Dog conjunctivitis is the term which depicts the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent tissue that covers the surface of the eye. The main function of the conjunctiva is to protect the eye by trapping debris and protecting the eye from dangerous viruses and bacteria. However, as with any tissue, the conjunctiva may be prone to irritation and infection, therefore causing conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is often referred to as red eye or pink eye and it is the most common eye disorder seen in dogs.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Dogs
When a dog’s conjunctiva becomes infected, the dog’s eyes will exhibit evident symptoms. The most common symptoms seen are obviously red eyes followed by discharge. The discharge may appear watery and transparent or yellow, green and dense . It may involve one or both eyes. Dogs may also be seen pawing insistently at the eye and rubbing the eye on the carpet.
Causes of Conjunctivitis in Dogs
The nature of the discharge and the fact if the infection is limited to only one eye or both eyes may help find out the cause.When both eyes are generally affected and the discharge appears clear, allergies or systemic diseases may be the triggers. Other causes may be related to irritants such as dust, wind, and allergens which often cause eye itchiness with the dog pawing at the eye and rubbing its face.
When only one eye is affected and the dog is pawing at it, it may indicate the presence of a foreign object or simply eyelashes rubbing against the eyes. When the discharge appears like mucous or pus and the conjunctiva appears red and swollen, it is very possible that the infection is caused by bacteria such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. Some times the secretions are so thick that the eyelids may appear sealed after the dog takes a nap.
When the dog is squinting and keeping the eye shut from pain, a foreign object may be embedded or other serious eye disorders may be into play such as uveitis or glaucoma which may result in blindness. Often dogs with keratoconjunctivits Sicca are mistakenly diagnosed with to conjunctivitis and are treated in the wrong matter. Keratoconjunctivities Sicca is the medical term for dry eye and the underlying cause is insufficient tear production which causes the dog to have a stringy mucoid discharge. The condition may be lead to blindness if left untreated and allowed to progress.
Treatment of Conjunctivitis
In order to successfully treat conjunctivitis, the underlying cause needs to be addressed. Major eye disorders need to be ruled out. This is why most veterinarians advise to have pets with eye problems seen within 24 hours. Delays in treating serious eye disorders may result in major ocular damage and even blindness. When the discharge is purulent and due to bacteria, antibiotics may be needed to clear out the infection. The antibiotics are topical in the form of eye drops and need to be given as prescribed without stopping early, even if the dog’s eyes appear to be already healing. Cases of dry eye need to be properly diagnosed with a Shirmer Test and Cyclosporin may be prescribed along with artificial tears.
Home remedies for Conjunctivitis in Dogs
There are really no home remedies that may help a pet once the infection has set in, however, the pet may be helped feel more comfortable at home.
- Clean the eye with a soft piece of cotton wool and free it from the discharge. Do not clean over the eye just around it. Do this as needed.
- Foreign bodies need to be excluded with a good inspection. The eye can be cleaned and flushed for a few minutes with fresh water from the faucet and it should be checked for any foreign matter. If something is identified, a q-tip may be used to carefully and gently allow the debris to stick to the cotton.
- Dogs with watery discharge may be helped in some cases at home by applying a moist warm tea bag (just plain tea) to the eyes due to its tannin contents. The tea bag should be held against the eye for a few minutes.
- Simple sterile saline solution (without disinfectants)may be helpful as a temporary measure to clean the eye and give relief.
- There have been reports of owners healing their dogs from eye problems upon rubbing one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar on their neck and/or adding one teaspoon to their water bowl. As odd it sounds many have reported success. Worth a try.
- Terramycin is an over-the counter ointment for dog eye infections and used for treating mild cases of dog conjunctivitis and secondary bacterial inflammatory conditions of the dog’s eyes.
However, as already mentioned, it is best to have a vet take a look at the eye if it does not seem to improve within 24 hours. There are many serious conditions out there and it is not worth risking the dog’s sight!
*Disclaimer: All remedies suggested are not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your pet is sick please refer to your veterinarian for a hands on examination. If your pet is exhibiting behavior problems please refer to a professional pet behaviorist.