Leftover Medication Burns A Dog’s Eye

Want to hear a real horror story about “leftover medications/other people’s (pets’)medications?

Neither did I, but, as the patient was here, I had no choice but to listen.

As much as we have all heard the admonition to “take the medicine until it’s all gone,” and “don’t take other people’s medications,” we still do it.

And we hear stories about it here in the practice almost every day.

Few are this bad, though.

Deuce's right eye was burned by another pet's ear medicine.
Deuce’s right eye was burned by another pet’s ear medicine.

Deuce came in for a routine, well-patient examination. As Kristi began to ask questions about his general welfare, she got to the last question, “Is there any area you want Dr. Randolph to pay special attention to?”

“Why, yes,” Deuce’s owner said. “Sunday his right eye was red and my wife put some of Bogie’s eye ‘drops’ in it and it pretty quickly began to look better. That was two days ago, and it looks pretty good now.”

“I’ll tell Dr. Randolph and we’ll get Deuce examined right away,” Kristi replied.

Kristi came into the laboratory, where I was peering into the microscope, and gave me Deuce’s history. Now, I don’t claim to have a photographic memory, by any means, but I asked Kristi, “Have we ever treated an eye problem for Bogie?”

She looked at the ceiling thoughtfully for a moment, then said, “I don’t know, I’ll go look in the computer.”

While we had evaluated Bogie for two ear problems and several times for routine preventive care visits, there was no indication that we had ever seen him for an eye problem.

“Drops” was one of the key words I had latched onto in the statement, because we have several medications in “drops” form for ears, but most of our eye medications are in ointment form.

And, yes, we had dispensed medicine in “drops” form for Bogie’s ears.

A quick glance at the package insert showed that its constitution included 55% ethyl alcohol.

That’s right, the same stuff you put in your car’s gas tank.

When I looked at the eye I was not at all surprised that the eye wasn’t, in fact, better, but was extremely red. I was surprised when the fluorescein stain didn’t show any corneal damage. In fact, I fully expected the cornea to be totally wiped away.

Keep in mind that corneal damage is known in humans to be the second most painful thing we experience, the only more painful condition is passing a kidney stone.

Even though Deuce didn’t suffer corneal damage from this incident, I’m sure he experienced a very intense burning sensation every time Mom put the ear drops in his eye.

So, please, follow the instructions for proper disposal of leftover and unwanted medication, and avoid painful episodes such as Deuce experienced.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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