Dog Conjunctivitis Explained

Dog conjunctivitis is condition that occurs when the lining of the eye lid, or conjunctiva, becomes inflamed. The job of the conjunctiva is to protect the eye from allowing bacteria and allergens to enter. Though, in its attempts to protect the eye, the conjunctiva can become infected. While conjunctivitis is not typically life-threatening, it can lead to the loss of vision if left untreated. However, it important to know the signs of conjunctivitis and that there are effective treatment methods available.

What Causes Conjunctivitis?

Dog conjunctivitis occurs when a bacteria or allergen has entered the eye lid, allowing infection to set in. Because the eye is very sensitive to many things, there are various different causes of conjunctivitis. Some of them include:

  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Environmental allergens - such as grass, dander and seeds
  • Trauma of the eye – can expose the eye to bacteria and allergens

Because dogs are exposed to the outdoors quite frequently, conjunctivitis is a very common condition in dogs. No specific breeds are known for being more predisposed to conjunctivitis over others. Conjunctivitis is simply fair game for all dogs. However, the most common cause of conjunctivitis is environmental allergens.

Signs of Conjunctivitis

Because conjunctivitis is an infection, the signs do not usually go unnoticed. However, depending upon the true cause of the conjunctivitis, symptoms may differ. It is equally important to know that symptoms can be both mild and severe in their presentation. Some of the signs to look for include:

  • Redness, swelling and blood-shot appearance of the eye
  • Watery discharge from the eye, indicating an allergy
  • Yellow or pus colored discharge from the eye, indicating infection
  • Repetitive squinting of the eye
  • General irritation with the eye
  • Scratching of the eye against objects

Diagnosis of Conjunctivitis

Diagnosing conjunctivitis is a rather simple process. Deep physical examination of the conjunctiva and eye lids will usually show very obvious signs of conjunctivitis. There are also testing methods available which can check for the presence of corneal ulcers and any other underlying conditions which might have attributed to the development of conjunctivitis. A culture test may be required to test for any bacterial elements. Testing for any underlying conditions may be important because they will have to be treated before treatment for conjunctivitis can be effective.

Treatment of Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can be treated with either a topical ointment or an oral medication. Most often a topical ointment will be given that needs to be applied directly to your dogs eye. Depending upon the cause of the infection, and oral medication may be a better fit for treating the infection. Additionally, anti-inflammatory medications can also be given when an allergen is suspected to be the culprit.

Full recovery of conjunctivitis will depend upon what the cause was. Typically, medications will be given for about 7 days and, in that time, the appearance of you dog's eye should change significantly. However, if the cause of conjunctivitis can be attributed to an underlying condition, treatment could take a little longer pending treatment of the original cause.