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Conjunctivitis in Dogs: Causes, Signs, Treatment, and Prevention

Conjunctivitis in dogs or red-eye or pink eye is the inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. The disease is a common condition in dogs that is easily treated. It may be acute or chronic. Hyperemia and edema may occur in acute cases along with signs of discomfort and a variable degree of serous, mucoid, or mucopurulent discharge. In rare cases, red-eye is caused by a more severe health condition. 

Information on Pink-eye in Dogs

Pink-eye or conjunctivitis is a common health problem of house and small dogs. In my article, I shall discuss the most common causes, clinical signs, treatment, and preventive measures of conjunctivitis in dogs. As a dog owner, you should know the standard facts about the disease. 

Causes of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

What Causes Conjunctivitis in Dogs?

The common causes of conjunctivitis in dogs include:

  • Irritants (dust, wind, chemicals, allergy).
  • Dog allergies.
  • Foreign bodies (awned grass seeds).
  • Mechanical irritation due to adnexal disease (entropion, ectopic cilia).
  • The extension of inflammation from adjacent structures, eyelids, nasolacrimal duct, episclera.
  • A virus such as canine distemper virus.
  • Bacteria such as commonly Staphylococcus spp and Keratoconjunctivitis sicca. 
  • Immune-mediated, e.g., plasma cell infiltration of the third eyelid.

Clinical Signs of Pink eye in dogs

Common Types of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

There is three most common types of pinkeye in dogs are:

  • Allergic conjunctivitis: These types of reactions are always seasonal and not contagious. The causes of that type of conjunctivitis are dust mites, pollen, dander, mold, drugs and cosmetics, and perfumes.
  • Viral conjunctivitis: Canine distemper virus quickly spreads, and it can take up to 3 weeks to get better. The symptoms include upper respiratory infection and cold-like symptoms.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis: Bacterial Conjunctivitis also very contagious, and the disease is caused by Streptococcus spp and Staphylococcus spp.

Keratoconjunctivitis in Dogs

Symptoms of Red-eye in Dogs

The cornea reacts to insult in a limited number of ways, various combinations of which will be seen in inflammatory conditions. 

  • Ulceration-loss of corneal epithelium and possibly stroma resulting in keratitis. 
  • Edema- results from damage to or dysfunction of epithelium or endothelium allowing ingress of fluid; vascularisation. 
  • Pigmentation, accompanied by superficial vascularisation, indicates chronicity. 
  • Cellular infiltration, scarring, lipid/mineral deposition.

Pink Eye

The dogs face the following problems in conjunctivitis:

  • Discharge from the lacrimal gland that may be clear or green.
  • Puffy or red eyelids.
  • Red and swollen eyes.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Conjunctivitis may include other signs such as nasal discharge, sneezing, or coughing.
  • Eyelids are sticking together or squinting.
  • Rubbing or pawing at both eyes due to itching and discomfort.
  • Sometimes it may cause permanent damage.

How Do You Treat Conjunctivitis in Dogs?

The treatment of conjunctivitis depends upon its causes. The following causes your experts should be sought out:

  • Conjunctivitis.
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage (trauma, bleeding diathesis).
  • Horner’s syndrome- may cause conjunctival vascular engorgement.
  • Keratitis, e.g., keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye).
  • Episcleritis.
  • Uveitis.
  • Glaucoma.

Treatment of Pink eye in dogs

Antibiotic eye drop and antibiotic eyewash should be used. Hypersensitivity may be shown in case of antibiotic eye drop, and eye drop installation should be stopped as soon as hypersensitivity is manifested as lacrimation, ocular discharge, and swelling of the eye and eye drop you should be changed immediately. Parenteral antibiotic therapy, along with local treatment, is very useful.

How Do You Prevent Red-eye in Dogs

The preventive measures of conjunctivitis in dogs are:

Prevention of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Concluding Remarks on Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Conjunctivitis is a common disease condition in dogs. The house dogs and play dogs are mostly affected by the disease. The predisposing factors are dust in the carpets, household foods, contamination with bacteria and viruses, pollen grains from the lawn and garden, and other pets like cats and rabbits. You must be cautious and handling your dogs.


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