Common Causes of Eye Infections in Dogs

Eye infections in dogs are often minor issues. However, there are also serious eye diseases and conditions that require immediate veterinary attention. Learn how to tell a serious problem from a minor one.

Common Signs that Something is Wrong with a Dog's Eye

When a dog has an eye problem, he may squint, blink a lot or have a watery, runny eye. If it's a simple matter of a hair or speck of dirt in the eye, you will be able to see it. A simple rinse of the eye with saline solution should help remove the foreign object easily enough.

If you notice more troubling symptoms, call your vet. Symptoms of the most common eye infections include:

  • Bulging eye

  • Cloudiness

  • Eye pain

  • Intolerance to sun and bright lights

  • Persistent pawing or scratching of the area surrounding the eye

  • Reddened eye whites

  • Swollen eyelid

  • Thick yellow or green discharge

Common Canine Eye Infections and Diseases

Conjunctivitis, known commonly as Pink Eye, is one of the most common eye infections. It's an inflammation of the eye's mucous membranes. The eye is frequently itchy with a thick mucus discharge. The eye white frequently turns pink. Eye drops or ointments are used to treat conjunctivitis.

Cherry Eye is common in certain breeds of dogs. Beagles, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels and Pekingese frequently develop this eye problem. With cherry eye, the gland on the dog's third eyelid becomes infected and swells causing that eyelid to protrude. Surgery is the only treatment.

Blepharitis is an infection of the eyelid. With this eye infection, the edges of the eyelids become inflamed and crusty. Symptoms include eyelid twitching, thick eye discharge and eyelid swelling. It's usually worsened because the dog consistently scratches at it. Causes include insect bites, allergies, hypothyroidism and nutritional imbalances. Treating the cause is essential.

Uveitis occurs when the uveal tract becomes infected. The most common symptoms are watery eyes and eye pain. It's commonly caused by a parasite, such as the parasite causing toxoplasmosis. The only way to treat uveitis is by treating the underlying infection.

Entropion is an eye disease caused by the eyelash on a dog curling inward. Symptoms include watery eyes, thick eye discharge and squinting. As the eyelash curls inward, it rubs against the surface of the eye causing irritation and can scratch the cornea. Surgical removal of the abnormal eyelashes will prevent this from happening.


Ticks and Eye Infections


The bite of an American Dog or Rocky Mountain Wood tick affects vision if the dog contracts Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The bacteria transmitted from the tick often leads to hemorrhaging of the retina, conjunctivitis and a build up of fluid in the optic disc. Treating the tick bite is essential to saving the dog's vision.

Scleritis involves eye infections of the eyeball's outer coating. It's most common in dogs infected with Lyme disease. Only dogs bitten by an infected Deer Tick are at risk for developing Lyme disease. Steroids must be given or the dog is at great risk for losing vision in the infected eye.