Dog Eye Infection

Signs, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

A Cocker Spaniel dog laying down with a wide-eyed look.

Table of Contents

Dog eye infections are a common cause of heartache for dog owners around the world. It is frustrating to manage a pet with an infection, but a basic understanding of the condition can go a long way in making life easier for both you and your pet.

This article will cover the signs, causes, treatment, and prevention of dog eye infections, along with some quick tips and helpful strategies.

Eye Infection Basics

Dog eye infections can lead to irritation and inflammation of the eye. If left untreated, the infection can cause permanent damage and vision loss.

As such, consult your vet as soon as you notice any symptoms of eye infection in your dog.

Types of Eye Infections In Dogs

There are a few different types of dog eye infections:

  • Pink eye or Conjunctivitis, where the mucous membrane present on the inside of the eyelids and covering the outer eyeball becomes inflamed.
  • Uveitis where more than one inner component of the eye like the iris, ciliary body, or choroid become inflamed.
  • Issues with the tear glands or abnormalities with some part of the eyelid.
  • The cornea becoming inflamed.
A Bolognese dog standing indoors near a doorway.

There are a few different types of dog eye infections:

  • Pink eye or Conjunctivitis, where the mucous membrane present on the inside of the eyelids and covering the outer eyeball becomes inflamed.
  • Uveitis where more than one inner component of the eye like the iris, ciliary body, or choroid become inflamed.
  • Issues with the tear glands or abnormalities with some part of the eyelid.
  • The cornea becoming inflamed.
A Bolognese dog standing indoors near a doorway.

Signs Of A Dog Eye Infection

To confirm an infected eye in your pet, look for these signs and symptoms.

How to tell if your dog has an eye infection:

• Redness

One sign that a dog has an eye infection is redness of the eyes. If you notice your pet’s eyes are unusually red, see a vet as soon as possible.

Redness could be caused by a common irritant getting in the eye, but in the event that the irritation is due to an infection, it would be best to have it treated quickly.

• Watery Eyes

If your dog’s eyes are red and watery, it could be a sign of an infection.

Though, again, it could be due to a mild irritant, dust, or allergy. You must take your pet to the vet to rule out an infection.

• Excessive Eye Goop or Crust

Goop gets collected in the corner of the eyes in both humans and animals. Dust, dried out tears, mucus, and dead skin cells might also accumulate in the eye corners, forming a crust.

This is not alarming in most cases and can be cleaned with just warm water.

However, excessive “eye boogers,” along with watery eyes and redness, may indicate an eye infection.

• Discharge

A yellow or green discharge from the eye is usually a sign of infection. This discharge is usually smelly and could be either watery or thick in texture.

If your dog has red eyes and discharge, take them to the vet immediately to prevent a spread.

• Swelling And Pawing At The Eye

A dog’s swollen eyelid or puffy eyes along with redness is most likely a case of canine eye infection.

Your pet might also frequently paw and touch their eyes because the eyes are irritated and itchy: a clear sign that something is wrong.

• Sensitivity To Light

If your dog has an eye infection, you will notice that the pup is unable to hold its eyes open in the sun.

The dog might avoid going in the light or close its eyes under bright light.

Causes of Eye Infections in Dogs

Sometimes eye infections can be preventable, but not always. Don’t worry if it happens to your dog, just go to the vet right away. Here are the most common ways that dogs get eye infections.

• Allergies and Irritants

Allergies from pollen, flowers, perfume ingredients, etc., can lead to itching, irritation, and redness of the eyes. This makes the eyes vulnerable to attack by bacteria, fungus, or viruses and leads to an eye infection.

Irritants like dust and sand have the same effect, sometimes causing an opening for a bacterial attack and infection.

• Bacterial Infection

Infection due to bacteria like canine brucellosis and leptospirosis is most common with an underlying reason like a dry or injured eye.

A dog with sore eyes or dry eyes is more likely to get infected with bacteria. If a dog’s eye has been scratched, wounded, or irritated, it can provide a ready base for bacteria to invade and infect. A bacterial attack can cause corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, and other eye problems.

• Viral Infection

Canine distemper virus is the cause of most viral eye diseases in dogs. A viral infection can become especially dangerous if accompanied by a bacterial attack.

Conjunctivitis is one eye infection commonly caused by a combined viral and bacterial attack.

• Trauma, Scratch, or Injury

Any trauma to the face, head, eyes, etc., can make the eyes red, irritated, and vulnerable to infection.

An injury on or near the eye greatly increases the chances of your dog getting an eye infection. The dog may have scratched its own eyes by chance, or some other pet might be responsible.

• Dry Eyes

Some dogs’ eyes naturally don’t produce enough tears. This causes dry eyes, which could also be a reason behind your dog getting infections as well as corneal ulcers.

• Underlying Illness

Eye infections can also occur due to underlying issues like corneal ulcers, cherry eyes, glaucoma, etc.

Some eye diseases are due to genetic causes, and these issues make the eyes more vulnerable to infection. Some underlying problems can even result in chronic cases of infection.

Puffy eyes or swelling around the eyes are signs of an allergic reaction in a dog.
An allergic reaction in a dog (can cause eye infections)

Treatment: What To Do For Dog Eye Infections

Treatment depends on the cause and underlying conditions but generally involves a combination of topical and oral eye medicine for dogs.

Some steps you can take for dog eye infection treatment are:

• Antibiotics

If the dog’s eye infection is caused by a bacterial attack, antibiotics for dog eye infection are the way to go.

Take your pet to the vet, and they will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic upon diagnosis.

• Allergy Medication

In case of a general allergy, the vet will probably prescribe an antihistamine to your pet. This will relieve symptoms and help your dog deal with the allergy.

• Removal of Foreign Bodies

If a foreign body like hair or debris is stuck inside the eye and causing the infection, your vet might need to remove it. The pet will likely be sedated or anesthetized for such a procedure.

• Treatment for Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be due to a blockage of tear ducts, which prevent your pet from producing tears. The vet might prescribe antibiotics and eye drops for dogs.

In some cases, your pet might have to undergo surgery.

• E-collar

An e-collar is a device put on a dog. It protects your dog from scratching its eyes and prevents making the infection worse while it heals.

• Underlying Issues

If an eye infection is caused by an underlying issue like a tumor or eye ulcer, it will be treated accordingly.

Different issues require different treatments. Some problems might resolve with just an eye drop, while others, like eyelashes rubbing against the eyeball, need surgery.

Consult a vet for an appropriate treatment plan.

What Can Happen If A Dog Has An Eye Infection

Depending on how serious the infection is, it can be problematic to leave it untreated. Some mild infections go away on their own, but will need at least an eye drop.

Complications of worse and untreated dog eye infection depend on what caused the infection. Here’s what can happen if a dog gets an eye infection for any of the following reasons:

• Corneal Ulcer

Infections due to corneal ulcers need to be treated ASAP. When left on its own, the ulcer can continue for months, causing irritation, redness, and eye damage.

Sometimes, the eye develops a granulation tissue reaction where the eye becomes inflamed and red, leading to reduced vision.

• Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis may not be as threatening as an ulcer, but some treatment is still needed as it doesn’t go away on its own.

If left untreated, the infected eye may sustain serious injury and even permanent vision loss.

• Dry Eyes

Dry eye is a painful eye condition which when left untreated can lead to corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, and in chronic cases, permanent scarring and blindness.

• Glaucoma

If the underlying cause behind the infection is glaucoma, leaving it untreated can lead to permanent damage to the optic nerve and make your dog blind.

• Allergy or Irritants

Infections caused by general allergies, irritants, and wounds also need to be treated right away.

Leaving an allergy untreated can cause some serious issues like diarrhea, vomiting, constant infections, and behavioral changes.

If there is a foreign body in the eye, it will need to be removed.

How To Prevent Dog Eye Infections

  • Keep the face clean and wipe eyes with warm water or pet eye wipes to avoid buildup.
  • When in dusty or sandy places, consider getting goggles made for dogs.
  • Keep your dog away from potential trauma to the eyes.
  • Keep the hair around the eyes trimmed.
  • Keep the windows closed at home and in the car to avoid foreign particles from getting into your dog’s eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions

• Can Dogs Get Eye Infections?

Yes, absolutely. Eye infections are fairly common in dogs.

In Summary

Eye infections can come about for a variety of reasons, but they are treatable.

Always take your dog to the vet when you are uncertain in this case, it could save your dog’s vision.

A cream-colored adult dog smiling with their tongue out.
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