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Dog Eye Infection - Causes & Treatment Options

There are a variety of causes for your dog's eye infection, but regardless of the cause, eye infections in dogs can require immediate treatment to avoid complications. Our Animal Eye Guys veterinarians explain some causes and treatments for eye infections in dogs.

Types of Eye Infections Commonly Seen In Dogs

There are several types of eye infections that can cause discomfort, redness, or light sensitivity in your canine companion. The following are four of the most common types of dog eye infections:

  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) - an inflammation of the mucous membrane that covers the outer portion of the eyeball and the inside of the eyelids
  • Inflammation of the cornea
  • Tear gland issues or physical abnormalities of the eyelid
  • Uveitis - an inflammation of one or more inner structures of the eye such as the iris, ciliary body,  or choroid

Dog Eye Infection Causes

The causes of these various types of infections vary from case to case as well. If your dog has been diagnosed with an eye infection, one of the following conditions could be to blame:

  • Viruses (distemper, herpes, hepatitis, or canine influenza)
  • Bacteria (canine brucellosis, leptospirosis, canine ehrlichiosis, or Lyme disease)
  • Fungus spores
  • Irritants or allergens, such as smoke or shampoo
  • Foreign matter or debris (dirt, grass seed, or even your dog's own hair)
  • Trauma
  • Parasites
  • Scratch or cut on the cornea

Not All Eye Problems In Dogs Are Infections

In some cases, your dog may display the signs of an eye infection, but actually, be experiencing a different type of eye problem.

Glaucoma, tear duct problems or eye defects, dry eye, vitamin deficiency, exposure to or ingestion of toxins, tumors, cherry eye, or structural problems with the eye itself, such as entropion, are some of the eye conditions in dogs that are commonly misdiagnosed as infections by pet owners.

Like infections, these eye issues can be painful and require veterinary care as soon as possible.

Conditions such as glaucoma, while not an infection, cause extreme pain and need the attention of a vet right away.

Symptoms of Eye Infections in Dogs

If your dog's eye is infected, you may notice one or more of the symptoms listed below. Eye infections require treatment and can become severe if left untreated, so if your dog exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment.

Signs of eye infections in dogs include:

  • Redness of the eye or surrounding the eye
  • Swelling around eye
  • Watery discharge or tearing
  • Thick, smelly discharge
  • Squinting and blinking
  • Holding eye closed
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pawing or rubbing at the eye

Dog Eye Infection Treatment

Treatment for your dog's eye infection will vary depending on the underlying cause but may include a combination of topical and oral medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, a single topical medication, or, in some cases, surgery.

  • If a bacterial infection is found to be causing your dog's eye infection, antibiotics and eye drops will typically be prescribed.
  • When allergies are the suspected cause of eye infections in dogs, the vet is likely to prescribe an antihistamine to help soothe your pup's eyes.
  • If there is a foreign body, or debris irritating the eye your vet may need to remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic.
  • Blocked tear ducts typically require surgery followed by eye drops and antibiotics.
  • Dogs suffering from dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) may be prescribed medications such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus to help stimulate tear production.
  • Eyelid or eyelash abnormalities that cause the lashes to rub against the eyeball are generally treated with surgery to correct the issue.

My dog has an eye infection, what should I do?

The fact is that if your dog is experiencing any eye sensitivity, irritation, or pain it's time to head to your vet. 

Your veterinarian will be able to perform a thorough eye exam to determine the cause of your dog's symptoms and will be able to provide effective treatment to help your dog's eyes feel better. If left untreated, eye infections can progress to the point of vision loss.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your canine companion is suffering from a painful eye issue contact us right away! Our team of specialist vets at Animal Eye Guys can provide advanced diagnostics and treatments to help your dog's eyes feel better. 

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