Veterinarians Discuss Dog Eye Infections

Diagnosing & Treating Eye Problems in Dogs -

We’ve all heard the expression “puppy dog eyes” – referring to that wonderful, wide eyed, loving, innocent stare our canine companions give us! However, a dog’s eyes can also be prone to painful and dangerous illness and infection.

Symptoms of Dog Eye Infections -

If your dog suddenly begins “winking” at you, it could well be the first sign of infection or illness, rather than a friendly gesture.

Signs of an eye infection can also include: pawing or rubbing of their eyes, scratching the head around the eye area and/or discharge from one or both eyes. When infected, the whites of your dog’s eye may also appear more pinkish or red than normal.

Eye infections caused either by viruses or bacteria are fairly common in dogs. However, keep in mind that itchy, watery, red or discharging eyes may also be caused by other conditions such as glaucoma, abnormal eyelashes, corneal ulcers or allergies. So having your dog examined by a veterinarian is crucial for a proper diagnosis.

Causes of Eye Infections In Dogs

Dogs who come into close contact with other dogs – such as outdoor dogs, shelter dogs & dogs who frequent dog-parks – are at a higher risk of exposure to contagious eye diseases. In puppies and younger dogs, dogs with weaker immune systems, and dogs in high-stress environments (such as shelters) both bacterial and viral infections are more common.

Excessive Tearing in Dogs

Also called “Epiphora,” watery or teary eyes – sometimes resulting in stained or smelly fur – can be caused by many conditions, including infection, abnormal eyelashes, inflammation, allergies, corneal ulcers, tumors, glaucoma, eye pain, and more.

The treatment for excessive tearing will depend upon what the underlying cause is. So do not try to treat the condition yourself. Our veterinarians may prescribe topical antibiotics or steroids for tear duct inflammation – but surgery may be required for more serious conditions such as duct obstruction, ulcers, or abnormal eyelashes.

Dry Eye in Dogs

Sticky, persistent eye discharge can also be caused by a condition simply called “canine dry eye”- which is a failure to produce enough tears. Dry eye may be the result of distemper, an injury to the head near a tear-producing gland, or in some cases, the dog’s own immune system attacking the tear gland tissue. Ulcers on the cornea (surface of the eye) can result from dry eye since, without the lubricating effect of tears, the eyelid can scratch the surface of the eye when opening and closing.

“Conjunctivitis” in Dogs

Conjunctivitis does not refer to a specific bacteria or virus, but means any inflammation or infection of the tissue (“conjunctiva”) that lines the eyelids and attaches to the eyeball near the cornea. The conjunctiva in dogs can become irritated by a virus or bacterial infection – but also by allergies induced by pollens, grasses, etc., or by certain fungi. In addition to noticeable redness, conjunctivitis often causes the eye to discharge or ‘weep.’

If the discharge is thick and yellow or greenish – and/or the eyelids stick together – the Conjunctivitis is likely caused by bacteria or virus. With allergies, on the other hand, the discharge is usually clear or water. Regardless of the cause, dog’s eyes are very sensitive – so conjunctivitis is painful for your beloved dog.

Normally, conjunctivitis is not life threatening- but if not treated it can advance and the organisms can spread and damage other structures of the eye, permanently impairing vision. So all cases of conjunctivitis should be treated at once.

Dog Breed Eye Issues

Flat-faced dogs such as pugs, Pekingese, boxers, and bulldogs are typically more prone to eye discharge because of their flatter faces, shallower eye sockets and protruding eyes.

Dogs with more prominent eyes (called brachycephalic breeds) may have tear drainage problems, eyelids that roll inward causing irritation from the eyelashes, and even lids that don’t close fully over their eyes. Some of these conditions may require surgery, depending upon the severity.

Treating Dog Eye Infections

It is important to get your dog to our veterinarians soon if they are showing signs of eye infection or excessive tearing. With prompt treatment and the proper medication, a dog’s eyes will heal quickly.

Our veterinarians will run the necessary tests to make certain that the dog’s eye problem is not the result of another underlying medical condition that is more serious, such as Glaucoma or a corneal ulcer. Our vets will also check to make sure there is no foreign bodies in your dog’s eye(s). And if the eye infection is determined by our veterinarian to be bacterial it can usually be treated with the appropriate antibiotics.

Our Veterinarians Can Treat Dog Eye Infections

It is important not to try and diagnose your dog’s eye problem without consulting a veterinarian. Certain medications – such as hydrocortisone-containing agents – can make some conditions much worse and actually hinder the healing. So do not attempt to treat Rover’s eyes with over-the-counter medication, or medicines meant for humans.

If your dog shows any signs of winking, blinking, eye rubbing or eye redness or discharge, bring them in right away. Don’t let your beloved dog suffer with eye pain, or risk losing their eye site! Schedule a consultation with our veterinarians to discuss the right treatments to clear up your dog’s eye infection right way. Call us today at 310-536-9654.


Our South Bay veterinarians treat dogs and dogs from the entire Los Angeles area, including:
Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Torrance, Hawthorne, El Segundo, Marina del Ray, Palos Verdes, Gardena, Carson and the surrounding areas.

CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment with one of our caring and experienced vets.

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