Dog eyes are beautifully expressive, and help us tell when our pets aren’t feeling well. And we must do what we can to protect them as eye infections are very common. While some quickly clear up on their own, others can show signs of a more serious illness. 

But how do you know when your dog is suffering from an infection, and what can you do about it? For starters, learn to recognize the common symptoms of a dog eye infection, know when to see a vet, and how to help your furry friend.

Let’s discuss all that and more:

Puppy Eyes Got Infected — Now What? 

A healthy dog’s eyes are clear and bright. Their pupils are the same size with no excessive discharge or puffiness. 

Eye infections in dogs can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. If your dog has one, it may display any number of symptoms. Understanding them is key to treating the early stage of a dog eye infection.

Symptoms: Are You Certain Your Dog Has an Eye Infection? 

How to tell if your dog has an eye infection? Luckily, there are a few noticeable symptoms that can warn you, so you can take all necessary steps to protect your pet. Look out for the following dog eye infection symptoms:

  • Scratching the eye: An injured cornea can cause a lot of itching, and your dog may cause more damage by constantly rubbing or scratching it. During a tussle, the eyes could also get scratched by another dog or animal.
  • Redness: If your dog’s eyes appear red and inflamed, your furry bestie may have conjunctivitis (otherwise known as pink eye) or an allergy. But dog eye allergies vs infection symptoms are slightly different. 
  • Mild sensitivity to touch: If your dog’s eyelid is soft and tender when you touch it, that can be a sign of uveitis. It’s a painful condition, and some dogs will paw at the sore eye while others will avoid any touch. If you notice your pup persistently pawing at their eyes, you may have to find alternatives to the cone of shame to help the eye heal.
  • Swelling: Dog eye irritation and swelling cause immense pain and discomfort. It might be due to a bacterial infection or simply an allergy. Dog eye allergies vs infection symptoms are different. Allergies don’t often show severe symptoms and go away shortly.
  • Holding the eye closed: If your dog keeps its eye closed, it has an infection. Your pet does this out of discomfort or light sensitivity. 
  • Squint: Does my dog have an eye infection? If your furry companion is squinting in one or both eyes, that can be an important symptom. The condition can be due to bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. 
  • Discharge: Goopy or sticky eye discharge is typically a sign of infection. A clear discharge often means a viral infection, while green or yellow suggests that your pet has a bacterial infection.  

Symptoms Help Reveal the Condition

Many issues can cause eye problems in dogs — from bacterial or viral infections to injuries or more severe underlying conditions. The vet treatment varies depending on the most common causes of eye infection in dogs:

  • Conjunctivitis: It’s a mucous membrane inflammation that lines the inside of the eyelids and extends to the eyeball. Conjunctivitis can spread to one or both eyes at once and develop in acute or chronic forms. 
  • Uveitis: Uveitis is an inflammation involving the middle of the three eye layers. There are many reasons for this — from trauma to immune system disorders.
  • Eyelid & tear gland abnormalities: The most common congenital eyelid abnormality that usually leads to blepharitis is entropion. That’s a condition in which the edges of the eyelid turn inwards and rub against the cornea.
  • Inflamed cornea: It’s characterized by developing blue-gray color film in the cornea and is known as Keratitis.
Dog Eyes with no infection

Symptoms Revealed — But What’s the Cause?

How do dogs get eye infections? You have to look in several places when searching for the cause. Here are the most common ones: 

  • Trauma: A fight with another dog or general mischief can cause eye infections.
  • Foreign matter: Foreign bodies like dust or sand may become trapped inside the eyelids and lead to infection.
  • Irritants: Perfume, cleaning chemicals, tobacco smoke, and dust can cause an infection or allergy. 
  • Viruses: Looks out for influenza, distemper, herpes, and hepatitis. 
  • Parasites: Why do dogs get eye infections? Some get them from parasites like ticks, fleas, and worms. 
  • Fungus: An infection occurs when a harmful microorganism like a fungus enters the eyeball or the area around the eyes. 
  • Bacteria: Bacterial infections develop from infectious diseases such as canine ehrlichiosis, brucellosis, and leptospirosis.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: Severe vitamin deficiencies can lead to a dog eye infection. But if your pet is deficient in vitamin A, eating more foods that contain it can help improve its eyesight.
  • Dry eyes: Dry eye syndrome occurs from a deficiency in tear production known as keratoconjunctivitis. Dogs’ seasonal allergies can complicate the symptoms if your pet spends more time outside in spring and summer.
  • Glaucoma: Secondary glaucoma can be related to eye inflammation (uveitis). 
  • Poisoning: When a dog has lead poisoning, it may experience blurred vision and chronic eye irritation.
  • Abnormalities like cherry eye or entropion: What does a dog eye infection look like? Cherry eye is an easy condition to spot. A pinkish-red, round, cherry-like discharge will protrude from the inside corner of your dog’s eye. In contrast, entropion is a genetic condition where a portion of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward against the eyeball.
  • Tear duct problems: Nasolacrimal ducts drain tears into the back of the throat and nose, but when there’s damage to the ducts, they can get clogged, creating discharge.

Don’t Prolong & Wait to Disappear — Visit the Vet

What to do for dog eye infection? If you notice symptoms of a dog eye infection, it’s crucial to visit a vet as quickly as possible to prevent it from spreading to the other eye or dogs in your home or neighborhood. The examination will evaluate the eye for signs of trauma, look for systemic signs of an upper respiratory infection, and evaluate all eye structures. 

The vet may take a sample of discharge or skin cells from infected areas to understand the main infection cause. Also, they might recommend blood tests depending on the case. 

The vet cost for dog eye infections depends on the condition. Treatment can range from $50 to $3,000 per eye if surgery is necessary. 

What to Expect at the Veterinary Visit

Without a definite diagnosis, a vet cannot treat your furry friend properly. The type of dog eye infection treatment will depend on the cause and symptoms. Here’s how vets diagnose the issue:

  • Visual examination: Your vet will perform a thorough visual examination checking the eyelids’ inner lining with a microscope called a slit lamp.
  • Test for allergies: Your vet may need to do an allergy test for dogs to identify a type of white blood cell that shows up on eye areas affected by allergies. 
  • Schirmer Tear Test: It’s primarily for diagnosing dry eye syndrome. 
  • Dilation: A dilated eye examination allows the vet to see the back of your eye (retina). 
  • Bacterial culture: The vet will take a sample from your dog’s blood, urine, or skin.
  • Intraocular pressure: Glaucoma can be defined as a raised intraocular pressure that’s measured with a tonometer.
  • Corneal staining: This test uses a colorful dye to check areas of damage on a dog’s cornea and conditions like dry eye.
Dog with Goggles

Tips & Tricks for Healthy Eyes

A vet should handle the eye treatment for dogs, but you can treat minor irritations at home. 

For optimal care, you can use Vetericyn Plus products, which are a safe and natural way to keep your dog’s eyes clean. With a dropper, you can also apply melted coconut oil for a dog eye infection. Plus, you can do more to avoid such problems and prevent future infections. Here are some tips and tricks for healthy dog eyesight:

  • Avoid causing eye trauma: Observe your dog carefully at home and outdoors. Its eyes can easily become irritated or scratched.
  • Cut the hair around the eye: Depending on the breed, you should trim it occasionally as contact with hair can irritate the eyes and even scratch the corneas. 
  • Keep the whole face clean: A quality skincare wash will keep the eyes clean and prevent further infection. 
  • Consider goggles during outdoor adventures: Goggles and sunglasses are a must-have for active dogs to protect their eyes from debris and UV rays. For small dogs, we recommend Lewondr. If you have a large breed, NAMSAN Dog Goggles are also a good choice.

Conclusion

A dog eye infection can have many causes. While some may not be as serious as others, we always recommend a vet visit to rule out more dangerous infections. So if you look at your beloved dog and notice their eyes aren’t as clear and beautiful as they usually are, maybe it’s time to see an expert. With the proper treatment, your dog will be back to a happy and healthy life in no time.

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