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Eye Infection in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Eye Infection in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Learn more about the most common eye infection in dogs, what causes them, which symptoms to look out for and how to properly treat it.

Common eye infection in dogs

There are several reasons for your dog getting an eye infection. It can be from foreign particles getting stuck in their eye, common allergies, or it could be due to their breed type.

eye infection in dogs

Regardless of the reason, the most common eye infections in dogs are below:

  • Conjunctivitis or commonly referred to as Pink Eye is an inflammation of mucous membranes that covers part of the dog’s eyeball. A watery discharge of yellow-green mucus is visible to affected dogs. Conjunctivitis can come from allergic reactions, birth defects, or tear duct problems. 
  • Corneal ulcers are painful deep sores caused by an inflammation of the cornea. This trauma to the cornea can come from diseases, dry eyes, or injuries from foreign substances. 
  • Uveitis on the other hand is an inflammation of more than one inner structure of the dog’s eyes. Uveitis can be very painful and can potentially cause blindness if left untreated.
  • Other common eye infections are Epiphora or excessive tearing, dry eyes, and glaucoma.

Symptoms of dog eye infections

The most common symptom of eye infection in dogs is the excess discharge visible around their eyes. There will also be redness around it and your dog might obsessively paw at it. Other than that, here are the other symptoms your dog has eye infections:

  • Excessive crust or goop around the eyes — although goop or crust around the eyes is typical and is not a matter of concern, excessive dog eye boogers can be a sign of an infection. Eye boogers for dogs are usually from dried tears, mucus, dead skin cells, or other irritating particles.
  • Watery eyes or excess tearing — this is also a symptom you should look for when it comes to eye infections. If you start to notice your pup excessively tearing up, consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
  • Fur discoloration around the eyes — most specifically, if the fur around your pup’s eyes is reddish-brown. The staining that occurs near the inner eye is from canine tears, and this is a normal thing especially if there is no other visible discomfort shown by your dog. However, if other symptoms persist, then it is best to check with a doctor. 
  • Squinting — an infected dog will exhibit signs of discomfort through excessive blinking, squinting, eyelid spasms, and increased sensitivity to light.
  • Swelling — obvious signs of eye infection are if one or both of your dog’s eyelids are swollen or puffy.
  • Pawing — eye infections in dogs can be itchy or irritating for them so they will almost always try to paw at their eyes, hoping it will help them feel better. 

These symptoms can happen all at once and once it does, immediately contact your veterinarian for a proper check-up and diagnosis. If these symptoms are left untreated, they can cause irreversible damage to the dogs like going permanently blind.

eye infection in dogs

Causes of dog eye infections

Eye infections in dogs are caused by the following:

  • Viral infections like Canine Distemper virus, canine influenza, or hepatitis
  • Bacterial infections like canine brucellosis, Lyme diseases from ticks, and canine ehrlichiosis. 
  • Allergens or irritants like smoke, grooming products, or food.
  • Foreign debris that is stuck in the eyelid can cause an infection too.
  • Trauma is like a scratched cornea (which occasionally occurs when foreign debris gets stuck in the eye).
  • Specific dog breeds like flat-faced dogs (pugs, Pekingese, boxers, and bulldogs) are said to be more prone to excess eye discharge than other dog breeds due to their shallower eye sockets.

How to treat a dog eye infection at home

Although it is highly recommended to get your veterinarian involved in this process, there are still some home-friendly treatments for your injured house pup. 

  • Check to see if there is any debris stuck in your dog’s eyes. 
  • If the infections or irritations are caused by an allergic reaction, use a prescribed antihistamine for your dog or refrain them from getting exposed to allergens.
  • Be sure to check if your dog was ever beaten by insects or parasites, then treat them accordingly by bringing them to the veterinarian.
  • As a short-term solution, you can use non-medicated saline rinses that can flush out any debris in your dog’s eyes. 

When to see your vet

Most eye infections or irritations are not life-threatening but they can cause irreparable damage when left untreated or neglected. You should bring your dog to the veterinarian immediately if they show any signs of discomfort by pacing, eye spasms, and pawing at the eyes. It should be considered that your pups are most likely in pain because of the infections so it’s important to get them treated right away. Your veterinarian can immediately assess what kind of infection your dog has and how to effectively treat it without causing further damage.

eye infection in dogs

How to apply your dog’s eye medication

If you happen to consult a veterinarian, they may prescribe you antibiotics or ointments for your dog. To safely apply dog’s eye medication, follow the following steps according to Pet Web MD:

  • Get the eye medication ready at close hand, then carefully clean away the discharge around your dog’s eyes with warm water and a cotton ball.
  • If using eye drops, tilt your dog’s head back a little by resting it on your hand. Always make sure that they are comfortable yet stable, then squeeze the drops in the upper part of the dog’s eye.
  • If using an eye ointment, do the same thing where you keep your pup’s head stable in your arm, and then gently pull down the lower lid to create a “pocket” for the ointment. Squeeze the ointment into the dog’s eyes carefully.
  • Lastly, gently open or close the life for a few seconds to help the ointment or drops spread.

How to prevent eye problems in dogs

You can prevent eye problems in your dog by regularly checking it for debris, dirt, and mucus. You can do so by gently applying a clean, warm cloth or cotton ball around the eyes. A damp cloth can help soften the dog’s eyes. Their long fur could also irritate the eyes so other than cleaning the area with a damp cloth, you should also regularly get the fur around their eyes trimmed and groomed regularly.

dog eye drops

FAQs

Why is my dog’s eye red and gunky?

If your dog’s eyes are red and junky, that means that it might have something hurting or irritating its eyes. 

Is apple cider vinegar good for your dog’s eyes?

According to Daily Paws, ACV as an eye rinse is not a recommended approach. Dr. Vygantas claims that “only minor cases of conjunctivitis will resolve with over-the-counter or at-home remedies.”

Can a dog’s eye infection heal on its own?

Highly unlikely. Dogs with eye infections must be taken to the veterinarian immediately. 

Can I use human eye drops for my dog?

No. The ingredients used in human eye drops are vastly different from dogs’ eye drops. These ingredients are harmful to dogs.

Summary

Dog eye infections may not always be life-threatening but they must be checked right away to prevent further damage to the eyes. The common eye infection is conjunctivitis or pink eye and the cause of the infections varies on the situation. It could be from dirt or foreign particles stuck in the inner eye; allergies or irritants; trauma to the eye; or bacterial or viral infections.  To prevent eye infections, always check the surroundings of your dog’s eye and make it a point to clean any goop with a warm damp towel. Lastly, consult your veterinarian for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.

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