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Conjunctivitis in Dogs – Causes, Treatments & Symptoms

A dog suffering from an infection of the eye is not that uncommon. If taken to the veterinarian, they will give the proper medicine required to treat a condition in a Dog’s eye. That said, before panic-calling a veterinarian, it is best to understand whether one’s dog is ill with a disease. Dog eye Infection in dogs is easily spotted and not that difficult to treat. 

Everything you Need to Know About Dog Eye Infection

Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, is the infection of the mucous membrane which covers the dog’s eyelids and eyes. This part of a dog’s eye is called ‘Conjunctiva’ hence the name of the disease. Conjunctiva is a loose connective tissue that covers the surface of an eyeball. This tissue acts as a protective barrier for the eye against foreign objects (Eg. Dust and debris) and infections. When a dog is suffering from Conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva membrane becomes inflamed. This condition in dogs causes the eye to be itchy and uncomfortable and can quickly become serious if not treated properly.┬áThat said, not every eye problem with a dog is Conjunctivitis. There are some other infections that a dog might be suffering from.

Types of Eye Infections in Dogs

Like humans, dogs, too, can suffer from various kinds of eye infections. However, unlike humans, most dogs cannot speak about their pain, and the onus to identify that the dog is suffering lies with the owner. While it is not required to recognize every eye disease, remembering a few important ones can still help. Here are the types of eye infections in dogs.

#1 Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

This is dogs’ most common eye problem. As mentioned before, this infection is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. Also known as pink eye in dogs, the main cause of this infection is usually bacteria. Pre-existing health problems can also be another cause. A dog’s symptoms when suffering from Conjunctivitis are water/puss in the eye and a red-colored eye.

#2 Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca(Dry Eye)

This medical condition occurs when the tears cannot provide the eye with enough moisture. The inflammation of the lacrimal gland, the cornea, and the conjunctiva characterizes this disease. This condition may lead to a damaged corneal ulcer in dogs if not properly treated. Dry eyes can also lead to a dog developing ulcers on the eye. This medical condition requires long-term treatment.

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#3 Keratitis(Ulcers)

Keratitis is a medical condition with inflammation in the cornea. Keratitis is of two types; noninfectious and infectious. Noninfectious keratitis is generally caused due to an injury. Infectious keratitis, on the other hand, can be caused due to a variety of reasons, be it parasites, fungi, bacteria, or even viruses.

There are many kinds of eye infections, and a dog can suffer from any of them. As a pet owner, one must understand if a dog is ill with an eye infection and needs to be taken to a veterinarian. 

Symptoms of Dog Eye Infections

The signs and symptoms a dog eye infections usually depend upon the cause of the eye infection. That said, if a dog does have an eye infection, it should show one or more than one of the following signs:

  • Redness surrounding one of the dog’s eyes is one of the first signs of an eye infection.
  • If the eyes of the dog are too watery or the puss is coming out of an eye, the dog most likely has an eye infection.
  • Swelling in the eye can also be easily noticed if a dog is suffering from an eye infection.
  • Eye infections usually irritate a dog’s eyes, making them uncomfortable. This causes the dog to start pawing at its eye. This is a clear sign that a dog has an eye infection.
  • While not as common, if a dog becomes sensitive to light or is squinting and blinking faster than normal, the dog might have an eye infection.

There are many eye infections causes and just as many if not more, symptoms. The signs and symptoms of a dog’s suffering help us confirm if it has an eye infection and aid in finding the underlying cause. 

Reasons for Dog Watery Eyes

The reason for dog watery eyes differs from case to case. Dogs have different reasons for being diagnosed with different types of eye infections. There can be many causes for eye infections; some of the common ones are as follows:

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  • Injury from an external object
  • Some foreign object entering the eye
  • Viruses: Common viruses include canine influenza, herpes, and hepatitis
  • Fungus
  • Bacteria: Common bacterias include Lyme disease and leptospirosis
  • Parasites
  • Irritation caused due to harmful objects like smoke/shampoo

There may be many other causes of eye infections in dogs. If one is visiting a veterinarian, it is important to properly communicate if some foreign object entered the eye or if the dog took an injury for its eye to show signs of infection.

How to Treat Dog Eye Infection At Home?

Usually, it is best to contact a veterinarian if one thinks their dog is suffering from a certain disease. When calling a veterinarian instead of visiting them, it is important to explain the dog’s situation as accurately as possible. If veterinarians believe that the situation is not serious and can be treated at home, they usually recommend the following remedies on how to treat dog eye infection at home?

#1 Using a Warm Cloth

To reduce the swelling, veterinarians usually recommend home remedy for dog eye infection is applying a warm, clean cloth with light pressure on the eye. This is done when the injury is caused due to foreign objects or trauma. If the damage is not severe, the swelling should reduce in 5-10 minutes. Make sure that the cloth isn’t too warm, and if the swelling doesn’t reduce, it is best to contact a veterinarian.

#2 Eye Cleaning Liquid

Eyewash for dogs and eye rinsing liquid can flush a dog’s eye at home. This cleaning process is best done with a recommendation of a veterinarian only. When cleaning, use clean cotton and make sure not to touch any sensitive/swollen region of the dog.

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#3 Treating Allergy

Sometimes, an allergic reaction leads to swelling and infection in the eyes of a dog. If the cause is allergy-related, a dose of Benadryl should help reduce the itching and helps as dog red eyes home remedy. Before getting Benadryl, it is important to talk with a veterinarian and discuss the infection, the breed of dog, and the suitable dose amount.

#4 Salt and Water

The first step when treating a dog’s eye infection is talking to a veterinarian. If the veterinarian allows, mix some lukewarm water with a small amount of salt. Clean the dog swollen eye with this water by splashing it on them. After washing the eyes, use a clean cotton swab to clear the excess water.

You can treat dog’s eye infection at home if a veterinarian is not available or if the infection is not serious. If the infection doesn’t show any signs of going away, it is best to immediately take the dog to another veterinarian if the usual one is unavailable. It is always best to seek the advice of a veterinarian before using a home remedy.

Dog Conjunctivitis Treatment Over the Counter

Usually, examinations done on dog eyes to diagnose the disease are similar to those done on humans. That said, they are some subtle differences in dog eye infection treatment.

#1 Visual Examination

The first thing a veterinarian does when diagnosing a dog is usually to give the eyes a visual exam. This is done using a focal light source of the eyelids and the front half of the eye.

#2 Schirmer Tear Test

This test performs the measurement of the tear production of the affected eye. The amount of tear produced usually tells if there is a problem. In this procedure, the eyelids along with the front half of the eye are lit up with a focal point light source.

#3 Intraocular Pressure(IOP)

This method uses a tonometer. When it comes to glaucoma, a tonometer is used to measure pressure and search for any signs of disease.

Veterinarians also use other methods of dog conjunctivitis treatment over the counter such as allergy and bacterial tests, corneal staining, etc., to ensure the correct diagnosis. This allows them to prescribe the medication that is suitable for the dog’s current condition.

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How to Prevent Pink Eye in Dogs?

Taking a dog to a veterinarian, getting the testing done, and buying and giving the dog medication are all costly and time-consuming. Instead of going through the treatment, wouldn’t it be better to prevent the illness first? After all, prevention is better than cure.

#1 Keeping their face Clean

Keeping a dog’s face clean goes a long way toward stopping them from getting an eye infection. Cleaning includes trimming their long hair around their eyes and washing their face regularly. It is common for long hair to irritate a dog’s eyes, leading to an infection.

#2 Protective Goggles

When traveling in a vehicle or outside, it is best to keep the windows closed or have the dog wear a set of goggles. This will protect the eyes of the dog from any dust or debris floating outside.

Preventing eye infections is easier said than done. Dogs are energetic animals who enjoy playing a lot. The best one can do is be cautious. Most eye infections are not that serious and can be easily treated.

When to Call A Veterinarian for Dog Eye Infections?

One should call a veterinarian immediately after seeing any signs of dog eye infections. When talking with a veterinarian, explain the situation as accurately as possible and follow any remedies they advise. If the remedies do not work, contact the veterinarian again and ask to bring the dog to the clinic. The veterinarian should have the tools to diagnose the dogs’ disease and provide the proper medication.


Dog eye infections are common illnesses. Most are easily treatable at home or with a veterinarian visit. Mostly, the infections are caused due to external injury or pre-existing medical conditions. When performing any remedies, check them with a veterinarian first and call them immediately if the situation doesn’t improve. It is usually best to take preventive measures beforehand to avoid unnecessary costs and time consumption.