Tag Archives: Boston terrier healing after enucleation surgery

Leo the Boston Terrier One Year Post Enucleation



Yesterday, May 3rd, was the one year anniversary of Leo’s enucleation surgery.  Remembering back a year ago to how scared and stressed out we were and comparing it to where we are now…wow, the change is amazing!  Leo is a resilient, strong, brave and doing wonderful.  On occasion he runs into things, misjudges steps, and loses treats & toys on his right side, but other than those little things he is thriving.  Leo is the spunkiest 11 year old dog we know. 

In December we did have a health scare with Leo.  Out of nowhere the right side of Leo’s face swelled up.  We immediately took him to the vet and were prescribed antibiotics and pain medications.  When the vet was checking Leo out they couldn’t tell if it was an abscessed tooth or an infection associated to his enucleation.  Being that the antibiotics cleared up the issue right away and Leo has had no further facial swelling we learned that it was not caused by a tooth.  When a dog gets enucleation surgery bacteria can live in the eye area dormant for an extended amount of time and then all of a sudden decide to cause an infection, and that is what happened with Leo.

Leo also started gaining weight back in September and we just attributed to a change in dog food…we really didn’t notice the weight gain until around November.  Once we noticed the weight gain we got the kids back on the good dog food.  Unfortunately, Leo continued to gain weight.  We also noticed that he had a lot of dryness in his ears, areas of his fur were thinning and his energy just wasn’t as high as usual.  Leo’s wonderful vet (who loves him!) had us to blood testing and we found that his thyroid isn’t working correctly, which all of the symptoms we had noticed are warning signs.  Leo is now on medication for his thyroid twice a day.  Since starting the medication we’ve noticed that he has more energy and does his wiggle butt dance more often.  In time Leo should lose the weight that he gained and his fur will start filling in more.

Overall, Leo has had a great year.  He is amazing, happy, funny, loving, and all those other great things Boston Terriers are.  We look forward to sharing many more years of Leo stories with all of you and thank you all for following Leo’s story.  We are so happy to hear that Leo’s story helped so many families going through the same thing.  Leo says “snots, snorts and kisses to all.”



Leo still believes he is a beaver.


A smile makes the day brighter.


Leo doing some major bossing!


Golden Birthday ice cream treat.


Leo is an expert at staring contests.


Leo doing more bossing, but this was on his birthday so he had the right to 🙂


Leo 6 Months Post Enucleation Surgery


Amazing how quickly 6 months has passed and how well Leo has adjusted to being a handsome one-eyed old man.  Leo is doing fantastic and overall has adjusted to only having one eye very well.  Leo still has all of the energy he has ever had…gives his much younger brother a run for his money every day.

Leo still occasionally has depth perception issues and sometimes will accidentally bump one of our fingers with a tooth when he is reaching for a treat.  Leo has allergies that cause extra tears at times, we have noticed that with just having one eye Leo does seem to tear more from that eye…which causes some stains if not gently cleaned daily.  Leo will also sometimes “lose” a toy on his right side, at which point we have to have him turn to see it.  Leo is a very fast boy and is a toy addict, my husband and I both sit and wonder how in the world we ever got a toy away from him when he had two eyes…Leo only having one eye at least gives us a little bit of a chance 🙂


DSC06518  Leo is still very handsome and photogenic…he loves spending time outside and posing for the occasional picture.


DSC05999 Always with a smile on his face.


DSC05683This summer Leo & his siblings went to the ocean for the first time.  Leo LOVED it.


DSC05932  Spoiled Rotten!


DSC06415Of course Leo does take it easy sometimes while using his humans as self-warming pillows.




Leo-5 Weeks Post Surgery


Wow, time does fly…it has been 5 full weeks since Leo’s surgery and he is doing fantastic.  We, as his humans, are not as paranoid as we had been about letting him play and Leo is very thankful for that.  Leo is also in the summer spirit, enjoying a lot of time outside and some wonderful summer snacks (Leo is a watermelon junky).DSC05293 DSC05327 DSC05329 DSC05331 DSC05336

Leo-4 Weeks Post Surgery


Today is the 4 week anniversary since Leo’s eye enucleation surgery…wow, 4 weeks already.  Leo is doing wonderful.  He seems to have almost completely adjusted to only having one eye as he is very rarely bumping into things on his right side anymore.  Leo is still full of his energy and spunk giving his other furry family members a good run for their money.  Oh, and 98% of his fur has grown back in.

DSC05219 DSC05220 DSC05224 DSC05225 DSC05232 DSC05234

Leo-3 Weeks After Enucleation Surgery

As of today it has been 3 weeks since Leo's surgery and he is doing very well.

As of today it has been 3 weeks since Leo’s surgery and he is doing very well.

You can see that his fur is mostly grown back in...there are a couple of little short spots still, but barely noticeable.

You can see that his fur is mostly grown back in…there are a couple of little short spots still, but barely noticeable.

Leo is full of energy and playing like crazy.  We are still being careful with him and not letting him play as rough-and-tumble as he is used to.

Leo is full of energy and playing like crazy. We are still being careful with him and not letting him play as rough-and-tumble as he is used to.

Leo is adjusting very well to only having one eye...he is learning that one eye is an advantage when it comes to begging :)

Leo is adjusting very well to only having one eye…he is learning that one eye is an advantage when it comes to begging 🙂

Leo does not seem to have any pain in the area as we can gently pet it and he seems to enjoy it.  Leo also itches his face in the blankets and hasn't shown any discomfort.  On that note there has been a couple of times where he bumps into something or gets bumped into and will do a  very tiny yelp...we think it is just the little discomfort or startle from getting bumped that makes him do a tiny yelp (barely audible).

Leo does not seem to have any pain in the area as we can gently pet it and he seems to enjoy it. Leo also itches his face in the blankets and hasn’t shown any discomfort. On that note there has been a couple of times where he bumps into something or gets bumped into and will do a very tiny yelp…we think it is just the little discomfort or startle from getting bumped that makes him do a tiny yelp (barely audible).

As you can see Leo is very alert.

As you can see Leo is very alert.

Play, play, play!  Leo is thinking "Gosh mom, enough with the pictures.  Throw the ball already!"

Play, play, play! Leo is thinking “Gosh mom, enough with the pictures. Throw the ball already!”

Leo’s Enucleation Surgery from the Day Before to 2 Weeks Out


Seeing a family member in pain is heartbreaking, doesn’t matter if it is a human or animal family member.  Having to go through surgery can and is very stressful…having a child/fur baby go through surgery can be even worse.   What is something happens?  What if something goes wrong?  What should I expect after the surgery?  What will the healing process be like?  Will my loved one be in pain?  These were just a few of the questions I asked myself, my husband and our vet prior to Leo’s enucleation surgery.  I spent weeks researching online and found a lot of technical information, but didn’t find very many personal experiences, so we decided it would be best to share Leo’s story and daily progress, in hopes that it would help some other families going through the same situation.

Leo’s Story:

Leo is a very happy, healthy and active 10 year old Boston Terrier.  Leo has never had any medical issues, well, an ear infection now and then, but nothing major.  Leo had only ever had one surgery in his life and that was when he got fixed.  On April 2nd I arrived home from work to find that Leo had something very wrong with his right eye.  Upon an emergency visit to the vet we learned that Leo had what was called an anterior luxation (to learn more I found this site very helpful:  http://www.eyevet.ca/luxlens.html).  This anterior luxation caused an acute onset of glaucoma because it blocked the flow of Leo’s eye fluids and was causing pressure.  We treated Leo’s eye with 2 different kinds of eye drops (Pred Acetate 1%  drops & Dorzolamide 2%…the first was a steroid to help with pain and the second is a glaucoma medication to help with the eye pressure).  Our vet explained that the drops would help for a while, but were not a long-term fix, she also explained that they could work for a few months or weeks and that eventually they would not help as his condition progressed.   We did a fundraiser to help with Leo’s surgery costs and as soon as we reached out goal Leo’s surgery was scheduled.  Leo was diagnosed on April 2nd and had his surgery on May 3rd.  During the month between diagnosis and surgery Leo’s eye was stable at first, but then did get much worse.  Leo’s right eye was clearly larger than his left, he struggled to keep it open, it was very bloodshot, it was pressure/touch sensitive, he was tearing excessively, and Leo could not see out of the eye at all.  Leo loves the sunshine and was not allowed to lay or play in it as it made his eye much worse.  Leo wanted to play, but if he got bumped he would yelp and run to mom for comfort.  We were very blessed to have such wonderful people help donate to Leo’s surgery so that he could get in to the vet and get the surgery done before being in more pain.


What to expect & risks of surgery:

One very important thing to remember is that every dog is different and heals differently.  If you have a dog that is healthy, the healing process with probably be easier, quicker and will more than likely have less complications…BUT as with humans, every surgery and patient is different.  Enucleation surgery is a MAJOR surgery.  Our vet did Leo’s surgery in the early afternoon and actually kept him overnight to monitor him, they also kept him on an iv with pain medication and antibiotics, which we think was very helpful (stressed me out and made me worry when they said they were keeping him overnight, but it was for the best).

Due to Leo being a Boston Terrier we chose to have the prosthetic eye placed in the socket so that he would not have a large caved in area.  Prosthetic eyes can cause more complications, such as infection.  Dogs who do not have such large predominate eyes like those of  Boston Terriers, will do very well without the prosthetic…it is all your choice.  The great thing with Leo getting the prosthetic is that he does not have a caved in area and literally just looks like he is winking, which is a little easier on the humans in his life.

One of the big risks that comes with any surgery is infection, that is why your vet will prescribe you a course of antibiotics for your dog (Leo loved them because every morning and evening he got a “special” treat and he thought that he was getting spoiled).   When you go to get your loved one after surgery there WILL be a lot of swelling, this is normal, but is very hard to see (as soon as Leo came into the room I was in tears, not only because I missed him so much and was so worried about him, but the shock of seeing his surgery area and the swelling).  Our vet explained that there may be some bloody discharge or seepage from the surgery area and that is normal, but if it becomes an excessive amount to contact them immediately…we were very lucky as Leo experienced no discharge at all.  Your loved one will have an Elizabethan collar on (much better than a regular cone of shame) which is nice and soft.  This will help protect their eye area from being bumped  and from them scratching at it.

If you have other pets at home you may want to keep you loved one that just had surgery away from them in a nice safe area.  Leo got to spend a lot of time in our guest bedroom during the first few days after his surgery.  Other pets do not understand that your loved one just went through a major surgery and you do not want them bumping them, running into them or anything else along those lines…those first few days after surgery are very important in the healing process and keeping the pet safe from further injury is very important.  Leo’s first night home we had him sleep with his Elizabethan collar, he wasn’t completely comfortable, but we felt good knowing his eye was protected.

You may experience some swelling in the check area after surgery, Leo had swelling in his check the day after he got home, but by the next day it was gone.

There WILL be bruising.  Hey, it is a major surgery and bruising is to be expected.  Being that your loved ones eye area will have been shaved the bruising will be very visible, but thankfully will only last for a few days.

Leo only wore his Elizabethan collar for a couple of nights, and then we had him wear it during the day if we weren’t right there to monitor him, but he did very well with it off.  Make sure to keep a close eye on your dog to make sure they are not rubbing or scratching at the area, if they are you will want to make sure they continue to wear the Elizabethan collar.  Thankfully, Leo did not rub or scratch at the area at all, so that really helped his healing process.

Typically, if all goes well, the sutures will be removed 11-14 days after surgery.  Leo had two sutures that came untied, we just left them alone and we were reassured by the vet that as long as the eyelids were not pulling apart in the areas that came untied Leo would be fine.  Remember that your furry loved one also has internal sutures to help.

One of the things that we did not think about ahead of time was eyelid and brow movements.  When some dogs get cancer or have to have more of the eye area removed the vet will have to take out many of the muscles so there will not be facial expressions of the eye area on that side.  Leo, thankfully did not have cancer, so they only needed to remove his eye, which means that his eyelid and eyebrow both still work.  Leo’s right eye area still does the blinking motion at the same time his left eye does and his little eyebrows still move and are very expressive, which is wonderful, but just not one of those things that we had thought about ahead of time.  We love that he still is so expressive.

It will take time for  your dog to adjust to only having one eye.  Their depth perception will be off, it will take them a while to notice things on the side of their surgery.  Leo loves to beg for treats and we experienced him grabbing a treat and dropping it, but he could not see it because it landed on the right side so we had to guide him to it.  As with any major physical change it will just take some time to adjust.  Your loved one may also be a little jumpy and easily startled if they are approached from the side that no longer has an eye.  It will also take them a while to do the visual adjustment with the other eye so that they don’t get to close to or run into things on their surgery side.  Leo has come very close to running into a couple of corners.

Your loved one will want to be playing and back to their usual selves within a few days of surgery, but you as their human have to be the big meany that does not let them play as rough as they are used to…you are their protector.  Leo is highly active and plays very rough, so limiting his play was very hard.  Typically within about a month of surgery they area will be completely healed and your loved one can play at their normal rate.  We are choosing to keep a very close eye on Leo (no pun intended) and not let him play as rough as he is used to because now he only has one eye and we need to keep that protected.

Remember that your furry loved one will need extra love, tummy rubs and nom noms 🙂

Photos from the day before surgery through 2 weeks after surgery:

A few days ago I went back and was showing a co-worker Leo’s surgery photos and I was amazed at seeing how he healed…how you could see the healing from day to day.  I’ve taken a few pictures from each day of his healing process and put them all together in this one blog so you can see how much of a change there is…amazing!