Conjunctivitis refers to the infection of the eye’s conjunctiva, a mucous membrane covering the lines of the eyelid and eyeball. Also known as “pink eye”, conjunctivitis in dogs causes itchy and weepy eyes to our canine companions. This eye problem can happen at any age of the dog’s life and it can develop by itself or as a result of another eye disease.
In this article, you will discover the types, causes, and symptoms of canine conjunctivitis as well as the treatments and home remedies.
What are the types of conjunctivitis in dogs?
This the most common type of conjunctivitis and it cannot be transmitted to other canines. Possible causes of non-infectious conjunctivitis include eye injury, eye trauma, and eye irritants.
This is a result of viral or bacterial infection. It is a condition that may be caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, or Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
What causes conjunctivitis in dogs?
Possible causes of conjunctivitis include:
- Immune-mediated illnesses such as allergies
- Bug bites in the eye area
- Dry eye
- Foreign bodies such as dust or grass seed
- Eye problems such as glaucoma
- Parasites such as eye worms
- Eyelash disorders and eyelid abnormalities
- Tumours of the eyelids
What are the signs of conjunctivitis in dogs?
- Eyelids sticking together
- Pawing at his eyes due to itchiness
- Redness or puffiness of the eyes
- Swollen eyelid lining
- Stringy discharge from the eyes
- Watery eyes
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, get him checked by the vet right away. Do not try to treat it on your own as it may worsen your dog’s condition.
How is conjunctivitis in dogs diagnosed?
The diagnosis will start with the vet looking for signs of other eye problems. This is to determine if the conjunctivitis is a primary problem or a secondary problem brought on by another eye disease. The vet will perform a complete and detailed eye exam which may include any of the following:
- Allergy testing
- Bacterial culture
- Corneal stain tests
- Nasolacrimal duct flushing
- A thorough assessment of the surrounding eye structure
- Schirmer tear production test
- Sensitivity tests
These tests will help in ruling out possible eye problems such as glaucoma, uveitis, and allergies. The presence of ulcers, foreign materials, scratches, or bacteria is also determined through these tests.
What dogs are prone to developing conjunctivitis in dogs?
All dogs are at risk of contracting conjunctivitis. However, some breeds are more susceptible to the disease than others such as:
Can conjunctivitis cause blindness in dogs?
If conjunctivitis is left untreated, it can lead to infection and development of other eye problems which later on can lead to blindness. Sometimes conjunctivitis is a result of a serious underlying health problem that causes loss of sight.
Can you catch conjunctivitis from your dog?
The possibility of you catching your dog’s conjunctivitis is small. However, conjunctivitis caused by parasites such as a roundworm is likely to happen. Therefore, to prevent this, it is important to bring your dog to the vet if he displays symptoms of conjunctivitis. Proper hygiene such as thorough hand-washing also lowers the risk of acquiring this disease.
Is conjunctivitis contagious in dogs?
Yes, if the dog has infectious conjunctivitis, he can spread it to other dogs. There is no need to worry about your dog catching non-infectious conjunctivitis, but as a preventive measure, keep your dog separated from his canine playmate that has conjunctivitis.
If you have another dog suffering from this condition, do not let them share the same beddings and food and water bowls. Make sure to clean these items thoroughly to get rid of bacteria. Washing your hands is a must to prevent the spreading of disease.
Can dogs get conjunctivitis in one eye?
Dogs with conjunctivitis usually only have one affected eye. However, it can spread to the other eye through contamination if it is caused by an infectious bacteria. However, in cases of non-infectious disease which are likely caused by allergies, both eyes can be affected from the beginning.
How long does conjunctivitis last in dogs?
When conjunctivitis is treated immediately, improvements can be seen in a few days. However, for some dogs with conjunctivitis, full recovery may take at least three weeks.
Will conjunctivitis in dogs cure by itself?
Infectious conjunctivitis requires immediate attention. Whilst most non-infectious cases of conjunctivitis is not a serious condition, it won’t clear up on its own. Untreated conjunctivitis in dogs, no matter what type, may lead to irreparable eye damage or blindness.
How to treat conjunctivitis in dogs?
The type of treatment for conjunctivitis depends on its root cause. If your dog has a pink eye, the vet will prescribe a topical medication. This may come in the form of fungicidal or bactericidal ointment. The vet may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication to lessen the swelling and irritation.
If the conjunctivitis is due to a foreign object, the vet may need to place your dog under general anaesthesia to extract it safely. If the conjunctivitis is caused by an underlying health problem, the vet can help design a treatment plan. For example, a dog with eyelash or eyelid abnormalities may require surgical correction. Those with dry eye will require medication like tacrolimus to stimulate tear-production.
Home remedies for conjunctivitis in dogs
Several home remedies can aid in alleviating your dog’s conjunctivitis:
- Placing a cold compress on the affected eye can reduce the swelling and irritation.
- If the vet prescribed eye drops, make sure to use according to dosage. Using a saline solution can also help flush your dog’s eyes and lessens irritation. Do this at least 3 to 4 times a day using an eyedropper.
- Keep your dog away from areas prone to dust and dirt so as not to aggravate conjunctivitis.
- Gently clean his eyes with a damp warm cloth. Your strokes should start near the nose going outwards.
- Conjunctivitis can cause itchiness which may lead your dog to scratch his eyes. Use an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from doing so.
How to prevent conjunctivitis in dogs?
Conjunctivitis is not completely preventable but here are some tips to lessen the chances of your dog’s eyes getting infected.
- Make sure your dog receives regular treatment for fleas, mites, worms, and other parasites.
- Always keep an eye out for symptoms of conjunctivitis.
- It is a good idea to clean and sanitize his toys, beddings, bowls, and other items frequently to remove bacteria.
- Boost his immune system by giving him healthy and balanced meals. Make sure it is packed with antioxidants and vitamin E.
- If your dog is prone to allergies, grooming him often will lessen the risk of stray hairs, dirt, and dust from getting inside his eyes.
- Do not allow him to play with dogs that have conjunctivitis. Wait until it is fully treated.