Eye Irritation, Inflammation, and Infection in Dogs

Conjunctivitis con·junc·ti·vi·tis n. — Inflammation of the conjunctiva, characterized by redness and often accompanied by a discharge.

The conjunctiva is the thin mucous membrane on the inside of the eyelids.

Conjunctivitis (aka "pink eye") most often affects dogs with pre-existing immune or allergy related issues. When present, the eye will appear puffy, sore, red, and be accompanied by a discharge (weeping, watering, or tearing) with the dog often squinting or keeping the affected eye closed.

The cause of conjunctivitis may be a scratch to the eye, foreign matter in the eye, environmental irritant, or airborne allergy induced by pollens, grasses, dust, etc. Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can also cause the conjunctiva to become infected and irritated. The cause can also be something more serious, such as glaucoma.

Conjunctivitis also presents in unvaccinated puppies with distemper.

If the discharge is clear or watery, the cause is most likely a foreign body or hair scratching the eye or an environmental irritant such as wind or allergen. A dog will react to allergic conjunctivitis by itching and rubbing the eye.

A contagious disease is suspected when both eyes are involved versus when just one eye is showing symptoms.

Discharge that is thick and pus-like (often green or yellow) indicates a bacterial issue and antibiotics are indicated.

Treatment for conjunctivitis usually involves ointments or eyedrops. Natural homeopathic remedies include eyebright and goldenseal herbs for eye irritations which are effective at reducing inflammation.

According to Dr. Carol, herbal remedies include using raspberry tea or the following recipe as a eyewash:


1 c Rosemary
1/2 c Thyme

Mix together. Add four cups of water and boil for 15 minutes. Strain and cool. Use a cotton ball soaked in the solution to bathe the eyes and clean secretions every four to six hours or as needed.

She also mentions using one drop of cod liver oil in the affected eye three to four times a day, or two to three drops of raw cucumber juice three to four times a day.

It is important to consult with your veterinarian and have them examine your pet to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

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