Protecting Your Dog’s Eyes from Impact and Debris

June 20, 2023 Written by: Aiden Doane

Life is better when your dog is by your side. However, more adventures also means more risk especially for your dog’s eyes. Specifically when it comes to impact and debris. Just like it hurts like hell to have something get stuck in your eye, the same thing can happen to your dog. Dust, seeds, rocks, bugs, foxtails…all of these can be issues.

If you hike, hunt, bike, ATV, or let your dog stick their head out the window, chances are your dog’s going to get something in their eyes at least once in their life and you’ll need to know what to do. According to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance’s 2022 Cost of Veterinary Care Report, eye conditions were the fourth most common issue for customer claims from Jan 1 to Dec 31 2022 and made up 9.4% of claims. While this can be all types of eye conditions, two of the most common ones are corneal abrasions (from something scratching your dog’s eye) and infections (often from an infected scratch or something getting in there).

In this post, we’ll go over what you need to know about when to consider eye protection and treatments for if your dog gets an eye injury from debris or impact. Plus, we’ve also included information on how Rex Specs goggles are tested and proven to help protect your dog’s eyes from high velocity impact situations.

When to Worry About Impact and Debris with Your Dog’s Eyes

The golden rule is whenever you’re donning impact resistant glasses or goggles for yourself, you should also be considering them for your pup. But let’s break this down a bit more with some common situations and first-hand examples.

Situations Prone to Impact Injuries

An impact injury to the eye refers to any trauma or damage caused to the eye as a result of a physical blow or collision. Think of a fast-moving projectile hitting the eye or surrounding area.

These are some common situations where impact injuries can be most common:

  • Dogs sticking their head out the window: One bill moving through the Florida legislature aims to make it illegal to let dogs stick their heads out the window of a moving motor vehicle specifically because it is so dangerous for dogs.
  • Motorcycles: Just as with cars, moving at such a high speed on a motorcycle can turn almost anything into a potential impact hazard. Jess from GoRuffly always makes sure her German shepherd Moxie uses Rex Specs when they’re riding.
  • Helicopter training: With the wind from the helicopter, bits of dust and other debris can move fast and hit hard.
  • ATV: If you and your dog are moving fast on the ATV, even things like branches and bugs can create high velocity impact. Plus if your dog is running behind the ATV, the wheels can throw some fast and dangerous rocks. Founder of West Coast Heeler Pack Ali Erskine always recommends Rex Specs eye protection with off-roading on ATVs, UTVs, or Side-by-Side vehicles.
  • Simunition training: When training with blanks or simunition, while they’re non-lethal training rounds, they can still cause damage and be a dangerous impact, which is why eye protection is important.
  • Gun Range: Impact from spent cartridges, clay target chips, or gun pieces create a higher risk situation. 
  • Work environments, construction sites, labs, etc.: Many work environments for working dogs can involve high-velocity objects that can easily cause damage. For example, our BORTAC (Border Patrol Tactical Unit) agent, Bert Troncoso told us about a time when his dog Rev busted through a sheet rock wall with his Rex Specs on to get to a drug stash. The goggles remained in place, but without them Troncoso is sure Rev would have had eye damage.

Situations Prone to Debris Injuries

Debris like dust, twigs, seeds, or small rocks can really irritate eyes, cause scratches, and infections. This can slow your dog down, necessitate a visit to the vet, or in some scenarios even impair sight or cause blindness if not treated.

These are some high-risk situations for debris injuries:

  • Hiking: Hiking trails—especially more overgrown trails—often have dust, small sticks or grasses, pebbles, seeds, and other little particles that can get in your dog’s eyes. While these may not hit your eyes too much, your dog is closer to the ground so they’re more likely to get things in their eyes.
  • Mountain Biking: Mountain biking with your dog can be a blast, but the bike wheels can also kick up some serious debris like sticks, dust, and small rock projectiles. Check out our full guide on mountain biking with dogs for more tips.
  • Hunting: Seeds are a huge concern when hunting with your dog because you’ll likely be going off-trail through tall grasses and plants with seeds. We polled a number of hunters on why their dogs will be using RexSpecs this season and Ben Webster from Big Kansas Outdoors specifically noted seeds in the eye as an issue. “Since he’s [worn Rex Specs] he hasn’t had another seeds in the eye, no abrasions.”
  • Location Based Implications: Places like the high desert, high grass fields, or especially windy locations will make it more likely for your dog to get things in their eyes—dust, debris, seeds, fox tails… any of the above are not fun to deal with!

What to Do if Your Dog Has an Eye Injury from Impact or Debris

If your dog has an eye injury from impact or debris, you should take them to the vet for emergency care. 

Signs to look for can include:

  • A foreign object (large or small) lodged in the eye
  • Blood or redness in or around the eye
  • Your dog blinking, squinting, or tearing up a lot
  • Excessive eye discharge

Before going to the vet, you can try flushing the eye with water, apply a cold compress, and put your dog in a cone to keep them from further scratching the eye. Do not remove any foreign objects from the eye if it has penetrated the eye.

How Rex Specs Are Proven to Make a Difference — ANSI Impact Rating

While it might make sense that Rex Specs protect against debris, how do we know Rex Specs also protect against impact? We’ve put it through legitimate safety testing.

Specifically, ANSI Z87.1 2010 high velocity impact rating test and MIL-PRF-32432A high velocity impact rating test. While these are standardized and performed tests for human products with human standards and not specific to dogs, there isn’t really an equivalent test for dog eye protection and we want our goggles to be just as good as if they were for humans.

The results?

Rex Specs goggles passed both tests, withstanding 6 shots of a 1.04g .25” steel ball at 300-340 ft/second for the ANSI test and withstanding a 0.22-cal, 17 Grain FSP (Non-Skirted) projectile at 580-590 ft/second for the MIL test.

Whether you’re pup is a superhero working high-stress search and rescue like K9 Callie, a superstar tearing up the trails with you on hikes like Bonnie, the deaf Australian cattle dog summiting 14’ers, or generally the very best adventure buddy you could have, ensure their eyes get the best protection from debris and impact with Rex Specs.

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