For humans, we say that “eyes are a mirror to the soul.” But is the same case for dogs as well?
When inexperienced pet parents notice watery and red eyes in their pets, they immediately think that their pets are sad.
But dogs don’t watch tragic movies on Netflix, and they don’t cry. The underlying cause for this condition is an infection in dogs eye.
Stay with us and learn everything about dog eye infections in dogs, causes, diagnosing, and proper treatment procedures!
- Infections in the dog’s eyes can lead to permanent and life-threatening issues.
- Preventing and managing dog eye infections is the best solution.
- Consult with a veterinarian as soon as you notice unusual symptoms regarding dog’s eyes.
What is a Dog Eye Infection?
Dog eye infections occur after a serious bacterial infection or might occur as a secondary infection. The severity of the clinical signs depends on the cause and duration.
Some of the most common dog eye infection symptoms are:
- Excessive tearing
- Excessive blinking (one-sided or both-sided)
- Yellow, green, or brown discharge
- Eye pawing and scratching the eyes
- Third eyelid abnormalities (prolapse)
- Red or pink whites of the eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Swollen area around eyes
What Are The Most Common Types of Eye Infections in Dogs?
Many viral and bacterial infections can lead to eye infections in dogs. These are the most common causes of discomfort and infections in dog’s eyes:
- Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)
- Cornea ulcers and inflammation
- Blocked tear ducts
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the most common signs of cataracts are cloudiness of the eye lens and disorientation, which can eventually lead to blindness.
Healthy dogs have dark, clear, and shiny lenses. Contrarily, dogs’s eyes with cataracts have a gray and opaque curtain.
There are 4 types of cataracts:
- Incipient cataract – less than 15% of the lens is covered
- Immature cataracts – 15-99% of the lens is covered
- Mature cataracts – the dog is nearly blind
- Hyper-mature cataracts – the dogs are near to fully blind.
According to the American Kennel Club, dog conjunctivitis is caused either by viral or bacterial infection or some environmental irritants. Dogs with conjunctivitis have water, clear, mucous, or purulent mucous discharge.
Dogs with such eye abnormalities have an inflammation of the mucous membrane on the outer portion of the eyeball and inside the eyelids.
Moving on to corneal ulcers – they represent slow-healing sores characterized by watering eyes and spasmodic winking. It is caused by blunt trauma, scratching, or laceration.
According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, tear duct disorders represent full or partial blockage of the nasolacrimal ducts. This might be congenital or caused by infection, foreign bodies, or trauma.
The disorder of the tear duct might lead to excessive watery eyes or completely dry eyes.
Uveitis is common in most animals, and it is an inflammation of the cornea and/or conjunctiva. The uvea consists of the ciliary body, choroid, and the iris. The most common symptoms include miosis, blepharospasm, and edema.
Although trauma is a physical injury, open wounds around the eyes are an open getaway for bacterial infections. Rough play with other dogs can increase the risk of a dog’s eye infection.
Dog Eye Infection Causes
Besides the abovementioned types of eye infections in dogs, there are many other causes, including:
- Immune-mediated disorders (allergic conjunctivitis or seasonal allergies)
- Viral infections (Canine distemper virus or Canine herpesvirus)
- Fungus spores
- Foreign bodies
- Environmental irritants
All of these causes require immediate veterinary care!
Dog Eye Infection Symptoms
Some of the most frequent symptoms you can notice include:
- eye redness
- painful eyes
- dry eye
- yellow or green discharge
- abnormal corneal pigmentation
- crust tears
- excessive tears
- visible corneal wounds
- eye discomfort
If you want to be on the safe side, it is better to contact your vet whenever you suspect eye problems in your dog.
Diagnosing Dog Eye Infections
The main goal when your dog has some unusual symptoms and behavior is to determine it on time. You can perform “a first exam” at home. This means only inspection of the eyes.
If you notice something unusual with your dog’s eyes, visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. Our advice is to avoid home remedies until the first vet visit.
The veterinarian will inspect the tear ducts, eyelids, third eyelids, and cornea and check for eyelash abnormalities. If the vet notices too watery or too dry eyes, he can perform a Schirmer tear test.
This helps in the detection of glaucoma and uveitis by measuring the tear production.
In case of a foreign body, your vet might decide on sedation or local anesthesia for removal. There is always a risk when removing foreign bodies, so the veterinarian should decide about the removal process.
A severe dog’s eye infection might require surgery. This includes late stadiums of cataracts when surgeries are the only acceptable choice.
Before any treatment choice, veterinarians must perform detailed blood tests to determine possible infectious diseases.
Dog Eye Infection Treatment
The appropriate treatment process depends on the cause of the dog’s eye infection or eye disorders.
Viral infections can be highly contagious, so we recommend good hygiene practices, especially in kennels, dog daycares, and hospitals. This will prevent the spreading of the disease.
Additionally, viral infections can be treated with antiviral, anti-inflammatory drugs, and supplements.
Bacterial eye infections, on the other side, are treated with antibiotics, supplementation, and/or topical steroids, depending on the cause. The drugs are usually given as topical antibiotics and rarely as oral medications. This depends on the severity of the infection.
Dry eyes and eyelash disorders can lead to dry eyes, and vets might suggest artificial tears, immunomodulating drops, and antibiotics if there is a risk for a secondary infection.
Dog goggles are another good solution for dogs, especially for dogs with cataracts and adventurous dogs. Dogs with higher temperament levels need some extra adventure.
During their adventures, they get in contact with many environmental irritants, and dog goggles will protect them.
Cherry eye or eyelid prolapse leads to serious eye infections. This condition affects the inner corner of the dog’s eye, and surgery is required to control the condition.
To manage blocked nasolacrimal ducts, surgery and eye drops with antibiotics are needed.
After surgeries or during the treatment process, your vet might suggest rinsing the eyes. You should do this with a clean cotton ball to reduce the irritation of the eyes. Most eye rinses include boric acid for reducing eye infections and flushing the debris out.
No matter the cause, any eye disorder that is left untreated can lead to permanent damage and even blindness. This can be very painful for animals and might lower their quality of life.
Preventing Dog Eye Infections
As soon as you suspect an eye infection in your dog, immediately seek veterinary care. The first signs include eye discharge, redness, or inflammation. In case of allergies, you might notice eye irritation, excessive dog pawing, nasal discharge, sneezing, or coughing.
But we have some bad news! Allergies are not cured permanently, and you need to constantly manage this issue.
As a responsible dog owner, you must be aware of the dog’s eye hygiene. To keep the dog’s eyes clean, we suggest you gently wipe the dirty area around the eyes with a soft cloth and warm water. Avoid touching the eyeball.
During the cleaning, make sure to maintain your dog’s comfort. If the animal refuses to stay calm during the cleaning process – abort the mission. Unexpected moves during a dog’s eye cleaning can lead to unintentional injuries and trauma.
Can I use human eye drops for my dog eye infections?
Some human eye drops are safe for dogs. However, we recommend consultation with a veterinarian before applying any human medications.
What are the most common symptoms of dog eye infections?
The most frequent symptoms of a dog’s eye infection are redness, swelling, squinting, eye discoloration, colored discharge, excessive watering, or dry eyes.
How long do dogs need to recover from eye infections?
Dogs need from a few days to 3 weeks to fully recover after eye infections. The length of the recovery period depends on the type of eye infection and the chosen anti-inflammatory agents.
What is the best treatment for dog eye infections?
The treatment choice for eye infections in dogs depends on the cause. For example, a bacterial infection needs to be treated with topical or oral antibiotics.
To Sum Up
Dog eye infection symptoms can be easily recognized even by inexperienced pet owners. As soon as you notice such symptoms in your dog, contact a veterinarian and manage the issue properly.
Preventing trauma and allergies is difficult and almost not possible. But you can always take your dog on regular vet visits and detect eye problems on time.
Have you ever had a similar problem with your dog? Let us know in the comments below!