Conjunctivitis in Dogs

The vision of a dog is quite the similar as that of a red-green color blind human, but their eyes have increased sensitivity in dim light. A dog's eyesight is valuable, so their eyes are protected from bacteria, dirt and dust by a mucous membrane called the conjunctiva. This durable membrane protects the sensitive eye of your dog, but it's still possible to see swelling, redness and secretions from this area, which happens due to a condition called conjunctivitis. Keep reading to learn more about conjunctivitis in dogs and things you can do to deal with the issue.

Signs of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Also called pink eye, conjunctivitis in dogs is a common problem. It involves the inflammation of the conjunctiva, a membrane that covers the front of your dog's eye and lines the eyelids. Once your dog suffers from conjunctivitis, you will notice a change in the appearance of its eyes. It may affect one or both eyes and produce symptoms such as red, swollen and moist-looking eyes. You will also notice behavioral changes in your dog. It is also common for dogs with conjunctivitis to scratch their eyes. Not all dogs will experience the same changes, but you may notice one or a combination of certain signs. For instance:

  • Your dog may blink excessively or squint with eyes.
  • You will notice redness to the membrane that covers the third eyelid.
  • You will find your dog rub eyes on surfaces around the home.

You may also notice a discharge that can be clear known as serous, mucous known as mucoid, or pus known as purulent. Conjunctivitis in dogs will also have some accompanying symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal discharge and coughing.

What Causes Conjunctivitis in Dogs?

Conjunctivitis in dogs can happen due to many different factors. It can affect one eye (unilateral) or both eyes (bilateral). The condition can affect dogs of any age, but it usually affects puppies when they begin to open their eyes. There may be different underlying causes that are generally not serious. However, it is still a good idea to seek veterinary help to avoid any complications.

Bacterial infection is one of the most common causes of conjunctivitis in dogs. The condition may also occur due to fungal infections, viral infections, trauma to the eye and abnormalities to the eye structure. Long narrow faced breeds are more prone to this issue. Exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, dust, chemicals and shampoo may also lead to conjunctivitis.

Other common medical causes of conjunctivitis in dogs include keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), a condition in which the eye doesn't produce enough tears; follicle formation, which refers to small bumpy accumulations of cells on your dog's eyelids; and glaucoma, a condition in which your dog experiences great pressure in the eye.

How to Treat Conjunctivitis in Dogs

It is very important to seek veterinary help with the first 24 hours of noticing any eye related issues because any delay in treating serious eye conditions may lead to ocular damage or even blindness.Your veterinarian will look for the signs and symptoms of major eye disorders and figure out the underlying causes first to treat the problem. The treatment options will also depend on the severity of your dog's conjunctivitis.

1. Medical Help

Below are some specific medical treatment approaches.

  • You may have to give your dog some anti-inflammatory or antihistamine medications to treat eye allergy.
  • A combination of oral antibiotics and antibiotic eye ointment is required to treat bacterial infections in dogs. Your vet may prescribe an anti-fungal ointment if fungal infections are present.
  • You may have to use branded eyewash to treat a case of serious conjunctivitis.
  • If any abnormality causes conjunctivitis in your dog, you may consider taking them for corrective surgery.
  • In case of KCS, your veterinarian will prescribe artificial tears or an ointment to prevent your dog's immune system from doing any further damage to the tear glands.

2. Home Remedies

In addition to these medical treatments, you can also try some home remedies for conjunctivitis in dogs. You need to know that home remedies won't work once the infection has set in, but they will help make your pet feel more comfortable.

  • Take a soft piece of cotton wool to clear any discharge from the eyes. Be sure to clean around the eyes.
  • Inspect your dog's eyes to find any foreign body that may be causing irritation. Flush their eyes with fresh water to exclude any foreign body. You can also use a Q-tip to remove anything that's irritating the eye.
  • Applying a moist warm tea bag to the watery eyes of your dog may alleviate the discomfort.
  • Make use of simple saline solution to clean the eye for relief.
  • Rubbing a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar on the neck of your dog is reported by some owners that can help improve the condition. Also, add a teaspoon of vinegar to your dog's water bowl for quick relief.

Can You Prevent the Recurrence of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

In most dogs, conjunctivitis will be treated easily and quickly. However, certain conditions such as immune-mediated disorders or KCS will require lifelong therapy. It is, therefore, important to take proper care of your dog and take some precautionary measures to prevent the recurrence of conjunctivitis. Here's what you need to do:

  • Keep your dog's eyes clean all the time. Use a cotton pad soaked in warm water to clean any irritants or discharge from the eyes when you notice it.
  • Protect your dogs from potential irritants or allergens. This list includes smoke, dust, grass seeds, etc.
  • Make sure to avoid getting dogs bred if your dogs are with eye problems because they have higher chances of passing it on to the puppies.
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