Estimated Read Time: 5 minutes
Summary: In this blog, we discuss all things conjunctivitis in dogs (also known as pink eye!). We’ll discover how dogs get conjunctivitis, the symptoms of dog pink eye to look for, the treatment for conjunctivitis in dogs and how to prevent it…
Conjunctivitis (also known as “pink eye”) is when the mucous membrane (this a layer that lines the eyelid and covers the eyeball and acts as a barrier to dust, grime, pollution and anything infectious) becomes inflamed. The membrane is called the conjunctiva.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs include:
More often than not, conjunctivitis in dogs will start in one eye and make its way into the other. If an allergy or virus is causing an underlying infection, then both eyes may be infected at the same time.
There are numerous ways dogs can contract pink eye. These include:
Your vet will be able to determine what’s caused the infection.
Certain breeds are prone to getting dry eye which can lead to non-infectious bouts of conjunctivitis. These include Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Schnauzers.
In regards to whether your pup is contagious to other dogs, it depends on what caused the pink eye in the first place. If a foreign object caused the pink eye, then this is classed as non-infectious conjunctivitis. If it was caused by a virus, then the virus itself could be contagious and cause conjunctivitis in another pet.
It’s a good idea to keep your infected pet separated whilst they’re recovering from the pink eye to stop any potential contamination, including using separate bedding and feeding bowls. It is also a good idea for you to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after petting your infected pet. Anyone who looks after your dog should be notified of the infection and what you’re doing to manage it.
This is extremely unlikely, but it’s important to get your doggo to the vet right away if you suspect conjunctivitis or notice anything unusual with their eyes.
It is essential you get your dog with potential pink eye assessed by a vet, as the cause will determine the treatment and you cannot guess this at home.
If the pink eye has been caused by a foreign object, it is likely they will need sedating so whatever is in there can be removed, and their tear duct may also need to be unblocked. They may be given antibiotics and/or eye drops after this procedure.
If the conjunctivitis is being caused by an allergy, they may be prescribed steroids or dog-specific antihistamines which will help soothe and calm the inflammation within a few days. If your dog does have allergies or is prone to dry eye, conjunctivitis may flare up from time to time.
If it’s a bacterial infection, they will most likely be prescribed eye drops that contain antibiotics. If it’s a suspected viral infection, more tests via their blood or urine may be required to identify the correct treatment.
Early, proper medical treatment gives your dog the best chance of avoiding complications from conjunctivitis like sight problems or eyeball scarring.
There is no at-home cure for conjunctivitis in dogs, but gently bathing the eye may provide your dog with some relief and help remove some discharge.
You can use a cold, wet, clean washcloth as a compress and gently press it on the eye area for several minutes, several times a day alongside their prescribed veterinarian treatment. This can provide some comfort to your dog's sore eyes and help reduce swelling. Make sure to give them lots of praise and use a gentle tone of voice as you approach them with the compress so they don’t get scared and know you’re trying to help.
Keep up to date with your dog’s vaccinations; this will reduce the likelihood of them contracting viruses that can cause pink eye in dogs.
Keep on top of your dog’s regular parasitic prevention treatment; this will reduce the likelihood of them contracting parasites like worms that can cause conjunctivitis in dogs.
Keep up good hygiene, and include cleaning your dog’s eyes; Just like humans, dogs are prone to gunk in their eyes as airborne pollution and debris will naturally blow into them. This can then build up into a form of hard or soft dirt (or eye boogers!) that clogs up on or around their tear ducts. Although their body can protect them from the odd particle, it can’t help in dispersing this build-up of discharge and may lead to conjunctivitis. Learn How To Clean Your Dog’s Eyes here.