Allergic Conjuctivitis in Dogs

Allergic conjunctivitis is a common condition in dogs and is caused by different environmental factors or diet. Conjunctivitis is a condition that manifests through the irritation and inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a transparent layer that covers the eye whites.

Causes of Allergic Conjunctivitis

The causes of allergic conjunctivitis are typically environmental factors such as dust mites, pollens, smoke or chemicals. The immune system of the dog develops a negative reaction to a stimulus, mistaking this for an infectious agent. The immune system produces histamines which cause the inflammation of the conjunctiva.

In rare cases, the dog's diet may be causing the swelling of the conjunctiva.

Symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis

The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis may include:

  • Redness of eyes; typically both eyes are involved, but it may happen that only one eye is affected
  • Excessive tearing
  • Itchiness of the eyes which may cause pawing of the face and eye area
  • Transparent watery discharge
  • Thickening of the conjunctiva
  • Secondary eye infections, causing thicker eye discharges

The dog may experience additional symptoms such as skin itchiness, sneezing, swelling of the limbs or secondary infections, depending on the factor causing the allergic reaction.

Detecting Allergic Conjunctivitis

The detection of allergic conjunctivitis can be done based on the symptoms of the pet and by performing a few tests. Allergy testing can determine the exact factor that causes the irritation.

Treatment for Conjunctivitis

The most important step in treating allergic conjunctivitis is to eliminate the allergen that causes the overreaction of the dog's immune system. If this is not possible, the dog is likely to have chronic conjunctivitis, which can lead to thickening of the conjunctiva and damage to the eyes.

Eye drops will be administered to soothe the eyes. These drops may contain steroids or anti-inflammatory agents. Ointments may also be prescribed and should be carefully administered. Medication treatment is also available. Antihistamines, steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs can be administered.

If there are secondary infections, the dog should receive oral antibiotics or antibiotic eye drops, which can be combined with the eye drops the dog receives for allergies.

If diet is the suspected allergen, the dog will receive a hypoallergenic diet, which can be purchased in pet stores or prepared at home.

Antioxidant supplements and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids may also be recommended to offer support to the dog's immune system and prevent allergic reactions. Dogs that are allergic to an environmental factor may develop other allergies in time. Getting some immune system boosters will prevent the occurrence of additional allergies.

Alternative Conjunctivitis Treatments

Dogs with allergies and allergic conjunctivitis can get alternative treatment which will aim at boosting immunity. Burdock, licorice root, rosemary and meadowsweet are plants that can be effective in reducing allergic reactions, due to their antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The dog may also benefit from relaxation therapy, as stress can often weaken the immune system, making the dog more susceptible to allergies.