Eye Infections in Dogs

Eye Infections in Dogs

It is quite common for dogs to get eye infections. Infections of the eye and structures surrounding the eye are seen often in dogs of all ages and breeds. There are a couple of different types of eye infections in dogs that you will want to be aware of, including conjunctivitis, anterior uveitis, and glaucoma. Depending on the location of the redness and irritation, your vet will be able to tell which type of infection you are dealing with.

What Causes Eye Infections in Dogs?

It is no wonder why dogs are so prone to eye infections. After all, they spend a lot of their time with their heads in places that aren’t necessarily the most clean and sanitary. Just like people, dogs can get eye infections that are caused by a variety of different things. Here are a few of the most common causes of infection:

  • bacteria
  • corneal infection
  • conjunctivitis
  • certain viruses
  • foreign materials
  • eye irritation
  • Lyme disease
  • glaucoma

If you notice that your dog has redness or inflammation around their eye, or if there is a lot of drainage, then it may be a sign of infection. You definitely want to take them into your veterinarian’s office to let them take a look. Other signs of infection may include trouble seeing and light sensitivities.

These signs of infection are not the easiest for you to notice, however, and your dog can’t really just let you know that the light is bothering their eyes. This is why you need to be observant of your dog and their behaviors. You may notice slight differences in their coordination due to their inability to see properly, or you may just find that they aren’t as willing to come out into the light.

Some pet owners don’t notice these things, but if you can catch them early on, it can really reduce your dog’s recovery time.

Treating Your Dog’s Eye Infection

There are a few ways that your veterinarian may recommend treating your dog’s eye infection.

First of all, they may prescribe topical eye drops that have an antibiotic in them. This will help to fight against the infection while offering your pup some much needed relief. They may also consider giving you an ointment that can be applied to the eyes. Typically, these are both effective ways to treat eye infections. Just be sure to complete the course of treatment, because if you don’t completely get rid of the infection it can have a tendency to come back.

For more severe cases, topical treatments may not be enough. The vet may recommend a round of oral antibiotics, or even a shot to help clear up the infection. This is not uncommon, so don’t be alarmed if your vet recommends something other than topical creams, ointments or drops for your dog’s eye infection.

If you don’t have the infection treated right away, it can become chronic and lead to long term, often permanent eye damage. This is something that a lot of pet owners are unaware of. Infection can be a scary thing, especially when it affects something as sensitive as the eyes.

Dog Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is the medical term for what most people know as ‘pink eye’. It is the most common type of eye infection in dogs. This type of infection is actually caused by the inflammation of the membranes that cover the interior side of the eyelids and the front of their eye. Most of the time, it will only affect one eye or the other, but sometimes it can spread to both eyes. It typically starts with redness and inflammation, and later discharge may be visible. Viruses and bacteria are the most common causes, but parasites and allergies can also be the culprit.

If your dog has been diagnosed with canine conjunctivitis, don’t be alarmed. It is usually easy to treat, and it doesn’t often cause changes in vision or pain. Effective treatment for this type of infection begins with antibiotic eye drops. You will want to administer them as directed. It is also important to keep your dog’s eyes clean.

Conjunctivitis - Pink Eye in Dogs
Conjunctivitis – Pink Eye in Dogs

Long Term Eye Infections in Dogs

There are a few eye infections that affect dogs that are considered chronic, or long-term. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, also known as dry eye, is one of them. This is a condition in which your dog doesn’t make enough tears to keep their eyes moist. This will result in the eyes being too dry, which can actually cause damage. To treat this condition, you will use artificial tear eye drops that are given to you by your veterinarian.

Another chronic eye infection is canine uveitis. This is an inflammation of the inside of the eye. It can lead to light sensitivity, blurred vision, pain, and even blindness. Oral steroids and steroid eye drops are often given to treat this type of rare but serious eye infection.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Eyes

You will need to clean your dog’s eyes often if they have an infection, but you must do it carefully.

To start out, get a clean cloth or a cotton ball and wet it with lukewarm water. Squeeze out the excess water before wiping the eyes. Use it to wipe away the ‘gunk’ and discharge that may be built up around your dog’s eye. When wiping, make sure that you use gentle strokes. You should do this at least twice each day, sometimes more often depending on the amount of drainage present.

Just be careful not to cause them to become more irritated, as this can actually make matters worse for your pup. This is why you must use extreme caution when cleaning their eyes.

What About Homeopathic Prevention and Treatment Methods?

This day and age, more and more people are looking for homeopathic approaches to help prevent common health issues, or even to treat them.

There is no exception when it comes to your dog’s health and wellbeing. Here are a few common ingredients that are often used to improve eye health in dogs:

  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) – astringent, anti inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help to soothe and heal the eyes
  • Chelidonium majus – immune system booster that helps to fight infection, improve vision, and ease the pain associated with eye infections
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – disinfects and helps to relieve the pain, while offering anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa) – cleanses and detoxes the tissues around the eyes and helps to flush out unwanted things from the body

Before you opt for a homeopathic remedy to help with your dog’s eye issues, make sure that you talk to your veterinarian.

Sometimes antibiotics are necessary, and they will be able to point you in the right direction for effective treatment. After all, these remedies are not guaranteed to work in every situation. Before you put any type of solution on their eyes, it is best for you to apply it to a small patch of their skin just to make sure that they don’t have any adverse reactions to it.

While these are all natural ingredients, you never know if an allergy might be present. It is better to test it out before putting it somewhere sensitive like the eyes.

Never Let an Eye Infection Go Untreated

When you first notice the redness and irritation with your dog’s eyes, it is a good idea for you to get them to the vet right away. You never want to let it go untreated because it will usually only get worse. Infections have a tendency of getting worse unless you treat them effectively, and if it gets severe enough it can cause permanent damage to the eyes. This is something that we touched on earlier, but we can’t stress enough the importance early treatment.

Just because you get your dog to the vet right away and get them on antibiotic treatments, doesn’t mean that the infection is sure to go away. In fact, sometimes eye infections will get worse before they ever start to get any better. If you finish up the full course of treatment and there are still signs of infection, it may be time to revisit other treatment options. Sometimes topical treatments aren’t enough, and your vet may recommend oral or intramuscular antibiotics.

As you can see, it is of the utmost importance for you to keep a close check on your dog’s health and wellness. Look into your pup’s big beautiful eyes often, and make a note of any changes that you may see. After all, some infections start out with just minimal redness and it may not be as easy for you to detect these infections as it would if there was a good amount of discharge. Eye infections in dogs should be taken seriously, even if it doesn’t look severe.

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