Dog Eye Infection - Causes & Treatments

There are a host of reasons why your dog might develop an eye infection, but whatever the cause, eye infections in dogs can range from uncomfortable to downright painful and require immediate treatment to avoid complications. Here our Tucson veterinarians explain some of the causes of eye infections in dogs and how they are treated.

Types of Eye Infections Commonly Seen In Dogs

There are a few different types of eye infections that could cause your canine companion to experience discomfort, redness or sensitivity to light. Below are 4 of the most common types of eye infections in dogs:

  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) - an inflammation of the mucous membrane that covers the outer portion of the eyeball and the inside of the eyelids
  • Inflammation of the cornea
  • Tear gland issues or physical abnormalities of the eyelid
  • Uveitis - an inflammation of one or more inner structures of the eye such as the iris, ciliary body,  or choroid

Dog Eye Infection Causes

The causes of these various types of infections also differ from case to case. If your pooch is diagnosed with an eye infection, one of the following causes could be at the bottom of your pup's eye infection:

  • Viruses (distemper, herpes, hepatitis, or canine influenza)
  • Bacteria (canine brucellosis, leptospirosis, canine ehrlichiosis, or Lyme disease)
  • Fungus spores
  • Irritants or allergens, such as smoke or shampoo
  • Foreign matter or debris (dirt, grass seed, or even your dog's own hair)
  • Trauma
  • Parasites
  • Scratch or cut on the cornea

Not All Eye Problems In Dogs Are Infections

In some cases, your dog may display the signs of an eye infection, but actually be experiencing a different type of eye problem.

Some of the eye conditions in dogs that are commonly assumed by pet owners to be infections include glaucoma, tear duct problems or eye defects, dry eye, vitamin deficiency, exposure to or ingestion of toxins, tumors, cherry eye, or structural problems of the eye itself such as entropion. 

Like infections, these eye issues can be painful and require veterinary care as soon as possible.

Conditions such as glaucoma, while not an infection, cause extreme pain and need the attention of a vet right away.

Symptoms of Eye Infections in Dogs

If your dog's eye is infected you may notice one or more of the following symptoms. Eye infections require treatment and may become severe if left untreated, so if your dog is displaying any symptoms of an eye infection contact your vet to book an appointment.

Signs of eye infections in dogs include:

  • Redness of the eye or surrounding the eye
  • Swelling around eye
  • Watery discharge or tearing
  • Thick, smelly discharge
  • Squinting and blinking
  • Holding eye closed
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pawing or rubbing at the eye

Dog Eye Infection Treatment

Treatment for your dog's eye infection will depend upon the underlying cause but could involve a combination of topical and oral medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, a single topical medication or and in some cases surgery.

  • If a bacterial infection is found to be causing your dog's eye infection, antibiotics and eye drops will typically be prescribed.
  • When allergies are the suspected cause of eye infections in dogs, the vet is likely to prescribe an antihistamine to help soothe your pup's eyes.
  • If there is a foreign body, or debris irritating the eye your vet may need to remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic.
  • Blocked tear ducts typically require surgery followed by eye drops and antibiotics.
  • Dogs suffering from dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) may be prescribed medications such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus to help stimulate tear production.
  • Eyelid or eyelash abnormalities that cause the lashes to rub against the eyeball are generally treated with surgery to correct the issue.

My dog has an eye infection, what should I do?

The fact is that if your dog is experiencing any eye sensitivity, irritation, or pain it's time to head to your vet. 

Your veterinarian will be able to conduct a thorough eye exam to determine the cause of your pup's symptoms and provide effective treatment to help your dog's eyes feel better. Left untreated eye infections can become severe and may result in loss of vision.

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.

If your canine companion is suffering from a painful eye issue contact us right away! Our team of Tucson emergency and specialist vets can provide advanced diagnostics and treatments to help your dog's eyes feel better. 

Dog Eye Infection - Causes & Treatments

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