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Healthy Pet Care Tips

Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Conjunctivitis is an uncomfortable eye condition that, if left untreated, can cause damage to your dog's eyes. Here, our PetVet Care Centers veterinary team shares some of the common causes, symptoms and treatments for this 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 their nose or mouth and its purpose 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, tear film deficiency, abnormalities of the eye, obstructed tear ducts, parasitic infections, or injury to the eye. This condition also may be brought on by 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 notice a clear or green discharge from their eye or that the whites of the eyes, eyelids or area surrounding your dog's 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 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. If 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 of the condition and the best treatment for your dog.

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

Some dogs suffer from conjunctivitis caused by a blocked tear duct. In these cases, 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.

Is your dog is showing signs of conjunctivitis? Contact a PetVet Care Centers member hospital near you to book an appointment and start treatment as soon as possible. Our veterinarians are well-versed in ocular health issues in dogs. 

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