Your dog is your companion and keeping them in the best of health means you’ll spend many happy years together. That’s why it’s important to take a close look at any health issues that may arise, including any potential infections of the eye.
Suppose your dog shows symptoms of a potential eye infection, like dog eye discharge, excessive blinking, conjunctivitis (redness of the eye), or pawing/rubbing their eyes. In that case, you’ll undoubtedly be eager to discover the cause and provide relief as soon as possible. Fortunately, with the help of your veterinarian, there are things you can do starting from the earliest symptoms to remedy the issue and get your dog on the road to recovery.
What Causes Eye Infections in Dogs?
Eye infections in dogs can stem from a wide range of causes. Veterinarians are commonly asked questions like, “Can dogs get pink eye?” (they can) and “Why are my dog’s eyes red?” Since dogs' eyes aren’t that much different from human eyes, many eye-related disorders are very much the same as those that their human owners may have experienced themselves. Anything from an eye injury to contact with a bacteria can be a precursor to an eye infection. Common among these are:
- Eye injuries: Dogs are playful and often rambunctious creatures by nature, which inevitably can lead to the occasional eye injury. Some of the most common eye injuries for dogs are scratched cornea, corneal ulceration, foreign objects in the eye (dirt, dust, hair) and trauma to the eyelid.
- Dry Eye: A condition that compromises vision and causes discomfort, dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca [KCS]) is caused by dysfunction of the tear-duct glands. Since tears are an important part of eye health and can help battle germs, their lack of production can lead to infection, especially among older dogs and breeds such as Lhasa Apso, Bulldogs and others.
- Fungal infection: Systemic fungal infections that affect various parts of a dog's body, such as nasal aspergillosis, blastomycosis or cryptococcosis can infect their eyes as well.
- Parasitic infection: Dogs' eyes can be vulnerable to parasitic infection in the form of eyeworms, most commonly through various species of flies. Eyeworms are transmitted by flies landing and laying eggs on or around a dog's eye or tear ducts.
- Bacterial infection: Leptospirosis, canine brucellosis and tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease and canine ehrlichiosis can each have an adverse effect on a dog's eyes as a symptom of a more significant systemic infection.
Signs & Symptoms of Eye Infections in Dogs
Some symptoms of canine eye infections can be more evident than others. Signs can be as subtle as some redness or watery discharge coming from your dog’s eyes. If you remain vigilant, you may be able to catch these symptoms early and get your dog in to see the veterinarian before the infection gets worse. Common symptoms of eye infections in dogs include:
- Watery or greenish discharge from the eyes
- Swelling around the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Pawing at the eye area
- Excessive squinting or blinking
- Keeping their eye or eyes closed
Treatment for Canine Eye Infections
Eye infections can range from mild to potentially serious, which needs to be determined by a professional. It’s important to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian at the first sign of trouble so your dog can get treatment to ease their discomfort and neutralize the infection before it worsens.
Your veterinarian may perform tests to check for KCS and/or a corneal scratch or ulcer. These tests help them more precisely diagnose your pet’s condition, and inform what kind of medication they may prescribe.
Treatments for canine eye infections can include antibiotics, topical medications, anti-inflammatory medications or, in some cases, surgery. Your veterinarian will help guide you and your dog toward an appropriate treatment plan.