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Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes & Treatment

Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes & Treatment

Conjunctivitis is an itchy and uncomfortable eye condition that left untreated could cause damage to your dog's eye(s). Today our Charlotte vets share some of the causes, symptoms and treatments for this relatively common condition in dogs.

What is conjunctivitis in dogs?

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

What causes conjunctivitis in dogs?

This condition in dogs can be caused by a number of issues including: 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.

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs?

Conjunctivitis is an uncomfortable condition that may cause your dog to paw at their eye, blink or squint. You may also notice clear or green discharge from the eye or that the white of the eyes, eyelids or area surrounding your dogs eye are red and swollen. 

Often conjunctivitis will start in one eye then quickly spread to the other through contamination, although in cases where allergies or 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.

In cases where bacterial infection is causing your dog's conjunctivitis, antibiotics and eyedrops are typically prescribed. If allergies are the suspected cause your vet may prescribe an antihistamine to help make your dog's eyes more comfortable, or if there is a foreign body irritating your dog's eye your vet will remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anaesthetic. 

Some dog's 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 make a full recovery from conjunctivitis however it's important to note that early treatment is essential for avoiding complications due to conjunctivitis. In rare cases dogs can be left with scarring on the eye and/or vision problems due to this condition.

If your dog is showing signs of conjunctivitis contact your primary vet to make an appointment for an examination as soon as possible. If your dog is experiencing an emergency eye issue, contact Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Charlotte. Our board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist specializes in treating eye diseases and disorders in pets.

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