Conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye diseases in dogs. Here’s everything you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of conjunctivitis in dogs.
Dogs have three eyelids that protect the eye: the upper and lower eyelids, and the nictitating membrane. The insides of the eyelids are covered with a mucous membrane. This mucous membrane is the conjunctiva. If a dog has conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis), these eyelid conjunctivae are inflamed.
Causes of conjunctivitis in dogs
There are several reasons why a dog gets conjunctivitis:
Non-infectious conjunctivitis triggered by external influences such as:
- cigarette smoke
- foreign body
Infectious conjunctivitis, triggered by various pathogens such as:
Infectious conjunctivitis is contagious to other dogs and also to humans. Therefore: Always wash your hands well if your dog suffers from infectious conjunctivitis.
These dogs are prone to conjunctivitis
Additionally, there are some dog breeds that are more prone to conjunctivitis than others due to certain breeding traits. These include, for example, short-snouted breeds with wide eyes and/or with excessive facial skin folds such as pugs and French bulldogs.
If the lid gap is too large, too small, too wide or too narrow, this can lead to irritation and conjunctivitis. Dogs with hairy eyelids (e.g. Cocker Spaniel) and drooping eyelids (e.g. St. Bernard) are also more susceptible to conjunctivitis.
Important: Before purchasing a dog, find out whether its breed is susceptible to certain diseases and look out for tormented breeding traits. The purchase of dogs that show torment breeding characteristics should be critically questioned as a matter of urgency.
Conjunctivitis as a symptom
Conjunctivitis can not only appear as an independent disease, but it can also be a symptom of another, deeper disease. Examples are:
- kennel cough
- metabolic diseases
- cancerous changes in the eye
Other eye diseases can also trigger conjunctivitis in dogs, for example, blocked tear ducts, dry eyes, or a rolled or bulged edge of the eyelid.
No matter what the cause of conjunctivitis in your dog: it is painful for the dog and must be treated in any case!
Identify conjunctivitis in dogs
There are many different symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs. This includes:
- Discharge from the eye (anything from clear to purulent-yellow)
- eyes water
- swelling/redness of the eye
Dogs with conjunctivitis often try to rub their eyes or scratch themselves as it can cause itching. They often blink more frequently or are sensitive to light.
Important: Not all symptoms have to appear at the same time! As soon as the dog shows symptoms – no matter how many – you should see a vet! Depending on the cause, only one eye or both eyes can be affected.
If there are symptoms such as fever, diarrhea or vomiting, this can be a sign that the dog is suffering from another disease and conjunctivitis is a symptom of it.
Treat conjunctivitis in dogs
Treatment for conjunctivitis in dogs is highly dependent on its cause. Here are examples of how conjunctivitis is often treated:
- “Simple” conjunctivitis (triggers, for example, dust or drafts): Special eye drops or a specific rinse from the vet are usually sufficient
- Chronic conjunctivitis: Dog must be treated with eye drops, ointments or gels. Often these agents contain an antibiotic agent if bacteria are involved.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis: Dog is treated with antibiotics.
- Fungal conjunctivitis: Dog is treated with antifungal medication.
- Conjunctivitis caused by parasites: Dog is treated with antiparasitic drugs.
- Conjunctivitis caused by allergies: identify the cause of the allergy and eliminate it if possible, possibly using anti-allergic eye drops.
- Conjunctivitis caused by foreign bodies/parasites: Depending on the severity, a minor surgical procedure may be necessary.
- If the conjunctivitis is based on other diseases, these must of course also be treated.
Treatment of conjunctivitis in dogs varies in length of time depending on the cause. The inflammation can heal after a few days, but it can also take a week or more.
Home remedies for conjunctivitis in dogs
There are natural and home remedies that can help cure your dog’s conjunctivitis. However, these remedies should not replace a visit to the vet but only support them. Always consult your veterinarian before using home-bought or home-made products! It is particularly important that the vet makes a diagnosis beforehand.
Here are some examples of home remedies for conjunctivitis:
- Traumeel (pain reliever, available as an ointment and tablets)
- Compresses with aloe vera gel (help with swelling and have a cooling effect)
- Bepanthen eye ointment (wound and healing ointment)
- Also very important: rest! Give your sick dog plenty of rest and sleep to regenerate. Sleep is
known to be the best medicine and is also important for healing in the case of conjunctivitis.
You can regularly and carefully clean the corners of the eyes and the area around the dog’s eyes with boiled, lukewarm water and a lint-free, clean, soft cloth. Do not touch the cornea!
Chamomile tea for conjunctivitis in dogs?
Chamomile is often recommended as a home remedy for treating conjunctivitis in dogs. However, you should urgently refrain from treating your dog with chamomile, chamomile extracts or chamomile tea! You can actually make your dog’s inflammation worse by:
- When brewing the tea, chamomile releases fine suspended matter, which puts additional strain on the dog’s eyes.
- The ingredients in chamomile irritate the mucous membranes in the eyes and can trigger allergic reactions and dry out the mucous membranes.
- In general, be careful when it comes to home-made teas, tinctures, or herbal infusions. It is often recommended to dip cotton balls or something similar in it and then place them on the dog’s eyes. Homemade eyewashes, for example from eyebright (Euphrasia), are also often recommended.
But it is important that these are sterile and that there is no spread of germs. Therefore, be very careful with home-made conditioners and do not use them if you have no experience with them. Otherwise, you could possibly aggravate your dog’s inflammation. But there are, for example, Euphrasia eye drops in the pharmacy, which can help with milder conjunctivitis.
The rule of thumb is: always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication.
Prevent conjunctivitis in dogs
To prevent conjunctivitis in your dog, you should pay attention to the following things:
- avoid known triggers for allergies in your dog
- choose the dog’s sleeping place so that there are no drafts or air conditioning nearby
perform regular eye care on the dog
In general, the awareness of the dog owner is important: watch out for possible foreign bodies or parasites, carry out a regular health check and ensure a strong immune system for your dog through species-appropriate nutrition. Also, refrain from buying dogs with torture breeding traits.