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Conjunctivitis in dogs

Updated on February 18, 2012

For better or for worse…In sickness and in health…These borrowed words are apt descriptions for the loyalty dogs have with their human friends.  Indeed, dogs’ steadfast devotion to us humans cannot be faulted. These animals even share some of our illnesses. Conjunctivitis is a common infection of human eyes. Conjunctivitis is a common infection that affects the eyes of dogs too.

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What is canine conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, whether in humans or in dogs is the infection that causes the conjunctiva to swell. Conjunctiva is the thin and transparent tissues that is connected to the eyelids and cover the sclera or the white part of the eyes. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes of the dog. This eye infection can be infectious or non-infectious.

What are the causes of conjunctivitis?

Canine conjunctivitis is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections. These infections are spread through contact. Given the inclination of humans to cuddle and pet the dog, a dog owner with conjunctivitis can easily transmit the infection to the pet. Dogs are very active animals that have the inclination to roam. A foreign object like grass seeds, a small piece of wood, an insect or a single grain of sand are irritants that can cause eye inflammation. Rough play is common in dogs and the scuffle can injure the eyes. Conjunctivitis viruses are airborne thus it would be very hard for the dog owner to protect the pet from getting infected.

What are the symptoms?

Conjunctivitis is otherwise known as pink eye because the infection causes severe redness of the conjunctiva. The dog will have a swollen eye that “weeps”. This ocular discharge will depend on the cause of the infection. Conjunctivitis that is caused by allergies will have a clear and watery discharge. Viral or bacterial infections will create a greenish or yellowish thick discharge. This discharge that makes the eyelids stick together are pus or white blood cells that are excreted into the eyes by the dog’s system to fight infection. Conjunctivitis will create an itchy and uncomfortable gritty feel in the eye thus the dog will continuously squint. The dog will constantly paw the eyes or rub the face against objects.

How is conjunctivitis treated?

Conjunctivitis is not hard to treat. However, it would be necessary to know what causes the infection so that appropriate treatment can be administered. A conjunctival swab will be taken for testing. The eyes will be examined and the discharge analyzed. A saline solution will be used to irrigate the eyes to remove foreign objects and also to soften crusted discharge. Antibiotic ointments are applied several times a day if conjunctivitis is caused by bacterial infection. Antiviral eye ointments are applied for viral conjunctivitis.

How to Treat Dog Conjunctivitis

Dog Eye Diseases


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    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi jackinabox. Very useful hub, thankyou. My dog has got pink eye´s and I was trying to get out of a visit to the vet by treating him myself. After reading you hub and watching the video I now realise he does need to be examined..oh well, guess tomorrow is vet day again !!!This dog is a walking disaster but I love him lol