You suddenly notice that your dog is whining and pawing at his eyes like there is something stuck in one of them, or maybe he is rubbing his head on the carpet and trying to scratch his eye. If these actions are accompanied by some of the following symptoms, then your pet more than likely has an infection in one or both of his eyes.
While eye infections are somewhat common, they can still be a serious condition that if not treated right away could lead to blindness or worse. They are also usually very contagious, so you should wash your hands when treating them and make sure your dog doesn’t pass it to some other pet.
If you suspect your dog has an eye infection, he needs to get to the veterinarian shortly in order to get the proper diagnosis and medications to clear up the infection.
Symptoms of eye infection
Some of the common symptoms of a possible eye infection in your dog may include:
- Watery or sticky discharge from the eyes
- Red inflamed or cloudy looking eyes
- Rubbing or scratching the eyes
- Squinting of one or both eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen eyelids
Common types of dog eye infections
Conjunctivitis – Also called “pink eye,” this is the most common type of eye infection in dogs and is caused by either a bacterial or viral infection. Other things that may cause this type of infection include: herpes, Lyme disease, inflammation of the tear sac, or something that gets stuck in the eye and causes damage.
It causes red or pink tint to the eyes, inflammation and a thick, sticky discharge. Treatment includes gently cleaning out the dog’s eyes with a cotton ball and warm water to get rid of the sticky crud, and using a warm compress over his eyes for about five minutes to bring down the swelling and help with pain. Your vet will also probably prescribe some sort of antibiotic drops or ointment.
Glaucoma – This is a very serious eye infection that puts pressure on the eyes caused by a blockage in the eye. It can lead to blindness if not treated. The symptoms include redness, cloudiness and enlarged pupils. Treatment is somewhat complicated, with the vet having to apply various agents and ointments geared to relieve pressure, treat the underlying infection, and protect the neurons in the eye.
Be sure to follow the vet’s instructions carefully.
Keratoconjunctivitis Siccac – Also known as “dry eye,” this is also a very serious infection. It means the dog’ eyes aren’t producing enough tears and it can lead to ulcers and inflammation of the cornea. It can be caused by many factors such as herpes, disease, or other issues with the tear ducts. It’s treated with artificial tears solution, eye drops or oral medications as needed.
Juvenile Cellulitis – Also called “puppy strangles,” this is caused by a bacterial infection. A puppy will present with blisters around the eyes that can progress into ulcers.
Diagnosing Eye Infections
If your veterinarian suspects your pet has an eye infection he will perform a few specific tests. One of these is an ophthalmoscopic exam. The vet will look into a dog’s eyes, test the response to light, and do a general exam of the surrounding area.
Another common test is the tear duct test, which checks to see if the dog is producing enough eye moisture. The vet will place a special type of paper under a dog’s eye and then compare it with a chart to see how much tears are being produced and if it is the normal amount.
Another eye test is the Flourescein staining test, which is used to see if there are any tears or ulcers on a dog’s cornea. The stain is dripped into a dog’s eyes with an eye dropper and if there is any damage, it will show up as a fluorescent green color when the stain is washed out.
Bacterial Culture is another type of test which takes a sample of the discharge or other fluids and grows in a special culture to see what type of bacterial organism is causing the dog’s condition so they know which antibiotic to treat it with.
Treatment of Eye Infections
First, if you suspect your dog has an infection, or his eyes have a discharge, then you can gently clean them out using a saline solution or special eye cleaning solutions you can find in pet supply stores or at your veterinarian’s office. You can make your own home saline solution by placing one teaspoon of salt into a glass of mineral water and using this on cotton balls to clean your dog’s eyes.
But if symptoms persist after about a day or two, the dog needs to go see the vet, especially if the discharge is a green, grey or yellow color. He will prescribe treatment that usually comes in the forms of drops, ointments or orals or injected medications.
Dogs Inclined to Get Eye Infections
There are some dogs more prone to get an eye infection, such as dogs with long hair around their eyes. If this is not properly groomed, it can irritate the eyes and cause diseases like pink eye. Dogs that are susceptible to this include the Lhasa Apso, the Shih ‘Tzu and the Pug.
The bottom line is that while most eye infections are easily treated, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your dog to the vet to be checked out to see if it is something serious. As responsible dog owners we all want our pets to enjoy good health and happiness for years to come, and that means taking care of their eyes, as well as their general overall health.