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A Pet Parent's Guide to Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Your Dog's Eyes & Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an uncomfortable eye condition that can cause damage to your dog's eye(s) if left untreated. Today, our Somerset County vets explain some causes of conjunctivitis in dogs, its symptoms, and how it can be treated.

What is conjunctivitis in dogs?

Conjunctivitis is a fairly common eye infection that affects the mucous membrane called the ‘conjunctiva’, which covers your dog's eye and eyelids. The conjunctiva is very similar to the lining of the nose or mouth and it acts as a protective barrier against infections and foreign objects. When the conjunctiva becomes infected or inflamed the condition is called conjunctivitis, however, the condition is more commonly known as 'pink eye'. 

What causes dogs to develop conjunctivitis?

There are a number of reasons why your dog could develop conjunctivitis such as:

  • Irritation from foreign bodies
  • Allergies
  • Viral infections
  • Tear film deficiency
  • Tumors
  • Eye abnormalities
  • Eye injury
  • Tear duct obstruction
  • Parasites

An underlying eye condition such as ulcerative keratitis, glaucoma, or anterior uveitis could also lead to conjunctivitis in dogs, as can breed-specific conditions such as nodular episcleritis in collies.

What are the symptoms of dog eye conjunctivitis?

Whether it's affecting one eye or both, if your dog has conjunctivitis they will be very uncomfortable and their eyes will be very itchy! Your dog may show symptoms such as blinking, squinting, or pawing at their eye. A clear or green discharge from the eye can also be a sign of conjunctivitis in dogs as can redness in the whites of the eyes, and red or swollen eyelids or areas surrounding the eye. 

Often conjunctivitis will start in one eye 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 onset.

If your dog is showing signs of conjunctivitis, even if symptoms seem very mild, contact your vet to book an appointment for your pet. Left untreated conjunctivitis could lead to permanent eye damage.

What is the treatment for conjunctivitis in dogs?

Treating your dog's conjunctivitis will depend upon the underlying cause of the condition. Following a thorough eye examination, your vet will determine the cause and recommend the best treatment for your pup.

If a bacterial infection is causing your dog's conjunctivitis, antibiotics and eye drops are typically prescribed. When allergies are the suspected cause of conjunctivitis an antihistamine may be prescribed to help make your dog's eyes more comfortable, or if there is a foreign body irritating your dog's eye your vet may need to remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic. If your pet's conjunctivitis is caused by a blocked tear duct, surgery will be required followed by eye drops and antibiotics.

If you notice that your pup is persistently pawing at their eyes while they are being treated for conjunctivitis it may be necessary to have your pet wear a cone or Elizabethan collar to prevent further eye irritation and allow the eye to heal.

Can you get conjunctivitis from a dog?

Many people wonder if they can catch conjunctivitis from their dog? It may surprise you to learn that, while it's very unlikely that you will catch conjunctivitis from your dog it is possible if the cause of your pup's eye condition is a parasite such as roundworms. 

Will my dog's eyes recover from conjunctivitis?

Most dogs will make a full recovery from conjunctivitis however it's important to note that early treatment is the key to avoiding further complications. In some 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. 

Are you concerned about your dog's eyes? Contact AnimERge to book an examination for your four-legged friend with our Board-Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist, or visit our emergency clinic for urgent care.

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