Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is something that you hear a lot about when it comes to school aged children, but did you know that it is also something that can affect your pets? Conjunctivitis in dogs is actually more common than you would think. It has to do with an itchy inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue that covers the eye. There are a lot of things that can cause conjunctivitis, and it doesn’t discriminate with breed, age, or gender. Typically, it will start in one eye, but since it is very contagious it can spread to the other eye quickly, and without warning.

Signs and Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

If you think that your dog may have conjunctivitis, you will want to talk to your veterinarian. There are a few signs that you may notice that could indicate this condition. They include:

  • puffy eyes
  • redness
  • swelling
  • discharge from the eyes
  • watery eyes
  • squinting
  • pawing at the eyes
  • eyes matted shut

If you start to see any of these signs, talk to your vet right away. They will be able to determine the type of conjunctivitis, and also give you a good idea as to how to treat it effectively. The reason it is so important to call your vet immediately is because it can often be a sign of something more threatening, and in some cases it can even be a serious condition that leads to blindness if it is not treated. You don’t want to play around when it comes to infections of the eye.

Types of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

There are a few different types of conjunctivitis in dogs. These include allergic conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis. By taking a closer look at your dog, the vet will be able to determine the type, thus being able to give you the best course of treatment for the condition. Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of conjunctivitis.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis, if you couldn’t tell by the name of it, has to do with allergies. If your pup has allergies, then that can be a main trigger for their eye problems. There are a variety of allergens that can lead to this condition, including but not limited to pollen, dander, mold, dust mites, medications and perfumes. If your dog has been diagnosed with allergic conjunctivitis, your vet will likely recommend cold, wet compresses on the eye, artificial tear drops, and maybe even prescription medications. They may write a prescription for antihistamines, NSAIDS, or steroid eye drops that can help alleviate the condition and rid the underlying cause as well.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis, unlike allergic conjunctivitis, is very contagious. It can be caused by either streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria that gets into the eyes. If your dog has been diagnosed with this type of eye infection, it is likely that they will be given antibiotic ointments or drops to be put into the eyes. This is the best way to get rid of the bad bacteria, thus bringing their eye back to health.

Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis, much like the bacterial conjunctivitis, is also extremely contagious. It is caused by a virus typically, and it can last for up to three weeks. It may be the result of a cold, upper respiratory infection or sore throat. Treatment usually includes cold compresses, steroid eye drops or artificial tear drops to help clear it up. Since it isn’t bacterial infection related, antibiotics are generally not given for this type of conjunctivitis.


While conjunctivitis in dogs is usually not life threatening or anything, it can lead to serious problems if it isn’t treated right away. The reason is because you may not know what exactly is causing the condition, and if it is something serious like a bacterial infection it can spread to other parts of their body. You also cannot be too careful when it comes to their eye health, because you don’t want to leave anything untreated to cause them to go blind.


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