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Conjunctivitis in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Conjunctivitis in dogs

Conjunctivitis is widespread in dogs. They can have very different causes and can even occur in certain breeds due to anatomical peculiarities. However, if conjunctivitis in affected dogs is promptly recognised and treated, in most cases it is harmless and does not cause permanent damage.

In the following, you will learn which symptoms can indicate conjunctivitis, which triggers are possible and what is necessary to treat your dog.

Possible causes of conjunctivitis in dogs

The technical term for conjunctivitis is conjunctivitis. Its triggers can be divided into infectious and non-infectious causes. One always speaks of infectious conjunctivitis when it is caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi.

In contrast, non-infectious conjunctivitis in dogs can have the following main triggers:

  • Foreign bodies in the eye (for example dust particles)
  • Injuries (for example, from accidental scratching)
  • Allergies 
  • Draught (especially when driving with open windows)

Certain dogs are particularly susceptible to conjunctivitis

In addition to the above-mentioned causes, anatomical peculiarities can also lead to an increased susceptibility to conjunctivitis in certain dog breeds. This is particularly the case with short-headed dogs, such as the French Bulldog or the Pug.

Due to their breeding-related eye shape, these dogs often have a too small or too large eyelid cleft, which makes their eyes particularly susceptible.

In addition, some breeds such as the Bloodhound and the Cocker Spaniel have an increased risk of developing conjunctivitis due to their hairy eyelid edges. 

Special forms of conjunctivitis in dogs

Apart from the classic conjunctivitis, there are also some special forms that can occur in dogs. 

One of these is the so-called conjunctivitis follicularis (chronic conjunctivitis catarrh), in which tiny lymph nodes form on the back of the nictitating membrane of young animals, which irritate the eye and can lead to inflammation.

Another is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva), which is caused by insufficient production of tear fluid.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs

Conjunctivitis can occur in dogs on one or both sides. Infectious conjunctivitis usually only affects one eye at first and then, without prompt treatment, often spreads to the other eye.

Typical symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs include reddened, itchy and watery eyes. In many cases there is also a mucilaginous, purulent or even watery discharge from the affected eye.

As conjunctivitis is often associated with pain, sick animals often blink and also react conspicuously sensitively to touching near the eye. In addition, the dog's eye may swell due to conjunctivitis.

Veterinary diagnosis of the dog's conjunctivitis

If you notice the above symptoms in your dog and suspect that he is suffering from conjunctivitis, a visit to the vet is advisable. After an external examination of the inflamed eye, the veterinarian will usually first check whether the cornea of the quadruped is damaged. 

If he notices a foreign body as a trigger for conjunctivitis in the dog, he will carefully remove it. To diagnose infectious conjunctivitis, the veterinarian will take a smear from the animal's conjunctiva and examine it for possible pathogens.

It is also common practice to check the dog's tear ducts for obstructions as part of the examination. For this purpose, the veterinarian uses a special greenish liquid which he drips into the quadruped's eye. If the tear ducts are free, it should emerge from the dog's nose a little later.

Treatment of conjunctivitis in dogs

Which measures are necessary for a successful treatment of conjunctivitis in dogs depends on its exact cause. If it was caused by a foreign body, it must of course be removed and the eye treated with an anti-inflammatory ointment if necessary.

The treatment of infectious conjunctivitis depends on the type of pathogen. In the case of fungal infections, the dog is given an antimycotic, while parasites can be counteracted with antiparasitics and bacteria with antibiotics.

If the conjunctivitis is an allergic reaction, treatment is usually with cortisone drops or ointments. 

Natural help for dogs with conjunctivitis

In cases of slight eye irritation and conjunctivitis not caused by pathogens, it is often sufficient to treat the affected dog with natural eye drops for a few days in addition to any necessary removal of foreign bodies. 

In this case, we recommend that you use Bellfor eye care drops. Selected ingredients such as camomile extract and aloe vera allow you to treat your dog's eyes particularly gently, so that they will quickly calm down and the conjunctivitis should soon disappear.

Prognosis for dogs with conjunctivitis

In principle, the prognosis for dogs with conjunctivitis is positive. Non-infectious conjunctivitis usually heals very well and without significant complications, so that the symptoms should usually disappear completely within a few days.

This is normally also true for dogs with infectious conjunctivitis. However, it is very important not to discontinue treatment prematurely. The ointment or drops must always be administered for as long as the vet has prescribed. Otherwise there is a high probability that the conjunctivitis will reappear after a few days.

Without treatment, however, conjunctivitis in dogs can cause permanent damage and in the worst case can even lead to complete blindness in the affected eye. 

Preventing conjunctivitis in dogs

Preventing conjunctivitis in dogs

Even though a hundred percent protection against conjunctivitis is of course not possible, there are certainly some useful preventive measures to reduce the risk. 

In particular, avoid exposing your dog to draughts. When driving with your dog, for example, all windows should be kept closed at all times. 

In addition, you should pay the necessary attention to your dog's eye care. This is especially true for breeds that are naturally more prone to eye problems. Regular use of Bellfor Eye Care Drops can help to cleanse the eyes and reduce the likelihood of conjunctivitis in your dog.

If your four-legged friend often suffers from conjunctivitis due to an allergy, hyposensitisation may be advisable under certain circumstances, whereas eyelid malpositions caused by breeding can only be corrected surgically.

Your dog's conjunctivitis can be contagious

Note that your dog's conjunctivitis can be quite contagious, depending on the trigger. If it is infectious conjunctivitis, you should therefore be careful when handling your four-legged friend and wash your hands immediately, especially after the administration of eye drops or eye ointment.

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