Conjunctivitis In Dogs


I have no doubt you have heard of, and likely seen conjunctivitis before.  Most people refer to it as red eye or pink eye. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation and irritation of the conjunctival membrane, which is a small membrane layer that covers the cornea and the back of the eyelid.  Conjunctivitis in dogs and humans is a very common occurrence.  You can almost always tell when a dog or human has conjunctivitis by a clearly red eye with discharge.  Conjunctivitis is not usually painful to the eye, however, if your dog is squinting or shutting their eye you should probably go to the vet and get them checked for keratitisuveitis, or glaucoma (which can lead to blindness if unchecked).  Conjunctivitis is not dangerous or life threatening to the dog, it is an irritation of the eyes that can be caused by any number of things.

Dog with conjunctivitisAlthough it may not be very harmful to your dog, it is most certainly not comfortable for them. Conjunctivitis in dogs may be caused by allergies, foreign debris, or lack of tear production.  The most common form is by far a stringy mucus-like discharge from the eye.  This is caused by an outside irritant, usually dust or wind, that is preventing your dog from producing enough tears to keep their eyes moisturized.  Most of us animal owners see this all the time, and dogs are certainly not the only animals to have it.  A clear, fluid discharge from the eye indicates a foreign object in their eye, which is also a very common occurrence.  Although this is normal if it happens occasionally, if your dog develops perpetual conjunctivitis, you should take them to the vet to test for the underlying problem.  However, if it is just foreign debris in their eye or an irritant, just flush out their eye with saline or artificial tears 3 to 4 times a day.  The symptoms should go away shortly as the eye heals itself, but if it does not, make sure to take them to the vet.

If your dog has a bout of conjunctivitis, it may become infected if not kept clean.  When this happens, the conjunctiva will become very red and swollen, and discharge will change from clear to a thick mucus or pus.  This may crust their eyelids, which is a very tell-tale sign.  What usually causes this are the bacteria streptococcus and staphylococcus.  It is very important to wash your dog’s eyes out if this happens.  To clean them, use some warm sterile eyewash and gently dab the secretions away with a cotton ball or similarly soft item.  Also, take them to the vet to get some antibiotics to treat the infection, as chronic conjunctivitis is very, very bad news for a dog.  If you stay on top of it, it should be all healed up and cured within just a few weeks!  As long as you are aware and stay on top of conjunctivitis in dogs, it should not be a huge problem for you or your dog.