Conjunctivitis is an itchy and uncomfortable eye condition that could cause damage to your dog's eye(s) if left untreated. In today's blog our Greensboro vets explain some of the causes, symptoms and treatments for this common eye condition in dogs.
What is conjunctivitis in dogs?
Conjunctivitis is a relatively common eye infection that affects the mucous membrane called the ‘conjunctiva’, which covers your dog's eyes and eyelids. The conjunctiva is very similar to the lining of the nose or mouth and its purpose is to act as a protective barrier against infections and foreign objects. When the conjunctiva becomes infected or inflamed the condition is called conjunctivitis but is more commonly known as 'pink eye'.
What causes conjunctivitis in dogs?
Your dog could develop conjunctivitis for a number of reasons including:
- Irritation from foreign bodies
- Viral infections
- Tear film deficiency
- Abnormalities of the eye
- Obstructed tear ducts
- Eye injury
Underlying eye conditions such as glaucoma, ulcerative keratitis, or anterior uveitis can also lead to conjunctivitis in dogs, as can breed specific conditions such as nodular episcleritis in collies.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs?
If your pup is suffering from conjunctivitis their eye or eyes will be very itchy and uncomfortable, your dog may show symptoms such as blinking, squinting, or pawing at their eye. You may also notice clear or green discharge from the eye, or that the white of the eyes, eyelids or area surrounding your dog's eyes are red and swollen.
It is not uncommon for conjunctivitis to start in one eye then quickly spread to the other through contamination, although in cases where allergies or viral infection are the cause both eyes can be affected right from the onset.
If your dog is showing signs of conjunctivitis, even if symptoms seem very mild, contact your vet to book an appointment for your pet. Left untreated conjunctivitis could lead to permanent eye damage.
What is the treatment for conjunctivitis in dogs?
Treating your dog's conjunctivitis will depend upon the underlying cause of the condition. Following a thorough eye examination your vet will determine the cause and recommend the best treatment for your pup.
In cases where bacterial infection is causing your dog's conjunctivitis, antibiotics and eye drops are typically prescribed. If allergies are the suspected cause, your vet may prescribe an antihistamine to help make your dog's eyes more comfortable, or if there is a foreign body irritating your dog's eye your vet may need to remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic. If your dog is suffering from conjunctivitis caused by a blocked tear duct, surgery will be required followed by eye drops and antibiotics.
If your pup is persistently pawing at their eyes while being treated it may be necessary to have your pet wear a cone or Elizabethan collar to prevent rubbing and allow the eye to heal.
Can I catch conjunctivitis from my dog?
It may surprise you to learn that, while it's very unlikely that you will catch conjunctivitis from your pup it is possible if the cause of your dog's eye condition is a parasite such as roundworms.
Will my dog's eyes recover from conjunctivitis?
Most dogs will make a full recovery from conjunctivitis however it's important to note that early treatment is the key to avoiding further complications. In some rare cases pets can be left with scarring on the eye and/or vision problems due to this condition.
What if my dog's eye condition is more serious than conjunctivitis?
At Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Greensboro our board-certified ophthalmologist specializes in the treatment of eye disorders and diseases in cats and dogs. Working alongside your primary care veterinarian, our veterinary eye specialist provides care for all ocular diseases that can impact your dog.
While some conditions may require surgery, many can be managed with medications alone. If you live in the Greensboro North Carolina area, and your dog is suffering from an eye condition, ask your vet for a referral to our animal hospital for specialized diagnostics, care and treatment.