Dog Eye Infection Diagnosis

When treating a dog eye infection, it is important to properly diagnose what caused the infection in order to eliminate the infection from the canine eye. If not treated appropriately, the infection can become worse, turn to ulceration and potentially lead to loss of vision. Because of the risk of vision loss, you may want to consider taking your dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of Canine Eye Infections

If you suspect that your dog has an eye infection because he is exhibiting things like excessive tearing, thick yellowish discharge from the eye or sensitivity to light, a veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist can conduct the appropriate tests, determine the cause and recommend treatment. A general practitioner may even refer you to an ophthalmologist for more specialized treatment. Diagnosing the infection may include a number of procedures.

General Dog Eye Exam

The first step is to perform an ophthalmoscopic exam. This is a general eye exam that includes the doctor looking at the eye, the eyelids and surrounding tissues without the assistance of any specialized equipment. He may also conduct a light exam by flashing a bright light into your dog’s eyes while holding the eyelids open to see if there is any excessive sensitivity to the presence of light.

Testing for a Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections are identified by culturing a small sample from the affected area and putting it in a culture dish. If a bacterial colony grows, the veterinarian can identify the strain and prescribe appropriate antibiotic drops for your dog. Even if the infection is only in one eye, your veterinarian may have you treat both eyes to prevent the spread of infection.

Schirmer Tear Test

Eye infections can also be caused by a lack of tear production or blocked tear ducts. To determine if this is the cause, a Schirmer tear test is conducted. A strip of specialized paper is inserted between your dog’s eye and eyelid for a period of time. The veterinarian then removes the paper and determines if the tear production is at normal levels or if further testing is necessary to determine the proper treatment to return proper hydration to your dog’s eye.

Fluorescein Stain Test

Infections can also be caused by tears, scratches, lesions or ulcers on the cornea of the eye. In order to determine this, the veterinarian conducts a fluorescein stain test. An orange dye is dropped into the eye and excess dye is then rinsed away. Any dye that remains has adhered to damaged corneal tissue and appears a bright greenish yellow, allowing the damaged tissue to be seen. This staining process not only reveals the damage that exists, it also allows the doctor to see the location and extent of the damage.

Treatment for Eye Infections

Treatment depends upon the type of infection involved. Less severe infections involve either drops or ointment to kill off the infection while more severe cases may require additional medications or surgery.

Accurate diagnosis is important to treating eye infections in order to prevent further damage and to preserve your dog’s vision. Treating with an inappropriate drop or ointment can allow an infection to continue to develop, causing further damage to the eye and possible loss of vision. Proper diagnosis and correct treatment will help your dog retain his eyesight and continue an active lifestyle.