What Is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is a relatively common eye infection in both people and pets. This uncomfortable condition affects the conjunctiva, which is the mucous membrane that covers the eye and eyelid.
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, although many people know it as 'pink eye'.
What causes conjunctivitis in dogs?
Your dog can develop conjunctivitis due to a number of different causes including:
- Irritation from foreign bodies
- Viral infections
- Tear film deficiency
- Eye abnormalities
- Eye injury
- Tear duct obstruction
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.
How can I tell if my dog has conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis can affect one or both of your dog's eyes and typically causes the affected eye(s) to become very uncomfortable and very itchy! Common symptoms include:
- Frequent blinking
- Pawing at their eye
- Clear or green discharge from the eye
- Redness in the whites of the eyes, and
- Red or swollen eyelids or areas surrounding the eye
Conjunctivitis will often start in one eye but 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.
How is conjunctivitis in dogs treated?
The treatment your vet prescribes 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 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 I catch conjunctivitis from my dog?
Many pet parents ask us 'Can I catch conjunctivitis from my 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. Another good reason why heading to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment is essential.
How long will it take for my dog's eyes to feel better?
With treatment, most dogs will make a full recovery from conjunctivitis however it's important to note that it's best to begin treatment as early as possible in order to avoid complications. In some rare cases, dogs can be left with scarring on the eye and/or vision problems due to this condition being allowed to become more severe.
Eye Care for Dogs in Memphis
At our experienced team of veterinarians provide a range of ophthalmology services for cats and dogs. If you are concerned about your pet's eye health we are here to help.
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.