Conjunctivitis in dogs is an uncomfortable and itchy eye condition that can cause serious damage if left untreated. Today, our Danbury vets share some of the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this common condition seen in dogs.
Conjunctivitis in Dogs
Conjunctivitis is a relatively common infection of the mucous membrane which covers your dog's eye and eyelids called the ‘conjunctiva’. This mucous membrane is very similar to the lining of the nose or mouth and the purpose of the conjunctiva is to act as the eye's protective barrier against infections and foreign objects. When this membrane becomes infected or inflamed the condition is called conjunctivitis, more commonly known as 'pink eye'.
Causes of Conjunctivitis in Dogs
This condition in dogs can be caused by several issues such as allergies, irritation from foreign bodies, viral infections, ocular tumors, breed-specific conditions such as nodular episcleritis in Collies, tear film deficiency, abnormalities of the eye, obstructed tear ducts, parasitic infections, injury to the eye, or an underlying eye condition such as glaucoma, ulcerative keratitis, or anterior uveitis.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis In Dogs
Conjunctivitis is an uncomfortable condition that can cause your dog to paw at their eye, blink, or squint. You may also notice a clear or green discharge from the affected eye or that the white of the eyes, your dog's eyelids, or the area surrounding their eye are red and swollen.
Often conjunctivitis will start in one eye and then quickly spread to the other through contamination, although in cases where allergies or viral infection are the cause both eyes can be affected right from the start.
If your dog is showing signs of conjunctivitis, even if symptoms seem very mild, contact your vet as soon as possible. Left untreated, conjunctivitis can lead to permanent eye damage.
Treatment for Conjunctivitis in Dogs
The best treatment for your dog's conjunctivitis will vary depending on the reason for the condition. Following a thorough eye examination, your vet can identify the cause and the best treatment for your dog.
If your dog's conjunctivitis is caused by bacterial infection, antibiotics and eyedrops are typically prescribed. If allergies are the suspected cause your vet may prescribe an antihistamine to help make your dog's eyes more comfortable, or if there is a foreign body irritating your dog's eye your vet will remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic.
Some dogs suffer from conjunctivitis caused by a blocked tear duct in which case surgery followed by eye drops and antibiotics will be required.
If your dog is persistently pawing at their eyes while being treated it may be necessary to have them wear a cone or Elizabethan collar to prevent rubbing and allow the eye to heal.
It's unlikely that you will catch conjunctivitis from your canine companion, but if your dog's eye condition is caused by a parasite like roundworms, it is possible.
Most dogs will make a full recovery from conjunctivitis however it's important to note that early treatment is essential for avoiding complications due to conjunctivitis. In rare cases, dogs can be left with scarring on the eye and/or vision problems due to this condition.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.