What is conjunctivitis in dogs?

Conjunctivitis is an uncomfortable eye condition that can cause damage to your dog's eye(s) if left untreated. In this post, our Tucson vets explain some of the causes of conjunctivitis in dogs, common symptoms, and treatments for this eye condition.

What is Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is a relatively 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'. 

Causes of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Your pooch may develop conjunctivitis for a variety of reasons such as:

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

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

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

If your pooch is suffering from conjunctivitis their eye or eyes will be very uncomfortable and likely 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. 

It is not uncommon for conjunctivitis to 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.

Treatment for Dogs with Conjunctivitis

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.

Spreading Conjunctivitis

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. 

Your Dog's Recovery 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.

If your canine companion is suffering the symptoms of conjunctivitis contact us right away! Our team of Tucson emergency and specialist vets can provide advanced veterinary care to help your dog's eyes feel better. 

What is conjunctivitis in dogs?

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