Risks of recurring conjunctivitis in dogs

Just like us humans, our flour legged friends are susceptible to some eye concerns. Eyes are delicate organs that need proper care and attentions. Since dogs do not have the have the capability to perform these tasks, the needed eye care has to be provided by the dog owner. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye infections of dogs.

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What is conjunctivitis?

The conjunctiva is the thin membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the eyeball. This tissue is normally moist. The eyelids, the eye lashes and the tears that serve as natural lubrication protect the eyes from dust, dirt and other foreign particles that can get into the eyes. These protective barriers protect the eyes from the attacks of bacteria, viruses and other infection and disease causing agents. However, irritation and infection of the eyes cannot be totally prevented. Conjunctivitis results when the conjunctiva is inflamed. Conjunctivitis is a viral infection that affects the thin membrane that covers the eyes.

Causes of conjunctivitis

The reddening and the dryness of the eyes can be due to bacterial and viral infection. Conjunctivitis can be one of the consequences of distemper. Corneal diseases, congenital abnormalities like tear duct and tear production disorders can be the reasons for recurring conjunctivitis. The inflammation of the conjunctiva can be caused by parasites. Allergies and exposure to foreign objects that cause eye irritation is the most common cause of conjunctivitis. Dog breeds with bulging eyes are more prone to this eye disorder as the eyes that are not protected by the protruding nose will be more prone to injuries.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis

Severe reddening of the conjunctiva that makes the eyes take on a meaty appearance is the typical symptom of this eye infection. The reddening is caused by the increase in size of the blood vessels and the buildup of fluid (edema) within the tissues. Conjunctivitis is characterized by weeping eyes. To ward off infection, the dog’s immune system will send white blood cells into the affected area. The eyes would have a greenish or yellowish pus-like discharge. This discharge will make the eyelashes and the eyelids stick together. The type of eye discharge helps in identifying the cause of infection. Conjunctivitis is caused by allergies if the eyes have clear watery discharge. Thick yellowish and greenish discharge is caused by bacterial infection.

Conjunctivitis risks

Conjunctivitis is usually non-life threatening. This is eye infection is recurring but the eyes will not be permanently damaged if the infection is promptly treated. In severe cases of conjunctivitis the infectious agents can spread and severely affect the eye structure. Foreign bodies in the eyes that are not promptly removed can cause corneal ulceration. A dog with conjunctivitis will always be at risk for the development of secondary bacterial infections. This infection can spread to the other eye and when left untreated can cause permanent eye damage. Many dogs have lost their vision because of “simple” conjunctivitis. The bacterial infection can spread to other parts of the body. Respiratory tract concern is one of the secondary bacterial infections that can develop from conjunctivitis.

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