Conjunctivitis is an itchy and uncomfortable eye condition that, if left untreated, can cause permanent eye damage in your dog. Today, our Yucaipa veterinarians discuss some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this fairly common condition in dogs.
What is conjunctivitis in dogs?
Conjunctivitis is an infection of the mucous membrane that covers your dog's eye and eyelids, known as the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane similar to the lining of the nose or mouth, and its purpose is to protect the eye from infections and foreign objects. When this membrane becomes infected or inflamed, the condition is known as conjunctivitis or 'pink eye.'
What causes conjunctivitis in dogs?
Allergies, irritation from foreign bodies, viral infections, tumors in the eye region, breed-specific conditions such as nodular episcleritis in Collies, tear film deficiency, abnormalities of the eye, obstructed tear ducts, parasitic infections, injury to the eye, or an underlying eye condition such as glaucoma, ulcerative keratitis, or anterior uveitis can all cause this condition in dogs.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs?
Conjunctivitis is a painful condition that causes your dog to paw at their eye, blink, or squint. You may also notice a clear or green discharge from the eye, as well as red and swollen whites of the eyes, eyelids, or the area surrounding your dog's eye.
Often conjunctivitis will start in one eye and 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 start.
If your dog is showing signs of conjunctivitis, even if symptoms seem very mild, contact your vet as soon as possible. Left untreated conjunctivitis can lead to permanent eye damage.
What is the treatment for conjunctivitis in dogs?
The best treatment for 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 the best treatment for your dog.
Antibiotics and eye drops are typically prescribed when a bacterial infection is the cause of your dog's conjunctivitis. If allergies are suspected, your veterinarian may prescribe an antihistamine to help make your dog's eyes more comfortable, or if a foreign body is irritating your dog's eye, your veterinarian will remove it while your dog is sedated or under local anesthetic.
Some dogs suffer from conjunctivitis caused by a blocked tear duct in which case surgery followed by eye drops and antibiotics will be required.
If your dog is persistently pawing at their eyes while being treated it may be necessary to have them wear a cone or Elizabethan collar to prevent rubbing and allow the eye to heal.
Can I get conjunctivitis from my dog?
While it's unlikely that you will catch conjunctivitis from your canine companion it is possible if the cause of your dog's eye condition is a parasite such as roundworms.
Will my dog completely recover from conjunctivitis?
Most dogs will recover completely from conjunctivitis, but it is important to note that early treatment is critical for avoiding complications caused by conjunctivitis. In rare cases, this condition can result in eye scarring and/or vision problems in dogs.