Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Conjunctivitis in dogs may occur when the conjunctiva tissue gets infected. The conjunctiva is a protective tissue that will prevent dirt and debris from entering the dog's eyes. Conjunctivitis can be unpleasant for your pet as the affected eye gets red and swollen, but once detected, it can be treated.

Causes of Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis in dogs can be caused by a number of factors:

  • Bacteria, fungi or viruses that infect the eye
  • Diseases of the cornea
  • Eyelid abnormalities
  • Chemicals, sand, pollens, mold, smoke, shampoo or other foreign materials that get in your pet's eyes
  • Tear duct problems

A dog with a weaker immune system will be more susceptible to developing conjunctivitis. Chronic conjunctivitis may also occur if the condition is left untreated.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

The symptoms present in a dog with conjunctivitis will vary according to the cause of the infection. Most frequently, the conjunctiva will be red and swollen and there will be water retention in the area. The dog may have eye discharges which may be either watery or more consistent, depending on the cause of the conjunctivitis. A watery discharge will signal allergies and foreign objects that cause the inflammation, while a more consistent yellow or green discharge will point to a viral, fungal or bacterial infection. If the infection is advanced, the dog may have shut eyes and pus discharges. Conjunctivitis causes itchiness, so the dog may scratch the eye area and may also rub his face against different objects or furniture. The dog will also be more irritable, due to the pain and  he may also become aggressive.

Diagnosing Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can be detected by performing a few tests:

  • An examination of the conjunctiva tissue and the eyelids
  • The tear test, to measure the potential of the tear ducts
  • Bacterial cultures
  • Scraping of the conjunctiva to determine the cause of the infection

Treating Canine Conjunctivitis

The treatment of a dog with conjunctiva will focus on the underlying cause.

  • If there is dirt or debris trapped in the eye, the eyes will be irrigated and the foreign objects should be removed.
  • Anti-inflammatory eye medication will be recommended.
  • If the tear production is abnormal, medication will be prescribed to solve this problem.
  • The infections will be treated with medication: antibiotics or fungicides. Antibacterial ointments may also be prescribed to speed up the recovery.
  • In some cases, if the eyelids are infected or shut, surgery may be needed.

Typically, conjunctivitis should improve after 1 to 2 days of medication. If the condition of your pet does not improve, consult the vet.

Preventing Eye Infections

Conjunctivitis may be prevented in some cases. If you notice that your dog has debris in his eyes, you should irrigate the eyes immediately with a sterile eye solution; this will prevent the infection and the inflammation. Try eliminating possible allergens from your dog's environment that can cause conjunctivitis. Check your dog's eyes during the grooming routine and you can also administer eye drops to keep the eyes clean.