Enucleation – Not As Terrible As it Sounds

The vet made a face when looking at Gus’ left eye during his annual check-up. He made weird clucking noises. He looked at it from different angles and kept shining his very bright light at it for a very long time. This doesn’t look good, he said, and pointed out to Gus' owner what looked like a small marble inside her dog's eye, pushing against the iris.

 

 

A trip to a doggie ophthalmologist followed. It was, in turn, followed by an estimate for $1,300 . . . and the news that Gussie's eye needed to be removed. Enucleation, or the removal of an eye, is often necessary after an injury or, in this case, when a tumor is detected. The black marble in Gus' eye was a melanocytic tumor formed by abnormal melanocytes -- cells that produce a pigment called melanin. After a clear chest x-ray to rule out cancer, Gus went for a second opinion from a general veterinary surgeon with great skill and experience. Her estimate was half the cost of the specialist's.

 

 

gus1

Gus is a nine-year-old Golden retriever who lives with two ex-racing greyhounds and a parade of SHUG foster dogs. He is a good-natured and an all-around great guy! Here he is, happily checking into the vet hospital. It was very difficult to see him wagging his tail and cheerful, when his owner knew the disfiguring surgery that was ahead.

 

 

So this is why we’re writing this blog post – as horrible as it sounds to have a dog’s eye removed, they generally heal very well and adjust quickly. If you’re facing a similar prospect – whether the eye removal is for glaucoma, cancer, injury or other reasons – you can take heart from Gus’ experience.

 

 

gus2Here he is just hours after his surgery. The bandage with the heavy packing in the empty space of the eye is very important to keep swelling down and to absorb seeping blood. Gus HATED his bandage. The cone was mostly to keep him away from the bandage. He was a pretty miserable guy for the first day. He was on two different pain medicines (tramadol and rimadyl, as well as an antibiotic.) He was kept quiet and given small meals. The vet wanted the bandage to stay on for 24 to 48 hours. Gus tolerated it for 36 and then demanded it come off.

 

 

gus3Here is Gus with the bandage removed. The scar looks angry and red, but there is no discharge.

 

 

Within just a few more days, the redness was fading quickly.

 

 

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In a few more days it was looking significantly better, and Gus seemed to feel himself again. After this picture was taken (right), Gus got to jettison the cone as he never did show any inclination to fuss with his incision.

 

 

Below, here he is at just shy of two weeks post-op. He was completely back to his normal activities. He got his stitches removed shortly after. Gus did not get an “orbital implant” to fill gus6in the void left by the eye removal. It’s only done for cosmetic reasons and the surgeon didn’t recommend it.

 

 

Here is Gus, lower right – stitches out and hair growing back. He has no worries about his loss of peripheral vision, doesn’t have obvious issues with depth perception, and does not startle if you come from his left. The pathology report did come back malignant, but the surgeon is confident she got all of the tumor.

 

 

gusphotolastToday one-eyed Gus is doing just fine – and tolerating the pirate jokes with good cheer. The moral of the story – an enucleation is much more disturbing to you than your dog. If you need to have it done, rest easy that it won’t be as bad as it sounds.

 

 

 

25 Responses

  1. Nan Calvert

    Excellent post Holly. One-eyed Gus is kind of a jaunty name for him. Lends a degree of intrigue!!

  2. Robyn Michaels

    Thanks for this post. Very reassuring.

  3. My Dog had his right eye removed and it’s still seeping a lot and it’s 5 days post surgery. I don’t believe this is normal. The swelling hasn’t even gone down a bit. I don’t know what is normal. I’m freaking out over here. His whole right side has thick dried blood on it because it’s constantly seeping. He will not let me keep a warm compress on it. I don’t know what to do anymore. I will be bringing him in to see his vet tomorrow. I’m so worried he botched up the surgery. I look at pics online and there is no dog out there that looks as bad as mine does right now. I just wish the bleeding will stop. Very scared that I made the wrong choice to have his eye removed.

    • Moderator

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog’s issue. My dog, Gus, (the dog in the story) was markedly better by five days. But every dog is different. I would suggest just keeping him quiet and hope for answers from the vet tomorrow. Good luck.

      Holly Harrington

  4. My boston terrier is 13, she is having eye removed because of ulcers and infection. I’m concerned about the surgery because of her age. Anyone have a dog thats had this surgery at a similar age?

  5. My dog has the same thing, a tumor growing behind his iris. We are having his eye and the tumor removed in three days, thank you for this post. It was very reassuring. I know you wrote this years ago so you may never see this, but wanted to say thank you anyway.

    • Moderator

      Thank you for letting me know. I’m glad it was helpful.

      Holly Harrington

  6. Thank you so much for your post my fur baby is supposed to have his eye removed in about a week. I hope he does as well as Gus.

  7. I know this story was posted years ago now, so you may never see this comment but I had to write to you. My 11 1/2 year old Chihuahua had to have her eye removed as an emergency two nights ago. Apparently there was pressure built up behind the eye, and it actually popped out. It was the scariest, most upsetting situation I have ever dealt with. She seems to be doing better (I think we Fur-Parents take it harder), but I still worry for her. Your story made me feel comfort that my sweet girl will be happy and continue her life as she did before the eye removal. So thank you for sharing.

    • Moderator

      You’re welcome. I’m glad it helped.

      Holly Harrington

    • My 11 year old dog was attacked by another dog and his eye popped out 🙁 How much did surgery cost for your dog?

      • Moderator

        I’m afraid I don’t remember. Plus, it was some years ago. I think it was around $1,000.

        Holly Harrington

    • I have a shihtzu that’s 6 month his eye is popping out I will be taking him to the emergency tomorrow I’m sure he would need that eye removed, I am so scared of what they might tell me, I’m hoping is not a tumor can someone tell me if there’s a chance I could lose him . I am so scared I have never been in a situation like this with any of my babies. I dont want to lose him he’s the sweetest and gentle baby doesn’t deserve to go thru this.

  8. Thank you for posting this. Our golden retriever Duncan will have his eye removed next week and this story made me feel so much better. Thank you again! <3 xoxo

  9. Anyone have to have both of their dog’s eyes removed? My dog Max is a black labradoodle and is twelve years old. He developed diabetes when he was 8 and I have given him insulin injections every twelve hours since then. Then he developed cataracts and now glaucoma. He is already totally blind and doing OK so that isn’t my worry. My concern is that he has healed poorly from other minor surgeries the past 5 years due to his diabetes. I worry with his age and his diabetes that his eye sockets might not heal. Anyone go through this with an older, diabetic dog? Thanks.

    • Did your sweet dog have the surgery? If so, how did it go? My relatively healthy 11-year-old Chow had an eye removed last week due to acute glaucoma. She is doing well. I am concerned that she is at high risk for disease in the other eye I am not sure what will happen if she needs another surgery at 13. Her surgery was about $1000.

  10. I am considering removal surgery for my dog who has glaucoma. It is very pricey with the eye specialist. Thank you for this, maybe I’ll get a second opinion.

    • Moderator

      I received a diagnosis from an eye specialist, but had the surgery done at a very good surgical center with a general surgeon. It was less expensive, and I thought the surgery went just fine.

      Holly Harrington

  11. Pat

    My pug had an ear infection that was poorly treated and he subsequently had a stroke, causing right side paralysis. The paralysis caused his eye not to be able blink causing dry corneal ulcer. Black dog, black eyes not easily detected. I expect when we return Mon. the vet will confirm the worst. Your story has comforted me as I feel guilty for not catching his eye ulcer. So glad Gus is well, I hope Lucas will do as well. Thanks for story!

  12. Hi thank you for everyone comments. My 12yr old shitz just had her eye removed. My shepherd and her were playing and the fag of my shepherd caught and pulled her eye. My shitz had no feeling before surgery was actually trying to play. It’s been two days now and she is adapting quite well. This cost me 2200 Canadian dollars most places ran up as high as 3500. Pets are family, my shepherd has not left her side. Her name is Kia and she is doing much better then her momma. ❤️

  13. I stumbled across this when looking for solutions to my own dog’s eye removal. To answer anyone’s questions who may find this later, he is a 13-year-old Yorkie. His eye was somehow scratched or bitten by my large Great Pyrenees/Lab puppy. I knew right away it was horrible. She ruptured his cornea, and his eye was leaking clear fluid. He screamed for just a bit, and then he was quite calm. I think maybe he just had so much scar tissue in that eye because he had some ulcers on it just a few months ago.

    I think I took the whole thing worse than he did. I was traumatized and in quite a bit of shock.

    We rushed him within the first two minutes to the vet. Since it was the emergency vet, I supposed it was almost double what it would have cost at the regular vet. I paid about $1,400. It was a shock in and of itself, but I knew he needed immediate and urgent care.

    I picked him up this morning, and he has on a cone.He is also on two pain pills and got a shot of an antibiotic at the vet that is supposed to last two weeks. His eye is to look at right now, but I hope that he heals up as well as Gus.

    • Moderator

      Good luck. I hope it goes well for you.

      Holly Harrington

    • I recently adopted a nine yr old chihuahua, Navi. He came to me with some eye trauma. Took him to the vet this morning and his eye is being removed today. I am very concerned because of his age. I am praying that all goes well and he recovers quickly. Seeing Gus’s pics and his mama’s post has helped my nerves, a tiny bit.

  14. My 11 yr old chihuahua,Navi, whom I adopted just two weeks ago just had his eye removed two days ago. He seems to be in pain whenever he is moved or when I take him outside on his leash to go potty. He cries out or yelps. He wouldn’t drink water until today but was eating normally. The vet gave him pain meds and antibiotics. Has anyone else had the same experience as far as the pain goes?

    • Moderator

      My Gus did not have pain after the first few days. I hope your boy is doing better.

      Holly Harrington

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