Bacterial Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Your dog's conjunctiva is a defensive barrier that protects his eyes from damage. Conjunctivitis in dogs occurs when these thin membranes become infected. The condition is a painful one for your pet and requires prompt treatment in order to fully protect his eyes and vision. Although conjunctivitis has a number of potential sources, one of the most common is bacterial infections. Read on for a brief overview of this highly common canine condition.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Dogs with conjunctivitis will display a clear set of symptoms. Be on the lookout for any of the following unusual behaviors or visual signs of an infection:

  • Red or pink eyes
  • Noticeably inflamed or swollen eyes and eyelids
  • Unusual scratching of or pawing at the eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Refusal to fully open eyes
  • Pain at the touch

If you notice any of these conjunctivitis symptoms, have your pet examined by a veterinarian quickly so that you can identify and eliminate the infection before it can do any long term damage to him.

Diagnosing Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Before your veterinarian can determine whether your pet's condition is caused by a bacterial infection, he must first diagnose the problem as conjunctivitis. In order to do this, he will begin by thoroughly examining your pet's eyes and eyelids for signs of damage. Some ulcerations and other conditions can display symptoms that are similar to bacterial conjunctivitis, and your vet will want to rule those out as possible causes of the symptoms. Tear tests and stainings can be helpful in eliminating potential causes of conjunctivitis-like symptoms.

Once your vet is satisfied that conjunctivitis is the cause of your pet's symptoms, he will take a small bacteria sample for a culture analysis. This will confirm that the condition is due to a bacteria infection.

Treating Conjunctivitis in Dogs

There are two steps involved in treatment of canine conjunctivitis due to bacteria. The first involves addressing the specific symptoms of the condition, while the second eliminates the bacterial source of the problem. In order to provide your dog with immediate relief from his symptoms, your vet will recommend one or more techniques to clean out any discharge or buildup from his eyes. This commonly involves an irrigation procedure that may be done in the vet's office or at home, or both.

Your vet will also likely prescribe an antibiotic ointment for your pet's eyes, or perhaps an oral antibiotic. These medicines serve to prevent the bacteria that have caused the condition from spreading further and are designed to eradicate the source of the problem. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to help correct the infection itself.

After your vet has diagnosed your dog's conjunctivitis, it's important to closely monitor him in the following days and weeks for signs of recurrent infection. If your pet's condition does not improve after you've begun treatment, visit the veterinarian again for further advice. With your vigilant care and observation, you can help to ensure that your pet returns to normal health as quickly as possible.