Dog Eye Infections: What to Do, When to Worry, and Helpful Products

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Eye infections can hit your dog when you least expect it and can be difficult to spot. If you notice redness or discharge from your dog’s eye, how do you know if it’s an allergy, infection, injury, or irritation? As a veterinarian at the University of Southern California, I want to share with you how to recognize them Panel an eye infection in a dog, as well as causes, treatment, prevention, and when to see your veterinarian.

Symptoms of eye infections in dogs

Common signs and symptoms of eye infection in dogs include:

  • redness: the eye looks pinker or redder than normal
  • Dispose: varies depending on the type of disease
    • Clear discharge is often the cause of viral infections or allergies.
    • A mucous to mucopurulent (cloudy or yellowish) discharge could be a dry eye condition
    • Purulent or thick yellow-green “pus” could be a bacterial infection
  • squint: increased blinking or twitching of the eyelid or sensitivity to light
  • Striking: may indicate itching or pain
  • eyelid swelling: one or both eyelids appear swollen

Usually you see several signs at the same time, such as: B. a red cross. When the eye is infected with bacteria, the immune system responds with inflammation (discharge, redness, and/or swelling), which can also be painful (resulting in kicking and squinting).

Dogs with allergies, corneal ulcers, dry eyes, or trauma can look like this, so it’s important to get your dog a full eye exam if you’re concerned.

Causes of eye infections in dogs

There are two main causes of eye infections in dogs: viral Y bacterial. Bacteria are much more common. Bacterial eye infections are caused by single-celled microscopic living organisms and usually need a chance to infect the eye. Viruses (infectious agents made up of proteins and nucleic acids), eye injuries or dry eye can present bacteria with the perfect opportunity to invade and grow as the eye’s local defenses are compromised.

A dog’s eyes clean themselves excellently with the tear film. So when bacteria contaminate the eye, it is rarely due to the bacteria alone and is likely something that compromises the integrity of the eye.

The most common cause of eye infections in dogs is a bacterial infection caused by an injury such as a scratch or an eye sore. Many times a dog will scratch its eye with a claw or during rough play and the injury to the cornea (the transparent layer that forms the front of the eye) becomes infected with bacteria that prevent healing. You will see your dog blink in pain, but you usually don’t see the actual wound.

By Veterinary Vision, Inc.

Bacterial infections can also result from unwanted visitors getting in your dog’s eyes. Foreign objects, such as skin or hair, stuck to the eye can carry bacteria into the eye and cause infection. Other foreign objects include dust, dirt, or plant matter. These objects can lodge under your dog’s third eyelid (the dotted T-shaped organ in the image above) and cause irritation and infection if not removed.

Eye abnormalities that can predispose your dog to bacterial infections include eyelids that turn in or out (think Basset Hounds), eyelash irritation, or eyelid overgrowth. An abnormal tear film can also predispose a dog to bacterial infections and dry eyes.

What about viral eye infections?

The distemper virus can cause a viral eye infection. Viral infections are usually self-limiting unless accompanied by a secondary bacterial infection.

As a dog owner, you don’t have to worry about viral infections if you have your dog vaccinated regularly. Viral eye infections can look like bacterial infections, but along with viral infections, you may also notice additional signs such as lethargy, runny nose, and fever.

Treating eye infections in dogs at home

You can provide supportive care at home to improve your pet’s comfort.

Home remedies like non-drug, sterile saline rinses can flush the eye out, but are only a short-term fix if your dog already has an infection. Saline douches are a good idea if you only see some clear discharge and redness. It is important not Use human eye drops or medication as dogs can have side effects to these human medications.

I recommend Tomlyn Sterile Eye Wash for Dogs and Cats or Nutri-Vet Eye Wash for Dogs when rinsing a dog’s eyes at home. After flushing, be sure to use a clean cotton ball to catch and clean the drain. Avoid touching the eye with the tip of the nozzle, your hands, or the cotton ball.

Nutri-Vet eye wash for dogs

This eye solution for dogs is made with boric acid to gently reduce eye irritation and remove debris.

Buy from Amazon

You can also use a warm, damp washcloth to gently wipe the discharge from the corners of your dog’s eyes and face.

If you’ve ruled out the possibility of an eye infection in your dog, but don’t like the unsightly tear stains that are part of normal eye discharge, you can give your dog Angel’s Chews to minimize facial stains.

What if something gets stuck in my dog’s eye?

Removing a foreign object from your dog’s eye can pose some risks.

If you can see that it is easy to remove without causing your pet additional pain or injury, such as: B. loose hair, you can remove it. If the object is larger and potentially harmful, removal may require special tools or reassurance, which should be done at the vet’s office.

When to see your vet

If you continue to see signs of irritation, swelling, and redness after flushing your dog’s eye, it’s time to see your vet.

After an eye exam and some specific eye diagnostics, your vet may also prescribe topical antibiotics for your dog if they suspect a bacterial infection. These will be relatively easy to manage at home.

Prevention of eye infections in dogs

Because dogs in environments with opportunistic organisms are often playful and energetic, preventing eye infections can be difficult. One method of prevention is to carefully trim the longer hairs around the eyes to avoid constantly irritating the eye hair. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can ask a professional barber.

When hiking or going out in nature with your dog, be sure to wear doggy goggles like Doggles’, which protect the eyes from UV rays, dust, and plant fibers.

Eye infections in dogs are highly treatable and can be easily identified using the criteria listed above. If you have any concerns or questions about your dog’s eyes, your veterinarian can address them.

Although your dog prefers his nose to see the world, his eyes also provide an important insight into his health.

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