Getting Worse
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

September 29, 2014

Hi Suzanne,
From the photos of Josie, it appears that she is keeping both eyes closed. The one eye that you are holding open is very red, but I cannot see what her other eye looks like. Is the other eye also inflamed at all? Did the veterinarian take her temperature? (normal dog temperature is 101-102 degrees F. You can take her temperature with a 'human' rectal thermometer to see if she has a fever.)

From her lethargy, and the pain in her eye, (in spite of anti-inflammatory drug, antibiotics, and medicated eye ointment), I am concerned that she may have an auto-immune condition or very severe allergic reaction of some type occurring. (Maybe from contact with something in the swampy water?) Uveitis, and glaucoma will cause acute pain, but not as much inflammation involving the third eyelid.

I suggest you take her to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

A veterinary ophthalmologist will be able to do a more thorough exam of her eyes and determine a diagnosis. In the meantime, use saline to flush her eyes 4-6 times daily. This will keep her eyes clean, and may help to remove any type of material she may have come into contact from swimming in swampy water.

The homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla 12C or 30C is useful for redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, with a yellow discharge. It is available at health food stores. Give her one pellet by mouth THREE times daily, or dissolve one pellet in 1/2 glass of Spring water, stir and give her one teaspoon by mouth THREE times daily.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.






Sep 30, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Swollen Third Eyelid Quickly Getting Worse
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

September 29, 2014

Dear Anonymous,
My deepest sympathy to you on the loss of your black lab. From the photos, I do not think that Josie has a tumor, but I am suggesting that she take her to an ophthalmologist for a more thorough exam and diagnosis.

Thank you for your suggestion.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Oct 01, 2014
Josie's other eye
by: Suzanne

Josie's other eye is not swollen nor red at all, and she is not keeping it closed. It was just a strange picture, I guess. The veterinarian simply observed the afflicted eye with a lid raised. She did not do any other checks, and did not take a temperature on either of the two visits thus far. What symptoms would be observable if it was a tumor, I wonder, given "Anonymous's" comments?

Oct 03, 2014
worsening red eye
by: Anonymous

You noted you took your precious dog to the vet. Dr Tillman suggested an ophthamologist. Please follow her advise. A vet has a lot of experience in many conditions, but an ophthamologist has so much expericence in his/her specialty....the eyes. Please keep us all posted as to her prognosis & treatment plan. I wish you so much luck and prayers for a good outcome.
By the way, my dogs tumor manifested itself very slowly. Her 3rd eyelid was swollen & her eye red. Every month that passed it got redder & her eye seemed to get puffier, then her eyeball actually started bulging. Little at a time & then a lot.

Good luck .

Oct 03, 2014
worsening red eye
by: Anonymous

You noted you took your precious dog to the vet. Dr Tillman suggested an ophthamologist. Please follow her advise. A vet has a lot of experience in many conditions, but an ophthamologist has so much expericence in his/her specialty....the eyes. Please keep us all posted as to her prognosis & treatment plan. I wish you so much luck and prayers for a good outcome.
By the way, my dogs tumor manifested itself very slowly. Her 3rd eyelid was swollen & her eye red. Every month that passed it got redder & her eye seemed to get puffier, then her eyeball actually started bulging. Little at a time & then a lot.

Good luck .

Oct 08, 2014
My Online Vet Response For: Swollen Third Eyelid Quickly Getting Worse
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

October 8, 2014

Hi Suzanne,
Just checking to find out how Josie is doing. Did you try the saline eye flush and homeopathic remedy, Pulsatilla? Or, were you able to take her to a veterinary Ophthalmologist?

Hope she is better.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.


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