Pet Eye Removal Surgery (Enucleation)

Tan dog posing in a cone after having his left eye removed

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure that you are well informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable.

In this post, we’ll cover:

What is enucleation surgery and why does my pet need it?

Enucleation is a surgery performed to remove a pet’s eye(s). Most commonly, pets require enucleation surgery because of:

  • Severe trauma to the eye
  • Severe infection of the eye
  • A buildup of pressure in the eye (glaucoma)
  • Cancer in or around the eye (neoplasia)

How will it impact my pet to have their eye(s) removed?

Enucleation surgery will relieve your pet of the pain their eye was causing them. After recovering from surgery, your pet may feel more comfortable and happy. Pets who have one or no eyes can live happy, full lives. There will be an adjustment period while they relearn to navigate the world. One-eyed pets lose their depth perception so they may have difficulty judging distances and heights. For this reason, it is important to keep them safe, away from roads and other potential hazards.

Pre-Surgical Instructions for Pet Eye Removal

Admission Time

Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.

Pre-surgical exam

Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, or diarrhea.

Medical records

Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if this has not already been provided. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery.  If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Feeding Instructions
Adult Dogs over 1 year Withhold food for all adult dogs after midnight the evening before surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.
Adult Cats under 1 year Adult cats can have food without restriction of amount up until 6am the morning of surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.
Puppies and Kittens under 1 year Feed a small meal (¼ of their typical breakfast) to all puppies and kittens on the morning of surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.

Pet Eye Removal Surgery

Enucleation surgery removes your pet’s diseased or damaged eye

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure that your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended and may be required depending on the circumstance that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving then cleaning the area around the eye to remove bacteria and decrease the likelihood of post-surgical infection.

The veterinarian will remove the eye and eyelid skin then stitch the eye socket closed.

What will my pet look like after enucleation surgery?

For the first few days after surgery, your pet’s eye will be swollen and bruised. Your pet’s hair should begin to grow back within a few weeks of surgery. As the skin around the eye heals, it may begin to look sunken in since there is no longer an eyeball.

How long does it take for a pet to recover from enucleation?

Anesthesia takes 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet will be groggy during this time period.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

What should I do for my pet after eye removal surgery?

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E Collar / Cone) at all times for 10 – 14 days after surgery

  • The surgical site may be tender and irritated which may cause your pet to want to scratch or rub the area.
  • Allowing your pet to scratch their incision can lead to infection and scarring.

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait until the next day to give more food.
  • Resume normal feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and boiled chicken breast while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk

Give pain medications as directed

  • Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite please ensure that they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Check surgical incision daily for the first week

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal
  • There may be moderate bruising.
  • It is normal to have a small amount of blood-tinged nasal discharge for a few days after surgery.

Use a cold compress on the surgery site to help with swelling

A cold compress can be created using a frozen pack of peas wrapped in a hand towel
We recommend doing this for 10-15 minutes at a time the evening they come home from surgery and up to 3 times daily for the first 2 days.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

Keep your pet away from all potential hazards (including stairs)
Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

Schedule an appointment for suture removal

Your pet may have sutures that need to be removed in 10-14 days
Sometimes pets need to be sedated for suture removal, so you may be asked to drop off your pet for a few hours.

Rare, but serious complications of pet eye removal surgery

Complications from enucleation are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Infection of surgical site
  • Formation of cysts
  • Discharge from the surgical site

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • No urine passed for more than 24 hours
  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours
  • Abdominal pain and swelling