Conjunctivitis is a condition that causes discomfort and itchiness in the eyes of your dog. Here, our Apple Valley vets share some of the most common causes, symptoms and treatment options for this ocular health issue in dogs.
What is conjunctivitis in dogs?
Conjunctivitis is a relatively common infection that affects the mucus membrane covering the inner eye of dogs and eyelids (called conjunctiva). The mucus membrane on your dog's eyes is quite similar to the lining of their nose and mouth.
Its purpose in your pup's eyes is to act as a protective barrier against infection and foreign objects that may harm the eye. When the membrane becomes infected or inflamed, this condition is called conjunctivitis (or more commonly, pink eye).
What causes conjunctivitis in dogs?
Conjunctivitis in dogs can be caused by any number of different problems, including irritation from foreign bodies, infections, tumors in the eye, allergies, and a number of breed-specific conditions. These can include 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.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs?
Conjunctivitis can be quite uncomfortable for you pooch, causing them to paw at their eyes, squint or blink more than normal. You may notice a clear discharge from their eyes or that the whites of their eyes are red and the area around their eyes is swollen.
Often conjunctivitis will start in one eye then quickly spread to the other through contamination, although in cases where allergies or or viral infection are the cause both eyes can be affected right from the start.
If your dog is displaying signs of conjunctivitis, even if the symptoms are quite mild, contact your vet as soon as you can. If not promptly treated, conjunctivitis can cause permanent damage to your dog's eyes.
What is the treatment for conjunctivitis in dogs?
The best available treatment will depend on the underlying cause of concern for your pooch's conjunctivitis. Dogs will require an eye examination, our vets will be able to determine eh cause of your dog's condition and prescribe the best course of treatment.
In cases where bacterial infection is causing your dog's conjunctivitis, 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 will suffer from conjunctivitis that is caused by a blockage in their tear ducts. In cases like these, surgery, eye drops and antibiotics will all 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.
Can I get conjunctivitis from my dog?
While it's unlikely, it is possible for you to catch conjunctivitis yourself from your dog if the cause is a parasite such as roundworms.
Will my dog completely recover from conjunctivitis?
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.