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Understanding Dog Eye Infections

Keeping your dog healthy and away from possible dog eye infections should be a primary concern.

By Fester HammerPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Understanding Dog Eye Infections
Photo by Pauline Loroy on Unsplash

As a responsible pet owner, keeping the dog healthy and away from possible dog eye infections should be a primary concern. Dog eye issues can either be viral or bacterial and unlike humans, dogs can’t remove any foreign object that can come in contact with their eyes. Some breeds may be prone to certain eye problems compared to others, so it’s important to consult a veterinarian if the symptoms persist to avoid any more serious health problems.

There are some general signs to look out for dog eye infections. Check if the dog is blinking too much or squinting. There might also be an infection if the dog appears to be in pain and refuses to be touched on the head. Check if the dog is also avoiding light or rubbing its eyes against the floor or furniture and see if there’s any redness in the eyes or if there’s no obvious abnormal bulging. A clear loss of appetite and constant whining can also mean a dog eye infection or injury. If there’s an opaque membrane over the eye or it appears cloudy, or if the eye looks red and inflamed, this could be conjunctivitis. The change in pressure inside the eyes can affect the firmness of the eyeball. A softer eye can mean uveitis while a harder eye could indicate glaucoma.

Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is one of the most common dog eye problems and can also be caused by allergies or parasites. This infection happens when the membrane inside the eyelids and in front of the eye is inflamed. Symptoms for conjunctivitis could be one of the following: inflamed red eyes, excessive tearing, and a thick yellowish or greenish mucus discharge. The usual treatment for this dog eye infection is with antibiotic eye drops, given several times a day. There might also be some allergy medication or oral antibiotics given, depending on the cause. Home remedy for conjunctivitis involves cleaning the dog’s eyelids and wiping away the discharge with a cotton ball moistened with lukewarm water. There are also over-the-counter eye scrubs, which can be applied at least twice a day or as many times as necessary. Applying a damp and warm compress to the affected eye for five minutes can provide relief to the dog.

Another common dog eye infection is dry eye or otherwise known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This is what happens when natural tears aren’t produced to keep the eyes moist, which can cause damage to the tear ducts. This dog eye infection should be treated immediately otherwise it can lead to more serious problems like corneal ulcers and even blindness. Treatment for dry eye or KCT includes surgery and medications to keep the eye lubricated.

Cherry eye is when there’s a protrusion of the dog’s third eyelid out of the corner of the eye. This can be easily treated with surgery and has a high success rate. Another dog eye infection is entropion, where the eyelids roll inward and cause the eyelashes to come in contact with the eyes which can lead to irritation and pain. This disease can be inherited so it’s best to check if the dog is prone to this condition. Entropion can be treated with a simple surgery but it’s important to have this treated right away or it can become a worse health problem. Meanwhile, ectropion is a dog eye infection when the eyelids roll outward and expose the inner eyelid. Breeds with drooping eyelids such as St. Bernards are prone to this infection but this can be treated with eye drops and ointments.

Glaucoma is one of the more serious dog eye infections and can cause blindness if not taken care of immediately. This canine eye problem happens when liquid builds up inside the eye which increases pressure inside it and can ultimately lead to more serious damage. As much as glaucoma is painful for people, this is even more painful for dogs. Surgery is usually needed as treatment for glaucoma to reduce the build-up of fluid in the eye to save the dog’s vision, plus there are also medications for the pain and pressure. Early signs of glaucoma can be mistaken as conjunctivitis, but other symptoms include a cloudy cornea, the dog visibly in pain, and the eyes looking bloodshot.

Another common dog eye infection is cataracts and, like with humans, is normally due to the aging process. Cataracts are usually genetic but other factors include canine diabetes, infections, or injury. The symptoms to watch out for are the opaque or cloudy membrane covering the dog’s eye and checking if the dog has difficulty seeing its way around. This can be treated with eye drops or surgery, depending on the cause, the severity, and the dog’s condition.

Corneal ulcers in dogs usually happen when the infection or injury causes lesions in the cornea and gives extreme pain to the dog. Canine corneal ulcers may be a little more difficult to detect but a few symptoms include the dog rubbing its eyes against things like carpet, tear-like discharges, and squinting. It has the best chance to be treated when detected early because if not, it can lead to loss of vision. Ointments, eye drops, and antibiotics are also needed to treat this dog's eye problem.

Doing some preventative eye care is still the best way to maintain the dog’s health. One way would be to gently and carefully wipe the dog’s eye with a clean, damp cloth at least once a day to remove any build-up of material or gunk around the eyes, without scratching or rubbing the actual eye. Another way would be to keep the hair around the eyes short to prevent it from scratching or irritating the eyes. Mixing a teaspoon of sea salt into a pint of water can be used as a quick saline solution to wipe around the dog’s eyes. If a foreign object is already stuck in the eyes, take the pet to the veterinarian right away because pulling it by yourself could be more damaging than helpful. Keeping pets away from any injury like dog eye infections is an essential part of being a good pet owner, and even pets deserve all the best possible health care they need.

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