Canine Conjunctivitis - A Serious but Treatable Dog Eye Condition!
Many years ago, when I rescued my Beagle, Bunny Roo, she had a very bad case of Conjunctivitis. When I first met Bunny, she was sitting in a small cage, scared and frightened. She had a thick, yellow discharge coming out of both eyes and was by no means healthy. I thought it was odd that the rescue group sponsoring the adoption event would show a dog that clearly had eye issues (especially contagious ones!), however, I later learned that Bunny had actually been rescued that very morning and was picked up by rescue volunteers who just so happened to be on their way to the adoption event! Yes, my Bunny…she was indeed one lucky Beagle!
I fell in love with Bunny Roo Beagle that day and quickly received my Beagle education (including a quick lesson on Conjunctivitis!). So what exactly is Canine Conjunctivitis? Also called Red Eye, Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctival membrane that covers the back of a dog's eyelid, and the surface of the eyeball up to the cornea. It is, in fact, one of the most common canine eye problems that veterinarian's treat.
If you have a dog...I suggest you keep a dog veterinary guide handy at home. I have this book and I reference it all the time. It is loaded with all kinds of information!
Know the Signs & Don't Ignore Them!
There are several signs to look for when it comes to Canine Conjunctivitis. The two most prevalent symptoms include irritated red eyes and discharge (which is often thick and yellowish in color but can also be clear or pus-like). Be aware that a dog with red eyes that is also squinting can possibly have glaucoma (which is very serious and can lead to blindness if not treated!). If you notice any problems with your dog's eyes it is very important that you get him or her to the veterinarian sooner rather than later as you don't want to hesitate or take chances when it comes to your dog's eyesight!
There are several types of Conjunctivitis including: Serous, Follicular (mucoid) , Purulent and Neonatal (which affects the eyes of newborn puppies). Below is a brief over-view of each.
Different Types of Conjunctivitis
Serous Conjunctivitis is often caused by physical irritants such as dust, dirt and even the wind! It is a mild condition in which the membranes look pink and somewhat swollen. The discharge that often accompanies Serous Conjunctivitis is clear and watery. When a dog has Serous Conjunctivitis he or she will often rub and scratch at their face in order to find relief from the itching (think allergies). Because Serous Conjunctivitis is mild and not serious, you can actually treat your pup at home. Simply flush your dog's eyes (gently!) three times per day with an over-the-counter STERILE saline eyewash. This should wash away the allergens that are causing the problem. If you are uncomfortable doing this, or your dog's eyes to appear to be getting better, by all means, make an appointment with the veterinarian.
- Follicular (Mucoid)
Follicular Conjunctivitis is a condition in which the small mucous glands (follicles) that are located on the underside of the nictitating membrane, react to an eye irritant or infection by forming a rough, bumpy surface that continuously irritates the dog's eye and produces a mucus-type discharge. More often than not, this condition can be treated with antibiotics, however, sometimes, the rough bumpy surface that originally caused the problem will return, therefore, further steps will need to be taken in order to cure the problem (possible surgery).
Purulent Conjunctivitis is basically a case of Serous Conjunctivitis that has become infected! If your dog has developed this form of Conjunctivitis, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible so that medications can be prescribed. You will know if your canine has Purulent Conjunctivitis as the eye will appear red and swollen. There will also be a great deal of discharge which will contain pus and mucus. Your dog's eye might also form a crust which will make it difficult for him or her to see properly.
Though some types of canine Conjunctivitis are more serious than others, it is very important that you keep an eye (no pun intended) on your dog's condition and take him to the veterinarian when necessary. Obviously, if your dog has Purulent or Follicular Conjunctivitis, you should make an appointment as soon as possible. Take it from someone that knows….canine eye care is very important!! My Beagle had Glaucoma and had to have her eye removed! Be pro-active when it comes to your dog's health-care and make sure that your dog's yearly vet visit includes an eye exam. Good luck and here's to healthy eyes and happy hounds! Woof!
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